The Ivy Coach Daily

December 14, 2016

Deferred at Harvard University

Deferred at Harvard, Harvard Deferral, Harvard Deferral in Early Round
Deferred at Harvard? It’s time to focus on your Regular Decision applications (photo credit: Chensiyuan).

When Harvard releases decisions, a bunch of folks reach out to us because their children were deferred and, after reading our college admissions blog, they know that we help students who first come to us after being deferred submit powerful and compelling Letters of Enthusiasm. After all, it’s a term we at Ivy Coach coined years ago. It’s now part of the college admissions vernacular. And that’s ok with us!

What never ceases to amaze us about the parents of students who are deferred is that they are so focused on turning that deferral into an offer of admission. Let us be very clear. The vast majority of applicants to highly selective colleges who are deferred will not earn admission in the Regular Decision round. Only about 10% of them will be able to jump through this hoop. Do the vast majority of students who first come to us after being deferred earn admission? No. But certainly much more than 10% of students who first come to after being deferred end up getting in. A whole lot more than 10%. The vast majority? No. And if anyone should tell you that the vast majority of students who first come to them after being deferred get in, run! And run fast.

Parents of deferred students are so often laser-focused on submitting powerful Letters of Enthusiasm. And, yes, students should do all they can to turn deferrals into offers of admission. But what about the Regular Decision schools? Parents and students should commit that same focus to making sure mistakes committed in the Early round aren’t committed in Regular Decision.

What surprises us, though, is the focus parents and students have on turning their deferral at a school like Harvard into an offer of admission. Is it important that students do all they can to give themselves the best shot possible at Harvard? You bet. But, more significantly, we promise that if a student was deferred or denied admission in the Early round to a highly selective college, there were mistakes in the application. Often times, major faux pas were committed. And while a Postmortem Evaluation (another term we coined years ago) in which we go through what went wrong on the Early application and what needs to change for other schools is included with our Letter of Enthusiasm assistance, we would argue it’s even more valuable than the Letter of Enthusiasm. There, we said it.

Why make the same mistakes that students made with schools like Harvard in the Early round on all Regular Decision schools? It’s only December 14th. There are still two full weeks in which students can revamp major parts of their applications, applications that were — in all likelihood — flawed. But, alas, parents’ laser-like focus on Letters of Enthusiasm and not on correcting mistakes committed in the Early round seems to be an annual tradition. Like the Turkey pardoning.

What was that famous idiom that President George W. Bush once tried to say? “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

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