What If You Are Rejected or Deferred Early Action/Decision?

As the early decision results come flooding in there is a mixture of feelings in the air. While some happy students settle in for the holidays with their acceptance letters in hand, others will be disappointed and stressed in discovering that they have been deferred to regular decision or, worse-case scenario, rejected. For those who are deferred, their applications will be re-considered along with the thousands of Regular Decision applicants. In the Regular Decision pool, the selection process becomes even more competitive and selective. The likelihood of acceptance is even lower.

Many students try the strategy of applying to what they perceived to be safety schools because they think the school will likely accept them early, only to discover that they are deferred or rejected. In either case, deferral or rejection, SOMETHING WENT WRONG. The problem is that the application errors that caused the rejection or deferral, if not discovered, will continue without rectification to the regular decision pool and result in multiple rejections.

With only a few weeks left in the application season, I recommend that students scrupulously reevaluate their deferred or rejected early/action application and carefully plan a workable strategy in this crunch-time.  (1) Prepare more applications.  (2) In the case of deferral, see what else the college might need.  (3) In the case of rejection, especially if this was your safety (non-reach school), you seriously need to review your application.  (4) In all cases, you may need to hire an educational consultant who is an expert in post-decision admissions advising.

For parents who engage our services after the disheartening news of deferral or rejection, I use our post-decision strategies.  I discover what the student did to be rejected or deferred, build upon their current student profile and accomplishments and re-energize their application so that they are removed from the deferred list and placed on to the accepted list.  Additionally, I assess the student’s Regular Decision applications (due by January 1) to identify mistakes on their Early Decision application so that their mistakes do not become viral and affect the student’s Regular Decision applications.

The worst thing a student can do is to settle for a safety school after all their hard work and find themselves (and their parents) in this unhappy situation of being rejected from their dream schools and reach schools.


Dr. Paul Lowe is the manager director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group network.  He and his team of admissions advisors, through the admissions affiliate, Ivy League Admissions Advisors, help students gain admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges and universities.  Through his admissions affiliate:  College Application Rejected, he specializes in helping students who have been rejected, deferred or waitlisted.