THE BRIDGE TO COLLEGE
Deferral Strategies – Do’s and Don’ts
At this time of year, many highly-qualified students are bemoaning the fact that their dream schools have deferred them from early admission into the regular admission pools. This does not mean that an application is “dead.” Intelligent strategy can enhance a worthy applicant’s chance of admission.
The first part of an effective deferral strategy is timing. There is a preferred time for connecting with university admissions offices. Too early means that the student’s effort will be overlooked. Too late means that the effort will not be considered.
Choosing when to communicate with admissions offices involves understanding the timing of their duties. In the first half of January, admissions representatives are furiously reviewing regular action candidates and conducting subcommittee meetings. Beginning in March, they are “in the bunker” making final class selections in full committee meetings. As a result, the best time to communicate with a favorite college is during the last half of January or first week of February.
With whom should you communicate? If possible, connect directly with the admissions representative covering your geographic region. Many Web sites have that information online. If the contact information is not available, try calling the admissions office and asking for it. Otherwise, send an e-mail, letter or overnight package to the admissions office generally, being sure to indicate your high school and the city and state in which you live.
What do they want to see? The first imperative is to restate that their college is your first choice university. Be clear, but don’t fawn over them. The second goal is to show a continued interest in your most favored areas. This is not the time to fabricate new interests. Rather, this is the time to update them on your most recent grades and your preferred activities, demonstrating further depth and initiative.
In reaching out, be brief. A good deferral update should not exceed 3 to 5 sentences. It should be a single paragraph, not a novel. You want to give admissions representatives extra information, not extra work.
Also, recognize that everything you send, and every communication you make, is entered in a log. They know if you or your parents call, and badgering can irritate busy admissions officers. You should not try to woo them with gifts, nor attempt to have alumni wedge new recommendations through backdoor channels. If you wish them to respect you, then you must respect them.
Finally, recognize that your high school counselor can provide additional support for your candidacy. This is the time of year when counselors make phone calls and write e-mails to colleges on behalf of their students. Meet with your counselor, give an update on your status and your activities, and respectfully ask if he or she would make a special effort to support your candidacy to your first-choice school.
Deferral may be disappointing, but it is not the end of the world, nor is it the end of the admissions effort. They are keeping your candidacy alive for a reason. Show them you care, and they may just show you the love.
Robert A.G. Levine, president of Selective College Consulting Inc., can be reached at (813) 391-3760, email BobLeVine@SelectiveCC.com or visit www.SelectiveCollegeConsulting.com
Keeping New Year’s Fears at Bay
A couple of weeks ago, that wonderful thing happened that all parents with out-of-town families can appreciate. A young, fun cousin who loves kids came to stay. We all know what that means — babysitting. The free, reliable kind that comes with the bonus of familial affection.
This cousin’s visit was particularly providential because we had long ago bought tickets to Legends of the Old School, that awesomely cheesy concert that brought together Salt-N-Pepa, Vanilla Ice, Naughty by Nature and a bunch of other late ’80s/early ’90s acts that had us on the dance floor back when we were young and under the assumption that youth was a lasting condition. We thought it would be a great way to close out the year. And it was — in a time warp sort of way. If you closed your eyes and just listened to the music, it was like we were back there on the cusp of adulthood, hovering in that glorious limbo of unending possibilities when life was just about to begin. That crowd at the USF Sun Dome may have receding hairlines and bulging waistlines that their teenage selves would have scorned, but we’d assumed mortgages, familial responsibilities and respectable jobs in the intervening years, and dancing to that music lightened the load of being a grown up all the time. (I’m sure the artists felt some of that too; the last time I saw Vanilla Ice’s thrillingly edgy mantra, “If there was a problem, yo’ I’ll solve it,” the words were inscribed on free reusable water bottles given away at the elementary school math bowl. “It’s from a song from long ago that used to be cool,” I explained to my kids.)
But though their relevance may be debatable, what those acts accomplished was that they returned us ever so briefly to a time when everything seemed safe and uncomplicated. When Salt-N-Pepa made us “wanna shoop, shoop ba-doop,” we were dialing up an Internet connection from campus computer labs so we could use our newfangled email before going back to our dorm rooms to watch Friends. Cyberterrorism, random school shootings and daily menace on the news were ugly things we hadn’t yet encountered.
Times have changed, and that point was brought home the very next night when —aforementioned cousin still being with us — we decided to go for a late night showing of the James Bond movie. My friends know that I’m a fidgety nuisance at movies. I have Restless Leg Syndrome (yes, this is a thing), and I often have to get up and stretch my legs. So, I went to stand in the entrance ramp of the theatre, and had been watching from there for a few minutes when I heard the small but unmistakable sound of a Velcro tab being peeled open. I turned around, and nearly jumped out of my skin to see an alert police officer intently watching me from about three feet away. On an intellectual level, I got it. You don’t make sudden or unexplained moves in a movie theatre these days — and this was a couple of days after San Bernardino. In a way, it was a relief to know how responsive the police had been to (presumably) a security camera showing someone idling in the aisle. But being watched that way was pretty terrifying, as was the idea that any innocuous activity — a movie night, a concert, even a work holiday party — could become the next tragic headline, and even a suburban mother could be a potential threat.
As we hurtle into 2016, therefore, it is into a changed world, and we no longer go forth blithely alone; we have the care of the little ones we shepherd with us. But we don’t just have a responsibility to protect them from bad things happening to them (which is futile), we must also protect their belief in a benign world, create a way for them to even briefly inhabit a space where silly lyrics and unbridled optimism have their way — at least so they can return to that bubble at a later age for respite. So, while I’ll forever be more watchful and cautious than I was back then, I’ll force myself this year to remain optimistic, to be mindful of the good in people and situations — and point it out to my children. I’ll strive not to lose sight of my many blessings, and teach my children the same, because while we may not have control over the movie of their life, we can at least pick some of the background music.
Anu Varma Panchal is a mother of two and owner of www.YourEditingSolutions.com