The Ivy Coach Daily

November 25, 2023

What To Do After Being Deferred by Northwestern

The arch is featured at Northwestern University's gates.
Learn how to best approach a Northwestern deferral (photo credit: Rdsmith4).

Did Northwestern University defer your admission in the Early Decision round to the Class of 2028? If so, though it’s not the outcome you had hoped for, all hope should not be lost. While Northwestern has historically been tight-lipped about the percentage of students it defers each Early Decision cycle — as opposed to accepts or denies, in our experience over the last three decades in elite college admissions, a Northwestern deferral means something (as in deferred students truly have a shot of earning admission in Regular Decision).

Northwestern Early Decision Admission Statistics

Northwestern typically admits about half of its incoming class in the Early Decision round (or about 1,000 of an anticipated class of 2,000 students). However, the school has kept its Early Decision admissions figures close to the vest in recent years, choosing not to publish its ED admission, deferral, and denial rates.

Last year, for the Northwestern Class of 2027, about 5,200 students applied Early Decision, a 3.5% jump from the Class of 2026. And since about half of the 2,000-student incoming class is filled with Early Decision admits, it means Northwestern’s Class of 2027 Early Decision admission rate was approximately 19%.

Northwestern’s overall admission rate — a figure that includes both Early Decision and Regular Decision statistics — was a mere 7% for the Class of 2027. So, is there a benefit of making a binding commitment to Northwestern by applying Early Decision? You bet!

Northwestern Doesn’t Disclose the Percentage of Deferred Candidates

And while Northwestern has chosen not to release the percentage of students deferred or denied in the Early Decision round in recent years (any such figures you find online are not accurate since the figures are not disclosed in the school’s Common Data Set nor have they been made available in Northwestern press releases or through Northwestern’s student newspaper, The Daily Northwestern), in our experience at Ivy Coach, a batch of deferred students annually earn Regular Decision admission.

As Northwestern’s Associate Dean & Director of Undergraduate Admission, Liz Kinsley, wrote in 2022 of deferred Northwestern students, “We anticipate admitting a small number of deferred candidates through our Regular Decision round.”

5 Steps to Take After a Northwestern Deferral

  1. Let out a Primal Scream! Alright, maybe you don’t wish to do something that is so distinctly Northwestern after they deferred your candidacy, but it’s important to let your emotions out before diving into what went wrong, what went right, what needs to change for your Regular Decision schools, and how you can best position your Northwestern candidacy to expect better results in late March.
  2. Hop on a free consultation with Ivy Coach to learn about our services for deferred students. Over the last 30 years, 33% of students who first come to Ivy Coach after being deferred by Northwestern have earned admission. Keep in mind, at most highly selective universities, about 10% of deferred students get in. So, while we can’t give you a fantastic shot of earning RD admission to Northwestern, we can vastly improve your odds.
  3. Complete Ivy Coach’s PostMortem application review. We need to go through every section of your Common Application because you’ll be submitting that same Common App. to all of your Regular Decision schools in about two weeks. So, wouldn’t you want to figure out what you did wrong and how you can better position yourself to other elite universities? While you can’t change your Northwestern application, you can change your not-yet-submitted applications. In addition, we can typically go through up to three supplements, letting students know how they can better position their cases for admission.
  4. Prepare and submit a Letter of Continued Interest with Ivy Coach’s assistance. The letter should go in within a few days of your deferral. While most deferred students know that doing nothing is an unlikely strategy to earn Regular Decision admission, most deferred students erroneously think that they should update Northwestern on all they’ve achieved in the six or so weeks since they applied. As such, they send braggy letters that actually do them quite the disservice. The Letters of Continued Interest that Ivy Coach’s students submit feature no brags and no updates. So, what’s the secret sauce of our letters? Wouldn’t you like to know!
  5. In the New Year, bring your Letter of Continued Interest to your school counselor and ask your school counselor if they’d be willing to make an advocacy call on your behalf to Northwestern. Some school counselors will make such calls, while others won’t. The good ones will. And by bringing your school counselor your letter, they’ll be able to talk you up precisely how you presented yourself post-deferral.

Northwestern Deferral FAQ

Should I submit lots of extra material to Northwestern? Should I send them a letter once a week, once a month?

No, you should submit a single letter. Your goal should not be to pepper Northwestern with letters every week or every month. Such a tactic will only annoy Northwestern’s admissions committee and inspire them to root against you. Besides, it will drown out the power of your Letter of Continued Interest. You have to let that letter speak — and breathe!

How can I submit my Letter of Continued Interest to Northwestern?

You can upload your Letter of Continued Interest through the portal. You can also email it to your regional representative. As Northwestern’s Kinsley writes, “While we neither require nor expect deferred candidates to submit additional information or letters of support, students who wish to send updates may submit those via their online applicant portal.”

Why should I spend more time on Northwestern? Shouldn’t I move on?

While you should, of course, be simultaneously focused on your other Regular Decision schools, you should not throw in the towel on your case for admission to Northwestern. As a deferred candidate, you’ve still got a genuine shot, and Northwestern is the school to which you earmarked your Early Decision card — so don’t waste it by giving up mid-game.

What percentage of deferred candidates earn admission to Northwestern in Regular Decision?

While Northwestern has been tight-lipped on this figure in recent years, we would estimate that around 10% of deferred candidates get in each year. This figure compares to the 33% of students who first come to Ivy Coach after being deferred by Northwestern over the last three decades.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance Post-Northwestern Deferral

If you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission to Northwestern post-deferral, fill out Ivy Coach’s free consultation form, and we’ll contact you to outline our services for deferred candidates. Oh, and chin up!

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