When you’ve been deferred from a college which is your top choice, as Tom Petty says, “the waiting is the hardest part.” In the meantime, you may have received other college acceptances and changed your mind about where you ideally want to attend. However, if this school is still your first choice, there is something productive you can do while you wait - send an update letter to the college admissions representative who reviews applications from your geographic area. If you do not know who this is, you can simply send the letter to the admissions office.
The update letter should be no more than one page and should do two things:
Highlight anything new and significant that you want the admissions committee to know about since you submitted your application. Here are things that would be relevant to include:
New awards, honors, academic, arts or athletic recognitions
New and unique activities, clubs, work, or community service projects/accomplishments
New leadership positions
Note: If you are featured in a video or article which supports one of the above-mentioned updates, you can include the link.
Reiterate your passion for the school. If this is indeed still your first choice school, state that if you are admitted you intend to enroll. Colleges like to report high acceptance rates, so knowing you will accept if admitted may improve your chances of getting in. If you are still undecided, you can indicate that the college remains a top choice.
As a general rule of thumb, you should not be sending a school more recommendation letters than they’ve already specified and that you have sent as part of your initial application. Most schools will state that additional materials sent mid-year beyond the update letter will not be considered in their review process. Do make sure that your high school sends to the college a mid-year academic report that shows grades and test scores you have received since submitting your application.
A word of caution - the admissions committee spends a tremendous amount of time and effort going through applications. They will not appreciate getting lots of random material from you that reiterates what is already in your application. Limit it to updates which really highlight something standout that you have done.
Hang tight and remember that no one college holds the key to your happiness and success!
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