Deferral is the worst. You can't celebrate because you didn't get accepted. But you can't mourn because you didn't get rejected. You're in limbo for the next couple months until you get a final decision.

The good news, though, is that there's still stuff you can do while you wait. Some of that stuff will help improve your chances at the college that deferred you. The rest of it will help you make sure you've done everything possible to maximize your college options.

Tip #1: Talk to your counselor.

At the end of your first semester, your counselor will be sending in a mid-year report with your grades. But along with that report, your counselor can send in additional info about any new awards and achievements you've racked up. Your counselor can also state (if it's true) that the college that deferred you is your first choice and that you would definitely attend if accepted.

Tip #2: Seek out an additional letter of recommendation.

Are there any other teachers or people who know you well who might be willing to write another letter of rec? This is another way to show who you are and demonstrate your interest in the school. Think about any important traits or experiences that you forgot to highlight in the application, and think about who might be able to write a letter to bring out that different side of you.

Tip #3: Write an update letter.

In January, it will be a good idea to write an update letter. This can highlight new information, such as additional honors and awards. It can also include additional details about why the school is a good fit for you. Have you visited the school since you applied? Attended an info session? Read those emails the school keeps sending you? Think about how to work new information into your update. Emphasis on "new information." Just regurgitating stuff you already wrote in your application the first time around isn't going to help.

Tip #4: Keep your grades up.

Though not directly related to the deferred application, keeping your grades up matters because the school will be evaluating your first-semester grades. Be smart about how you allocate your study time. If you have a solid B that you have little hope of raising to an A, then accept your fate, and devote the extra study time to the classes where you are right on the edge of an A.

Tip #5: Double check your list.

Most likely, your deferral was from a low-probability (aka "reach") school. Now is a great time to ask whether you have applied to enough medium-probability (aka "target") schools and high-probability (aka "safety") schools. Before the first decisions come back, I always have parents telling me they don't want a "conservative" (or as I would call it, "reasonable") strategy of 3 reach schools, 4 target schools, and 3 safety schools. But after that first rejection or deferral comes through, they are sometimes more open to amending the list. The good news? There's still time to do that!

Tip #6: Keep working on your other applications!

The hardest part of getting deferred is willing yourself to keep working on your other applications. It's easy to get distracted about what might have been, but that won't get you anywhere. Regroup and refocus. Get yourself into the right mindset -- the mindset that focuses on finishing up the applications in front of you instead of looking over your shoulder.

Of course, if you need help figuring out your deferral strategy or finishing up your remaining applications, please give us a call!