'Tis the season! What to do when your early application is deferred to a regular pool.

'Tis the season! What to do when your early application is deferred to a regular pool.

Jody Sanford Sweeney
Associate Director of College Counseling
William Penn Charter School

You may be one of the many seniors who learned from your early decision or early action college that you were deferred. As a college counselor who works with many seniors every December, I know the deep disappointment that can be felt from this news – I feel it myself for my students. At a time when days are festive and bright, you may feel things are dreary and bleak.  What I do know is that everything works out and happens for a reason; it’s just not clear right now.

Take these steps in your college application process and combine some holiday activities that bring you joy as you embark on an exciting New Year. 

Twelve days of holidays!

DAY 1: Recharge: Connect with nature - hike, ski, ice skate.

DAY 2: Create: Bake holiday treats, craft small gifts and cards, brew hot chocolate.

DAY 3: Binge: Netflix! Stranger Things, Riverdale, Last Chance U are a few current favorites.

Now that you have had enough days to relax and regroup, its time to organize and write the into detail on your match with that college or university. Do not try to substitute your essays, make each one original to the university. Do your research. And, allow time for revising, editing, and final polishing.

DAY 4: Volunteer: Organizations and people need your support during the holiday season. Do good. Feel good.

DAY 5: Shop: Purchase (or make) gifts for those people who love and support you most; giving gifts, whether elaborate or simple, makes people feel wonderful, both the giver and the receiver.

DAY 6:  Escape: May the force be with you and see another amazing Star Wars movie.

To balance your down time, take a moment to send your standardized test scores to all of your regular decision colleges. Log into your testing service account (either ACT or SAT), select the colleges on your regular application list, and send. Have a credit card handy.

DAY 7: Celebrate: Your favorite holiday traditions with your loved ones, near and far.  Whether in person or via Snapchat, FaceTime, WhatsApp, make quality time for your family and friends.

DAY 8: Play: A pick-up game of football, basketball, tennis, volleyball, etc., with your friends.

DAY 9: Cheer: For your favorite sports teams whether it be high school, college, or pro.  (My students can’t wait for the December 25th Eagles game!)

Take the necessary time to study over break. Don’t completely lose momentum.  Prioritize your time and keep up with assignments. Finalize your application supplements. Hit “submit” on your applications and don’t forget to pay!

DAY 10: Catch up: Do whatever you’d like when you have a day off! You deserve it.

DAY 11: New Year’s Eve: Make a list of goals including an acceptance to a top choice college!  And, don’t forget, you are a jolly, GOOD fellow!



Connect with your college or school counselor on your return from break to update them on your application progress.

First semester/midyear grades will be sent in January to all your colleges’ admissions committees. *Keep up the academic momentum and finish senior year strongly.

Draft an advocacy “love” letter to the admissions committee that deferred you. Set a positive tone. Update the committee on academic projects, research projects, senior capstones, any learning that excited you. Update them on leadership and involvement in activities, athletics, arts, work, and family responsibilities. Complete the letter and email it to the committee or upload it to your application portal by the end of January.


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