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MIT student blogger Paul B. '11

After the Storm by Paul B. '11

Thoughts about decisions from someone who's been there.

For the past six months, I have been truly privileged to share my MIT experiences with all of you through the admissions blogs. Whether I talked about my classes, my dorm, my fraternity, the hacks, the research opportunities, or something completely random, I was always writing with you – the prospective members of MIT’s Class of 2012 – foremost in my mind. I hope I was able to help you get to know MIT a little better than you may have without the bloggers, because I certainly feel as though I got to know you. I wasn’t expecting that to happen…but through your comments, your emails, and even your random Facebook pokes, I genuinely became attached to you guys; and I think it’s safe to say the other bloggers feel the same way.

When Saturday finally rolled around, we were all right there with you guys – mentally and emotionally, if not physically. I remember exactly how it felt to prepare myself to click that one final button, the last barrier between me and knowing whether or not I might be going to MIT. Until that moment, I never knew I could feel so much hope, apprehension, and expectation all at the same time.

Last weekend, as I waited to find out whether or not certain friends of mine – from across the nation and the globe – had been admitted, I felt that exact same apprehension all over again. When one of those friends was accepted, her joy was my joy; when others of them weren’t, their sorrow was mine, too. And for the past few days, I’ve been wondering about what I would blog about today, asking myself what I would have wanted to hear last year.

I’m not sure there is a single “right” answer to that question. I wish I could meet every one of you who couldn’t be admitted in person and tell you, really, this is not the end of the world. I wish I could tell you all that you are all fantastic, driven people who have the potential to do amazing things with your lives. I wish I could tell you that one of the most important things in life is to be at peace with where you are and what you have, rather than keep thinking about what could have been.

I wish I could tell you that MIT is not the only place where you can live your dreams. Because when that letter says, “Please understand that this is in no way a judgment of you as a student or as a person,” everyone at MIT Admissions really does mean that. It’s just like how MIT intentionally uses the phrase “not admitted” rather than rejected. It’s not that you weren’t qualified for MIT, or that your myriad achievements in high school weren’t “good enough,” or that you won’t go on to do something completely revolutionary five, ten, fifty years down the road. If Matt and Ben could, I know they would admit every single one of you.

I don’t know if this will be comforting to any of you right now. But if you get nothing else out of the blogs, I hope you realize that admissions is more than just a job for everyone here at MIT. When we say we wish we could have offered you admission…we mean it.

To all of you waiting to hear back from other universities – best of luck. Sometimes, your dreams are closer to becoming reality than you might think. Just maybe not in the way you expected.

34 responses to “After the Storm”

  1. WTBS Alumni says:

    Oh well, daughter was deferred for EA, not admitted on regular. Waiting to hear from Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, Stevens and Cooper Union, admitted EA at Northeastern with lots of merit money. Her numbers were top notch, but maybe there were too many NY people in the pool. Who knows. She’ll probably be back into the MIT pool for grad school. Good luck to all, both admitted and not admitted!

  2. Tanmay says:

    This blog reminds me of a relevant quote by Coach Lou Holtz…

    “Life is 10 percent of what happens to me and 90 percent of how I react to it.”

  3. Eirik says:

    I just became a member of the “rejected” club now, as I just got home from a wedding and ran upstairs to check my decision. It was expected.

    If I wanted, I could probably sit around here and whine for hours about it. But that’s not me, and it shouldn’t be you.

    I guarantee you, all of those who are succsessful in their life or career, are succsessful because they not only have good fortune: they know how to cope with disappointments as well. There will be setbacks in your life, but it is really up to you to get over them. Life is short, and you can’t wait forever.

    Looking back, I see several things that I’ll improve in my application towards next year – one of them is taking the TOEFL, as well as retaking my SAT I. And of course, I’M GOING TO HAVE AN INTERVIEW.

    MiT, I’ll see you in the Class of 2013 applicant pool next year. But until August, there really isn’t any time to sit around and cry over a decision. Get motivated, do something you like and go somewhere you want. In the end, that’s really all there is.

    So long.

  4. '13er says:

    I’m on campus right now just to visit – it’s great.
    Now it’s our turn. I’m terrified.

  5. Shruthi says:

    Thanks Paul, like I said before, I think it was very sweet of you, to think about all of us who didnt get through smile

  6. Eirik says:

    And I do think Ben’s post “It’s more than just a job” is the most wonderful college admission related text I’ve ever read.

    Thank you, Ben and all of the admission officers, for providing such insight into the admission process.

  7. Anonymous says:

    very sweet…even though i didn’t get in i feel a lot better! thanks!

  8. Hey Paul, thanks again for your support! It really means a lot! Reading your posts really has helped me move on and look at my other opportunities. I have a lot of good schools lined up and will be applying to U of A, and someday to MIT once more smile thank you again.

  9. Paul, You’re cool. I initially had a little Diels-Alder reaction to the whole thing but that has helped me ring together and move on.

  10. Omar '12 says:

    Excellent post. *goes and randomly pokes Paul now* hehe…

  11. ka '12 says:

    Great post! Do you want to cuntinue blogging next year? It would be awesome!!!
    If not we always have facebook and mails smile)

  12. Ana says:

    I loved your last 2 phrases. I know you’re right. And thank you so much for still thinking of us.

  13. Adit says:

    I know its a bit too early to ask this right now but I am an Indian student and am planning to appear for SAT 2 in June will the scores be accepted for admissions to the class of 2013.

    Thanks Paul.

  14. Anonymous says:

    @Adit: Hey, looks like we’re gonna be doing the same thing! Yeah, the scores will be accepted.

  15. Aashish says:

    Thanks Paul, U have been a real inspiration. Though it would have been a real privilege to get to know you in MIT, being “not admitted” does not make me hate u. Thanks for all your suggestions and encouragement.

    Maybe in grad school……………..

    Aashish Lamichhane
    Kathmandu, Nepal

  16. Goens says:

    Is it just me or are the vast majority of the “not admitted” ones who still linger around this site “international” (like myself) ?

  17. Awww. I’m also so glad that I was accepted by MIT and found out before 4/1. I had been deferred by Yale and my ego had been completely crushed. Awesome timing~~!!!

  18. Hyun Jin says:

    Thanks Paul, you’re an inspiration to us all. Though I haven’t been as active in replying as much as reading these blogs, its definitely been fun.

    Though… not being able to refer to classes with numbers anymore is kinda depressing…


    I don’t know about majority, but there are a lot of us still here :D

  19. Paul '13 says:

    Hey, ’13er,
    Great. Point out that it’s now my time to be worried. Hope to see you in 16 months.

  20. Brian says:

    thank you paul. that was very thoughtful.

  21. excellent post paul, don’t you wish that you went through the exact application process that we did a year ago? daaang haha how time flies. I miss the whole stressful college application time, it was less stressful than MIT lol (but seriously prefrosh COME HERE ITS AWESOME!)

  22. Cody Dean says:

    As always, lovely Paul! ..always here to bring a sense of hope. I really enjoy reading all of your posts. Being on here (which has quickly become a habit of mine over the passed few years) motivates me even more to strive for MIT. Looking forward to another post!

  23. Karen says:


    See you at Meet the Bloggers!

  24. Anonymous says:


    Thanks for being with us throughout

  25. Muz says:

    Heh, I was tempted to randomly poke you on Facebook, Paul. But I’m too professional for that, j/k raspberry

    It was fun. I’ll be sure to hang my rejection letter when it gets in the mail, the same place where I hang all my medals, passes to competitions I failed, and trinkets from ex-girlfriends.

    To be honest, the first thought I had about being rejected was the disappointment at not being able to meet the interesting people here. I’ve enjoyed your blogs, Paul, slightly more than I’ve enjoyed the others. You write with such maturity that I initially thought you were an admissions officer when I first came here.

    I’ll probably not hang around these blogs anymore just for the sake of emotionally detaching myself to MIT. I’ll apply again for grad studies, but I guess over half of all of you will be gone then. Farewell.. :(

  26. yiwen says:

    Most of the ‘not admitted’ students are so amazing…that I feel as if my acceptance should have gone to one of them.

    Thanks for thinking of everyone though. smile

  27. Muz says:

    @k3nn37h: I did 3 years of a university diploma here and then applied as a frosh to MIT. Obviously didn’t work wink Actually, I’m kinda wondering if that’s the reason they turned me down in the end, out of pity. It’d take 2 years as a transfer student, 4 as a frosh, but I wouldn’t want to lower the years of staying there.

    So, I’d suggest you finish your degree first then apply for grad studies, which is what I plan to do. Or if you have the money, the time, and the impatience, you can still try to re-apply wink

    @yiwen: Don’t feel bad. You’d just better not go all IHateThisF-Place when you’re there XD

  28. admitted says:

    I wish my friend would read this,
    he’s devastated after not getting in, and It makes harder for me to be happy,

  29. Yash.. says:

    Hey tanmay.. u from dehradun ryt.. i jus wanted to knw hw u went about with ur app.. and which school u’re from.

  30. k3nn37h says:

    Nice post Paul!
    I’m completely over the sadness that brought my “rejection”, but I still feel like trying for MIT again (for some reason I still think I have what it takes to make it).
    Anyways… (to everyone), what do you think would be a better idea: doing a year of uni here in germany and then to trying to transfer, or applying to enter as a freshman in 2009?