How to Approach a Letter of Enthusiasm

Letter of Enthusiasm, Deferral Letter, Deferral Letter to College

We have a difference of opinion with a private college counselor who suggests one should write about accomplishments in a Letter of Enthusiasm.

When most students are deferred in the Early Decision / Early Action round, they make two fundamental errors. So what are these errors, you ask? Well, let’s spill some tea for our readers. The first error hurts their case for admission to the university that deferred their admission in the Early round. These students hurt their chances either by doing nothing post-deferral or by submitting material that squanders their chances. Maybe it’s a letter filled with subtle or not-so-subtle brags. Maybe it’s a family photo album along with several hundred pages of documents attesting to the student’s moral character, including from the cable repairman. The second error hurts their case for admission to all Regular Decision schools. These students hurt their chances by making the same mistakes they made on the Early application as they do in their Regular Decision applications.

The Importance of a Powerful Letter of Enthusiasm for Deferred Students

In an editorial out yesterday up on “Forbes” by Kristen Moon entitled “How To Handle A Deferral: A Step-By-Step Guide,” she writes, “[A deferral letter] should include why you are still highly interested in attending and [sic] this university and why it is still your top choice. If accepted, you will certainly attend. Don’t say this unless you truly mean it. Be direct and be clear with your message. Elaborate on the impressive things you have accomplished since you applied. Discuss the accomplishments or accolades you’ve received in recent months. Make your candidate profile stronger. Send a link with to your updated resume and LinkedIn page. Spend time creating a fully completed LinkedIn account if you haven’t done so. Make your online portfolio interactive to help your application come to life. Go beyond just filling out the summary, headlines, and experiences. Add pictures, relevant research papers, and video to showcase your accomplishments. Reiterate why this college is a perfect fit for you and what you will add to the campus community. This section should be brief. Do not restate items you have already mentioned in your personal statement. Be specific.”

We couldn’t disagree more strongly with just about all of the aforementioned advice in the “Forbes” editorial. “If accepted, you will certainly attend. Don’t say this unless you truly mean it.” Uhh, hello, good writing is showing not telling. A college isn’t going to believe you will attend just because you say it. Prove it. Showcase your intention to matriculate through your storytelling. That’ll show admissions officers that you “truly mean it.” But there’s oh so much more we disagree with in this piece. “Elaborate on the impressive things you have accomplished since you applied. Discuss the accomplishments or accolades you’ve received in recent months.” Yuck! Remember what President George H.W. Bush’s mom used to tell him? “Nobody likes a braggadocio, George.” Listen to Gampy’s mom! She’s right.

In highly selective college admissions, it is fundamentally important to present as likable. Elaborating on impressive accomplishments doesn’t serve that objective. And, no, neither does creating an unnecessary LinkedIn account. Oh, and to top things off, “Reiterate why this college is a perfect fit for you and what you will add to the campus community. This section should be brief.” No, this section should not be brief. This here is the crux of the one-page letter! But it’s not reiterating — it’s presenting new information that doesn’t conflict with previously submitted information but rather adds much more flavor to it.

How do we know we’re right? Well, each year we take on students who were not previously our clients, after these students were deferred by their first choice school. We help them submit powerful and compelling Letters of Enthusiasm, a term we at Ivy Coach coined many years ago. And these letters so often work. It’s not because these letters detail all of their accomplishments they’ve achieved since they first applied all of six weeks ago (what can one accomplish in six weeks?!). It’s not because these letters contain a link to a LinkedIn profile. It’s because these letters wow. It’s because these letters persuade admissions officers to want to root for them, to go to bat for them in committee.

The Importance of Not Making the Same Mistakes Again and Again

All students who first come to us after being deferred must complete a Postmortem Evaluation with us in order to receive our assistance with crafting a powerful Letter of Enthusiasm. In short, we need to know what went wrong. We need to know what story a student told. We need to know which activities they presented and just how they detailed them to admissions officers. This session helps us formulate a plan not only for crafting the Letter of Enthusiasm but there are more than two weeks before the Regular Decision deadline! Only people committed to receiving the same news they received in the Early round will not take the time to fix mistakes on the Common Application that not only hurt their case for admission in the Early round but will also hurt their case for admission to every school to which they apply in the Regular Decision round. To make the same mistakes again and again is, in our view, nuts.

 
 

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