Having your early decision application from your first-choice college deferred is, of course, disappointing. But don’t give up! You still have a shot at getting in, and there are some things you can do to help your chances. One of these things is to write to the college in question with a letter of continued interest. This is a way of showing the college that you’re still interested in attending, and gives you a chance to make a case for your admission.
Before you write your letter, though, you need to know what to include — and, just as importantly, what not to include. Read on for advice on how to craft a compelling letter of continued interest that hits all the right notes!
What to Include in your Letter of Continued Interest
There are two main categories of items to include in your letter: explanations of why the school is a good fit for you (and vice versa), and details of any relevant achievements not included in your original application.
Here are some examples of things to include from the first category (reasons why you and the school are a good fit for each other):
- Specific ways and reasons that this college excites you. For example, does it have an unusual major that isn’t offered many other places in a subject you’re passionate about?
- Ways in which you feel you’re a good fit for the school. Did you speak with alumni with whom you clicked instantly? Do you embody the traits the school promotes in its students — and, if so, how?
- An explanation of why the school was (and perhaps still is) your first choice.
In the second category, you should list relevant achievements not included in your original application. This includes:
- Anything you forgot to include in your original application. If you realized the moment you submitted it that you left off something you’ve achieved and have been kicking yourself ever since — and that sort of thing happens to all of us — this letter is your chance to remedy the situation.
- Information about anything you’ve achieved since you submitted your original application. For example, mention it if you’ve:
- Won an award.
- Had a piece of writing published.
- Earned a leadership role in a club or organization.
- Achieved great grades or test scores in the time since you applied.
- Given a noteworthy performance (in dance, music, etc.).
- Conducted serious original research.
Here’s a great example of how to incorporate all these things.
What Not to Include in Your Letter of Continued Interest
First, and perhaps most importantly, don’t send a letter of continued interest at all if the school explicitly states that you shouldn’t send anything further. Failing to follow instructions isn’t a great first impression.
Assuming the college is open to receiving letters of continued interest, here are some specific things you shouldn’t include in yours:
- Anything that implies negative emotions on your part. You might be feeling bitter, discouraged, frustrated, or hurt because you were deferred rather than accepted. Don’t let any of this show in your letter; the college wants to see that you’re mature, can handle life’s wins and losses with grace, and will be an asset to its community.
- Similarly to the above, don’t include any accusations or implications that the college has made a mistake or a bad choice. You may be aiming for confidence, but this will come across as unpleasant arrogance.
- Any false promises. If this college is still your first choice, feel free to say so — but don’t swear that you’ll attend if you’re admitted if that isn’t absolutely true.
While your letter of continued interest should be compelling, it should also be concise. Aim to keep it as short as realistically possible, and don’t go over a page at most. Admissions officers are very busy at this time of year, and yours will appreciate your consideration.