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Robert Nahum
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,
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Early 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 letter.


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 admissions.


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 "Yes":

  1. 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.
  2. 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 chances.
  3. 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).
  4. 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 behalf.
  5. Finally, recognize 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.

If you have any questions about the information contained in this newsletter, or any questions about college funding in general, please contact your Sponsor.