I first posted most of this information in December last year, and it has proved to be one of the most popular posts on the site, so it seemed timely to share once more.
When it comes down to it, no admissions decision is really final, but your investment of time and energy may vary widely depending on which letter you receive.
Being deferred is generally an indication that your record is borderline for admission, and the admissions office wants to see some portion of your senior year grades and/or more recent test scores before making a decision. In that case you want to get your grades and scores as high as possible. You may also want to send a note to the office letting them know that you are really interested and that the school is your first choice, if that’s the case. You don’t need to send any other supplemental information unless the school asks for it, or unless there is something significantly different/new. So what is significant? Say you never sent them a copy of your garage band’s really sweet track – that’s probably not helpful unless you’re a PHENOMENAL musician AND applying to a music program (and even then it might never get a listen). On the other hand, say you win a Nobel Prize – any Nobel prize will do – that’s likely something you should share with the admissions officers. You really can’t appeal a decision to defer, since it’s not really a decision so much as a post-poning of your decision.
If you get denied, you are unlikely to change the decision unless you believe the admissions committee made a huge mistake (if your name is John Smith and you a have a 4.0 and perfect SAT’s, are valedictorian, and won a Nobel Prize, but were denied by your local junior college, you have a reasonable chance that there’s been some confusion with your file). It is possible that there is something the committee missed, overlooked, or just didn’t know. You can, at most institutions, appeal your decision, although very few institutions announce this or even mention it. If you wish to do so, you can send a letter to the Director of Admissions asking for a review, but I encourage you to consider whether you have any new information to offer. If there is nothing new to consider, and unless that new information is really compelling, it’s unlikely the school will change their decision.
Waitlisted – also known as purgatory or limbo. I suggest, sort of like deferred, you do your best to get your grades and scores up if you can, and send a note saying just how much you want that school. Some students try to appeal waitlist decisions, but I’ve found, often as not, that this pulls them out of waitlist consideration and into an appeals process, which is unlikely to be successful, and may even hurt your chances on the waitlist. Some schools offer waitlist interview opportunities – you should TAKE THEM. No one is opposed to a little in person begging and groveling, given the opportunity.
The hardest thing to do is not to be miserable over a less than positive admission decision. Too often students tell me that their lives have been RUINED by the stupid decisions of some admission committee. Please, don’t give them (or even me) that much power. One mom complained that I just didn’t know her daughter as well as she did. Right. That would be because she is…wait for it…not my daughter. All colleges like to talk about how personally we treat you, but at the end of the day admissions officers are making decisions about your life without spending much, if any, time with you. They only have what’s on paper (or the screen), and maybe a fwe minutes from an intereview, and that is NOT YOU. There are 4,000 colleges and universities in the country and MANY will be great for you. Don’t let a bunch of people you never met be decision makers about your feelings of self-worth. They don’t know YOU, just a bunch of numbers. And yes, some might even make stupid decisions.
Of course, it’s likely that Mason IS the perfect school for you (because we’re just that good), but wherever you get admitted, bear this in mind: As of the last big Department of Education study, 60% of all students in higher education attend more than one institution. Translation – hundreds of thousands of students transfer each year. The U.S. has the greatest community and junior college system in the world. Don’t be afraid to pick one as a great place to start. Be seeing you.
Filed under: Admissions, Applications, College, College Admissions, Deadlines, Education, Essays, Family, George Mason University, GPA, Grades, High School, Life, Parents, SAT, Scholarships, University | Tagged: Admissions, College, defer, deny, Education, Family, Life, tests, University, Waitlist | 10 Comments »