Many high school seniors received college admissions decisions in December.  Some were excited to be admitted, others were disappointed to be denied, and still others may have been confused because they were deferred.  If you applied early action or early decision and received a deferral, this means the college is going to review your application again under regular decision and will make a final decision during that round.

So what, if anything, should you do now?  While you may be tempted to simply sit back and wait for a decision, there are steps you can take that may increase your chances of being admitted.

In a recent blog post, we discussed the concept of demonstrated interest (DI) — what it is and the role it plays in the admissions process at some colleges.  Not all colleges consider DI in admissions decisions, but for those that do, demonstrating interest is especially important if you’ve been deferred.

Before demonstrating interest, find out what, if anything, the college requires you to do.  For example, you may need to submit a form indicating you want to be considered for regular decision, and you likely will need to have your school send an updated transcript with your first semester grades.  Some colleges ask deferred applicants to submit an additional essay and/or other materials.

One way to demonstrate interest in a college that has deferred you is by sending an email of continued interest.  (If the college asks you to write an essay about why you want to attend, such an email likely isn’t necessary.  And, if a school specifically asks you not to contact the admissions office or provide additional information, you should not send an email.)  If the college assigns admissions counselors to specific regions/states/high schools, you should find out who your counselor is and email that person.  If not, you can use the general admissions office email.

Begin your email by stating that you are still very interested in the school and explain why.  (If it’s your first choice, say so.)  Especially if the college did not require a “Why Us?” essay, this is a chance for you to communicate specific reasons you’re interested in it and why you think you’re a good fit.

You also should report any achievements you’ve had since you applied.  For example, if your GPA improved first semester, you/your team made it to the state championship, or you won an award, include that.  Close by thanking the admissions counselor/office for considering your application.  Keep the email brief — it should not be more than one to two paragraphs.

If you have not yet visited the school and are able to do so, this is another way to demonstrate continued interest.  However, if the campus is far from where you live and traveling there would be cost prohibitive, you should not feel obligated to visit.

If the college offers interviews and you haven’t had one, now is the time to schedule or request one.  Additionally, while most college admissions counselors visit high schools in the fall, if an admissions counselor from the college is visiting your school this winter, you should definitely attend.

Doing the above will not guarantee that you’ll be admitted regular decision.  Nonetheless, if the college where you’ve been deferred considers demonstrated interest, taking one or more of the aforementioned steps could improve your chances.  Even if you ultimately are denied, at least you’ll know that you did everything you could.