What it means to be waitlisted/deferred and what is a student’s next step?

If you have applied through the early decision or early action you may find yourself to have been deferred or waitlisted. However, do not despair because it does not mean that you were rejected. On the contrary, it means that you can take steps to improve your profile and your chances of being accepted in the regular cycle. A vital step to take is to write a deferral or waitlisted letter.

What it means to be deferred/waitlisted?

First of all, let’s clarify the difference between being deferred and being waitlisted.

  • Deferred in the EA/ED cycle means that the university likes your profile/essays but they want to see something more in order to make a final decision. In that case the admissions committee will review the student’s application again under the regular decision cycle.
  • Deferred in the regular decision/rolling admissions cycle means that the university wants to see your latest grades from the final year of high school/ national examinations results in order to make a final decision on admission.
  • Waitlisted means that the university has completed reviewing your application and is not sure if they do have a spot for the student in their freshman year. It depends a lot on how many students will finally attend the university and how many places will be need to be filled by students on the waiting list. It also depends on the university’s policy. However, the more selective (and small) the university, the harder is for a student to move from the waitlist into admission.

What you should do in case of being deferred/waitlisted.

In all cases, however, if you are still interested in attending a specific university that deferred/waitlisted them, then you should write a letter of continued interest.

The letter of continued interest is the students’ a chance to convince the admissions officers that they deserve a place in the university’s incoming class.

How to write a great letter of continued interest.

The letter needs to be short, concise and precise. It is your chance to show the admissions that you really care about attending the specific university.

Here are some examples of what to include:

  • Your GPA and/or SAT improved since you have applied. Your improved scores show that you continue to strive to excel academically so to be better prepared for college.
  • You gained new awards, distinctions, attended online courses, worked on research, or had publications. New achievements show your dedication and real interest after the application process.
  • You enhanced your leadership skills through extracurricular activities such as volunteering. You have to explain your accomplishments, the work you did and its impact.
  • You can include supplementary material to update the committee on your achievements.


  “I’m thankful for giving me the opportunity to be on your waiting list and I would be honoured to attend your esteemed university should I be given the chance.”

 “After applying to … I sat for SAT again and I improved my score, which I send through the Collegeboard as I would like the committee to review my application again with the new scores.”

 “Since I sent my application I am honoured to report that I have won this competition/award, that I have completed my research project on.. and I took this initiative.  I believe that activity/award/honor/initiative demonstrates my pathos, dedication and determination for…”

 “I believe that this professor/this research is in tune with my desire to learn more/advance my knowledge on…and if I am accepted I would contribute my skills to this research (specific).”

What to avoid:

  • Avoid addressing the admissions committees in general. You should research the admission officer’s name in case they cannot find it in the waitlist/deferral letter they received from the university.
  • Avoid being too emotional. You can definitely feel sad, angry, or disappointed from being waitlisted/deferred. However, their letter should show genuine enthusiasm, thankfulness for a second chance, and hopefulness that they will be admitted as well as reassurance that in case they are admitted they will attend.
  • Avoid mentioning any redundant facts. Admission officers have already reviewed your activity lists, additional info and essays through their initial application. Don’t bombard them with information they already have, just list any updates.

Note: Don’t send letters to all the universities that deferred/ waitlisted you just to the ones you really care attending.

We at CLC know our students’ profiles very well and keep up throughout the year with our USA applicants’ profiles and decisions on their applications. The CLC mentors know what and how to write the perfect letter of “continued interest” and we stay by our students’ side throughout the whole application process until they decide which institution they will attend.

Good luck to all!



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