What to do if you’ve been deferred

On the most recent episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, guest host Sally Ganga covered a variety of topics targeted to a range of listeners: for college students, the importance of college advising in containing college costs; for middle and high schoolers, a discussion about the plethora of summer programming available (and why students should take advantage of it); and for high school seniors, what to do now if they have been deferred from their Early Decision or Early Action school-of-choice.

How College Advising Helps Control College Costs

Sally’s first guest, college finance expert Tara Piantanida-Kelly, had many insights to offer about how to complete a bachelor’s degree within four years. She started by pointing out what seems obvious to those of us who worked in higher education, but not always obvious to students and parents: in order to complete a bachelor’s degree in four years, a student has to complete more than the minimum credit load that is required for full-time enrollment (usually 12 credit hours per semester). In most cases, a student will need to complete at least 15 credit hours per semester to graduate in four years. Tara and Sally went on to talk about the events that can (but don’t always) delay a 4 year degree and add costs, like transferring and changing a major, and then discussed the importance of planning and using a “degree audit” every semester to stay on track. Tara also shared some useful information about where to find data about college four- and six-year graduation rates.

Summer Programs for Middle and High School Students

Sally’s next guest was Marie Schwartz, the founder of TeenLife, which is a valuable resource for families who are researching summer opportunities. Marie and Sally began by answering questions about why summer programming is important, when to start thinking about it, and how kids should use these low-stakes programs to explore new passions and interests and grasp the “pleasure of learning.” Marie emphasized how there are programs for everyone, and with the exception of a few selective academic programs, most summer programs have room for anyone who wants to enroll. Timing can matter when it comes to financial aid opportunities, however, so Marie encouraged families to start their research early and even make a 4-year plan for what programs their student might attend.  Finally, Marie and Sally talked through effective programming available for middle schoolers, as well as camps that provide a chance for kids to expand their communication skills, team work skills, creativity, and cultural awareness. This segment was chock full of information—if you have middle school to high school age kids, you won’t want to miss it!

What to do if you’ve Been Deferred

Sally wrapped up the show with admissions expert Tova Tolman and a robust discussion of what to do if you’ve been deferred from your Early Decision or Early Action college. Tova encouraged students to remain positive (you didn’t get rejected!), and take care to read the letter carefully for further instruction. She and Sally talked about eventually writing a “love letter” to the college with any new information about your application and letting them know you are still interested. She stressed that this does not need to happen right away, and even encouraged students to wait until February, when they are more likely to have new information to share. Tova also suggested that it is okay to contact the college to make a polite inquiry about why you were deferred, and she stressed again the importance of being positive about the fact that you have an opportunity to have your application re-evaluated.

Be sure to tune in to the next episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, when host Beth Heaton will return to talk about whether or not you should consider a gap year, and she and a college finance expert will address listener questions about college admissions and finance.


Written by Kathy Ruby
Kathy Ruby is a member of College Coach’s team of college finance experts. Before joining College Coach, Kathy was as a Senior Financial Aid Officer at St. Olaf College and Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.