The Ivy Coach Daily

December 22, 2020

Postmortem Evaluation for Deferred or Denied Early Applicants

Ivy Coach offers a Postmortem Evaluation for deferred or denied students.

Was your child deferred or denied in the Early Decision / Early Action round? If so, breathe in, breathe out, and now roll up your sleeves because it’s time to get to work — to ensure that the mistakes that were made in the Early round are not repeated in the Regular Decision round. In our nearly 30 years of experience helping students earn admission to their dream schools at Ivy Coach, we have come to conclude that students — unless properly corrected — tend to make the same mistakes in the Regular Decision round that they did in the Early Decision / Early Action round. And that’s a head-scratcher for us since many of these mistakes are entirely correctable in the two weeks between Early notifications and Regular Decision deadlines. Are there some mistakes that can’t be corrected? Sure, if a student didn’t take certain SAT Subject Tests, AP exams, or SAT / ACT exams, there’s no way to address this error. But there are so many errors that can still absolutely be addressed in these intermediary two weeks.

Ivy Coach’s Postmortem Evaluation

It’s why we offer Ivy Coach’s Postmortem Evaluation for deferred or denied students. During this one-hour session, we will go through via FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom every component of the Early application and typically two to three additional applications — yes, we can get through it all — and let you know what went wrong in each section. It could be something seemingly inconsequential. It’s a one hour session chock full of advice that not only offers insight into what went wrong but is brimming with advice on how a student can reposition themselves to optimize their case for admission in the Regular Decision round. And, yes, going through the Early application has tremendous value — it’s not what’s done is done — because it’s that same Common Application that the student will be submitting in just two weeks…hopefully not with those same glaring mistakes.

Maybe a student indicated that her father works at a certain hospital and the student also happened to work as a volunteer at the hospital. Well, not only is volunteering at a hospital a rather cliché activity from a college admissions standpoint, but it appears the student didn’t show initiative — choosing instead to rely on dad’s connections at his hospital to secure an opportunity. That renders the student less likable and one key reason why Ivy Coach’s students so often earn admission to their dream schools is that they are incredibly likable and easy to root for. Or maybe the student wrote about sports, music, community service, grandparents, or foreign travel in their Personal Statement. Yikes. Those topics are non-starters. No essay executed on any one of these topics should ever be submitted.

Or maybe the student didn’t answer the Covid-19 essay. No essay in highly selective college admissions should ever be considered optional — applicants should use all of the real estate they are given to make their case. Or maybe the student failed to include any genuine specifics in a Why College essay. The whole game in a Why College essay is to convince admissions officers that the student has done his homework on the school. You’re not fooling anyone with an expression in a Why UPenn essay that reads “the great diversity of the student body at UPenn.” They know that you could cut and paste this very sentence for your Why Dartmouth essay, replacing UPenn with Dartmouth.

In our experience, students and parents are sometimes — for an hour or two — a tad deflated after Ivy Coach’s Postmortem Evaluation because they realize that so many of the mistakes they made, and which led to heated fights between parents and child, were easily avoidable. No, you shouldn’t have put your social security number under FAFSA because it implies you’re applying for financial aid and even though most universities tell you they’re need-blind, well, they’re not being truthful since they’re very much need-aware. But, in our experience, students get over that initial disappointment later that day and — armed with how we suggest your child repositions for the Regular Decision round — begins taking proactive, savvy steps to use the upcoming two weeks to optimize their case for admission. And, yes, your whole family can avoid all the unnecessary slammed doors once you’re all on the same page with the right course of action going forward.

Ivy Coach’s Letter of Enthusiasm Assistance

For those students who have been deferred admission in the Early round, the vast majority will choose to go one of two routes: (1) they’ll do nothing or (2) they’ll throw lots of things at the wall to see what sticks. Neither approach is the correct approach after a deferral — and they are equally as bad. We at Ivy Coach have great success with helping students who were not previously our clients and approach us for the first time after being deferred earn admission to the schools that deferred their admission to the Regular Decision round.

Typically, around 10% of deferred applicants ultimately earn admission in the Regular Decision round. In most years, around 40% of students who first come to us after a deferral or waitlist and enlist our help with crafting a powerful Letter of Enthusiasm ultimately earn admission in the Regular Decision round. This past year, nearly 80% of students who approached us after a deferral (or waitlist in the Regular Decision round) earned admission. We suspect our figure will be closer to the typical 40% this year since last year’s figure was influenced by uncertainty at our nation’s elite universities due to the pandemic. We suspect they’ll be less uncertain this year since, at many of these institutions, around 20% of seats in the Class of 2025 are already filled with students admitted to the Class of 2024 who chose to take gap years.

When we take on deferred students as clients, we always tell them, “You don’t have a great chance. If anyone should suggest you have a great chance, we suggest you run, run fast, and run for the hills. All we can do at Ivy Coach is give you the best shot possible of earning admission in the Regular Decision round. And, through the process, you’ll also learn how to better position yourself for your Regular Decision schools since you can indeed get mileage out of the letter when you re-approach your essays for the schools to which you’ll be submitting applications to in two weeks time.” And if a parent then asks for a guarantee of their child’s Regular Decision admission to the school that sent them a deferral, well, they might find that the phone line went dead. Frankly, we’d rather bake a rhubarb pie than address such nonsensical questions. If only we knew how to make a rhubarb pie…

But we do know how to help students craft compelling and powerful, always unique Letters of Enthusiasm. Ivy Coach’s Letter of Enthusiasm process works as follows: (1) we conduct the Postmortem Evaluation so students know what went wrong and how they’re gong to reposition themselves in the Regular Decision round, (2) we reconvene the next day and read Letters of Enthusiasm that have worked for Ivy Coach’s students in the past, (3) we provide students paragraph by paragraph direction for their unique Letter of Enthusiasm, (4) students write the first draft of the Letter of Enthusiasm, (5) we revise that draft so it’s as powerful as can be and until we believe it’s in outstanding shape for submission. And as to our Letter of Enthusiasm secret sauce, well, know that it’s delicious…and secret. What we will share is this: The letters of our students are always weird. They are always filled with specifics about the institution. They are never written how a student would have ordinarily positioned his or her candidacy. They never contain brags or list accomplishments. And they always dare admissions officers not to slide the application to the top of the deferred pile.

How to Enlist Ivy Coach’s Assistance with Postmortem Evaluation or Postmortem Evaluation + Letter of Enthusiasm

If you’re interested in signing up for a Postmortem Evaluation, please fill out Ivy Coach’s free consultation form and indicate Postmortem Evaluation at the bottom. If you’re interested in Ivy Coach’s help with a Letter of Enthusiasm, indicate Letter of Enthusiasm at the bottom. One can receive a Postmortem Evaluation without assistance with a Letter of Enthusiasm but a Postmortem Evaluation is inextricably tied with a Letter of Enthusiasm. And if you’ve already submitted three letters, a family photo album, and baby teeth to admissions subsequent to your deferral, well, godspeed!

You are permitted to use (including the content of the Blog) for your personal, non-commercial use only. You must not copy, download, print, or otherwise distribute the content on our site without the prior written consent of Ivy Coach, Inc.


If you’re interested in Ivy Coach’s college counseling,
fill out our complimentary consultation form and we’ll be in touch.

Get Started