Skip to content ↓
MIT student blogger Hamsika C. '13

To the Deferred by Hamsika C. '13

I feel your pain.

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 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.

60 responses to “To the Deferred”

  1. anon says:

    they’re up.

  2. anon says:

    lol… that first comment in the not accepted thread just got deleted xD

  3. Lauren says:


    I can’t stand to wait another 3 months DX

  4. jialing says:

    thanks H.
    i remember you during this time. i hope i get in later. that’d be nice. smile

  5. alex says:

    sigh. now for another painful wait

  6. Mike says:

    Thank you for writing this, truly

  7. Mike B says:

    Another stressful wait. There is still hope.

  8. tree says:


  9. Thanks a lot for this one. I guess it just made the beginning of the wait so much easier.

  10. David says:

    Thanks for writing this smile

    Hey, we’ve still got one more chance!

  11. Kerry says:

    Thanks for writing this. I actually feel like there’s a little hope left now.

  12. I really appreciate your writing this.

  13. Emily '13 says:

    A year ago I was in the same position some of you reading this post you may be. grin I was deferred. I was SO SURE I wouldn’t get in.

    I GOT IN.

    If I hadn’t, I would still be perfectly happy and much less stressed. But don’t give up hope.

    Also worthy of note is that some of you have already been earmarked to get in come Regular Decision time. Admissions can’t let in all EA applicants they want to–most EA admits choose to MITriculate, and they can’t have the new freshman class be too big. grin


  14. Michael says:

    I always liked the way MIT put the admission selection process. As much as it seems MIT is geared towards STEM education, the “team of 1000 people” always seemed so poetic to me. smile

  15. The statistics are still so scary! For every deferred applicant admitted in RA last year, 11 more deferreds were NOT. AAAAAA. You admitted folk are so lucky, I wouldn’t wish three more months of stress on anyone.

  16. adam'14? says:

    that was such a helpful and beautiful entry for us deferred. i think it’ll probably become one of those blog entries we’ll constantly refer to … like Ben’s “it’s more than a job”

    thank you for the encouragement

  17. wingly says:

    Thank you! smile You put a smile on my face and hope in my heart! Heehee.

  18. Val'14? says:

    Deferred. D=
    Well that’s just what I thought.
    Still a pleasure being deferred by MIT!

    We deferred guys still get a chance!=)
    Everyone Jia yo!(Go! in Chinese)

  19. Snad says:

    Thanks! that was inspiring, it almost brings me to tears.
    Val,sorry to hear that:(

  20. asha says:

    another wait ugh! well i guess its time to stick it out.

  21. David says:

    Your post is inspirational but I decided to not get my hopes up. If I get accepted, that would be great. If I get rejected, so be it. The sooner I forget about MIT admissions, the faster the three months will go by. Good bye and good night.

  22. Mary says:

    Thank you so much

  23. Kay says:

    Oh oh! I can be the fire mage of the group and keep everyone toasty during the frigid nights :D

    Still hoping! Thanks ^^

  24. JmanX27 says:

    So…..does this mean when I wrote my essay on a time when something bad happened, and it seemed like the end of the world, I was so compelling that they knew I could take being deferred? I definitely must have under thought my essay!

  25. Hamsika, thank you so much for writing this. It means a lot to me.

    I remember when my passion for physics began to develop in 9th grade – I was completely mind blown, I still am and probably will be till I die. I decided I wanted to get the best education I could to expand my understanding. I don’t care about jobs or money, I just want to learn and gain experience. I feel MIT can provide this for me, more so than any other college or university. I want to inspire people to enjoy science and realize how important it is. Science is not only a facet in society for technological progression, but the progression of understanding how things really are, as science provides the most objective lens we can attain.

    I remember looking at colleges and when I looked at MIT specifically, I remember the paragraph you just quoted. At that moment, I knew where I wanted to be. As pathetic as it sounds, I feel heart broken. I am so tremendously proud though, this is the farthest anyone in my family has ever gone academically. Tonight isn’t just another night to wait, but it is a gift. I excited to show MIT who I am once again.

  26. Ben says:

    @Kay: I’ll totally be the prot war for this one~

    Honored to be deferred; best of luck to everyone, have a great winter break. Here’s hopes for snow a bit farther south than Boston!

  27. Chad '14 says:

    Well… A 9-10% chance isn’t so bad. MIT is well beyond the lottery and hmmm…. the odds might be slightly higher too raspberry I Just gotta figure out what kind of project I’m gonna start to night that will last three months.

  28. Chad '14 says:

    just incase any other deferred students need a bit of comic relief. Don’t you hate it when you realize you mispelled a word right before your finger hits the keypad, but you can’t stop in time!

  29. Lauren says:

    Does anybody know what the acceptance rate was for deferred students last year vs. regular decision students?

  30. Lauren says:

    Does anybody know what the acceptance rate was for deferred students last year vs. regular decision students?

  31. Question says:

    So, how much can we actually change our application?
    Like, can we submit new essays, more recs, more supplemental information?
    And when does this have to be in by?


  32. T says:

    You know what is rough? It takes anthropologists to remember the fossils that *didnt* survive. Meanwhile, life can account for itself that it exists.
    I.E, It’s a rough time understanding where you are, because if you weren’t there you would be questioning some other location. And if you aren’t there, you aren’t heard to be questioning that original “there” either.

  33. Ok, I just vented to some friends for about an hour now, and at least I’m more calmed down. Still sad about deferral, but hey, there’s still hope, as this post says.

    Go us!

  34. Kristina '13 says:

    @Arthur ‘(14!?!?!?!): Don’t let the numbers scare you. Just do your best and hold the wait out. I did. Ninety days of agonizingly long torture (I didn’t handle it well). And well, here I am. MIT ’13.

    To everyone deferred, if you can make it through this wait period you can make it through anything. Also, keep in mind that there is still a chance to submit supplemental material. A poem, a song, whatever you feel relevant, postmark it to the admissions office and it will become a part of your file. This comes with the obligatory disclaimer: Do NOT flood the admissions office. Be selective. Be thoughtful. Don’t obsess. Be yourself.

    Best of luck to all.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Deferred here.

    Some of you seem to be a bit stressed out. I have advice for you guys: don’t stress out as much.

  36. Christine says:

    Thanks so much. This means a lot and I’m not gonna give up!

  37. Christine says:

    I also heard from my friends who got accepted….. I am just going to patiently wait until I may join them in march…. *sigh*

  38. Saman Moniri says:

    Deferral= test of patience, which we will hopefully succeed in

  39. Tim W. says:

    “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.”

    Wow…it sounds so familiar. This definitely renewed my hope, knowing a current MIT student felt the same way. I want all of that. I want to be MIT so badly, there’s no way I can just give up hope. I profoundly thank you for this post…you probably know how amazing it must feel to hear it.

  40. Liam ('14?) says:

    I’m sad about deferral, but I’m also hopeful for March. I’m going to think long and hard about anything that I can send in to the applications office to boost my chances. I don’t know anyone else that applied to MIT for early action personally… and many people thought that I was joking when I applied. I really wanted to be able to say, “hey, I made it, I got in when you thought I couldn’t.” Here’s hoping I can say that come March. Good luck to everyone else out there!

  41. Anon says:

    I know from experience that wanting something badly enough doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get it.

    I feel like being deferred is in some way akin to loving someone who is leading you on.

    I’ll try my best, but I have serious doubts about march. I’m too afraid to hope.

  42. Anonymous says:

    but it was all ok because you had some very yummy mango gummies to snack on :D

  43. Val'14? says:

    @ Hamsika,
    Is it alright for me to email you?
    I have some questions I would like to ask. =)

    Yeah I know that is the last paragraph on the page “The Match Between You and MIT”. I was so totally moved when I read it and felt “this is the place for me!!”
    Well I prbly didn’t make it clear the first time but I’m glad I have the chance to show them again.
    Don’t give up, deferredees!(haha)
    And congrats admitees!!

  44. Belle says:

    Thank you Hamsika for sharing your story! I got deferred yesterday but seeing that I still have the chance of being admitted, I will try to wait patiently and just hope for the best smile

  45. Hamsika '13 says:

    @ Val ’14?

    Feel free to email me smile

  46. Anvi says:

    I think I can express my whole spectrum of emotions in that one dot. Feels weird being here, on the fence, knowing that statistically I shouldn’t be hoping-against-hope and emotionally, I should be upset. But I’m not (perceivably, anyway)

    Hamsika, you painted a pretty accurate picture of what we, The Deferred (lol) feel. Benighted, yet benignly hoping. Head bursting with cheesy metaphors, alliterations and poetry. There’s something about being deferred that brings out the romantic in us all. smile
    Good luck everyone!

  47. Theint says:

    Actually it’s not MIT that I applied under EA. It was Stanford.Don’t get me wrong. I’ve applied to MIT under regular decision too. I got deferred and there was nowhere I could vent my feelings. That’s why I am joining you lot here.

    For those who got accepted, Congratulations!!!
    For those who got rejected, Keep pushing on!!!
    For those who got deferred (like me), Keep your faith and explore more!!!!

    I was deferred and I suffered a lot. But now, I got over because I know there’s still some places at some other schools awaiting for me to fill in!!

    For now, I wait!

  48. Hey! Course 9 is my mind-blower too!! It’s that subject where I feel like I could wake up every day of my future career and be DYING to get to work, no matter how hard it is or how many grants I get turned down for. I’m fascinated with the idea of the brain being an interface between psychology, philosophy, biology, quantum mechanics… smileMy plans for Christmas Break are: read three books on quantum physics, study for my AP tests, work on my UIL full orchestra music and solo piece, do my calculus hw, knit something, and get thoroughly fat on leftovers while watching NOVA and MIT Opencourseware. March, here we come! (Oh, and finishing my other college apps is a big priority too) But somehow, getting deferred has made me HAPPIER, instead of sadder. I feel liberated somehow, as if the actuality of getting a decision of some sort from a big college has finally taken me out of the high school world–I can go anywhere and study anything, I can do any research I want if I can procure the means. It may seem obvious, but I suppose it just never ocurred to me before. Thanks, MIT! Regardless of whether I get in or not, you’ve given me something priceless…

  49. PS Hamsika, I’m from Texas, too! smileWhat’s the weather like up there? Did you get hit by that massive winter storm?

  50. @Hamsika:

    Sorry, will be my last post raspberry But I went and read your blog profile and realized that we had one more thing in common besides both being deferred, both liking Cognitive Science, and both being from Texas: I’m not a “typical MIT student” either–and those are the exact words I use with my friends. My life also revolves around writing and music. Thank you so much for your post; it made me feel so much better! Best wishes… smile

  51. This is the first comment I’m making after getting deferred and it’s amazing the whole range of feelings that we all went through.

    The hope. The letdown. The stunned state of disappointment. The questions. Why? Am I not good enough? The twinges of envy, reading what the accepted EAers are saying.

    The temptation to give up and maybe go somewhere else. But, it’s blog posts like this one and the one from Jenny, that really show me why I wanted to come here in the first place. That need to belong in MIT and most importantly that there’s still hope and so I still dream, I still dare to hope.

  52. evie says:

    @ Hamsika
    wow, i think what you wrote is beautiful! i’m in the process of applying regular decision and hope everything turns out as i expect. I certainly won’t be losing hope. Thanks for the inspiration!

  53. hi..can i email you? n if yes then can i get your email id? thanks..seriously

  54. the above post was for hamsika.. n do reply soon.. thanks

  55. Winnie says:

    reading these blogs is such an inspiration even though I’ve still got a lot of time yet before I’m the one applying!

    …I feel an obligation to comment on this here post especially since I’m from New Zealand too :]

  56. Kevin R '11 says:

    Yes, I definitely see where you’re coming from – thanks for posting on this.

    I was deferred (talked about a project I hadn’t finished) and then got in (finished the project), and MIT has been amazing.

    To all you seniors in high school out there – Don’t give up!!! It can be done!

    Mens et Manus means mind and hand – use both to do supplemental stuff- which MIT is super receptive towards – and best of luck!

  57. Anonymous says:

    oops.. jus saw the email add..

  58. Pooja says:

    your best post so far smile