Early Admissions Decisions: Your Next Steps

Early admissions decisions are in from most colleges, and if you’ve applied early, chances are you know whether you’ve been admitted, deferred, or denied.

But now what? Depending on your admissions outcome, there are a variety of actions you can – and should – take. If you’ve accepted a binding admissions decision, we’ll tell you how to start off your college career on the right foot. If not, we’ll help you maximize your admissions chances going forward.

Accepted, Early Decision

First of all, congratulations! If you were admitted Early Decision, your college search has come to an ideal conclusion. The steps for you to take now are to closely follow the instructions you’ll receive from the admissions office and make sure you meet all required deposit deadlines.  In addition, send thank you notes to everyone who helped you through this process, including your guidance counselor, recommenders and tutors. They’ll certainly be happy to share in your excitement!

Withdraw All Other Applications.  Make sure you withdraw any other outstanding applications to other colleges. Failing to do so will violate the terms of your ED contract, and be unfair to many other hopeful applicants.

Accepted, Early Action

Again, congratulations, especially if your Early Action (EA) admission was to your first-choice college. Unlike an ED admit, you are not obligated to communicate your decision to colleges until May 1st, the “National Candidates Reply Date” for all non-ED applicants except NCAA-recruited athletes.

Withdraw Applications For Colleges In Which You Are No Longer Interested.  You are now in a position to re-evaluate your college list. As a result of a particular EA acceptance, you may no longer be interested in certain other colleges; if so withdraw those applications. While technically permissible, don’t keep applications open just to see whether you’d get in if you have no intention of attending; doing so potentially takes away opportunities from other students, including your friends and peers.

Denied

If you’ve been denied, you’re probably disappointed, but don’t let it get you down, and don’t second-guess yourself or your other applications. In other words, stay the course. You have already identified an appropriate range of colleges and given the application process your best shot. Have faith that you will have options that are a great fit for you!

Focus on Regular Decision Applications. In order to strengthen your chances, make sure to take the following steps:

  • Check all your college admissions portals to verify that all the application components have been received.
  • If you have not yet visited colleges that you are very interested in, do so, preferably by the end of February. Learn more about why the college is a good fit, and include that in a follow-up email to the regional admissions officers.
  • You can also send follow-up letters with any news of honors or awards, special academic achievements or extracurricular projects.

Deferred

While in some ways the most uncertain status, being deferred – and not denied – means that you are in line with the college’s admissions profile, and that you are still in the running. Nevertheless, it is also important to realize that you are no longer dealing with higher early admissions acceptance rates, but rather with lower regular admission acceptance rates.

Note that a deferral releases you from your early decision binding commitment to enroll if you are admitted.

Strengthen Your Chances for the Regular Decision Process. There are several steps you can take in order to strengthen your application to the college from which you were deferred:

  • If there is a 12th grade teacher who could add a different perspective to your application, consider submitting an additional recommendation.
  • Try to visit the college again and meet with professors in your areas of interest, if feasible.
  • Write a follow-up note re-affirming your interest. Jeff Schiffman, Interim Director of Admission for Tulane University writes, “It will be nearly impossible to be admitted to Tulane if you do not, in some form, reach out to us.”

Be genuine. If you would attend if accepted, say so. If not, state that you remain strongly interested in the college. If you have re-visited, discuss the specifics of your visit in your note.  Summarize why the college is an excellent fit for you, and mention unique strengths and experiences you would contribute to campus.  If appropriate, include updates of awards, special academic achievements or extracurricular projects that have occurred since you submitted your original application.

  • Look at the college’s admissions website to learn specifically what follow-up information they would like to receive. For example, Johns Hopkinsdoes not require, but welcomes the following: “additional standardized test results, your senior year semester grades, additional letters of recommendation, an updated rèsumè, or an additional written statement of your interest in Johns Hopkins.” Nearly all colleges will accept informational updates that help them assess your candidacy from a fresh perspective.
  • Continue to engage in all your courses. Remember that colleges require your first semester senior year grades.

Additionally, follow the steps listed above to maximize your chances at the Regular Decision colleges on your list. This will give you the best range of options down the road. By the time you need to decide which college to attend on May 1st, your preferences may well have shifted.

For a closer look at deferral rates and other early admissions trends for the Class of 2021, see our blog!

Navigating the admissions process is complicated, even long after you’ve submitted your applications. If you need any further guidance, don’t hesitate to contact Collegiate Gateway – as always, we’re happy to help!

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