For students who are waitlisted or deferred from a top-choice college, the application process can seem frustrating or even discouraging. If you have a received a letter placing you on the waitlist or deferring your early admissions application, you are probably feeling some combination of disappointment and impatience.
While you may be feeling powerless, rest assured that there is something you can do during the interim to improve your chances of being accepted.
What Is a Letter of Continued Interest?
If you’ve been waitlisted or deferred, this generally indicates a few things about you as an applicant. First, the good news—the college thinks you’re worth a shot. They believe that you might be a strong candidate. Of course, this doesn’t come without a caveat. Generally, if you’re on the waitlist, the admissions committee is just not entirely convinced that you’re going to be a positive contribution to the incoming class. While they recognize your potential, they had more qualified or compelling candidates, and until they hear back from them, they just aren’t certain they have a place for you.
A letter of continued interest is exactly what it sounds like. It lets the college know that you are definitely still interested in attending, even if you have to wait longer to find out. It also updates the college of any achievements you’ve accomplished since your original application and hopefully convinces them that you will indeed be a positive contributor to the freshman class.
What Do Colleges Want to Know About Students Who Have Been Waitlisted or Deferred?
In general, there are two pieces of information that can help to tip the scale in your favor. Think of it this way—colleges want to fill their freshman class with highly qualified, successful students. To do this, they need to cast a net that’s both wide enough to fill the class, yet fine enough to select only the students who will be truly successful. It’s a careful balance.
So, these colleges generally want to know two things about you. First, are you capable of succeeding at the school in question, and second, will you attend if you are offered a spot?
What To Include In a Letter of Continued Interest
Your letter of continued interest should answer these two questions in a way that is affable and genuine. It should also express gratitude for being offered a place on the waitlist or a deferred decision, because this serves as evidence of positive personality traits, like perseverance and the ability to rise above adversity.
What NOT To Include In a Letter of Continued Interest
We get it; you’re probably feeling frustrated and disappointed. Maybe you feel inadequate or powerless. Talking to friends and family, venting to your peers, or taking it out on the athletic field are all great ways to express these totally valid emotions.
The letter of continued interest is not the place for these feelings, though. Keep your focus on the positives and don’t let any of those negative feelings show through in your letter.
The general outline for a letter of continued interest is as follows:
In your introduction you should thank the admissions committee for reviewing your application and let them know that you are still interested in attending.
Updates On Accomplishments
Here, you’ll provide information about your accomplishments since your original application. Do not repeat accomplishments or any information already on your application—the admissions committee already has this information and if you submit it again, it will look like you haven’t achieved anything since. Limit your updates to 2-3 topics and be sure to explain briefly what the update is, what level of accomplishment it illustrates, and how it has contributed to your overall character/development.
This conclusion should offer some insight into your personality and provide a humanizing factor that sets you apart from the rest of the waitlist pool.
Here, you reiterate your desire to attend the school and your gratitude to the admissions committee for their time and for taking a chance on you.