The Ivy Coach Daily

December 13, 2023

The Postmortem Strategy Session for Deferred or Denied Early Applicants

Students walk on the steps of Widener Library at Harvard.
Ivy Coach offers a PostMortem strategy session for deferred or denied students.

Previously Published on December 17, 2021:

If your child has received word that they’ve been deferred or denied admission to their dream school in the Early round of admission to the Class of 2028, take a moment to mourn the decision. And in the next moment, get over it because you simply don’t have time to go through the five stages of grief right now. With most Regular Decision applications due on January 1st, you don’t have the days to waste. It’s time to start taking corrective action so the mistakes your child made in the Early round are not repeated in the Regular Decision round — and, yes, mistakes were made (often significant ones).

Can every mistake be fixed in the approximate two weeks before the Regular Decision deadline? No. If your child didn’t take a certain course or a certain test, it’s unlikely this mistake can still be corrected. Yet so many key elements of your child’s case for admission can still absolutely be corrected, including and especially how they tell their story, how they demonstrate their love for the schools to which they’re applying RD, and more.

Ivy Coach’s PostMortem Strategy Session for Deferred or Denied Students

It’s precisely why we at Ivy Coach offer a PostMortem strategy session for either deferred or denied students in this dark hour of your family’s life. In short, it’s an autopsy of your child’s full Common Application and we can typically get through up to three supplements during the session as well. After all, that same Common Application will be submitted to all of their Regular Decision schools and if mistakes were made — as they likely were — wouldn’t you want to avoid making the same mistake again and again?

It could be your child’s answer to a seemingly innocuous question like writing in one’s social security number. By writing in the social security number, it implies the student needs financial aid and even though colleges so often claim to be need-blind, they are more often need-aware.

It could be that your child’s activities present them as well-rounded, as good at sports, music, community service, leadership, and brushing their teeth. Yet elite colleges have not sought out well-rounded students in decades. Rather, they want singularly talented students — award-winning science researchers, recruited athletes, linguists, and more — who when brought together will form a well-rounded class of singularly talented students. And while we can’t recommend new activities to get involved in at this late date, we can still reposition many of the existing activities to better showcase a singular hook, a narrative through-line if you will.

And then there are all the essays, which are still very much in a student’s control. If a student wrote about sports or music or community service or their grandparents or a childhood illness in their Personal Statement, it needs to be burned and your child needs to begin anew (sorry, but we tell it like it is at Ivy Coach and, in our experience, your child will be upset for an hour, two tops, before they get over it and start taking corrective action). We will give direction for how your child can reposition their Personal Statement. But it’s not just the Personal Statement as there are so many other essays that are equally as important since these essays are critical opportunities for students to not only tell their stories but also demonstrate interest in the individual colleges.

When your child was asked why they wish to attend a specific university — in short, a Why College essay — did they write how the school has a diverse student body with interdisciplinary coursework and a beautiful campus? Did they name-drop professors and list classes? If so, the essay needs to also be burned in that same fire because the whole purpose of a Why College essay is for a student to demonstrate that they’ve done their homework on the school by citing unique programs, institutes, activities, culture, and more that apply to that particular school and only to that school. If a single sentence in a Why College essay can apply to both Brown and Dartmouth, Duke and Penn, then the student has wasted key real estate to make their case.

And while the school to which your child applied Early knew your child loved them (since they applied Early), the same will not be the case in the Regular Decision round. In the Regular Decision round, your child must convince each school to which they’re applying that this school is your child’s first choice. But you don’t convince admissions officers by telling them as much (writing it’s the school one most wishes to attend is an utter waste of space). You convince them by showing them, notably through the specifics within Why College essays, a key component discussed during Ivy Coach’s PostMortem strategy session.

Ivy Coach’s Letter of Continued Interest Assistance for Deferred Students

For students who are denied admission to their Early school, that’s the final word on that dream so our focus is exclusively on repositioning their cases for admission in the Regular Decision round — so they don’t make the same mistakes over and over again. Yet for students who are deferred admission to their Early school, that is certainly not the final word on that dream. In fact, the very person writing today’s post was deferred admission to their dream Ivy League school — yet ended up graduating from that Ivy League school with honors.

Thus, to all those parents who think either to themselves or aloud, “Our focus is really on the Regular Decision schools. We’ve lost hope on the Early school,” we say to you, “Nonsense!” You must have a twofold focus now: (1) repositioning your child’s case for admission to all Regular Decision schools but also (2) optimizing your child’s case for admission to their Early school. After all, your child used their most valuable card in admissions — their Early card — on this school. To give up the fight now is nonsensical.

As a rule of thumb, about 10% of students who are deferred end up getting into that same school in the Regular Decision round. Over the last 30 years, about 40% of students who first come to Ivy Coach after a deferral end up earning admission. And, no, silly goose, most people are not coming to Ivy Coach after a deferral from Podunk Community College. They’re coming to us after deferrals from Ivy League institutions, as well as from the Dukes, MITs, Northwesterns, Johns Hopkins, and Vanderbilts of the world.

So, how do we help students take the fight to their Early school? Well, most parents and students know that they should be imminently submitting Letters of Continued Interest to their Early school (no, not in January school (no, not in January — but now so the school doesn’t come to believe the student has developed sour grapes). And these parents are right. Yet the instinct of most parents — and their demoralized children after their deferral — is that by simply submitting a letter, they’ve done everything they can. That that is dead wrong. Instead, it’s all about what goes in that letter and the natural, knee-jerk instinct of most parents and students is to throw the kitchen sink at the school. To brag. To update. To let the college know everything they’ve been doing since they first applied all of six weeks ago. Has your child launched a spaceship to Mars in the last six weeks? We didn’t think so.

Is bragging and updating the Early school a likely strategy to turn a deferral into an offer of admission, to inspire an admissions officer to want to root for your child? Certainly not — it’s everything we at Ivy Coach are against and it’s everything that has no place in the Letters of Continued Interest of our very likable students. So, what’s our secret sauce? Well, that’s a delicious family recipe that is reserved exclusively for Ivy Coach’s clients. But we’ll give you a little hint. It’s filled with love. It’s filled with specifics that only apply to that particular institution. And it’s filled with a dare — a dare to admissions officers not to admit a young person who will change the world in one small but super meaningful way.

December College Application Overhaul for Deferred or Denied Students

Beyond Ivy Coach’s PostMortem strategy session for deferred or denied students and Letter of Continued Interest assistance for deferred students, we take on a select few students each year around this time to help revamp their applications, including all of their admissions essays. While there are always mistakes that we can’t correct at this late date, our task is to make the best of the hand that we are dealt. And there is so very much that can still be corrected at this late date to ward off the same kind of news after the Regular Decision round that they received after the Early round.

The students we take on to assist with their college applications over the last two weeks of December are students who first complete Ivy Coach’s PostMortem strategy session. After all, the strategy we lay out during that session is the strategy we are going to be executing with your child over the last two weeks of December. If we don’t work together beyond the PostMortem, how that strategy is executed is in your hands and in your hands alone over the holiday season — but at least you’re armed with the strategy. And it’s likely a very different strategy than the one you would have otherwise executed.

How to Enlist Ivy Coach’s PostMortem or PostMortem + Letter of Continued Interest Help

If you’re interested in Ivy Coach’s assistance with a PostMortem strategy session or a PostMortem followed by Letter of Continued Interest assistance or either of the above followed by a December college application overhaul, click on our orange button, complete our complimentary consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to answer any questions you have about our services. If you do wish to proceed, we recommend you contact us sooner rather than later since time is of the essence and we often do fill up during the holiday craze.

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