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What to Do If You, Like Me, Get Deferred

Early application decisions come out soon and if you get deferred, don’t worry. I did, too!  
When you apply in the early action pool, Harvard will deny, defer, or accept your application. Getting “deferred” just means that Harvard still thinks you’re pretty neat-o and wants to look at your application again during the regular decision pool.

^ When people asked me if I got into Harvard after I got deferred.

It kinda stinks getting deferred because no one likes waiting, but there’s still hope. Just because you got deferred doesn’t mean that you can’t get accepted later. Me and my roommate both got deferred and then got in during regular decision. So, don’t freak out. You’re still rockin’! 

But if you get deferred, here’s a checklist for you to do:

1. Drink some chamomile tea. 
There’s nothing like a nice relaxing cup of tea, says my grandma, and she’s been around on this green and blue planet for 88 years so I trust her. Take some time to gather yourself and chill out. Everything’s A-okay. The sky is still above your head probably/hopefully, and you will eventually go to college next year.

Get a massage. Look how relaxed this cat is. 

Uncertainty is annoying, but I’ll bet my bottom dollar that come April, you’ll be accepted somewhere. I don’t know what a bottom dollar is but I’m going to bet it on you because you’re neat-o. 

2. Look at yourself in the mirror
Say “I’m a star!” I’m a star? No, you’re a star. And Harvard blew it by not taking you the first time. They’ll have a second chance to redeem themselves.


Mistakes happen! Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team. That’s a bad look for his team. Any school would be lucky to have you. As the amazing Aibileen Clark says in The Help, “you is kind, you is smart, you is important.” 

3. Start looking at other schools
You’re free! Think of it like taking a break with someone you’re dating. Maybe you’ll get back together, maybe you won’t. Like it stinks taking a break, but think of all the options you have now. There’s plenty o’ fish in the sea, and maybe you’ll now find The One.  

Though Harvard’s pretty rad for me, maybe there’s a school that’s the more rad for you.
Above: Though Harvard’s pretty rad for me, maybe there’s a school that’s the more rad for you.

And if Harvard comes crawling back in the spring with an acceptance, you can reassess. The ball is in your court (sports!), or the microphone is in your hands (arts!). 

4. Make sure everything’s good with your application
You have a couple more weeks before you’re sending away your application forever. You’re on the home stretch (sports!), you’re in the final act (arts!), or you can see the light at the end of the tunnel (transport!). Put in the extra effort, and make sure you’re happy with your application.

You’re almost there!

Check your application for grammar. Tweak some awkward language. Read it aloud. Make it sound like you. The end is nigh and you’re so flippin’ close to not worrying about this ever again, but before you have an I Did It Party, make sure you did all you could so you never play the “What If” game later. 

5. Have an I Did It Party
It’s almost over! Four years of hard work will finally pay off in the spring, but for now, you can enjoy all of the awesome things about senior year without worrying about applying to colleges. You did it. You made it through. On January 1st, there’ll be a new year and new, stress-free you. 

So, tl;dr: There’s still hope, and you’re so close to being worry-free!

And Happy Holidays!

About the author

Hi everyone! My name’s Dan Milaschewski, and I’m a senior here at the College concentrating in English with a Government secondary. On campus, I live in the ever luxurious Pforzheimer House, but I... View full profile

Comments (6)

on April 25, 2018 am30 08:08

Wow, you are a talented writer. Thanks for this thoughtful piece.

Here’s one other point that your 17- and 18-old readers may never consider, but it’s quite true. If they do not ultimately get into Harvard, then in two or three decades they will never find themselves in the situation that many of my college friends and I find ourselves. Our children are now applying to college, and even though we are now wise enough to know with certainty that going to Harvard is not the be-all-and-end-all of life, the universe and everything, we also know that the college application process is likely more stressful to our kids because of where we chose to go to school. Inevitably, someone will say to them, “Didn’t your parent go to Harvard?” And so we ache a bit more than if we had gone elsewhere.

Your readers may think this is the most ridiculous thing for someone to think about in December of their senior year or that it’s an enviable problem to have. But I can assure them that this situation will eventually arise for most of them if fate brings them to college in Cambridge, and they will not find it enviable.

So if you don’t get into Harvard now, cheer up. You’ll still get a great education, and things may be a bit easier on your kids thirty years from now. If you do get in, it’s ok to be happy. Harvard’s a great place to go to school. I loved it, just as most of my friends loved the colleges they went to. But you might temper your celebrations just a bit, for some December thirty years hence, you might well find yourself painfully anxious as your child awaits news from a small office on Brattle Street.

on April 25, 2018 am30 08:08

yall having a great time inna winter

on April 25, 2018 am30 08:08

Great advices!
There’s a cat, How could it be wrong?

on April 25, 2018 am30 08:08

Thanks for the uplifting words, Dan. I got deferred a few hours ago and am still trying to soak it all in. Reading this article definitely helped!

on April 25, 2018 am30 08:08

Thanks for your recommendation, I feel so bad because I had a lot of ilussions from be admitted in Harvard through 2017 Early Action. It’s something inexplicable. I’ll continue giving the best of myself for be admitted in the Regular Decision. Thank you for this inspiring message.

on April 25, 2018 am30 08:08

Hey Dan,

Thank you so much for this post and all your other blog posts. Your advice for the Harvard interview process helped me so much, and this one was a thoughtful gift for a girl who just got deferred. Hopefully, I’ll end up in the same place that you did, but even if not, thanks for your reassuring words!

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