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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

For EA Deferred Students by Matt McGann '00

FAQs for students deferred from Early Action.

Here are some FAQs for deferred students…

Is it all over for me?

At MIT, a deferral isn’t just a “polite rejection.” Your application will once again be considered by the committee during regular action. You are at no advantage or disadvantage versus the regular action applications. We will admit the best applications we can during regular action, regardless of when the application was submitted. (A little historical data: last year, we admitted 279 students during regular action, 289 the year before, 295 the year before that, 267 the year before that, and 326 the year before that)

What should I do now?

I recommend spending the next few weeks before January 1 working on regular action applications for other schools. You should still put the same energy and thought you put into your MIT application into your other applications.

Should I send in extra materials?

The only thing we ask that you send in is the midyear grade report, which can be downloaded off of the MyMIT website. Your semester grades are very important so keep working hard. We’d like this report as soon as possible after your grades are available; by the beginning of February would be great, but definitely by the end of February.

You may also want to keep us up-to-date with any news in your life. This is not required nor is it expected, but if anything exciting happens definitely let us know. It’s best if you send any such letter by the end of January, but you may keep us in the loop through the time we mail regular action decisions in mid-March.

Should I send in a whole new version of my application, or all new essays?

No. You do not need to “improve” your application, or redo/edit/modify part or all of your application. You were deferred because your application was already strong enough to make you a contender in the Regular Action round. Let your application stand.

What about extra essays, recommendations, etc?

You may send along anything (such as…) that you feel would be helpful to the committee. We do not expect or require any of these things. Simply sending in additional materials does not by itself increase your chances of admission.

What about new test scores?

If you are taking additional tests in December or January, you can include MIT as a score recipient and we will consider any new scores.

What other advice do you have?

You should check in with your guidance/college counselor. Often, their years of experience provide wisdom and insight into your particular situation. They’re more than welcome to give our office a call if our decision isn’t consistent with their experience, or just to talk about the process.

Can I call admissions to find out The Reason why I was deferred?

If you call in, we will not be able to tell you “the reason” why you were deferred, or “what needs to be improved,” simply because things are much more complex than just one reason why you were deferred. Usually, when I take a call from a deferred applicant, there’s nothing that I see to be lacking or needing improvement — most of our deferred students submitted very strong applications, the kinds of applications any school (including MIT) would love to have in their student body. Honestly.

I hope this is helpful! Best wishes to everyone.

85 responses to “For EA Deferred Students”

  1. Anonymous says:

    arigato, domo-yo!

  2. Thanks for the update Matt!

    3 more months left for us all.

  3. I won’t give you up, MIT!

    Thanks Matt!

  4. Jake says:

    4th. and thanks matt. i appreciate the advice

  5. TS ('13?) says:

    Thanks for posting this!

    Wait for me, MIT smile

    Getting deferred wasn’t all bad: now I have some “supplementary material” that I didn’t have in October.

  6. Andres Pardo says:

    I may not have gotten in early, but I’ll still keep a positive mindset.Two chances are always better than one smile

  7. Rachel says:

    When I went to the MIT visit to St. Louis, one of the representatives there told about his admission process. He said that he applied early and was deferred, but later was accepted. I thought he said that, when he called the admissions, they gave him the advice to send in another recommendation letter. Can the admissions give deferred applicants any advice?
    Thank you!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Matt, I’d like your input:

    I really don’t like how much weight is put on extracurriculars. I’m not captain of everything, I’ve never had the opportunity to do research, and I haven’t saved the world.

    I participate in activities that I enjoy and that interest me. Yeah, they may not seem as impressive on paper as playing at Carnegie Hall or something, but they’re what I’m into. Shouldn’t my extracurriculars only be used to see that I DO them, that I have time for other things? Not how they appear on paper?

    Also, let’s face it, most “captain” and “president” positions in high school clubs are really only figureheads and don’t do anything substantial..

  9. Rachel says:

    Yes, sometimes it seems that the elections for getting into leadership positions are popularity contests…
    But on the other hand, I spend a great deal of time and effort on my “president” position…maybe even more than I thought when I filled out my application. That is why they have you put how much time you spend on an activity and what the activity entails.
    Have faith in yourself and in MIT! Good luck to everyone!

  10. Cam says:

    @Anonymous, Rachel:

    I disagree. Maybe for sports it’s that way, but for student-run organizations it’s something else entirely. For me, it means I sink a ridiculous number of hours and a few hundred dollars of my own money into the club each year just to keep it alive, because I care about it.

    I doubt it had anything to do with popularity.

  11. Thanks for the advice. It’s very encouraging to hear about the people who were deferred and then accepted. I’m still keeping up hope that I get accepted during the regular decision round.

    Good luck to all my fellow deferrees

  12. '13 hopeful says:

    Can I ask what your acceptance rates were based on gender?

  13. Stephanie says:

    I know someone who applied EA for the Class of 2011. His friend was accepted; he was deferred, but was admitted RA. I’m a little disappointed, but I’m not giving up hope yet… good luck to all the deferred applicants, and also to the RA students! =D

  14. Mitch says:


    Remember that MIT asked also for hours/week and weeks/year, so they CAN gauge that you devote some of your time to extracurriculars. I understand that not everyone can find a spot as a club leader, but if you are, it shows you devoted time towards earning that post.

    I agree that too often (especially in schools) elections become a popularity contest, but maybe you are looking at the wrong sorts of clubs?

    Your “figurehead” comment is simply not true, at least from my experience. I’m a VP of a club and I do quite a bit of work.

    Basically, from my understanding, admissions wants to see that you’re more than just a schoolwork drone, that you will be a contributing member to the school’s student life.

  15. Anonymous says:


    Your blog isn’t anything new. It’s a repeat of 2005.

  16. Anonymous says:

    How does it make any sense to say “We defer applications that would make great students here and anywhere else?” If they were great applications, shouldn’t they be admitted? Just because one student choose to organize community rallies and be active over another student doesn’t mean that the student , who chose not to, wouldn’t be a good applicant. (I’m in college and not even applying to MIT.) I’m a very diverse and interesting person with an outstanding academic spirit–but I never participated in high school activities. They weren’t productive. The people in them were usually in the lower tier grade-wise. Overall, I just have yet to find a creative and resourceful vent for my spare time.

    In short, I’m just really against the whole extra-curricular x 10^4884 thing. I understand how you want well-rounded, prodigious students, but sometimes you may be deferring the student who deserved to be there–and wanted to more–than the ones admitted.

  17. Mitch says:


    If you were to apply to MIT, they had a little spot (essay 14) which stated “No admission application can meet the needs of every individual. If you think that additional information or material will give us a more thorough impression of you, please respond on separate sheets.”
    I think an applicant in your situation could have utilized it extremely resourcefully.

    @ Other Anon

    Yeah, I thought this sounded familiar…

  18. Anonymous says:

    what were the male and female acceptance rates? someone anticipated something like 6% male and 20% female…. was this right??

  19. Parent says:

    Hi Matt

    My son has finished submitting part 1 and part 2 of MIT RA 2009 application. He had opted for fee waiver as the amount is not small for us, especially in the context of applying to multiple colleges. Consequently, he had requested his school counsellor to forward the fee waiver request to your office. Subsequently, we came across some references (including NACAC fee waiver guidleines) which suggest that the fee waiver should be opted for only by families with a combined annual income of $ 40,000 or less. Our combined family income is in the region of $ 56,000. It looks like we have made an error in opting for the fee waiver. I would like to therefore make the payment and rectify the error. Also, I am concerned whether this error would in anyway impact my son’s application. I look forward to your guidance on this matter, so that the error could be rectified by us.


  20. @Matt

    Thanks so much for all you do. You rock.

    Long live madmatt!

  21. Anonymous says:


    Thanks for this. I’m not giving up yet!

  22. jeff ('13?) says:

    Woo, hope is good!

  23. Samuel M. says:

    Even when deferred MIT makes you feel awesome. I still have had to get accepted RA and this just gave me more hope. Thanks Matt!

  24. Anonymous says:

    I just realized that what I said made no sense grammatically . when corrected it should say ” I was not disappointed with my deferral and think I could still get accepted RA but this just gave me more hope”

  25. Tiffany says:

    I’ll probably end up calling the admissions office to ask this but:
    If I REALLY would like a second shot at explaining why I am in love with MIT and why my schedule is so heavily loaded with humanities classes, may I submit another essay? I only submitted 2 essays in my app and technically I can submit 3.

  26. Parent says:


    Missed mentioning this in my earlier post regarding the fee waiver query – my son is an international applicant.


  27. Narce says:

    If you frequent the blogs, you already know that I don’t belong in here.

    But I really hope my friend that got deferred reads the blogs sometimes!

  28. Steph says:

    “Your blog isn’t anything new. It’s a repeat of 2005.”

    I believe Yan said it best. “Through the energy-conserving act of copying-and-pasting, the entropy of the universe will not increase as much as it would had I produced an entirely original blog post. This in turn will slow the pace of glacier melting.”

    Matt is just being environmentally friendly.

  29. Mitch says:


    That was sort of a useless post

  30. Geoffrey says:


    Yes! Stop the increase in entropy of the universe! Copy and paste! (lol)

  31. Matt says:

    Can we ask what the biggest strength or weakness of our application was? This could be useful to highlight for other schools we’re applying to and would just be interesting to know.

  32. Narce says:


    Sorry? Yours was too, ya know.

    In fact, more than half of my posts on these blogs are useless, as are most people’s. If there’s a question I can answer, I’ll try, but often I just feel like saying something.

    Isn’t that the point of “comments”? This isn’t a serious discussion thread.

  33. DeAnnA says:

    If any of you who have been deferred did not have an interview, I would suggest calling your EC and scheduling one pronto…the EC Office tells me it’s not too late (if your EC is willing) and it can only help your chances of admission! Good luck to you all!

  34. anon '13 says:

    Narce, I would say about 100% of your post are useless. So far, I don’t know any one that has asked you any questions. Your posts essentially only volunteer information about yourself and how great you are…OMG…four years of this guy?

  35. Torffick A. says:

    Thanks a lot Matt.

    Good luck to us all (deferred) in RA.
    Unto the breeches dear friends!!

    MiT class of 2013, here I come!!!

  36. Kelly says:

    I really appreciate how MIT pays so much attention to its applicants, even the deferred ones. My friends who got deferred from other colleges haven’t heard anything besides “you’ve been deferred we’ll get back to you in the spring.”

  37. Raj says:

    it’s really nice to know that i was actually a strong candidate.
    +1 to self esteem

  38. Anonymous says:


    I thought that none of the semifinalists for olympiads were posted until march.

  39. Gaby says:

    @ Matt McG,

    What if we DO send extra everything?
    Will admissions be annoyed? =/

  40. Anonymous says:


    I was planning on taking the Biology Olympiad at the end of January, and the results come out 2 weeks after that. If my results are good and I send them to MIT, will they still be there in time to be considered with my application?

  41. EC Norm says:


    You asked: How does it make any sense to say “We defer applications that would make great students here and anywhere else?” If they were great applications, shouldn’t they be admitted?

    Fundamentally, somewhere over 95% of the applicants have outstanding records and would succeed at the Institute. It’s impossible to admit that many because the Institute does not have the facilities, faculty, staff, and other resources. Thus, the objective is to admit the students from that pool who are the best of the best, in the manner of a true meritocracy.

    Unfortunately, the admissions staff cannot assess the strength of the applicants for for “Regular Action” until all of their application portfolios are complete — which is well after the decisions for “Early Action” must go out. If the Institute were to extend admission to too many applicants in the “Early Action” cycle, there would be too few slots left in the “Regular Action” cycle so applicants for “Regular Action” would be at a significant disadvantage. Several other colleges and universities, including Harvard and Princeton, have decided to discontinue “Early Action” or “Early Decision” programs due to precisely this difficulty. The Institute maintains the policy of issuing final decisions (admission or rejection) in the “Early Action” cycle only if the final decision is abundantly clear at that stage. Historically, this policy has required deferral of final decisions for the overwhelming majority of applicants for “Early Action” to the “Regular Action” to cycle. This year, the percentage of deferred applicants probably is smaller due to the increase in the number of applications for “Early Action.”


  42. Hello…

    Matt, why does MIT place such a large emphasis on academics? Shouldn’t passion for something, or initiative count for more?

  43. Anonymous says:

    Some Anon Person…This is a joke, right bro? Gee, I have a passion for baseball, but should the Cubs give me a contract?

  44. Anonymous says:

    lol……how do you know that when you copy and paste that you dont copy the excess “useless” energy that contributes to the entropy change….the document still has the saem attributes but the energy change would be faster as less time is spent on it….im just saying…….you cant rely on newtonian laws to prove this bugger wrong

  45. Jamo G says:


    Keep on buildin’

  46. Jacob '13 says:

    I think that probably the most important thing to be gained from this post is the idea that if you were deferred, it means that MIT thought your application was definitly strong enough to be a student at MIT, they just needed another look. Remember that twice as many students get accepted during Regular Action than Early Action, so your chances are automatically improved.

    Congrats to all the people accepted under Early Action, and good luck to all those going for Regular!

  47. Rachel says:

    I don’t want you to get me wrong. I completely agree with you Cam. Being a club leader is tough. I understand where you are going with the hours and the money and effort and emotional wear.
    Anonymous was angry and maybe for good reason. Politics should never be part of how leaders should be decided. This is just my school, but I know that in the last four years several teachers stepped in and required that some of my clubs revise election procedure because, unfortunately, it was an issue. More importantly, I like the way that MIT has their application, because I think that no matter what the situation is our activities are well represented. Activities are an important part of the application, and I don’t think that MIT should make any changes to the importance given to them.

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  49. Mitch says:

    @EC Norm

    Thank you SO MUCH for your posts! They are always extremely inspirational, and they really make me feel optimistic about my deferral.

  50. EC Norm says:


    The admission rate was just under 11% (about 540 admissions out of about 5,000 applicants).


    You’re welcome, and good luck in the “Regular Action” cycle!

    EC Norm.

  51. Andrew says:

    I have a couple questions, which hopefully can be answered…

    How many people were outright rejected? (I was deferred)

    And since I was deferred, that means I’m the type of person who could potentially be accepted at MIT, right? It seems to me it’s kind of “luck of the draw”, if someone reads your application, and has already admitted enough people “like you”, they might pass over your application simply because your section of the quota has already been filled. Does that make any sense?

    Haha thanks for the help, back to essays :]

  52. Andrew says:

    Well I feel like an idiot.

    I decided to read previous posts AFTER submitting mine. My questions are answered.

    Please disregard me. Thanks! haha

    I still think it’s luck of the draw though..

  53. Anonymous says:

    My son got into a few great schools early, but is still extremely passionate about MIT. Should he send in an essay detailing his passion toward the school? Does the admissions committee pay attention to the decisions of other schools?

  54. Those are two very different cases. Just because someone is not good in academics, or what’s taught at school, doesn’t mean they’re not good at any other activity.

  55. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous above me- of course they should! To deny you would *gasp* hurt your SELF ESTEEM!

  56. parents-2 says:

    How many applicants in the EA was accepted (%)? How many applicants in the EA was deferred (%)?

  57. Anonymous says:

    it’s really nice to know that i was actually a strong candidate.
    +1 to self esteem

    Really? I saw that and thought more along the lines of +10 to self esteem raspberry

  58. Tiffany Saw says:

    I feel a lot better after this blog. Thanks :]

    +10 points to my street cred!

    Though I am a bit curious as to how large the application pool will be; how many students got deferred?

  59. Clara L says:

    One thing that I thought about after this was that applications always asks us at the end “is there anything else you would like us to know?”; wouldn’t it be great (especially for deferred students) if the school sent you back one question. I’m sure that for each application that they read there’s some little bit of that person that they can’t quite distill from their application, so rather than having the applicant try and guess what that bit of info is, why not have the admissions committee just ask outright? I know that it might be logistically difficult but I’m sure it’s something MIT could pull off if they thought it was a good idea (maybe : )

  60. Anonymous says:

    Does ANYONE know that the online application forms are malfunctioning.

    -On the ethnicity section the boxes sometimes don’t respond.

    -If I try to enter my school I continuously get some error stating that “the server is fully aware and capable of your request but refuses to fulfill it bla, bla, bla”

    Come on, you’re MIT! I shoudln’t even have to be worrying about this! I hate it when I get the feeling that I am more concerned with a school than a school is about me. Yes, yes you may say my complaint is quite extreme but if only you knew that (especially in an international applicants eyes) it’s the little jagged unrefined graphic on a site’s homepage or the “little” error on the server that says a lot about what kind of school you are as a whole. I feel deferred already.

    He who is not faithful with small things…

  61. Tiffany says:

    @anonymous: Dude, you’re totally posting under the wrong blog. This is for DEFFERED students. You think that MIT doesn’t care about their applicants? How many schools do you know set something up a dialogue for students they didn’t accepted? I don’t know any. I think MIT is doing a great job already. So stop focusing on the trivial stuff.

    She who is not patient with people who complain about nothing. (Also, she who does not appreciate ppl slamming on her dream school.)

  62. AK says:

    I am in the 1st year of a college in India.Can I apply both as a freshman and as a transfer student?I ask this because I really wish to restart at MIT.If that is not possible now,then I will apply as a transfer student.
    Please reply.

  63. What were the admit rates by gender?

  64. Anonymous says:

    So, by telling us that you can’t give a reason why an applicant wasn’t accepted, you are admitting that the whole process is arbitrary and unfair? I _hope_ that is the case and it’s not something more malignant. When I — first in my class of 500, have done research at a university, took calculus as a freshman (first and only in my school district ever to do that), took an AP science class every year except for freshman year when they wouldn’t let me, gotten a 5 on those exams, vice president of national honors society, beta chi pi member, mu alpha theta member, and been nationally recognized by the Federal Reserve in an economics competition (try to tell me I’m not well rounded) — am lumped in the same pool (deferred) as a girl I know who has essentially no extracurricular activities, no research, no competitions, and is just now taking calculus, I begin to wonder if gender (and other uncontrollable factors) plays a role.

    A friend told me that this is just one case, and that doesn’t mean it is representative of all of admissions. However, in something life altering like admission to a top university, there should be no mistakes.

    I’ll admit that this is a bit whiny, and I shouldn’t be so upset about being deferred, but it really does make me feel better to make this statement.

  65. Anonymous says:

    A bit whiny? All you listed deals with the academic world. What do you do outside of school activities. You really need to look at this link…

  66. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the link anon, but that doesn’t really help any. I’ve seen similar, and the general idea is that I feel like I fit that mold, but I also have a clear bias. I tried to only pick concrete examples instead of listing things like I experiment with chemical reactions, and she doesn’t, etc. Moreover, if the activites that I choose to spend my time on aren’t indicative of my personality, then I’m not sure what is. I’d totally send a copy of the underground paper I write for, but it is anonymous and claiming it as my own might defeat the purpose.

  67. Well… What now. Oh yeah, work on all those other apps i put off… I guess thats a good thing. Now i’ll actually put some effort into them. Somehow i doubt I would have if i was admitted into MIT. ‘Course I wouldn’t need to. LOL. Oh well. Here we go, three months of waiting and then we try this all over again. “Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit” (Perhaps someday we will look back upon these things with joy)

    Good luck everyone, let us hope we make it in the next round.


  68. Steph says:


    1) They’re hardly saying the process is arbitrary. They’re saying it’s difficult because of the large number of highly qualified applicants. They want to ensure that each applicant gets the attention he or she deserves. That’s why they defer so many people.

    2) You might want to take a look at that link again. Based ONLY on what you’ve written here you match up with about half. You sound like an excellent applicant, so maybe you just didn’t share the rest here. But the fact is MIT is looking for more than just fantastic academics and academic extracurriculars. If that didn’t come through in your application, maybe you should consider a sending in a supplement. They can’t know what you don’t tell them.

    3) The extracurriculars you’re involved in aren’t indicative of your personality at all. They indicate what you’re (hopefully) interested in. There’s a lot more to your personality than that.

    4) Please don’t blame gender/race/”other uncontrollable factors.” MIT does not accept/defer unqualified applicants. If the girl you spoke of was deferred, she was qualified enough to merit a second decision. Even if her academic record was less stellar than yours, there are a number of other factors that could make her attractive to MIT.

    Best of luck to you in RD.

  69. Tiffany says:

    I agree with Anonymous 12/22 2:05: everything you listed were academic-y. You can show passion in school through courses you take but if you were truly well-rounded you’d also be able to dance ballet, play the violin, and cure cancer on Sundays. Seriously though, you should be able to show that you’re more than a walking brain.

  70. I have a question, not only to Matt. What does it mean when it says POSTMARK deadline?

  71. Anonymous says:

    Of course I posted it on the wrong blog. How else was I supposed to get noticed? Tiffany; “DUDE” if MIT is really your dream school you’d better learn to get used to conflicts and different opinions. IF YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT THE SAME MIT THAT I WANT TO APPLY TO then I doubt the MIT admissions board chooses people simply because it’s their “DREAM DUDE” but because they have actual substance.

    If you lived in a country where the post offices charge US$ 3000 to send one letter (just to make the people suffer), a country where there are riots in the streets and the internet is a luxury not a necessity; I’m sure you would understand my frustration.

    However I am sorry for offending you. It’s just difficult for me to see my mother crying everyday because she can’t afford a loaf of bread. My comment was rather exaggerated and I apologize to the administrators of this blog and you Tiffany for my highly irrational behavior. I still expect action to be taken though, to you it is easy but for me applying online is the only way. Even getting PENS to fill out the financial aid forms can take weeks here.

  72. Anonymous says:

    @Abdel-karim Moharram

    it means you have to put it in the mail before the mailman comes on that day.

  73. Hey Matt.
    I have a totally unrelated questions – I’m an international applicant and I have gotten my teachers and guidance counsellor to fill the required forms.
    I have not yet completed the Part 2 of my application and I am still working on it. So should I just send the forms via mail as soon as possible or do I send it after I have submitted Part 2 ?
    And do I need to print Part 1 (already submitted) and send it along or do I just send the teacher’s recommendation forms ?

  74. Anonymous says:

    Make that “some totally unrelated questions”

  75. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone noticed that matt only tends to answer the questions posted a week or so after his blogs, but after that all these questions seen to disappear into cyberspace? Maybe we should try email…

  76. campo '08 says:

    to any prospective ’13s reading. I was admitted after being deferred, so it does happen. Best of luck in your school search grin

  77. parent says:

    Do admissions decisions of other schools qualify as exciting events that the admissions committee should know about?

  78. Katie '13 says:

    @parent – I can’t speak for the admissions office, but I am /strongly/ guessing no.

  79. yo says:


    I’d like to send in one more essay just on why i’d like to major in engineering, and I was deferred. How should I send it in?

    I’m guessing mail would work, but is there no online or e-mail option?

    Thank You!

  80. Anonymous says:

    My child got admitted into Caltech and with full scholarship in Michigan in early action but he is passionate about attending MIT. What will be the effect if he informs the undergrad admissions office about this? Will this be a positive, negative or no effect?

  81. Anonymous says:


    email it to admissions at mit dot edu

  82. Sulo says:

    I have seen people who have gotten into Yale and Harvard but have been rejected from Northwestern and Duke. Each school has their own type of student they are looking to admit and admissions at any college does guarantee admissions at any other. But it could have been a case where the college saw that the student was not as passionate about that school as other students. Some of this stuff seems so random sometimes that people wonder if admissions is in fact a “pick out of the hat process.” Admissions are not perfect and anything can happen. Your child’s acceptance will have no effect on MIT’s decision.

  83. al says:

    Hello Matt, what word processing format would be best for notifying MIT of changes in the lives of EA defered students? Thank you!