I applied for Early Action and/or Early Decision and got deferred to Regular Decision. What do I do?

Well, the good news is that you’re still in the game! Unlike a rejection decision, which is final, if you are deferred from an Early plan, the process is continuing. Pay close attention to the appropriate section below. Following up and adhering to admissions office directions to a T is crucial at this stage of the process.

Hang in there and pay careful attention to communications.

If you applied Early Action and/or Early Decision and were deferred to Regular Decision:


  • Send the admissions officer for your area an email of continued interest, thanking them for reviewing your application and letting them know you are still very interested in attending their college.
  • Demonstrate your interest in their college by mentioning a few notable features of their institution which drew you to them. What special qualities or programs appeal to you about their college? If it’s something that could be said about many colleges (“You have a pretty campus”), go back and revise your email.
  • Let them know of any extracurricular activity accomplishments, e.g., “I received the MVP award in soccer for my contributions to the team.”
  • Tell the admissions office about any academic achievements since your application was submitted, e.g., “I received the Dean’s award for academic excellence in January 2021.”
  • Tell them your high school will send updated grades as they are released and then follow up to make sure this is done.
  • Express your gratitude for having your application reviewed for Regular Decision. Nobody is looking for whiny, grumpy students. Be positive.

If you applied Regular Decision and were waitlisted:

There is no way to predict the outcome if you have been waitlisted, since colleges don’t know until May 1 (the National Candidates’ Reply Date) which students are going to accept their offer of admission and the characteristics of students they need to fill out their class—for example, more male students from California or females from Ohio.

Even once a college does know the types of students they want for their first-year class, they could offer a female from Ohio a place (accept them off the waitlist) and the student could turn them down, so the admissions office would continue to make offers until the class looks like they want it to. The waitlist process takes several weeks, but most colleges try to have all admissions decisions made by early July or so.

Make sure to keep your grades up through the second semester of your senior year as your academic achievement is still important.

  • The same tips apply if you have been waitlisted as for students deferred from Early Action or Early Decision. Send an email of continued interest with thanks for their reviewing your application and keep them updated on your academic and extracurricular accomplishments.
  • Follow the instructions for waitlisted students in the email the college sends you, in order to keep your name on the waitlist.
    • Pay very careful attention to deadlines, e.g., if the college says, tell us by March 1 if you want to stay on the waitlist or not, then respond by March 1. Otherwise, you could lose your place on the waitlist. This is an area when even colleges which say they don’t pay attention to demonstrated interest, do in fact pay attention to demonstrated interest.
    • If the college says you are welcome to send an additional letter of recommendation, ask one of your senior year teachers to send one. Demonstrate good communication skills. After your initial email of continued interest, continue to update the admissions office when you have new, significant information to add. Be appropriately on their radar screen. Avoid being either a ghost or a nuisance.
  • Don’t call your admissions officer to ask what your chances are. They simply don’t know, and they might start to feel like you are a pest.
  • Finally, make your college choice by sending in a deposit by May 1 to the college where you have been admitted that appeals to you. Since the waitlist process could go into the summer, if you wait until you hear from the college(s) where you have been waitlisted, you could end up without a college to attend.

We have batted 1000 with you! You have seen us through two college admissions processes and we are thankful for your guidance. You were there for us day and night always responding quickly and at times having to calm our nerves.