Bob is a Certified Public Accountant
and a Certified College Planning Specialist specializing in unique
tax and financial, and investment strategies to provide families
with affordable solutions for the high cost of education.
Bob Nahum, CPA,
1650 Lexington Avenue
16 Powell Drive
West Orange, NJ 07052
Admissions - Getting To YES!
When your child receives a
letter informing that he or she has been placed on the waiting
list (deferred) at a college, it can feel very much like a hard
punch in the stomach. This is especially true when your child has
applied to a clear first choice college in the highly competitive
“Early Admissions” round and then receives this disappointing news
in December -- right around the holidays. Your child now has to pick
him/herself up off the floor and immediately send off another round
of applications to different colleges, all the while knowing that
they may now have to wait until the spring for a confirmation
The Early Admission process can be a
humbling experience. Even if you are a veteran at completing college
applications, began your search of colleges in the junior year of
high school, and are very organized and on top of your game; don’t
be shocked to still be looking at colleges in January of your senior
year. Can you avoid this dilemma by applying to "safety"
schools? Nothing is truly "safe" in the wild game of college
Here is a sample chronology in the
agonizing process called Early Admissions: Your son or daughter
knows very early what their first-choice college will be, completes
the Early Admissions application, and sends it in weeks before the
November 15 deadline. The school in question is a so-called "elite"
college. The student's "stats" are right in line with the
school's student profile. Their recommendations and extracurricular
activities are awesome. Maybe they’re even an athlete or talented
musician as well. Then on December 17 they are devastated with an
unexpected deferral (waiting list) letter. Finally, after an arduous
effort, on March 28 the deferral letter is replaced by that
long-awaited acceptance letter.
If you receive a deferral letter, or are
currently on a wait list, is it possible to turn this around?
It is possible and here are some steps you can take to get your
Read the deferral or waitlist letter
very carefully. There may be some hints as to what you can do
to strengthen your application. The letter may suggest that
students should send additional recommendations, writing samples,
or write a letter to the admissions committee. If so, you need to
do this ASAP.
Make a phone call. It is imperative
that the student make this call, rather than relying on the
parent. This puts the student’s personality behind the paper
admissions form. Even if you must leave a voicemail message for
your area admissions representative, they will call you back.
Explain that you received a deferral letter, that you really had
your heart set on attending their college, then pitch your
attributes and ask what you can do to increase your
Involve the high school personnel --
guidance counselor, or whatever. A phone call from the guidance
office may be able to discern whether the student is near the top
of the deferred pile (a crucial clue).
If you have a special talent, use
it! Contact the
college professor (coach) of that particular talent and send
them a quality tape, video, portfolio; or whatever it takes to
give them a first-hand view of your talent. This could result in a
phone call from them to admissions on your
that you have very little control here, and very little say about
what is happening in the admissions decision process. Colleges
will choose the students they want in order to assemble the class
they want. Therefore, students should
apply to a minimum of 6-8 colleges. At least four should represent
colleges that compete with the student’s first choice college.
Applying to several colleges gives the student the opportunity to
receive institutional aid from one college and use that award to
ask for a similar, or better, award from the college the student
would prefer to attend.
The bottom line is you will never know
whether it was one of the letters that you send, an additional
recommendation, or a phone call that does the trick. Likewise, you
will never know if you would have been admitted without doing any of
the above. None of that speculation will matter though when you
receive that “YES”!
The author of this newsletter is Robert Nahum.