HomeArticlesDeferred Applicant Requests Advice on How to Remain Viable

Dear Estelle. What suggestions do you have to help our son remain a viable candidate at the University of Chicago?  He applied early action and received a deferral shortly before Christmas.  He still insists U. of Chicago is his top choice but frankly we think his chances are slim considering the publicity that all the selective universities and colleges are receiving concerning the explosion in applications this year. His high school record and test scores are exemplary.  He’s in the top 5% of his class and his dedication to the debate team over the past few years has been noteworthy. His team has gone to state and brought home numerous awards.  His supplementary essays were so interesting that many adult friends who read them commented on the maturity in which he handled the unusual topics. Your expertise would be helpful.
JL Greenwood Village

Your son sounds like a person who has met all the requirements for a school like U. of Chicago but unfortunately he joins the ranks of thousands of highly qualified candidates who have applied early action to numerous colleges using the common application. This way they can receive a quick answer without a commitment as required by an early decision application.This, of course, benefits the colleges too who receive many more applicants than they can possibly accommodate.

Marketing and intense recruiting play a major role in the increasing number of students applying everywhere. Many schools have seen double-digit increases in their applicant pools this year. The more applications a college receives the more selective it becomes. With colleges unable to determine their actual yield many more students are deferred and later relegated to wait lists. Frequently students are heavily recruited by colleges only to be rejected when they join the applicant pool.

The applicant pool for the September 2011 class for the University of Chicago has been incredible both in terms of quality and numbers. For this fall’s freshman class it received a record 19,347 applications, an increase of 43% over the previous year. This is remarkable because for years the U. of Chicago considered itself an intellectual holdout distinguishing itself from most other colleges and universities around the country. For year it called its application the “Uncommon Application.” It was frequently considered a school for nerds. The questions it asked prospective students were anything but simple. In 2006 it joined the Common Application pool–still asking unusual supplement questions–but appealing to a wider variety of bright, intelligent students. Your son is a victim of a process which encourages numerous applicants but only accepts a few making the school appear highly selective. Good marketing tactics, wouldn’t you agree?

Nevertheless, if your son wants to remain a viable candidate to the University of Chicago or any other selective institution, he must continue to show “dedicated interest.”

This includes the following:

  1. Write a letter to the admissions office indicating this school remains his #1 choice.
  2. Contact the regional admissions rep if there is one and let them know your disappointment.
  3. Send your second and third quarter grades showing how he’s remained exemplary.
  4. Send an additional recommendation from an important alum if they know your son.
  5. Send a recommendation from a nonacademic teacher or advisor such as the debate coach.
  6. Update the admissions office on any new awards or honors that weren’t available at the time of the application.
  7. Call the admissions office periodically to let them know his ongoing interest.

Best of luck to him and all candidates who have been deferred to regular decision.

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