About Dealing with Deferrals Please Read Northstarmom!!

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Discus: Ivy League Schools: Harvard University: 2004 Archive: About Dealing with Deferrals Please Read Northstarmom!!
By Icansmile4u (Icansmile4u) on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 12:23 pm: Edit

First of all, congratulations who made it on the first round. For deferred people like me, the news from Harvard wasn't that pleasant thing to hear yesterday. I am just wondering if Harvard Deferees have any realistic chance of getting admitted back in during the regular session? The e-mail we got from Harvard emphasized that our applications will be reviewed throughly again. But, also from different sources, I heard that Deferree's applications are reviewed only after regular admits are pretty much decided. Plus, Harvard didn't release any realistic figure of readmitted people just saying "at times they are admitted at rate close to that of regular applicants" so can anyone clarify this for deferred people please? Plus, I want to know what I can do to deal with deferral status. like sending what kind of materials to whom? blah blah.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 02:30 pm: Edit

Yes, deferred candidates can get in. One of the students whom I interviewed last year was deferred and then accepted.

In terms of following up with admissions, I do NOT suggest that you call or e-mail just to tell them that you're still interested. My gut feeling is that since Harvard has the highest yield of the country, they assume that deferred candidates are still interested.

Do not do something like send Harvard a recommendation letter from some big wig or alum who barely knows you.

Do, though, contact Harvard with any additional information that might help your application. An example would be if you get additional major achievements/awards.

Also contact your alumni interviewer and ask for her/his suggestions. One of the students whom I interviewed this year did exactly that, contacting me last night about his deferral, and asking me for suggestions. This was the first time that any student whom I have interviewed has bothered to do that, and I thought it was a good idea. I also was eager to know how he'd done, but didn't want to call him and ask. While Harvard eventually will let our local school's committee know who was accepted, that probably will take a couple of weeks, and the committee head may not get around to telling the interviewers.

Meanwhile, make sure you're applying to some safety schools where you'd be happy to go if it comes to that. As you know, the odds always are long for getting into Harvard, so it's wise to have good back-ups.

Harvard can't estimate how many deferred candidates will be accepted because it really does depend upon the overall pool. Being deferred doesn't confer an advantage or disadvantage. At least you know, though, that you have a chance because those who had no chance were rejected.

By Icansmile4u (Icansmile4u) on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 04:14 pm: Edit

Thanks for the reply. I always appreciate the support you bring up to this board. Thank you. I just got quick questions though. I was thinking of calling the admission office to find out who my regional reader is to send a letter to him/her specifically. So you are negative about the letter thing even on that personal basis rather than to the office genenrally?
The deferred admission applications are just read against only deferred applicants? or they get mixed up into the normal admission pool?

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 04:59 pm: Edit

My understanding is that deferred apps are read along with the regular pool.

I doubt that a letter to the regional reader would help. I really do think that they are swamped by such letters.

Because Harvard is Harvard, the only thing I think that might help at this point would be by providing extra information that is important that was inadvertently left out of your EA application (such as if you forgot to mention some national award or other major honor), and important achievements that you've made since sending in your application.

I would also bet that adcoms are swamped with e-mails/calls from deferred students (and their parents) who ask questions and call just to show interest, and end up simply irritating the overworked adcoms.

I think that on some board, I saw some student who was planning on sending a bound copy of his IB extended essay. IMO, it could be appropriate to send an abstract, but the adcoms aren't going to read an entire extended essay.

By W1628 (W1628) on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 05:11 pm: Edit

My interviewer is writing another letter for me, and my ToK teacher (who is harvard alum) is also writing one. Northstarmom, do you think this will help?

By Polka (Polka) on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 05:24 pm: Edit

how much does harvard know about individual schools? i got deferred and being human i want to blame everything but myself. my school (that i have been going to most of my life) has no sports teams and virtually no clubs (it has an asb). should i have included information like that in my application since no one from my school has ever applied to harvard (other than me)? the harvard representative i spoke to made it seem as though harvard looks throughly at the opportunities each school offers, but i know that would be very time consuming. could harvard's lack of experience with my school be partially to blame for my deferral?

By Walkaround (Walkaround) on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 05:26 pm: Edit

If there are significant changes in the deferred applicant's application (such as many new awards/achievements) that are not superficially done (like, it was already in the process, just hadn't been completed in time for EA applications), could they make a difference since the application then shows that teh candidate is very active in the community and hasn't sdtopped participating just because he/she is a senior? In that case, can being deferred be an advantage as opposed to a RA applicant since the applicant has demonstrated a continuing involvement? I dunno if I explained myself well enough, but, the fact that the candidate is still demonstrating significant achievements/involvment, and the school can compare the EA application w/ the new material the studnet sends in to show that he/she is still a very active community member--u kno wut i mean? could that help? Sorry, I know that was the most disorganized sentence ever!

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 05:35 pm: Edit

W1628, I don't think your interviewers extra letter will help. Presumably, your interviewer got his/her say in on the interview form.

As for the TOK teacher's -- that might help if that person really knows you very well and didn't already write a letter for you. I don't suggest getting any more extra letters. That old saw -- the thicker the file, the thicker the applicant...

Blaming your school doeesn't make sense, and really is the kind of attitude that reflects the type of student that Harvard doesn't want to admit. Harvard looks for people who are assertive enough to create EC opportunities if there aren't opportunities available that are of interest.

I've answered your questions earlier in this thread. Take some deep breaths, and then read my earlier posts.

By Polka (Polka) on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 07:23 pm: Edit

so there would be no point in writing an optional essay that included some information about my school? thanks for your help.

By W1628 (W1628) on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 07:30 pm: Edit

Hmm...alright. What would be a good time to send in the extra letters/updated resume?

By Walkaround (Walkaround) on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 09:53 pm: Edit

lol! when i read my stuff over, i do sound really nervous--but honestly i'm not!! hmm...that's funny lol.

By Ivybound01 (Ivybound01) on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 11:18 pm: Edit

What if you wrote about your "situation" not in a condescending/blaming way? Northstarmom, wouldn't Harvard want someone who says "Yeah, I come from a disadvantaged background, but I'm grateful for what I have and I still love my life. I don't blame anyone (esp. not my school)" Then it wouldn't be like you're projecting the blame on someone else or that you're complaining right? better? or should she just avoid it entirely (in your opinion).

By Synikaux (Synikaux) on Friday, December 12, 2003 - 11:19 pm: Edit

Would it still be a good idea to express interest or inform my interviewer even if I had the feeling that the interview did not go as well as I had hoped (ie it didn't go well at all)? One really really careless error I now realized I made is that I had forgotten to give my counselor the School Report Supplement. I am also considering doing the optional essay since I had neglected to do that as well.

I was thinking about calling up the regional liason, especially whichever one is in charge of my school.

To sum, I got a bit confident and neglected to do a lot of things I should have and did not pay attention to may of the small details that I believe did me in. Is there a way to salvage the mess I have created? I really wanted to goto Harvard, but I now regret blowing my shot by carelessness and over-confidence.

I'm fairly new to these boards, but it seems that you Northstar is very well liked and I hear that you work for Harvard, and any help at this point would be most appreciated!

By Aznbrouhaha (Aznbrouhaha) on Saturday, December 13, 2003 - 11:03 am: Edit

wouldn't harvard have told you if you'd forgotten to send in the school report supplement? wouldn't that be considered an incomplete app?

i had the idea that harvard notifies candidates whose apps are incomplete...does anyone know?

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, December 13, 2003 - 08:55 pm: Edit

I don't work for Harvard. I'm an alumna interviewer.
If you didn't finish your application-- such as not having the school report supplement sent in-- of course that needs to be done. I can imagine that in the crush of having to make decisions on a short deadline, the adcoms didn't bother telling students whose apps were incomplete. I would guess that a mailing on that will go out, but possibly not until later. After all, if one missed the deadline for EA, one would just roll over into the RA pool, for which there's still lots of time to complete one's app.

I can't imagine why someone who didn't have the supp report sent in would have expected Harvard to admit them. Impossible since the app was incomplete.

To those who didn't do supplemental essays: If you think that there's something about you that needs to be highlighted, yes, I would suggest sending them. Frankly, I can't imagine why anyone who is seriously interested in Harvard wouldn't have done the supp essay in the first place.

I am sure that there are people who get in without doing the essay. However, we all know competition is fierce, so to me it would make sense to take advantage of all possibilities.

One caveat: As I mentioned before, an essay that basically says, "My school has no ECs, so I haven't done any" won't cut it. The people whom Harvard wishes to attract are those who make opps for themselves. A big reason why H has something like 300 student organizations is that H deliberately admits students who are passionate about ECs. H students don't get course credit for ECs nor do they get to use ECs to kiss up to faculty advisors. The organizations are student run -- and run like professional organizations. People don't have to be begged to participate: They compete to participate.

When to send in supplementary materials? I would assume it would be appropriate to do so before the RA deadline, but you always could check the website or check with admissions directly on this.

IMO, one's interviewer might be able to offer helpful advice about what you can do to boost your chances. I doubt, though, that adcoms will be contacting the interviewer since the report is in. If for some reason, the adcoms need an additional character assessment, they'd probably ask the local head of your schools committee to arrange another alumni interview for you. This seems to happen only when candidates are borderline for admission.

Harvard tries to find out about individual schools, and will talk to GCs to get info. But, again I emphasize that a school's not offering many ECs is not a reason for a candidate to not have done any ECs.

There are many non school ways of doing ECs. Enterprising candidates --out of their own passions -- create their own ECs in schools or in their community.

IMO, people who are rather passive, but have high grades, class rank and scores, may do fine at other top schools, but probably aren't a good fit for Harvard, which tends to be a great place for those who are very independent. It's not a great place for those needing more structure and nurturing.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Monday, December 15, 2003 - 12:44 am: Edit

>> It's not a great place for those needing more structure and nurturing.

I think this is a VERY important statement that bears repeating. If I could offer one piece of advice to high school students, it would be: forget the brand name labels and really find out what various schools are like and whether they are a good fit for you.

Harvard is a great university, but it is NOT necessarily a warm, fuzzy undergraduate experience. You can get that, but it will be because of your own initiative, not because the University makes it easy to find. It's right for some people, not for others -- and that has NOTHING to do with "stats" and EVERYTHING to do with personality. Applying there "because it's Harvard" is a terrible reason and I suspect that a lot of "high-stat" rejections result from absolutely horrid responses to the Why Harvard? essay question.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Monday, December 15, 2003 - 03:25 am: Edit

ID, interesting points you make. My D is applying to both H and Y but chose Y EA because she felt that it was warmer and fuzzier than H. The school that in her mind is the closest to Y is Smith, which is even warmer and fuzzier. My D recognizes a complex set of trade-offs and probably won't make a final decision until a) she sees where she's actually accepted and b) mulls over the trade-offs until almost the last minute. (My guesses on acceptances: H, no; Y, maybe; Smith, yes; Wellesley, yes; Barnard, yes; Stanford, maybe; Skidmore, yes.)

Her comment after visiting H was "I liked it more than I thought I would (no offense, NSM)."

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Monday, December 15, 2003 - 09:05 am: Edit

By "warm and fuzzy", I'm not talking about coddling, but rather the infrastructure for a sense of community.

Harvard lacks many of the amenities that breed undergrad "bonding". For example, the lack of a student center where you run into all your friends has an effect on campus life. Likewise, the cafeteria situation is highly decentratlized and the subject of much complaint for its inconvenience. Once you get out of Harvard Yard, the campus itself is rather spread out.

The residential house system used to provide the sense of community. But, because it was turning into racial apratheid with "black" houses and "Asian" housing, the administration made housing assingnments random.

What happens is that students find an activity or organization to join that serves as their community.

This is not "bad". It's just the kind of thing that high school students should find out before making their decisions. A school that is right for one applicant may not be the bucolic postcard expected by another applicant.

Much of the character of a school is determined by its physical layout. For example, almost any small LAC will provide a more tight knit undergrad community than an R1 research instituion. An R1 research instituion with a self contained campus will provide more than one scattered across a city like Cambridge.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Monday, December 15, 2003 - 09:33 am: Edit

Thedad and others,
I definitely agree that anyone who's looking for a warm fuzzy should cross Harvard off their list. For that matter, so should people who are looking for the traditional collegiate experience of rah rah and Greeks, but unlike those looking for fuzzies, smart folks wanting to go Greek typically don't even consider going to Harvard.

I wish that I could personally steer to truly nurturing liberal arts colleges and wonderful state college honors programs the many intelligent, nice students whom I encounter here and in interviews who say that they're applying to Harvard because they want a college that will force them to work up to their capabilities and to dive into ECs.

Unlike the third tier college where I used to teach, and where the college prez told faculty that if students failed to attend their 8 a.m. classes, we should call them up to remind them (!), Harvard as a marvelous panoply of resources, but expects students to go and get them. Harvard isn't going to force students to do anything.

It's next to impossible to flunk out. That's because Harvard students are very bright, can write marvelous term papers at the last minute, and also Harvard gives students a couple of completely empty weeks at semester's end so that students who've been devoting their time to ECs can finally get time to study.

In addition, Harvard doesn't do Mickey Mouse things such as grade students on attendance or on assignments like outlining chapters.

While Harvard is an excellent university, it's important to realize it's a good fit for probably very few of the many highly intelligent students who could qualify for admission. What seems like a treasure chest of opportunities to an independent student who's lusting to be able to take major leadership in EC or academic activities of their own choosing would seem like a cold, lonely, unfriendly place to someone with a different personality.

As a student, at the beginning of each semester, I thrilled at the possibilities before me. I remember the joy I'd feel leafing through the thousand-page course catalogue, realizing that my academic possibilities were limited only by my motivation, energy and imagination. Also, if I couldn't find what I wanted in the catalogue, I could always create my own course.

This kind of opportunity, though, would mean little to the many smart students who simply want to go to college to get their degrees so as to be able to earn more. What I experienced as marvelous freedom of choice might be an irritant to students who would prefer the ease of more limited offerings and more direction from advisors.

I also think that Harvard folks in general have an icy ferocity of focus when it comes to pursuing their interests that others would find unsettling. I don't mean a backstabbing mentality. Instead, I am referring to a confidence in one's passions as well as a mentality of not suffering fools.

To me, for instance, the Bill Gates' personality is the typical Harvard one. To get along in the world, many Harvard grads may cloak their true personalities with a more socially acceptable veneer, but underneath it is the fierceness of Bill Gates.

My thoughts are that unless one would think it's appealing to spend 4 years living with people like this, it would be better to look to a different school to provide what is for many people the most intellectually important 4 years of their lives.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Monday, December 15, 2003 - 12:38 pm: Edit

Interesting. Thank you.

I think my D would like the diving in and exploring. I think she's also looking for a sense of community...and your observation about organizations or EC's providing that is good stuff for her to chew on. I'll make sure I tell her about this when I pick her up early from school today because she has her Harvard alumni interview today. :)

In terms of weighing pros and cons of the different schools she's interested in, I don't think she's going go get really frantic until she knows where she's been accepted. I mean, weighing Harvard vs. Stanford will be pretty silly if she gets into neither.

NSM, for some reason, I can't even fully tell you why, I think H is the least likely of the three HYS schools she's applying to. It's just a gut level feeling about how adcoms will look at her and "fit."

By Daggerlee (Daggerlee) on Thursday, January 01, 2004 - 10:16 am: Edit

NSM, that's some very helpful advice, and has confirmed what I've read about Harvard in other places. But many people in applying to colleges really have no idea what sort of undergrad experience they're looking for. On the other hand, many of these people are so brilliant and smart that they would adapt well to any environment they were put in, and make the best of it. I happen to fall into the first category, and hopefully the second as well.

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