From the moment I became an MIT Admissions Blogger, I knew I’d write this entry.
I’ve been biding my time, waiting for this day and the plethora of emotions that come with it. Right now, some of you are nearly giddy with elation, having just learned of your acceptance. Some of you have glimpsed rejection and are already thinking about other schools. And others of you are stuck in that frustrating and seemingly interminable limbo of deferral.
This entry is for the deferred. This entry is my story.
I started tossing essay ideas around in my mind soon after the 2009 MIT Application went live. As many of you know, last year’s application was a bit different from this year’s. There were two short answer questions (What do you do for the pleasure of it? Which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why?), two essay prompts to choose from (‘Tell us about an experience which, at the time, really felt like “the end of the world”…’ and ‘Describe the world you come from’), an optional essay (‘Tell us about something you created’), and an additional information portion.
I filled out every single one of those sections. I wrote about how much I loved reading, how Course 9 (Brain and Cognitive Sciences) blew my mind, how my school was teeming with energy and diversity, how I choreographed a dance of my own, and how it felt to grow up in New Zealand. My dad perused my essays, as did several of my friends and teachers. After much feedback and tweaking, I submitted my EA application – and began the countdown to EA Decision Day.
December 15, 2008 was the scheduled date for the release of EA decisions. I seriously pondered skipping school that Monday, simply because I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus in any of my classes. My conscience won out, however, and I dutifully went to school; I must have checked the clock at least fifty times in every class. It wasn’t much better when I got home from school. I hovered around my computer constantly. Fifteen minutes before the scheduled time of release, I began refreshing decisions.mit.edu fervently.
And that’s when I got deferred.
There followed a flurry of phone calls – people telling me they were accepted, people wanting to know if I had been too. The answer to the latter was depressingly but undeniably, ‘no.’ I kept telling myself that it was okay, that I should have expected it, that I probably wasn’t a good fit for MIT anyway. A general sense of hopelessness submerged me.
But later, I saw this page and this paragraph:
When we admit a class of students to MIT, it’s as if we’re choosing a 1,000-person team to climb a very interesting, fairly rugged mountain – together. We obviously want people who have the training, stamina and passion for the climb. At the same time, we want each to add something useful or intriguing to the team, from a wonderful temperament or sense of humor, to compelling personal experiences, to a wide range of individual gifts, talents, interests and achievements. We are emphatically not looking for a batch of identical perfect climbers; we are looking for a richly varied team of capable people who will support, surprise and inspire each other.
I wanted to be a part of this mountain-climbing team so badly. I wanted to work alongside others, imbibe a bit of their brilliance, contribute a few modest ideas of my own. I wanted to change the world, take risks, try new things. I wanted to be at MIT. And so, I believed the MIT Admissions Office when they told me that a deferral wasn’t just a “polite rejection.” I started to hope again.
Today, I’m here, at MIT, telling you that it’s okay to feel a little dejected about being deferred but that it’s not okay to lose faith. Every year, thousands of kids get deferred, and hundreds of those kids are later accepted.
I was one of those kids. I made it here.
You can too.