The college application process is undoubtedly a rollercoaster of emotions, and for some students, the journey takes an unexpected turn with deferrals or waitlists. While receiving news of being deferred or waitlisted can be disheartening, it’s important for students to understand that this doesn’t mark the end of their college aspirations. In fact, it opens up new opportunities for growth, resilience, and strategic planning.

Understanding Deferrals and Waitlists

A deferral means that a college has chosen to delay making a final decision on an application, often moving it from the early decision or early action pool to the regular decision pool. On the other hand, a waitlist means that the student is placed in a holding pattern, and admission will depend on the number of spots that become available.

Embrace Your Emotions

Receiving news of a deferral or waitlist can be tough, and it’s essential to acknowledge and process the emotions that come with it. Allow yourself to feel disappointment, frustration, or any other emotions that may arise. Talk to friends, family, or a counselor to gain support and perspective. Remember that setbacks are a natural part of life, and this experience can be an opportunity for personal growth.

Seek Feedback

If possible, reach out to the college admissions office to seek feedback on your application. Understanding the areas where you can improve can be valuable information for future endeavors. Whether it’s strengthening your academic profile, enhancing your extracurricular activities, or refining your essays, feedback can guide your efforts moving forward.

Consider Your Options

Being deferred or waitlisted doesn’t mean you’re out of the game. It’s crucial to continue pursuing other college options and submitting applications to schools where you have a genuine interest. Consider the factors that matter most to you in a college – academic programs, campus culture, and location – and explore other institutions that align with your goals.

Show Continued Interest

For students on a waitlist, demonstrating continued interest in the college is essential. Write a thoughtful letter to the admissions office expressing your ongoing enthusiasm for the school. Update them on any recent accomplishments or experiences that highlight your commitment to the institution. This can set you apart and reinforce your genuine desire to be part of the community.

Focus on Your Senior Year

Use the remainder of your senior year to excel academically, pursue meaningful extracurricular activities, and contribute positively to your community. Colleges appreciate students who continue to show dedication and growth throughout their high school journey.

Explore Alternative Paths

Consider the possibility of attending a community college or taking a gap year. These alternative paths can provide valuable experiences and opportunities for personal development. Many students find success by transferring to their dream schools after completing a year or two at a different institution.


While being deferred or waitlisted can be a challenging experience, it’s crucial to approach it with resilience and a positive mindset. Use this time as an opportunity to reflect on your goals, strengthen your application, and explore alternative paths that can lead to success. Remember that the college admission process is just one chapter in your academic journey, and your determination and adaptability will undoubtedly contribute to your future success.

The College Ready Difference

With over 40 years of collective experience, College Ready stands apart with our uniquely personalized approach. Centered around getting to know each student holistically, we tailor communications, guidance and application packaging to individual needs. This reflects our commitment to serve as a true extension of the applicant’s team.

A Record of Results

Over 96% of College Ready students gain admission to one or more of their reach selections, including Ivy League universities and similarly selective institutions. Our time-tested methodologies along with up-to-date insider knowledge deliver outcomes.

Committed Partners at Every Step

College Ready remains by students’ sides throughout the multi-year admissions journey and beyond. From freshman year portfolio development through senior year application packaging to college transition and career advancement, our personalized guidance provides the edge needed to turn ambitious college goals into realities.

To learn more about realizing your academic aspirations, visit College Ready at today and schedule your free consultation.


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