The Ivy Coach Daily

December 5, 2023

What To Do After Being Deferred by Duke

Duke's Levine Science Research Center is featured.

Was your child recently deferred by Duke University to the Class of 2028? If so, while it’s likely not the outcome you hoped for this December, all hope should not be lost. While most deferred applicants to Duke never earn admission, most deferred Duke applicants don’t play their cards right. So what should deferred Duke applicants do to best position themselves for Regular Decision admission? You’ve come to the right place to find out!

Duke Early Decision Admissions Statistics

Below are Duke’s Early Decision admissions statistics over the last eight years, including this year’s record-low Early Decision admission rate and total Early Decision applications (a 28% increase from last year!):

Duke Class YearNumber of Early Decision ApplicationsNumber of Early Decision AcceptancesEarly Decision Acceptance Rate
Class of 20286,24080612.9%
Class of 20274,88080016.39%
Class of 20264,01585521.3%
Class of 20255,03684016.7%
Class of 20244,28088721%
Class of 20234,85288218%
Class of 20224,09087521.39%
Class of 20213,51686124.49%

Duke Early Decision Deferral Rates

Duke doesn’t always release the number of students they defer as opposed to deny admission in the Early Decision round. That being said, in our estimation, Duke typically defers a slightly greater percentage of students than they accept annually.

So, for the Duke Class of 2028, 12.9% of students earned Early Decision admission. It would not surprise us if an additional 20% of applicants were deferred admission while most were denied admission outright. A deferral at Duke is thus meaningful.

In fact, two years ago, for the Duke Class of 2026, 110 deferred Early Decision candidates earned Regular Decision admission — not too shabby. That same admissions cycle, 855 students earned Early Decision admission to Duke’s Class of 2026, drawn from an ED applicant pool of 4,015 students.

5 Steps to Take After Being Deferred by Duke

  1. Breathe in and breathe out. You’ve still got a shot of getting in. It is not atypical for Duke to offer Regular Decision admission to over 100 deferred Early Decision candidates. So, there’s hope!
  2. Complete a PostMortem application review with Ivy Coach so that your child knows precisely what went wrong, what went right, and how your child needs to reposition themselves for Regular Decision admission to Duke. Through this same review, they’ll come away with an understanding of how to improve their Regular Decision applications to the other schools on their list.
  3. Write a compelling Letter of Continued Interest to Duke with Ivy Coach’s assistance. This letter should not be filled with your child’s accomplishments. It should not be treated as an update on all that they’ve done since they first applied six weeks ago. Instead, it should be approached as a love letter to Duke, brimming with specifics on how a student will contribute their singular hook — rather than well-roundedness — to the Durham, North Carolina-based institution. In a word, Ivy Coach’s Letters of Continued Interest are weird. It’s a big reason why they’re so successful for students who first approach our firm after being deferred by Duke.
  4. Make the recommended changes from the PostMortem to the Regular Decision applications. The Duke application can’t be modified, but every other application that hasn’t yet been submitted can be. Your child should not expect different results if they position themselves the same way they did in the Early Decision round.
  5. Your child should ask their school counselor to make an advocacy call on their behalf in the New Year. But we wouldn’t want them calling your regional rep from Duke and just saying whatever comes into their head. We’d want them positioning your child as they position themselves in their Letter of Continued Interest. So they should bring their letter to their school counselor. And as to school counselors who won’t make advocacy calls in the spirit of alleged equity? It’s nonsense. They’re just being lazy. Ivy Coach was founded by a high school counselor who made advocacy calls for her students. They are so often effective when combined with a great Letter of Continued Interest.

5 Common Mistakes to Avoid After Being Deferred by Duke

  1. Penpal with Duke’s admissions committee. Duke’s admissions officers do not wish to be in regular touch with deferred applicants. It’s uncomfortable. Leave them alone. Your child should not contact Duke after submitting their Letter of Continued Interest. Doing so will only annoy Duke’s admissions committee and drown out the power of their letter. Less is more. The sycophantic emails will not serve their candidacy.
  2. Pitch a tent outside the Duke admissions office. You laugh but students have done the craziest things over the years because they think it’s creative and never been done. It’s been done. Bus ads, YouTube videos, and any other such “creative” expressions after deferrals should also be avoided.
  3. Write Duke’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag. Every year, parents think they’re helping their children by going above the heads of their Duke regional reps. Such a Karen move will all but assure their child’s rejection. Parents should make no contact with Duke’s admissions committee and students should never go above the heads of their regional reps unless they wish to be loathed…and then rejected.
  4. Update Duke on the offers of admission you received. Do you think your child would be the first student to let Duke’s admissions committee know they’ve earned admission to various elite colleges — as though Duke made a mistake? Such a move will only inspire Duke’s admissions committee to think to themselves, “Why is this student sending this update? To stick it to us? We’ll show them — reject!”
  5. Do nothing. If your child chose not to submit a Letter of Continued Interest after their Duke deferral and figured they’d still have a shot of getting in by doing nothing, they’re mistaken. Rarely, in our experience, does a student who does not show their love for Duke after being deferred earn Regular Decision admission.

Duke Deferral FAQ

Does Duke deny more applicants than they defer?

Yes, typically, Duke defers slightly more applicants than they accept each Early Decision round. The majority of Duke’s ED applicants are denied outright.

Does my child really have a shot of getting into Duke after a deferral?

Yes, if they play their cards right! It is not uncommon for over a hundred deferred applicants to earn Regular Decision admission. That’s not small potatoes!

Do all of Duke’s deferred Early Decision candidates have a genuine shot of getting in?

No, some, for instance, are courtesy deferrals. A courtesy deferral could be the child of an alum. Legacy candidates are rarely denied admission because there’s no harm in letting their parents think their candidacy was strongly considered. Why risk the donation dollars?

How to Get Started with Ivy Coach After Duke Deferral

Over the last 30 years, around 50% of students who first come to Ivy Coach after being deferred by Duke have earned Regular Decision admission — one of our strongest deferral statistics across our nation’s elite universities. To put this figure in perspective, in general, about 10% of deferred candidates to elite universities earn admission in Regular Decision.

If you’re interested in getting started with Ivy Coach with our PostMortem application review and assistance crafting a powerful Letter of Continued Interest, fill out our consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to outline our services for deferred applicants.

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