Sometimes, your college application just doesn’t get you the results you were looking for. However, there’s no need to despair if, for some reason, your dream college has waitlisted or deferred you. In most cases, you’ll likely get a spot — and you can up your chances by writing an incredible letter of continued interest.
Letter of Continued Interest: Is It as Powerful as Many Think?
In its very core, this is a letter one writes to the college when they are waitlisted or deferred. It shows that you’re still very much interested in getting a spot at the school, even though you may have been somewhat discouraged.
Most importantly, a letter of continued interest allows you to highlight what you have achieved since you sent the application, thus boosting your chances of getting into a good school.
The Right Time to Write a Letter of Continued Interest
Although you will probably want to write the letter immediately after you receive the (somewhat) disappointing news, it’s important to check whether the school even wants to continue communication.
In most cases, you can send your letter of continued interest after a certain date. Most schools indicate whether they can (or should) be contacted — and you must respect that decision. Others, however, may not be so interested in communicating until they decide whether you have what it takes to get the spot.
If you go against what the school has said in their waitlist/deferral letter, you risk losing the spot altogether. It will seem as if you consider yourself above the rules, which won’t bode well with anyone in the admissions committee. Therefore, tread carefully and double-check when you can send the letter.
Overall, most schools don’t give any specific instructions, so it is fine to send a letter of continued interest as soon as you receive the deferral/waitlist letter. However, take into account any impending achievements you might want to include in the letter.
If you’re expecting information that could change the status of your college application significantly, don’t send the letter just yet. After all, you really shouldn’t send two letters, as that will seem a bit too eager.
Therefore, wait it out a bit if you’re supposed to receive information about your improved GPA, higher test scores, or new awards and achievements. These could tip the scales in your favor, so you ought to use them to your advantage the right way.
Can a Letter of Continued Interest Help You Dazzle the School?
Although no one can say for sure that a letter of continued interest can get you that coveted spot, it certainly won’t hurt. Essentially, the point of this letter is not only to express your desire but your interest as well. The school should be made aware that you are ready to give it your all to get that spot. Additionally, it’s a good chance to mention some other things that could turn you into a valuable candidate.
In the end, it’s a sign that you’re not afraid of extra effort or putting yourself out there and showing how much you want something. When it comes to college admissions, eagerness is not a bad thing. Of course, you shouldn’t go overboard — but you ought to show your interest nonetheless. At the very least, the letter gives you an advantage over candidates that may have decided against writing one!
Contents of a Letter of Continued Interest
Before you start writing the letter, you have to think about what you’re trying to achieve here. This letter isn’t just a simple reminder that says, “Yes, I’m still interested in your school.” It should show that you are ready to attend the school if you get a spot and have what it takes to become a roaring success.
Because of that, taking the time to craft a perfect letter is essential. It has to be professional-looking, neat, and full of value. Most importantly, it should include a few key points that ought to give you the edge you’re looking for.
In general, a letter of continued interest looks similar to a cover letter you would send to a potential employer. At the top of the page, you ought to provide information about who you’re sending the letter to. Therefore, type out the name and the title of the person you’re addressing. Additionally, don’t forget to name the school and the city and state where it’s located.
In terms of formatting, you should strive to keep it as simple as possible. This is not the time to play with fonts or different colors — you don’t want to be perceived as a joker who’s poking fun at higher education.
So, keep the font and font size simple yet easy to read. It should look as professional as possible. What’s more, pay attention to the alignment. The paragraphs should be left-aligned, and they shouldn’t be separated by more than a line of empty space. On top of that, you ought to avoid adding an indent at the beginning of a line.
In general, it’s best to address the letter to a real person, not the whole school. You may address it to the person who sent the deferral/waitlist letter. Alternatively, you could address the director of admissions.
In any case, remember that you’re writing to a person, not a robot. You should try to maintain a warm tone by starting with a salutation (Dear [The Person’s Name]), and ending the letter with a closing line such as “Sincerely, [Your Name].”
Make sure your name is under “Sincerely,” not next to it. On top of that, double-check your spelling. There’s nothing worse than misspelling the name of the person who may decide your future.
Getting the results you want with your letter of continued interest does require a bit of prep. Therefore, think about what you will say and how you will structure the body of the letter.
You should start by expressing how grateful you are that the school has deferred or waitlisted you. Of course, you aren’t really glad — no one would be. But, you must refrain from expressing your disappointment. You ought to stay optimistic, as there’s still a chance you might get in.
Then, you should move on to explaining that you’re still interested in the school despite the setback. Additionally, mention that the school is at the top of your list as your first choice. However, don’t lie — if it’s not your first choice, just avoid mentioning anything similar.
Now, the key to showing interest is to talk about all the things that have attracted you to a particular school. For example, if there are some professors or subjects you are very keen on, this is where you should mention them. Furthermore, if you have visited the school to see how it looks and what you may expect, mention that as well. Taking the time to visit a particular college means a student is definitely interested. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t bother with planning the trip!
Talk About New Achievements
Once you have reiterated how interested you are, it’s time to give some substance to this letter. After talking about why you believe this is the college for you, you ought to mention what you have achieved in the meantime. Whether you now have a higher GPA, have received some awards, or have improved your SAT or ACT scores — mention anything relevant that the admissions committee ought to know about.
In general, the letter shouldn’t be longer than four paragraphs, depending on how much you have to say. In the end, though, you should repeat how grateful you are for their time and consideration. What’s more, mention how they can contact you, should they have any questions.
Things You Should Not Include
Given that you now know what you should add to your letter, it’s also important to learn more about the things that could lower your chances of getting into your preferred college.
Above all, you must not use the letter as a way of showing the admissions committee how wrong their decision was. You don’t want to seem angry or frustrated, not to mention entitled to assume that they don’t know how to recognize potential. Instead, you should aim to show gratitude for the second chance. The letter should convey that you are persistent and resilient, as well as optimistic about getting accepted.
However, at the same time, you don’t want to seem desperate either. Sometimes, future students make the mistake of mentioning that other schools have rejected them or that they’ve only gotten accepted to schools they don’t really want to go to.
Many think this strategy will gain them points — someone at the admissions committee is bound to feel pity for them. Nevertheless, it often backfires tremendously. No school wants to know that it’s your last resort.
Finally, go over your college application and make sure you don’t include information the committee already knows. Otherwise, they may perceive the letter as a reprimand. By mentioning achievements they are already aware of, it’s almost as if you’re saying that they’ve made a huge mistake.
Sending Your Letter of Continued Interest
After all that writing, it is time to finally send the letter on its way. But where should you send it? How can you be sure anyone will read it?
In most cases, deferral/waitlist letters contain information about where you can send additional materials, i.e., things the committee should be aware of, such as a letter of continued interest. If these instructions appear in your letter too, don’t be afraid to follow them.
However, do know that some schools also have a pre-determined submission form or an application portal where you’re supposed to upload the letter or additional information. Make sure you’re familiar with the process before sending it.
When in doubt, though, you can always contact the admissions office to ask where you should send it. In general, you should be able to send it via email, fax, or regular mail.
As to which method is the most advantageous one — it often doesn’t matter, as long as the committee reads the letter. Still, some do say a physical letter is more likely to be read and added to your file. Similarly, if you want to send an email to make sure the letter arrives on time, it’s best to attach it as a PDF document.
Can Someone Send the Letter Even if They Don’t Have Any New Accomplishments?
In the end, a letter of continued interest should show that you’re not just eager to attend a school but have also done something in the meantime that may tip the scales in your favor. But…what happens if you haven’t achieved anything else after getting your waitlist/deferral letter?
Well, even if that’s the case, you should definitely try to boost your chances a bit. However, you will have to rack your brains and really think about relevant, completely new information you can include.
A letter that doesn’t say anything new won’t have the impact you desire. Therefore, think about what has happened in the meantime. Consider specific examples that you can use to your advantage.
For instance, if you got a not-so-exclusive internship, you may think that the committee doesn’t want to hear about that. Yet, if it’s an internship in the field that you want to study, that shows you’ve taken the initiative to learn more about it, especially if you connect it to something you would like to do or pursue at the university. Similarly, if you’ve taken up volunteering or have contributed somehow to your school, job, or extracurricular club — you ought to mention it.
In general, if the school doesn’t forbid sending in new information, writing the letter is always worth it. Just remember to follow this format when talking about new accomplishments:
- Give some general details about it
- Connect it to a specific trait or talent you possess so that they see how much potential you bring to the table
- Associate it with something that you want to do at the university if you get the spot. This part may not come naturally to you, so make sure you do thorough research
As you can see, a letter of continued interest is more than a “fan letter” you should send to your school of choice. It is an opportunity to reiterate how much you’re still interested and grateful to have gotten another chance. More importantly, it’s a letter that should give you an edge over other students because it contains information about new achievements the committee isn’t aware of yet.