Tips for Deferred Applicants and Seniors

What To Do When You Have Been Deferred

A deferral is not a denial.  If you are one of the many students who applied Early Decision or Early Action and were deferred, you are not alone.  It is important to remember that it is not just about you and your qualifications.  It is much more about what is called “enrollment management” which relates to how an admissions office wants to create a holistic and varied freshman class. They are looking for a well-rounded student body, not just well-rounded students.  As a deferred candidate the enrollment managers in the admissions office may want to see your application in context with the entire regular admissions applicant pool. Your application will be read again.  So what can you do?  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Don’t be defeated and keep updating your other college applications
  2. Be sure and let the admissions office of the college where you were deferred of  your continued interest. Write them a letter.  Update your application with other relevant and new information about what has happened in the way of new memberships or awards, since your original application.  Ask your school counselor to send in your mid-year grades with a letter detailing some of your new accomplishments.
  3. Consider sending another letter of recommendation from a coach or teacher
  4. If you think you could improve your standardized test scores take an additional subject test or  the SAT or  ACT again.   If your scores improve significantly it could make a difference
  5. Work hard to keep your grades up and continue with your school and community activities.
  6. Reassess your goals. What are your interests and values and what other colleges on your list will allow you to grow and prosper in the ways you want to in the next four years? Remember, it is true there is a college for everyone and it is also true that there are many colleges and universities where you will thrive and be successful.

Seniors: What To Do Now that your Applications Are In:

  • Check with each college website where you have applied to make sure your application is complete.  Be sure your school counselor sends in your latest grade reports.
  • Write  thank you notes to the teachers and other individuals who have encouraged  you and written your recommendations
  • Along with your parents, fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for  Federal Student Aid) which is online at: If the colleges where you are applying also require completion of the CSS Profile complete it right away.
  • Check each college website for specific financial aid submission deadlines. They may be soon.
  • Look for local scholarships sponsored by organizations in your community to which you can apply. These should be posted in your school counseling office and on Naviance.
  • Keep working hard in your classes and enjoy all the special senior activities planned for the  rest of your senior year.

Sophomores & Juniors: Thinking About College?

Things to think about:
Career and Major Choices, College Selection, Scholarships, Financial Aid Strategies, SAT or ACT, Timelines, College Visits, Interviews, Auditions, Final Lists, Applications, Resumes, Essays, Work, Volunteer and Summer Activities, Sports and Extra-Curricular Interests
I encourage high school sophomores and  juniors who are beginning to think about the college selection process to contact me. It is never too soon to get started on your journey toward higher education.

Accepted Seniors

Congratulations to the Seniors with whom Heather worked who have been accepted through early action to the following institutions: 
  • College of William and Mary
  • College of Wooster
  • Duquesne University
  • Fairfield University
  • Harvard University
  • Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Manhattan College
  • Northeastern University-Honors
  • Penn State University
  • Providence College
  • University of Connecticut-Honors
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Washington and Jefferson College

College Conversations: Is a Gap Year for You?

Several years ago, my family and I had the opportunity to live in Sydney, Australia and Christ Church, New Zealand where we discovered that many of the college students we met took time off before starting university. They traveled, worked on sheep farms, in restaurants or in the tourist industry. In other words, these young Australians and New Zealanders took a Gap Year. As Americans, this was a new and interesting concept to us, since traditionally in the United States students march directly on to higher education.

The idea of taking time off before starting college is becoming more and more popular in the United States. For example, after she was accepted to Harvard University, Melia Obama took a Gap Year. She served as an intern in the American Embassy in Spain, volunteered on environmental and conservation projects in Peru and Bolivia, and worked in Hollywood, before starting college the following fall. The practice of deferring enrollment for a year, as Melia did, is a trend Harvard and many other institutions such as Colgate, Yale, Carnegie Mellon, Colorado College, and Florida State support. Helen, a student with whom I worked, was accepted to Bates College in Maine. She then she decided she needed a break. Helen paid her admissions deposit and took a year off to volunteer and travel. Bates held her spot, and she went back the following year as a freshman. About 60% of all students who take a Gap Year apply to college and then defer for six months or a year. Others wait to apply once their Gap Year is underway.

According to the American Gap Year Association, a Gap Year offers students experiential learning, new skills, different cultural and career perspectives, maturity and independence. In addition, researchers at the University of Chicago and Middlebury College found that students tend to excel in academics after taking a Gap Year and graduate from college with higher than average GPAs.

Wendy Bachman, of Boalsburg, is the parent of two Gap Year participants. She suggests that the experience of a Gap Year helps young people “learn what they don’t want to do.” It helps them to adjust to the demands of a university – both emotionally and socially – once they start their college career. She also says that “planning for a Gap Year allows a student to relax and enjoy his or her senior year and offers a gradual transition toward independence for the entire family.”

Students may choose to do one or a combination of activities during a Gap Year which often involve voluntarism, career exploration, paid work, or travel. For example, during his gap year a student might volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, the library, or for a political campaign. Career exploration might include shadowing a professional in a certain field such as physical therapy or getting an internship based on career interests in a graphic arts company or law office. Working is a great way to save money for future college expenses as well as adding to one’s resume.

Many students find part-time work in a restaurant, a bookstore, in construction, or day care while they take a class at a local college or pursue other interests in art, music, or sports. There are travel programs for mature teens to learn a language and immerse themselves in another culture. The company Visions offers language immersion and service programs in countries such as Guadeloupe or the Dominican Republic.

You can learn about structured Gap Year programs at,,, or There are also several books available about Gap Year experiences, one of which is Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs, by Joe O’Shea. The idea of a Gap Year is certainly not for everyone, but for students, such as those we met in Australia and New Zealand, who aren’t quite ready to start college right after high school, a Gap Year may be the answer.