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MIT blogger CJ Q. '23

hello deferred applicants, by CJ Q. '23

i, again, don’t know what to say, but i can try

it feels hypocritical of me to write words to you, because even if i was deferred myself, i was eventually accepted to mit. such is the nature of writing in the admissions blogs.

it’s been two years, so the feelings feel more distant day-by-day, but i faintly remember how painful it was to get deferred. i was expecting to get deferred, really. i knew, in my mind, that many early applicants got deferred. i told myself that i would be prepared to open my decision and see the deferral and it would be fine, but of course, it’s one thing to know and another thing to believe.

to be honest, at the time, i thought my mit application was pretty compelling. all the friends i asked to read it said it was pretty good, and that they would be shocked if i didn’t get accepted. there’s something, when it comes to writing about yourself to impress an admissions officer, that makes you feel better about yourself. and yes, i was warned not to put all my eggs into one basket, and i truly was expecting to get deferred. but part of me really wanted not to worry about the regular app cycle. i wasn’t ready to write dozens of essays and go through interviews and pay application fees, for many schools and not just one, in but just a few days.

the night i found out i was deferred, i wrote:

Watch me recite all the admission platitudes: not a judgment of character, rejected people still succeed, single answers do not carry weight themselves. Pretend that these are more than empty words masquerading as encouragement. Roll these razors on my tongue until it bleeds; recite these over and over again until they are meaningless; burn these effigies in my mouth until they hold no power. Watch them scar my skin, my dermis, these nerves, blacken these tissues, char these bones, numb the body, not to feel, not to heal, not again.

as much as i want to laugh at how emotional this writing is, and as much as i want to look at this paragraph and say that i was overreacting, it was still me who wrote this, two years ago. do i not trust myself to accurately write about what i felt? had i changed so much, that if i went through the college admissions cycle right now and got deferred again, i wouldn’t react in the same way?

many of my friends reached out to me, and we talked about decisions. i learned that some of my friends got accepted early. i felt happy for them, but it felt like token happiness. i gave my congratulations, but only out of politeness. i felt deeply, deeply jealous.

i told them i got deferred and they responded with many different words. there was a lot of “deferred people get accepted too”, and a lot of “time to focus on regular apps, then”, and a lot of “it’s not the end of the world”. these words were filled with good intentions, these friends are great friends, and maybe these words were the right words to comfort someone else.

but that night, those weren’t the words i needed to hear.

it felt bad enough that i stopped reading the blogs. i checked the blogs pretty religiously for new posts every other day for a few months, and the night i got deferred, i just stopped. anything and everything mit-related just felt so painful to think about. i tried to block mit out of my mind entirely, pretend that i got rejected and that i should think about different colleges. and it worked, i guess, because i didn’t really think about mit until regular decision day came.

i don’t remember exactly when i wrote this, but it was within the week i got deferred:

i don’t need more of your platitudes,
your words of caring,
or your good advice,
your bland reassurances,
your “yeah i know it sucks”,
because, yeah, i know, it sucks;
don’t need your empty sympathy,
no echoes of words spoken
too many times before,
not because they help, but
because we imagine they do.

i won’t pretend to know what you’re feeling right now, because i don’t. all i have to go on are these vague recollections and the things i wrote when i got deferred, which really, is only enough to give me a small idea. it must feel worse to receive decisions during these times, when it feels like everything in the world is falling apart already.

it might feel bad. i guess what i really want to say is, if you feel bad, then that’s fine. you don’t have to believe in the platitudes. you can feel that you want to avoid everything mit-related for the rest of your life. you can feel like you want to lie in bed all day. you can feel regretful or dejected or jealous. you can feel anger, and you can even direct that anger to me. you can feel that you might not have any chance of getting accepted. you can feel like it’s the end of the world.

if you comment tonight i promise i’ll read it. i’ll reply if i can.