How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest to Colleges

Bonus Material: PrepMaven’s NYU Letter of Continued Interest Sample

Deferred from an Early application to your dream school? Or waitlisted in the regular decision round? It’s not the result you want from your college applications, but it doesn’t mean you have to give up hope!

At elite universities, deferrals are becoming more and more common in the Early Decision and Early Action rounds. So, if you were deferred, you’re probably like the vast majority of early applicants. Statistically, most deferred applicants will be rejected in the spring. 

So, how do you maximize your chances of an acceptance after deferral? At PrepMaven, we’ve got decades of experience helping thousands of students earn admissions into their dream schools. And one thing that can make a difference is writing what’s called “a letter of continued interest.” 

In this guide, we’ll break down what a letter of continued interest is, when you should write one, and how you should write one to increase your chances of admission. 

Jump to section:
What’s a letter of continued interest?
Should you always write a letter of continued interest?
How to write a letter of continued interest
When should you send your letter of continued interest?
Whom to send the letter of continued interest to
Things NOT to do in your letter of continued interest
Next steps

Well, it’s basically what it sounds like: a letter of continued interest tells a college that you are still interested in attending. It might sound silly (after all, you did apply for admission there), but it’s tremendously important for the college. 

Let’s say you applied Early Action to MIT and were (like the vast majority of applicants) deferred. The admissions committee at MIT knows that you’ve applied to multiple schools: for all they know, you’ve already been accepted by some other university. If that’s the case, then they wouldn’t want to “waste” an admission on you!

The letter of continued interest is a way of telling MIT that you’re still on the market. In other words, that they should give you an acceptance because you’d definitely accept. 

But the letter of continued interest also does something even more important: it can let you increase the strength of your application by highlighting new accomplishments or achievements. 

Take a look at the sample letter here and make note of how the writer uses most of the letter to highlight new achievements and updates, without rehashing what was in his previous application!

Read on further to see how to use the letter to most effectively include new information that might help push admissions committees toward accepting your application over other students’. 

First thing’s first: make sure the university doesn’t have a policy against these letters. While it’s very rare, some colleges don’t want letters of continued interest. If you send a letter to one of these schools, you’ll really be damaging your application, since you’ll be showing that you didn’t follow their policies. 

That policy is incredibly rare, however: most schools don’t have a stated policy about letters of continued interest. Some schools, in fact, specifically ask that you confirm you’re still interested if you’ve been deferred or waitlisted. If that’s the case, you definitely want to follow those instructions. 

In reality, the answer to this question is basically yes: you should always send a letter of continued interest to any schools that you still want to attend after a deferral/wait-list (again, so long as they don’t prohibit it). It might seem annoying to do extra work after everything you already did, but now’s not the time to be lazy: maximizing your odds of admission means taking every chance to improve your application. 

We’ll be honest: getting an admission off a waitlist or deferral is incredibly rare at elite universities. But it does happen! Out of Harvard’s nearly 2000 admitted students for the class of 2027, only 27 were admitted from the waitlist. Whether that’s encouraging or not is a question of perspective, since it means there is a chance, however slim. What it really means is that you can’t afford to pass up anything that might improve your odds!

If you’ve decided on writing one to a school, you’ll want to look at any specific guidelines or instructions they offer. 

But, unless they give you specific instructions, here is what you need to include in your letter of continued interest: 

  1. Confirm your interest! This is one of the most important things, and can be done in a sentence. Make it clear that, while you were naturally disappointed by the deferral, you are excited to still be considered, and that you would attend if given the chance
  2. Provide any new information that makes you a better candidate. This is the second-most important thing to include in a letter of continued interest, and should make up the bulk of your letter. What kind of new information? Ideally, updates on things already in your application: if you’ve finished a research project, won recognition in a competition, or wrapped up an internship, these are great things to include. You should not include minor developments: a slightly increased grade, a new club you’ve joined, or a new hobby are not worth writing a letter about.
  3. Do reference any additional engagement you’ve had with the college! If you’ve done a campus visit, had a meaningful interaction with a professor, or gotten involved with any kind of initiative associated with the college, you should mention it. 
  4. Finally, end with a brief statement thanking the reader for their time, and making it clear you’re available if they ever want to follow up with more questions. Chances are, they won’t, but it’s still nice to leave that door open. 

Most importantly: look at a sample! It’s always easiest to write something when you have an example. We’ve provided a free sample letter of interest for NYU that you can download by clicking the link below!

Again, rule number 1 is to follow any specific instructions provided by the admissions office when they waitlisted or deferred you. 

But, outside of that, you should primarily consider when you’ll get the most bang for your buck! It may be tempting to send your letter the moment you get deferred, but you should wait, for two reasons. 

First, because you want to give yourself time to add any new achievements or accomplishments to the letter, as well as potentially visiting the college itself or reaching out to faculty. This will depend on your schedule, but if you know you might win an award or finish an internship within the next month or two, it’s a good idea to wait until then to write and send your letter. 

The second consideration is also important: you want to send only one letter, and you want that letter to make it clear that you’re still interested when it counts. Sending the letter as soon as you get your decision doesn’t tell them much, since you’re likely to still be interested so close to the initial application. 

You don’t want to wait too long, but give it at least a month after you get your deferral/waitlist notification. The idea is to keep your candidacy on the admissions committee’s mind as they review new, regular decision applications. 

Often, a university will have a place in your application portal for you to upload additional materials or updates. If so, then that’s the place to upload your letter of continued interest as well. 

If there’s no option to do so, you can simply reach out to the admissions office of the school over email (or, better yet, phone) and ask them whom you could send a letter of continued interest to. 

Don’t get freaked out by the prospect of calling the admissions office! It’s completely normal, and they’ll be happy to make sure you get your letter to the right place. 

If you follow the advice above, you’ll write a great letter of continued interest. But we also thought we’d flag a couple things you definitely don’t want to do! 


  • Talk about the acceptances or scholarships you’ve received from other schools: it won’t impress your target school, and will make you seem less committed. 
  • Come off too desperate. It’s fine to make it clear that this school is your top choice, but you don’t want to beg or imply that this is “the perfect school” or the “only school” for you. 
  • Argue about how good your application is or explain away existing deficiencies. If your grades were lower than they should’ve been, or your test scores were sub-optimal, or your essay was sloppy, don’t worry about it. It’ll come off as insecure, and will only draw the admissions officer’s attention to the problems.
  • Send multiple letters (unless they ask you to)!

If you look at our Sample Letter of Continued Interest for NYU , you’ll see that the author carefully avoids making any of those mistakes, but is still able to convey lots of helpful information and passion!

With college admissions more selective than ever, you’ll want to do everything you can to make your application stand out. A letter of continued interest is one way of doing just that if you’ve been deferred or waitlisted. 

If, on the other hand, you’re still in the early stages of applying to colleges, there are lots of things you can do to maximize your chances. We recommend starting with our guide to writing the college essay. There, you’ll find everything you need to know about the college application essay, plus links to other posts designed to help you as you apply to your dream schools. 

In the meantime, you can also contact us for help with anything academic, test prep, or college app related: our tutors can help you bring your grades up, perfect your college application essays, and, yes, even work on your letters of continued interest. 

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Mike is a PhD candidate studying English literature at Duke University. Mike is an expert test prep tutor (SAT/ACT/LSAT) and college essay consultant. Nearly all of Mike’s SAT/ACT students score in the top 5% of test takers; many even score above 1500 on the SAT. His college essay students routinely earn admission into their top-choice schools, including Harvard, Brown, and Dartmouth. And his LSAT students have been accepted In into the top law schools in the country, including Harvard, Yale, and Columbia Law.