Not sure what to do now that you were deferred or waitlisted from your school of choice? In this post, we’ll show you how writing a letter of continued interest can be a great way to demonstrate why you are a perfect fit for your dream school.
Being waitlisted or deferred from your preferred institution can be disheartening. However, waiting for the situation to improve itself will get you nowhere. Continued communication with an admissions officer will give you a critical chance to reiterate why you are a premier choice for the school.
Learning how to write a letter of continued interest is a key step to increasing your chances once deferred or waitlisted. Sending this letter will demonstrate your initiative and allow you to update the admissions officer with your recent academic and experiential information. This will make it easier for them to make a decision about your application in the months to come.
Though writing a letter of continued interest is not an official necessity for a waitlisted or deferred student, not jumping on the opportunity to supplement the information on your application materials should be considered a significant disadvantage.
By writing a letter of continued interest, you are at least keeping up with any other waitlisted/deferred students who send in their own letters.Use our guide on how to write a letter of continued interest and our letter of continued interest example to boost your chance of acceptance.
A letter of continued interest is a polite and formal letter to an admissions officer, running between 200-400 words of gratitude and academic/professional update. As the name suggests, the letter also implies your continued interest in the receiving academic institution and its program offerings.
You may want to indicate that the school in question is your first choice, but only if this is true. If the school and its programs are your secondary choices, you only have to indicate that you will seriously consider enrolling into the institution upon acceptance.
The purpose of a letter of interest is multifaceted. Of course, it displays your continued interest in a school and one of its particular programs. However, a letter of continued interest also contains overtones of gratitude toward the receiving admissions officer and undertones of self-promotion.
Just as with any piece of correspondence you might send in your academic and later professional career, a letter of continued interest must be professional and polite.
Your first step in learning how to write a letter of continued interest is to use a typical letter format. This will include a greeting and a sign-off, both of which must be dedicated to expressing your thankfulness to the admissions officer for all the time and effort they’ve exerted in reviewing your application materials.
The body of your letter of continued interest is allowed to be more self-serving. In between your gracious greeting and sign-off, you should include an update of any academic or experiential information that may influence how an admissions officer reviews your application for the better.
This does not mean you should repeat the information given in your personal statement or application. Instead, use the letter of continued interest as a way to supplement any previously given academic and experiential information with recent updates.
Whether it’s an improved GPA, SAT or ACT scores, or recent work experience, an admissions officer will be swayed by your continuing diligence and dedication.
The update provided in your letter of continued interest may be in the form of a short, personal declaration that ultimately relates to your suitability as a student of the academic institution. Better yet, your declaration should demonstrate your fit in the program in which you are most interested.
Once deferred or waitlisted, the optimal time to send your letter of continued interest depends on your individual circumstances. If you do not expect any significant academic or professional developments between the moment of your deferral/waitlisting and the final review of your application, send a letter of continued interest as soon as possible.
You can include any information to your benefit that may have been glossed over in your personal statement and application.
However, if you do expect incoming changes to your academic or experiential record, it’s a good idea to hold off on sending a continuing letter of interest until those positive changes have occurred. Still, you should aim to beat the national May 1 deadline for students to submit deposits and secure their places at college.
You may hear back from an admissions officer even closer to the fall semester, but May 1 is a good deadline by which you can abide.
Though a letter of continued interest should be as brief as 200-400 words, it should be dense with a professional adherence to letter format. It should include a thankful greeting and sign-off, an update of your academic and experiential information, and a declaration demonstrating how you will add value to the school and particular program of your choosing.
That may sound like a lot, but learning how to write a letter of continued interest doesn’t have to be. The process is simple if taken step-by-step.
Before anything, you must have a solid grasp of the proper letter format. The first step is opening your letter of continued interest with a greeting. However, to send the optimal greeting, you must know who you will be corresponding with.
You should look at the initial notice of your deferral/waitlisting to check if the admissions officer was the sender. If so, their name and contact information should be visible.
If the admissions officer’s name and contact information are not available on the letter of deferral/waitlisting, then you may have to search for it online. This is usually an easy process as many schools provide lists of their admissions officers by region.
Simply search for a list corresponding to your prospective school and find the admissions officer for your region. This particular admissions officer will be the one who reviews your application materials, so it’s best to address your letter to them.
Once you have the admissions officer’s information, you can open your letter of continued interest by greeting them. A tried and true “Dear Admissions Officer [surname],” is the best option available. Any other greeting will seem unprofessional.
After the formal address is completed, you must now begin the actual communication in a way that is polite and sincere. For this first crucial sentence, aim to be personal and friendly instead of self-promoting. Articulate how you hope your letter of continued interest finds the admissions officer well. If you're sending the letter on a Monday, mention that you hope the recipient has had a relaxing weekend. Be creative, but be sincere and generous.
An articulation of your thankfulness should immediately follow the polite opening of your letter. As with that generous opening, your thank-you sentence(s) should carry a tone of selfless sincerity. Thank the admissions officer for exerting their time and effort in considering you as a deferred or waitlisted candidate.
Though a deferral or waitlisting may not be the most pleasing news, you must stay positive. Do not represent your deferred or waitlisted status as an unfortunate occurrence in your letter of continued interest. In fact, your early thank-you sentences should indicate your appreciation for being given a second chance by the admissions committee. The last thing you want is to seem ungrateful.
If the school your recipient belongs to is your top choice, it would be a good idea to say so early on. However, you should only write such a thing if it is true. Deeming a certain school as your first choice implies a commitment to enrolment should you eventually be accepted.
If you are serious about the school as a secondary possibility, you should simply indicate that you are excited at the prospect of becoming a student of the institution. Either way, you must demonstrate your eagerness.
Despite the name, your continued interest is only a small part of your letter of continued interest. You have already communicated to the admissions officer how eager you are to attend their academic institution. Now, you must utilize the bulk of your letter of continued interest to demonstrate your suitability as a potential student at the school.
When considering how to write a letter of continued interest that will maximize your chances of acceptance, you are actually wondering how you can update an admissions officer with relevant accomplishments that will show them you fit the school’s vision of the ideal student and future alumnus.
This means you must craft a personal declaration about your present accomplishments, your specific program ambitions at the school, and your professional ambitions after graduation.
There are several preemptive steps you can take to help you craft an excellent letter of continued interest. The easiest and most fundamental would be researching the school’s mission statement, which is almost always prominently displayed on its website.
The school’s mission statement will give you a clearer understanding of the type of student the institution wishes to educate, as well as the type of professional they want to let out into the world after graduation. You should relate the story of your recent accomplishments in such a way that demonstrates your ability to realize the school’s vision.
In order to plot out your ambitions at the school and beyond, you naturally need a thorough understanding of the program that is best for you. Again, researching the school’s website is an easy and effective option. However, you will want to be as specific as possible, which might require more than online research.
You may consider contacting a professor at the school whose specific area of study or research appeals to your own ambitions. This is a wonderful way to get any advice for success in the program, begin a conversation based on mutual academic interests, or network so that your name keeps floating throughout the school.
If you choose to contact a professor, do not request basic information about the school or program. You should do your own homework on program offerings, available courses, and extra-curricular opportunities beforehand. Engage the professor in specifics to help focus and specialize your undergraduate studies and eventual career aspirations.
Within your letter of continued interest, you may reference your previous correspondence with a professor at the school. This has the immediate effect of demonstrating your initiative to the admissions officer. Also, bringing up your correspondence with a professor at the school is a great way to ease the letter toward your recent related accomplishments, your suitability for your chosen program, and your professional ambitions, which align with the school’s mission statement.
Your sign-off should mimic the thankful tone of your opening sentences. This time, you should indicate your appreciation for the time and consideration the admissions officer has exerted in giving your letter of continued interest a read.
In keeping with proper letter format, you must close your letter of continued interest with:
[Your first and surname]
[Your high school]
[Your city, your state]
As with your greeting, the sign-off to your letter is expected to be formulaic. Deviating from this tried and true letter sign-off is an unnecessary risk.
The following is an example of a letter of continued interest you may use as a template for your own letter. Do not copy this example word-for-word. Instead, use it as a guide that you must alter to apply to yourself, the school, and the program of choice.
Dear Admissions Officer Smith,
I hope all is well with you. My name is Perfect Student, and I’d like to thank you for keeping my application to Dream University under consideration through deferral/waitlisting. Dream University is the school I’m most eager to attend, so the lasting hope you’ve given me is much appreciated.
I know that Dream University is the perfect school for me, and I believe I am a good fit for the University, too. I’ve had the pleasure of communicating with Professor Helpful to learn more about the pre-med program offered at your institution. More specifically, Professor Helpful and I have been discussing his chemistry and biochemistry courses. These courses have a special appeal to me as I hope to one day conduct research that may lead to more stable methods in the practice of anesthesiology.
Since sending my application to Dream University, I have raised my GPA from 3.55 to 3.69 by excelling in my chemistry and biology classes. I aim to keep up the momentum I’ve built so I can win the science award upon graduation.
I’ve also gained some crucial experience by shadowing an anesthesiologist at Work Experience Hospital over the course of several weeks. After shadowing the anesthesiologist and conversing with her on recent advances in her medical practice, I am more resolved than ever to help make anesthetization safer for any patient who may require it. Considering Dream University's mission statement, which seeks to “make the world a better place,” I feel that my own goals align perfectly with that of your fine academic institution.
I know you must be busy working your way through applications, so I’m very grateful for all the time you’ve given to reading this email. I hope I can one day count myself as part of the Dream University community and maybe even thank you in person.
Hopeful Applicant Secondary School
Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about letters of continued interest for college.
In the context of your letter of continued interest, the meaning of the term ‘accomplishment’ is wide-ranging. In essence, you should note anything that is relevant to your intended studies and professional expectations. Here is a list of some common accomplishments:
Check the school’s website for information on their policy regarding additional letters sent to the admissions office. If the institution’s website indicates they accept letters of continued interest, feel free to send one. However, if a school specifically asks that you not send any additional letters, do not send one. Not abiding by the school policy can seriously harm your chances of acceptance.
Consider keeping the line of communication open when writing the sign-off of your letter of continued interest. A simple sentence politely inviting the admissions officer to respond to your email should they require any more information from you is enough.
In the same vein as a preemptive letter to a professor, you may also lookup and contact some alumni or current students in your desired program. Through alumni and students, you can get a better sense of what the program expects from its students, as well as a more thorough outlining of the school’s values.
If a professor doesn’t respond to your message after a week or so, you can send a follow-up email acknowledging how busy they must be but how appreciative you would be if they could spare any information. If they still do not respond, do not pester that recipient. Try contacting another professor instead.
The biggest difference between a letter of continued interest and a letter of intent is the level of commitment each implies. In short, a letter of continued interest indicates that you are seriously considering attending the receiving institution, while a letter of intent serves as a promise that you will enroll in the school if accepted.
You may feel powerless to do anything after being deferred or waitlisted from your dream school. However, there is still much you can do to better your chances of acceptance. Improve your marks, or gain some volunteer or work experience that will impress your preferred school’s admissions officer.
Then, using this guide on how to write a letter of continued interest along with our letter of continued interest example, you can send the admissions officer an update that will make them look upon your application in a more favorable light.