College Counselor: 'A Deferral Is Not A Denial'

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High school students discovered this week whether they've been accepted to their choice college under early decision. For students who were deferred, guidance counselor Lisa Micele says that doesn't mean they won't get in to their top school in the spring.

Micele is the director of college counseling at the University of Illinois Laboratory High School in Urbana, Illinois. She spoke with Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson and shared some tips about navigating the college application process.

Her overall message: students and their parents should celebrate every step of the way.

8 College Deferral Tips From Lisa Micele

  1. A deferral is not a denial. Stay positive and reach out to your support team (high school counselor and admissions counselor, if assigned) and reiterate your unwavering interest in the school. After all, if you were deferred from an Early Decision school under a binding commitment, they are still your first choice school… right? Tell them that!
  2. You will be read a second time. The college/university will want to see your mid-year grades showing fall semester progress during your senior year.
  3. If they allow updates (honors, awards, extracurricular involvements), send them! If they don’t allow an extra letter of support, do NOT send it. Follow their directives in the deferral letter.
  4. Do you want to re-test and send in new scores? You can — but is that necessary based upon your testing history? Your application is more than your test scores. Ask your support team for guidance.
  5. Again, you are not denied, so if the school offers scholarships or honors programs you can apply to, GO FOR IT! This will show continued level of interest — and after all, they are still considering you! If this was your original plan (to apply for scholarships), why stop now?!
  6. Apply to your other schools with the same enthusiasm and effort. If you are using the Common Application you can update your essay (and edit things) before submitting to regular deadline schools. (Yes, the Common Application allows up to three versions of your main essay.)
  7. For all of the schools on your list, meet financial aid deadlines. The FAFSA is required but the PROFILE and/or a college's own institutional form may be required as well. Visit school websites and never miss a deadline waiting to file your taxes. You can use last year’s tax information and update your figures later.
  8. Remember that your self worth is not tied to college outcomes. Celebrate steps along the way and know that you will land at the right place for you this May. Make time for family and friends this holiday break. College applications should not consume your life.


  • Lisa Micele, director of college counseling at the University of Illinois Laboratory High School in Urbana, Illinois.

This segment aired on December 18, 2014.

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