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Most of You Will Be Deferred by Ella T. '25

Option three

In the near future, MIT Admissions will release the EA decisions. To kickoff the season, I thought I’d share a little bit about my acceptance to MIT. (With some logistical nightmares redacted)


I) December 19th, 2020

Last year, on Saturday, December 19, 2:14 PM CST, I drove to my elementary school parking lot alone. Vienna by Billy Joel was on the radio. It was drizzling. I parked facing the forest and turned my windshield wipers off.

I felt a nervousness I hadn’t felt in the weeks prior. For the most part, I’d been straddling apathy and fatigue. But I was nervous. I was certain my life would change. I opened the application portal.

Dear Ella, 

We have completed our early action review of your application and have chosen to defer it to our Regular Action review. 

I didn’t read the rest of the email. I turned the windshield wipers back on. I turned the radio back on. Vienna was coming to a close. There wasn’t anything poetic about it. It was anticlimactic.

Back then, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to MIT Admissions. I didn’t read the blogs. I didn’t read Reddit. I didn’t see the EA Decisions Day threads. You could’ve told me that I was the only person that MIT deferred, and I would’ve believed you.

Now, a year later, I’m looking at the statistics for the first time. 15,081 students applied to the MIT class of 2025. Of those 15,081, 719 were admitted. That’s 4.77%. Of every 100 students, MIT accepted less than 53,689 were not offered admission. That’s 24.46%.

Those are options one and two. They accounted for 29.23% of the EA applicants. That left 70.77% of applicants, or 10,673 applicants, to deferral. This is option three.

So, turns out, I wasn’t the only deferred applicant. I was one of over 10,000.


II) March 14th, 2021

In the months after, I didn’t think a lot about MIT. I wasn’t heartbroken. I finished my applications to other schools. I completed their interviews. Listened to their stories. Christmas came and went. New Years came and went.

When Pi Day rolled around, I didn’t tell anyone. In fact, I was in a hotel room visiting Florida State University with another family. We were sprawled on the pull-out, enthralled by a Cecil Hotel documentary. We were wearing matching FSU sweatshirts. I kept glancing at the alarm clock. I was going to be denied by MIT, but it still felt strangely ceremonial.

When the clock reached 3:14, I turned away from the TV. I opened the application portal again. I wasn’t nervous at all.

Confetti streamed down the page.

I consider myself to be stoic. I sobbed.

I called my parents. Then my sister. Then my mentors. Then my best friend.

Later that day, we got FroYo. When I locked the hotel door, I realized something.

Our room number was 314.

314 plaque


III) August 26th, 2021

Once I got to MIT, I met more people who were deferred. Even though there were 10,673 applicants who were deferred, only 194 were accepted. That’s 1.8%. I’ve heard a lot of things about this. Some said that we were the luckiest at MIT. Some said that we were the worst at MIT. I tried to embrace both. Now, I don’t think either are true.


IV) December 5th, 2021

I feel like the best sentiments about MIT Decision Day are already written. If you, like me, never dove into the blogs, check this, this, and this. However, after a semester at MIT, I want to give some advice too.

  1. I would’ve found home anywhere. Ask anyone, MIT is MIT because of the people. This is true. But there are good people everywhere. And there are good people outside of academia, too. I would’ve made any other school home.
  2. If you are deferred, you aren’t any less capable than another applicant. You are a competitive candidate. You aren’t the secondary choice. The Admissions Office can only accept so many students in December.
  3. The Admissions Office makes no mistakes. I didn’t understand this at the time, but I promise that Jeremy, Petey, Kellen, and the rest put their hearts into their work. They understand the gravity of what they are doing.
  4. If you are bestowed the most statistically significant outcome, don’t feel discouraged. Remember that, regardless of where you go after high school, these are your final months in your childhood homes. With your families. With your classmates. The transition to college is hard. There’s no need to rush it.

I know that Decision Day can be difficult, but your door will open, even if this one shuts.

Class of 2026, I am so excited to meet you. Only a bit more to go!