Deferrals can be rough. In fact, we find that they can be rougher than flat-out rejections because at least rejections provide closure instead of thrusting you into Deferral Limbo. While few of our students get deferred, we have developed a step-by-step backup guide for kids who find themselves in Deferral Limbo.
Step 1: Take a Day to Sloth
Applying to college is a marathon, but it can often feel like a sprint of Olympic proportion. For months, you worked your butt off nonstop, you got up early to practice, you whipped your mind into fighting shape, you thought of nothing else, you passed all of your hard work along to a panel of anonymous judges to deliberate your fate over a photo finish, and then you TIED with someone else for placement. It's not ideal. It can be jarring, even, but it does happen and now it’s time to deal. If you were an Olympic sprinter, perhaps your coach would tell you to take a day off to clear your head. JUST ONE DAY, because you have worked SO hard and you might need that day to cope or relax so you can come to practice early the next morning fresh and ready to hit the ground running.
We at TKG take mental health very seriously. Again, this process is a marathon that feels like a sprint and self-care is crucial to making it to the finish line. So, if you need to cry, get lost in a trashy reality tv show, do a lot of yoga, eat some cookies, or take a day off of school, then allow yourself to do it (and if your parents don’t believe you when you say it’s essential, just have them call us).
Step 2: Get Real
It’s a hard conversation to have, but we recommend that you take this moment to be realistic with yourself. Look at the stats for each of the Ivies. Brown accepts about eight percent of applicants, Columbia just under six, and Harvard, a slim five percent. While it might not be pleasant, now is the moment to manage your expectations.
One of our students, Fatima, applied Early Decision to Yale and got the dreaded deferral letter. When it was time to discuss Regular Decision, she thought she would hedge her bets by applying to Penn which was "easier" to get into according to the stats. We told her it was not a very safe gamble because at the end of the day, both schools are extremely hard to get into.
A note: you are more than a number. If your scores aren’t exactly Harvard material, that doesn’t mean anything about your worth as a person. It just means, there are schools out there that are a good fit for you and will probably make you happier than some brand-named Ivy. After all, Usain Bolt may be the fastest runner in the world, but throw him in the gymnastics competition and he’s likely going to place last. That doesn’t change anything about his status as one of the greatest Olympians of all time. It just means, he’s going to stick to the sport that’s the right fit for him and be happy for Simone Biles next time she wins on beam.
Step 3: Make a List
If you haven’t already, get your college list together. If you’re reading this post in November when it was published, just do it right now. It’s not a good idea for Olympic athletes to run with an injury. Similarly, it’s not a good idea for you to make any hasty decisions when you’re under a tremendous amount of stress. So, instead of deciding on one, pick out 10-12 schools.
We offer a package called the It’s Going to Be Okay Package just for students who get deferred and don't have a contingency plan. It’s basically our A-Z package, but condensed into two weeks. If you’re reading this, call us now.
As a part of her It’s Going to Be Okay Package, we helped Fatima pick out some schools that really matched what she had to offer. At the end of the day, she realized she might actually be happier with the schools on her new list. She found some schools whose class sizes and academic offerings really reflected who she was, not someone she thought she had to be.
Step 4: Make a More Sophisticated List
If you were an Olympic sprinter, at this point, you might think about all of the exercises you would need to practice in order to get in the best shape. As a college applicant, you should look up the supplements for every school on your list. Put them into one master document and group them together by prompt.
There are two basic categories of supplements: The “Why Do You Want to Attend YaleVassarTulaneMichiganPenn, Etc.” essay and then there’s the creative essay. Believe it or not, the “Why Do You Want to Attend YaleVassarTulaneMichiganPennState, Etc,” essay can be repurposed for each school on your list.
The creative essay is a lot harder to repurpose. In Fatima’s case, she blew through her “Why Do You Want to Attend…” At this point, you should have some idea of what you want to get out of your college experience. Fatima knew she wanted to study Political Science, so she wasn’t going to tell Yale she wanted to attend because of their Political Science program and tell Michigan she was psyched about their Nursing program. (If you do think you’re applying to Yale because of their Political Science program and Michigan because of Nursing, call us so we can help you get sorted out). Basically, Fatima just had to do her your research about each school and tailor her essays accordingly so we could spend more time repurposing the creative essays.
Step 4.5 Create a Deferral Package
Part of exiting Deferral Limbo is also updating the school to which you applied ED on your progress. You don't need to do this just yet. Wait until 2018.
Step 5: Hit Send
Submit the application. Run the race. Make it to the finish line. By the way, Fatima ran the race, she made it to the end. She didn’t get into Penn after all, but she was ultimately happier about the fact that she got into Harvard, Princeton, and, finally, Yale. All good fits in the end.
Freaking out about your recent deferral? Contact us here. We are pros at helping kids get into college.