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Rejected, Deferred or Waitlisted....Now What?

You did your homework and fell in love with one particular school. You applied, wrote the essays, did the supplements. You poured your heart and soul into your application and personal statement. You pictured yourself strolling the campus and happily attending next fall.

Alas, it is not to be, you’ve been REJECTED or WAITLISTED or DEFERRED.

What does this mean?

Differed means that your early action or early decision application was moved into the Regular Decision pool. You haven’t been accepted and will find out the ultimate decision this spring. Remember, this is not a “rejection” it is a postponement of the decision.

There are many reasons why applications are deferred, it could be that they received so many applications that they couldn’t review them all by the early decision announcement deadline. It could be that they are being very strategic about building their freshman class, so they want to see who you are compared to the other regular decision pool applicants. It could be that you have such great qualifications that they assume you won’t attend. More and more schools are using deferral and the waitlist to manage their applicant pool.

If you can, visit the college campus to see if your feelings about it have changed. Make sure to send in any documentation, such as first semester senior year grades, that they request.

Remember, it’s not a rejection, it’s a second chance at admission.

Waitlist: Most of the time it means that you have the academic credentials and background to be admitted, but they aren’t ready to accept you. A growing number of colleges are using the waitlist to manage their enrollment. Colleges always admit more students than they have space for. They do this because they know that every year a certain percentage of students usually accept an offer from another school. The number of students who end up enrolling is the yield. Yield is essential to a college, it fills their freshman class with the right number of students. If too few students enroll, then they will admit students off of the waitlist. Schools will only go to the waitlist after the May 1 Decision Day, meaning you might get an acceptance offer in late May or June, even July.

I will be updating my blog post about waitlists soon. In the meantime, your can read this post.

If you want to remain on the waitlist: visit the school to see if your feelings have changed, make sure to comply with whatever request the school makes, such as a letter of intent to remain on the waitlist. If you are unsure, contact the admissions office and ask what you need to do to remain on the waitlist.


Rejection feels terrible. (Feel free to supply your own profanity).

You feel disappointed, frustrated, depressed. What do you do?

Eat chocolate ice cream.

Buy yourself a new video game.

Take a deep breath; are you ready to listen?

YOU were NOT rejected.

Your application was not selected. You, along with hundreds, if not thousands of others, were all applying to the same school. There simply isn’t enough room for all of the qualified applicants. Even though you are fascinating, brilliant, talented, and oh so very capable; the school could only choose a small group of fascinating, brilliant, talented, and very capable students. This is no reflection on you or your future. In essence it is a numbers game.

In 2018 UCLA received 113,761 applications. They offered admissions to 15,970 students. At an admit rate of 14%. Only 39% of those students enrolled. They did not accept any students off the waitlist.

The more selective the school, the more applications they get, the harder the odds are that you will be offered a spot.

If you were smart about your college applications and applied to a variety of schools which have admitted students like you; the odds are that you will receive an acceptance.

What college you go to does not determine your value as a person. What you do in college, what you do with your education, what resources you take advantage of, what you learn about yourself and the world around you; this is what matters in your college education.

Where you get your degree will not matter after you land your first job. Your undergraduate education is much less important than graduate or professional school or your job record. Your success is dependent on what you do in whatever college you go to. Heck, college only lasts 4 years (maybe 6), in the grand scheme of things it is a blip on your life timeline.

Dry your tears, punch your pillow, binge watch Stranger Things, wallow just a little, it’s okay to be depressed. Now get on with the rest of your wonderful life. In the meantime, take a look at this very useful diagram:

If you need some help or advice, contact me at

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