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Want to Stand Out in Your College Essay?

By Kim Lifton
Wow Writing Workshop

Juniors, as you prepare to start the college application process in earnest, keep in mind that the best personal statements  show insight into who you are.

Does the experience you write about have to be earth shattering? No. Does it have to illustrate an “aha” moment? Not at all. It is a reflection on something that has meaning to you. It doesn’t matter what that is. There’s no magic answer. No secret sauce. Not even a shortcut. The essay is one (very important) piece of a holistic admission process.

Shawn Felton, the Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Cornell University, reviews thousands of applications each admissions cycle. That’s a lot of entrance essays. What delights him? A story that rounds out an applicant’s package, and an essay that helps him understand who the person is.

“We want to put a face to the pile of paper,” Felton explains. “It is part of a number of identifiers that deliver who you are as a person.”

What turns him off? Stories that are not genuine, do not answer the prompt, or fail to give him any insight into the applicant’s character. He does not like it when students try too hard to impress him, or write essays that seem forced or inauthentic.

“The essay is not something to be cracked,” he cautions.

Essays won’t get a student who is not qualified into any college. However, they can help a qualified applicant get a better shot at admission to that dream school. Yes, the essay can help you.

“A poorly written essay can take an applicant out of the running, but conversely a great essay can certainly help. A fantastic essay can absolutely give the applicant a bump up. Even after reviewing a mediocre transcript or seeing a limited activities list, I can be swayed to admit a student who writes an essay that really blows me away. The topic of the essay doesn’t need to be mind-blowing (in fact, the most mundane topics are often the most relatable and enjoyable), but if it reveals a someone who would be highly valued in our campus community, that could tip the scales.”

Gregory Sneed, Vice President for Enrollment, Denison     University


Colleges want some insight into your character. What did you do? What did you learn about yourself? Why does it matter? A girl who went on a volunteer trip to Central America to teach students to read learned more about herself on that trip when she jumped off a 30-foot cliff into the ocean. She wrote a riveting piece about feeling brave in an attempt to overcome her fear of heights. That experience would have been relevant if it took place down the street or around the world. It wasn’t impressive because it happened in Belize. It was impressive because it demonstrated reflection and growth.

Click more information to find out how Wow helps students just like you stand out in your college essay.

Kim Lifton is President of Wow Writing Workshop. Wow’s team of professional writers and teachers understand the writing process inside and out. The Wow Method has been used by students to write application essays and resumes; by business owners to create blogs, websites and other communication materials; and by English teachers to improve student writing skills. If it involves words, we can help. Email


6 Quick Ways to Boost Your ACT Score

By Rachel Brandt

If time’s running out before your official ACT, don’t worry! Even if you haven’t had the chance to prepare for this college entrance exam as well as you’d have liked, there are still a few things you can do in the last two weeks (or even better, in the last month) before your exam to improve. Take a look at a few of the key short-term test prep strategies to boost your ACT score.

For the ACT and SAT writing tests, try one of Wow’s test prep packages!

1.   Learn the ACT test format. One of the best things you can do before ACT (or SAT) test day (even if test day’s tomorrow!) is to go over the format, especially if you haven’t taken a practice test before. Why? One of the hardest things about the ACT can be the time pressure—you may have less than a minute to answer a question. Because of this, knowing the instructions in advance alone can give you the chance to maximize your scores.

2.   Get the most out of your ACT practice tests. A lot of students don’t realize that it’s not enough just to take the exams and take a look at your scores. Go back over your ACT tests and spend several hours (yep, hours) reviewing the answers—both what you got right and what you got wrong. How has your progress been? Where are you still scoring lower than you’d like? When time’s short, you need to focus on the most pressing areas before test day.

3.   Know how to approach multiple-choice questions. Another quick way to boost your score fast is to use the multiple-choice test format to your advantage. If you don’t know the answer, eliminate any answer choices you can and then guess. There’s no penalty for wrong answers on the ACT, so it won’t hurt and it might help!

4.   Read through the free Magoosh ACT study guide. If you want a thorough yet readable way to learn about what you’ll see on the ACT, and master some of those question types that have been bugging you, this is the guide! If you can take a few weeks to work through it, all the better—but it’s not so long that you couldn’t read it in a day if pressed.

5.   Check out apps to help with your test prep. It’s one way to bring ACT prep with you everywhere, and the best apps are mostly free or very cheap. What should you check out? Flashcards and this test prep app. You want to brush up on a particular subject before the ACT? Yup, there’s an app for that.

6.   Be realistic. Your score won’t shoot up 15 points overnight. On the other hand, a lot of students will notice an appreciable increase in their score by taking the test again. Why? There’s time to prepare for it, for one thing. For another, now you know exactly what to expect. So go into your exam knowing that you’ll do your absolute best, but that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t hit your ACT score range for your dream school on the first test.

There are ways to prep for the ACT in a matter of days and ways to prep for it in a matter of months. However, these short-term strategies can help push your score and might just make the difference between a disappointing score and a score you’re proud of. And remember: no matter how little time you have, there’s always something you can do to boost your ACT score—even if it’s just to relax and get a good night’s sleep!

Don’t Fret Over Writing Test!

Try one of Wow’s test packages; we’ll use simple, engaging exercises to help you master the elements of writing and rhetorical analysis that ACT and SAT rubrics demand. Well beyond simple grammar tips, these lessons will change the way you think about reading and writing. Learn what test readers want to see and make the most of your time on test day.

The Best College Essay Prompt

By Kim Lifton
President, Wow Writing Workshop

Junior year is winding down; it’s time to give some serious thought to the college application essay prompts.  What do colleges really want to know about your child?

We’re going to give you some of our best tips and insight from years of working inside the college prep industry to help you understand how to understand a prompt. With any luck, this will alleviate some stress and help prepare your high school junior for the last phase of this journey to college.

Tip 1: Colleges want to know how your child thinks
How do you think?
Your story will show how you think.

Beyond grades and test scores, colleges want to know who your child is, how they think, and what makes them tick. The best place to share this: the college application essay. An effective response to any college essay prompt will show insight into a student’s character because it answers two central questions: 1) What happened? and 2) Why does it matter?

Why a topic matters to a student (the reflection) is more important than what happened (the experience, the activity, the concept, or the person who influenced that student). 

 Tip 2: There is no perfect college essay prompt

In many cases, students are given choices of prompts. For example, the Common Application asks students to select 1 of 7 prompts. The University of California asks students to respond to 4 out of 8 questions.

Admissions officers do not care which prompt your child selects. Given a choice, any prompt will do. Make sure your child picks the prompt they like best. Wow offers a range of services to help your child from the beginning till the end of the process. 

“The prompts simply serve to help students approach that question from as many angles as possible, whether it be maturity, identity, curiosity, pastimes, aspirations, community, relationships, or anything else,” according to Scott Anderson, Chief of Staff, the Common App. “Students should pick the prompt that supports and gets them excited about the story they want to tell about themselves.”

Tip 3: How to parse an essay prompt

We are going to teach you how to parse a prompt. To start, take a look at Common App Prompt #1.

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

The key word in this prompt is “meaningful.”

Ultimately, your essay is not about your background, identity, interest, talent or experience; it’s about you. What did you learn about yourself? What made it meaningful? Admissions officers read these essays to find out something they don’t already know about you. They can tell from your application that you are on the lacrosse team or in the school orchestra. They know you worked as a researcher or a hospital aide or a bagger in a grocery store. And if your transcript says you took American Literature, they can assume you read books like A Raisin in the Sun, The Crucible or The Bluest Eye.

They don’t know how those experiences affected you, whom you met along the way or why a particular piece of music is so important to you. They have no idea how you have changed and why you might be a good fit for their school. You can share these insights in your essay.

Your child could respond to this prompt by sharing any type of story – a description of a meaningful conversation, a moment when they realized something important about themselves – anything that truly and vividly demonstrates who they are.  The experience does not have to be particularly impressive; your child does not have to share a story about climbing a mountain or rescuing three children from a burning building. They could write about babysitting or making meatballs with grandma, navigating an icy highway or playing basketball with friends. The big challenge is to find a story that illustrates something meaningful. They should choose a moment, then explore it in detail.

What does this mean for high school juniors who are about to start the journey to college? They can start preparing for the essay. Now.

What are you waiting for?

We wrote a book that is full of tips to teach your child how to select a prompt and write 

The only college prep book you’ll need

meaningful answers to any question. Chapter 2, “Understanding the Prompts,” delves deep into that topic.  We also explain every Common App prompt in detail. You can order a copy of How to Write an Effective College Application Essay, the Inside Scoop for Parents on Amazon.comIt’s just $9.99 – and we’ll gift you a free eBook with your paperback purchase! (We also wrote a companion book for students.)

Kim Lifton can get a story out of anyone writing an effective college application essayKim Lifton is President of Wow. We are a team of professional writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. The Wow Method has been used by students to write college application essays and resumes; by business owners to create blogs, websites and other communication materials; and by English teachers to improve student writing skills. We can even help you write a great poem or short story. If it involves words, we can help!




Admissions Decisions Are Out. Don’t Believe Everything You Hear!

By Kim Lifton
Early admissionsPresident
Wow Writing Workshop

Final admissions offers are rolling out, which means the season for rumors is in full swing. Whether you’ve been waitlisted, or outright rejected, you might be better off ignoring the rumors about why.

The competition to get into the nation’s top colleges gets tougher every year, and that’s not because students are smarter or more qualified than they were five or ten years ago. It’s a simple matter of impossible math.

Year after year, more students for the same number of available spots at the most selective schools. It’s impossible for them all to get in. Year after year, we hear the rumors, too.

Here are a few tall tales floating around now among the country’s high school seniors (and their parents.)

  • The kid with a 4.0 and 34 ACT score didn’t get admitted to the top school in her state. Everyone knows they don’t like our school.
  • It is harder to get into the University of Florida than Harvard.
  • Colleges only want well-rounded students.
  • Only the leaders get into the good schools.

Just because you are qualified does not guarantee admission to any school on your dream list. Don’t believe everything you hear!

What do you really know about that kid who says she has a 4.0 and 34 ACT and got rejected from your state’s top public university? You might not really know her GPA; she might have exaggerated. Did you see her ACT score, or did someone share the information with you?

Colleges want a well-rounded student body, not well-rounded students. They want leaders and followers. Colleges and universities do not discriminate against certain high schools. It is possible that a student with a high GPA and test score was caught drinking a beer by police, got suspended or simply turned the application in after the deadline.

Marty O’Connell, the former executive director for Colleges That Change Lives, offers great perspective on the rumor mill. “Things are not always as they appear,” she said during a speaking engagement several years ago at Michigan State University. If she listened to every rumor, O’Connell might believe “no one is getting into college. It’s just not true.”

Want more insight about admissions? Watch this video clip from Kimberly Bryant, Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Michigan.  Get a free copy of our book, How to Write an Effective College Application Essay, the Inside Scoop for Parents. 

Kim Lifton is President of Wow Writing Workshop. Wow is a team of professional writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. The Wow Method has been used by students to write application essays and resumes; by business owners to create blogs, websites and other communication materials; and by English teachers to improve student writing skills. We can even help you write a great poem or short story. If it involves words, we can help!

Perspective to Help Your Students Write Better Essays

By Susan Knoppow
Wow Writing Workshop
Wow CEO Susan Knoppow

We all know that the competition to get into the nation’s top colleges gets tougher every year, but that’s not because students are smarter or more qualified than they were five or ten years ago.

It’s a simple matter of impossible math.

Year after year, more kids apply for the same number of available spaces at the most selective schools. It’s impossible for them all to get in.

Sharing some perspective with our students can go a long way toward helping them see how their essays fit into the larger application mosaic. Many pieces of that mosaic are already in place: They took AP Chemistry or they didn’t. They wrote for the school paper or they didn’t. They played tennis since age 4 or they didn’t. No matter what the mosaic looks like, most students are thinking about topics to wow you, and the admissions teams, rather than what they want to say. And they might be freezing up because they believe they cannot live up to our expectations.

The more we raise the stakes for our students, the more stuck they feel. You can lower the stakes by encouraging your students to think about their best characteristics first, before they fixate on topics. Once they figure out how to demonstrate those characteristics, they will relax and just write. Even average students can write compelling, effective essays that stand out when they focus on their traits and characteristics. Why? Because those essays are genuine, and they answer the prompt.

Demystifying Admissions

We try to help our students understand the admissions industry overall. I hope that sharing our approach will give you some new talking points to calm your students and their parents. I can almost guarantee that this will help your students write more effective essays.

Here’s how we explain the situation:

  • Because it is so hard to get into the top name-brand schools (think Stanford, Harvard, UC Berkeley, MIT, Vanderbilt, Columbia, University of Chicago, to name a few), the students who are qualified for the most selective colleges look elsewhere to improve their chances.
  • The Common Application and other platforms make applying to college so easy that students frequently check boxes for schools they might normally ignore if more effort were required.
  • This practice helps colleges increase their applicant pool. It works well for schools because it makes them look more selective. If a school can accept only 1,200 students and 6,000 apply, the admit rate — or the percentage of students the school accepts — will be 20%.
  • To see how ease of applying affects the admit numbers at popular colleges and universities, look at the University of Michigan, which began accepting the Common App in 2010. That year, applications jumped by 25%. Five years later, applications to U-M surpassed 50,000, and the admit rate plunged to 26.3%.
Get a FREE book for you, and for every parent in your school!

For more insight into how we talk to students, get a free electronic copy of How to Write an Effective Application Essay: The Inside Scoop for Parents. High school counselors, find out how to get a free book for your parents, too.

Susan Knoppow is CEO of Wow Writing Workshop, a strategic communication and writing services company that is a leading expert on the college application essay.  Wow works directly with students, and trains school counselors, English teachers and independent educational consultants who want to improve their essay-coaching skills. Wow also offers professional communication and writing services to businesses and nonprofits. 




Tips from the College Admissions Office

By Kim Lifton

At Wow, we talk to college admissions officers all the time at large, small, public, private and Ivy. No matter what type of school, they all tell us all want to read personal narratives that demonstrate reflection in any type of application essay, personal statement or supplement.

At its core, a college essay is all about reflection. Spring is a great time of year for juniors to begin the process; we wrote two books to help teach reflection. Meanwhile, here are some tips direct from the college admissions office.

Christina Lopez, Barnard College, Director of Admissions

“The whole application process is one big “” process. The students are creating their “profile’ within their application and reflecting in the essays on who they are as scholars and people”.

 Jim Cotter, Michigan State University, Director of Admissions
“The essay is value added. At a moderately selective school, it can pull a student on the cusp up. At a highly selective school, a poor statement can make the difference between being admitted or not.”

 Shawn Felton, Cornell University, Director of Undergraduate Admissions

“What are we looking for? We are creating a class.  We look at numbers, grades and test scores. But there’s more to it. We are trying to put a face with all of this information.”

Lorenzo Gamboa, Santa Clara University, Senior Associate Director of Admissions

“Students do not need to compile an entire season into an essay. Just give us one place, one time, one moment, and that will do it for you. The key is to show genuine passion, commitment and that they have what it takes to survive at the school.”

 Kim Bryant, University of Michigan, Assistant Director of Admissions

“This is your interview. Let me know who you really are.”

 Christoph Guttentag, Duke University, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions

“By the time (the application) comes to us, many of them have gone through so many hands that the essays are sanitized. I wish I saw more of a thoughtful voice of a 17-year-old.”

Calvin Wise, Johns Hopkins University, Director of Recruitment

“I never run into a colleague’s office and say, ‘look at this 4.0 GPA.’ I will run into an office with a good essay to share; that excites me.”

Jan Deike, Vanderbilt University, Assistant Director of
Sometimes students feel that because they haven’t found the cure for cancer, they have nothing to share.  Life is truly lived in the smaller moments, and that can be a powerful essay.”

For more tips and resources, go to Wow Writing Workshop.

Kim Lifton is President of Wow. We are a team of professional writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. The Wow Method has been used by students to write application essays and resumes; by business owners to create blogs, websites and other communication materials; and by English teachers to improve student writing skills. We can even help you write a great poem or short story. If it involves words, we can help!


Yale Insider Says Essay is the Most Important Piece of College App

Ed Boland, a former Yale admissions officer, says the essay is the most important part of your child’s college application.

“It’s where the student gets to shine, where you hear their voice most directly,” he says. “It’s a really excellent tool to see what students’ motivations are and what their personality is like.”

Boland says students should get creative, and shared one particular essay from a “serial farter” that stood out in his years of experience. “At first, I thought it was an outrageous essay,” he says. “But the more I read it, I realized it was actually a meditation on modern feminism and how no one would ever suspect her of being a serial farter. And at the end of it I just thought it was so original—it really gave her a leg up.”

Boland says your child should  focus on being themselves, which will help their creativity and personality shine through, regardless of the subject matter. Read the entire article on Yahoo Finance. 

Wow Writing Workshop is a strategic communication and writing coaching company. We are a team of professional writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. The Wow Method has been used by students to write application essays and resumes; by business owners to create blogs, websites and other communication materials; and by English teachers to improve student writing skills. We can even help you write a great poem or short story. If it involves words, we can help!


Michigan Could Become a Model for High School Counselor Training

Sarah is MSU's top admissions person other than Jim Cotter
Michigan State’s Sarah Summerhill

By Kim Lifton

President, Wow Writing Workshop

Michigan could become a national model for counselor training when a new law requiring high school counselors to complete college and career guidance training to renew their state licenses goes into effect in 2020.

It will be the first state in the U.S. mandating that counselors add specific training to their professional development licensing requirements.

The law follows a decade of lobbying efforts by two well-known college admissions industry advocates, Patrick O’Connor, the associate dean of college counseling for the Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, MI, and Sarah Summerhill, the assistant director of admissions at Michigan State University and former chair of the NACAC Government Relations Committee. The duo had support from many organizations, including  MACAC, MCAN, the Michigan Home Building Association and the College Board.

“It was worth the effort,” O’Connor told Link for Counselors. “This will keep counselors current.”

“It was well worth the effort.”
Amazing high school counselor Pat O'Connor from Cranbrook Schools
Patrick O’Connor

O’Connor took a few minutes to chat about the new law with Kim Lifton, president, Wow Writing Workshop. Kim is a regular contributor to Link for CounselorsO’Connor said he is hopeful this is just the beginning of a trend in college admissions. Counselors, he said, need to stay up-to-date in this rapidly changing world. They also must understand alternative options to four-year degrees, such as skilled trades and technical training programs.

Kim LiftonWhat types of courses will count toward professional development credit?

Patrick O’Connor: We don’t know just yet. The Michigan Department of Education will convene a group of interested parties (I will be on the committee) to discuss what will count for the credit. The rules will be up and posted by July 1. The Michigan Department of Education will develop rules and guidelines to enforce these new requirements.

KL: How will mandatory training focused on counselor training improve current training? 

PO: Currently, counselors are required to take 150 hours of professional development every five years to maintain their licenses. Nearly all that development is geared toward teachers, not counselors. When the new law kicks in, 25 of those 150 professional development hours must be completed in activities focused on college counseling; another 25 must be completed in activities focused on career counseling. Of the 25 career counseling hours, 5 must be focused on career options in the military.  Once counselors see what’s out there, they will be more inclined to participate in more college-ready and career-ready courses and spend less time in teacher development programs.

Counselor Training for Career-Readiness

KL: Are college-ready and career-ready the same thing? 

PO: No. Different life experiences require different preparations. We do all students a disservice when we develop a school counseling curriculum that assumes the skills needed to become a machinist are the same skills needed to make it through graduate school.  Once we accept the idea that difference is valued, we can get on with the business of meeting individual needs with something other than a one-size-fits-all approach to life after high school. Then we’ll get more students interested in what we have to say. ​
KL: How will this new requirement help students?

POStudents and families need the latest information in college and career trends to make strong, personalized decisions about life after high school.  Counselors can only give them this information if they have it themselves.  This training will achieve that goal.

KL: Will the Michigan Department of Education consider granting professional development credits for college visits?

PO: If this is done right, counselors will have the opportunity to see what’s out there. We want to see if we can get that included.

KL: Will counselors be able to tour technical training schools and manufacturing plants for credit?

PO: That is the hope. Counselors should know what’s out there for students beyond college after graduation. Counselors toured a plant that was directly across from a high school; they had never before gone to the plant. While there, the owner told them he needed skilled workers. He told them if they had kids who wanted to go to college, and they came to work for him, he would pay for college.

Wow Writing Workshop is a strategic communication and writing firm founded by professional writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. The Wow Method has been used by students to write application essays and resumes; by business owners to create blogs, websites and other communication materials; and by English teachers to improve student writing skills. 

Prep Your Child for the Journey to College

By Kim Lifton
Wow Writing Workshop

This time of year, every year, many moms and dads with high school juniors (and even sophomores!) start to get nervous about the journey to college. Seniors are either done, or at the end of the college admissions process; some have been admitted to their dream schools, while others were deferred or rejected. College talk is everywhere.

The journey to college can be overwhelming, confusing and distressing. But there’s no need to panic. We can help you get through this process with minimal stress.

Here’s our No. 1 tip for students setting out on the  journey to college: Writing a college essay is all about reflection.

How to Teach Reflection

Despite what you might believe, writing is not the most challenging part of the essay. The tough part comes at the beginning, when we ask our students what matters to them and why. We suggest you help your child explore how they exhibit their most significant traits or characteristics too. That’s the first step toward reflection.

We know that most high school students spend a lot of time thinking and talking about friends, moving out of the house, figuring out life, choosing a career and deciding which college to attend. If you teach your child how to reflect before the admission cycle starts in late spring, you will all be better prepared for the last phase of this journey to college.

The good news: You are more than ready for this challenge.

At Wow, when we help our students reflect and focus up front, the rest of the process moves much more smoothly. Too many students start in the wrong place. They come to us full of ideas about topics, with little consideration of the essay’s purpose.

All too often, students look for activities that might lead to stories, and they waste a lot of time talking about their experiences and their accomplishments. When they do this, they do not answer the prompt, which, no matter how it’s worded, is really asking students to show some insight into those experiences or accomplishments. That’s reflection.

Encourage your child to start at the beginning of the process – a conversation with you. You know what’s amazing about your child; help them figure it out too.

What are you waiting for?

We wrote a book that is full of tips to teach your child how to reflect: How to Write an Effective College Application Essay, the Inside Scoop for Parents. In fact, Chapter 2, Understanding the Prompts, delves deep into this topic.  If you can get your child to reflect, they will be ready to continue the process of discovery – and will be prepared to write those essays this spring or summer.

You’ve Been Deferred. Now What?

By Kim Lifton
President, Wow Writing Workshop

You’ve been deferred from your top college choice. Now what?

Rest assured, you are not alone. And there’s good news: you are qualified, and your application will be re-evaluated for regular decision.

Is there anything you can do while you are waiting? Should you send more information? Write a new essay? Call the admissions office?

To help answer these questions, we polled a few of our favorite admissions officers and college counselors to give you the most accurate information on this subject.

When you are deferred, you may be asked to submit mid-year grades. In most cases, you are allowed to share new information, such as additional leadership positions and standardized test results, an updated resume, a new letter of recommendation, and updates on honors and awards.

Some schools, like Cornell and Johns Hopkins, allow for additional written personal statements that support your interest. But some colleges do not want to hear from deferred students. Do your homework to find out. Start by looking at the school website. If you don’t know, or cannot find out, talk to your high school counselor.

Keep in mind, while every college and university is different, most will allow you to submit a deferral letter. To give yourself an advantage, check out Wow’s Deferral Letter/Consulting Package. Our experts can help you gather the right content and write a compelling letter that gives you the best chance of standing out, and hearing YES from your favorite school!

Here’s a sampling of what the college experts have to say:

Cornell University DeferredShawn Felton

Cornell University
Director of Undergraduate Admissions
Ithaca, NY

“I usually encourage deferred students to craft an email that lets the committee know of continued interest – I call it checking in. It should not begin as a dirge. Avoid: ‘I am deeply disappointed that I was not offered admission during Early Decision…’ Felton suggests students stay positive in their deferral letters, and share why they want to be a part of the Cornell community.

Kim Bryant DeferredKimberly Bryant
University of Michigan
Assistant Director of Admissions
Ann Arbor, MI

“Send your most recent grades,” and contact your admissions counselor to let him/her know you still have a desire to attend the University of Michigan.

Marie Bigham DeferredMarie Bigham
Director of College Counseling, Isidore Newman School, New Orleans

“Deferrals are more of an indictment of the bloated process, rather than decisions about individual students.”

Bigham suggests:

  • Stay in contact with the college(s) that deferred you. Let them know what’s new and why you should be admitted.
  • If a college is your first choice and you know for sure that you would attend, tell the representative that!
  • Ask the school rep if visiting (perhaps again) will help.
  • Don’t overdo it and be a pest.

Jenny Umhofer DeferredJenny Umhofer
Colledge, College Admissions Counseling, Founder
Former Assistant Director of Admissions, CalTech
Pasadena, CA

“The single most important first step a student should take when they have been deferred and would still like to be considered is to contact the college directly as soon as possible.”

Umhofer advises students to:

  • Call rather than email, and ask to speak to the admissions officer who is assigned to their territory or region.
  • Be gracious and be prepared with questions when the admissions officer picks up the phone.
  • Ask about the deferral process. Find out what new information they might like.
  • You can also ask for feedback on the college’s decision to defer YOU, and ask why they made that decision. They may be more forthcoming than you might expect.

Patrick O'Connor DeferredPatrick O’Connor
Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School
Associate Dean, College Counseling
Bloomfield Hills, MI

“Make sure to keep your current grades up.  Colleges will often call counselors to get updates on the current grades of deferred students – and since those calls can come as late as March, this is no time to let senioritis take over.”

Do you want to increase your chances of getting off the deferral list and into the school of your dreams? Click here to work with a Wow writing coach on a deferral letter that can help you stand out and get in.