I applied early action to Princeton. I was fascinated by the University, and I spent hours pouring myself into reading about Princeton, links opening in tabs like heads of a hydra on my browser. I wrote five different Common Application essays, and finally submitted the 14th draft of my fifth essay. The early action decisions came out at 3:30 a.m. in India, and I couldn't sleep for a second that night.
I kept refreshing the link given, until the page finally responded. I was hoping against hope to be accepted, prepared to be rejected, but instead the screen told me incredulously that my "application had been deferred to the regular admission cycle".
I wasn't prepared for this outcome. It was the first year that Princeton had revived its early admission cycle, and I expected it to be black or white. But I learned that the majority of the applications had in fact been deferred, a gray scale that offered no indication of how strong our application really was. I took it simply as a rejection.
I worked harder my final semester, doing better on schoolwork and completing an independent research project that I cherished and which meant a lot to me. And at the end of March, an orange tiger and the word 'Congratulations!' stared back at me. I wasn't expecting it in the least.
Later, in Princeton, I found out that this story was common to many, that being deferred really does mean that the Princeton admission office is closely reviewing deferred applications.