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It's That Time of Year

December 13, 2021
Dean Karen Richardson

It’s that time of year. Decisions are about to be released for the first members of Princeton’s Class of 2026. All of the waiting is about to be over, and, as the date draws closer the anxiety levels rise.

While I wish that I could tell you to “not worry”, I recognize that that’s not realistic. Despite my being a college applicant a long time ago, I can still appreciate the nerves that come along with waiting for a decision.

The only other thing I can think of that might be helpful is to describe as best as I can our processes over the past few weeks and what the various decisions we made mean for you.

I want to assure you that I and my colleagues worked thoughtfully over the past several weeks to understand each applicant in the context of their home and school. We truly appreciate the extraordinary circumstances that the pandemic created and the challenges that were presented in terms of academic and extracurricular achievement. We tried our best to balance out those challenges and to see what each individual applicant was able to do in and outside of the classroom despite those challenges.

As we began to build Princeton’s next first-year class, we thought not only about the diversity of interests and thought that help make the campus a dynamic community, but also about the intangibles that make it one that allows each member to learn and grow. We thought about how students would interact with one another both in the classroom and on the field, in the music practice room and in the residential college common room. We discussed how students might approach difficult circumstances, how they would interact with people with different perspectives and how they might approach the University’s informal motto about the service of humanity. To do this, we read and discussed your essays, your letters of recommendation, your interview write ups and any other pieces that you shared with us.

In the end, we had to make some very difficult decisions as the pool continues to be a very talented one with more highly qualified students than we are able to admit.

Some of you will receive a letter saying that we have deferred a decision on your application. This means that we want to review your application again in the context of the overall pool and will give you a decision with our Regular Decision applicants. Again, I recognize that this decision prolongs your waiting. But I encourage you to ensure that your school counselor sends us your midyear grades when they are available. We don’t require any additional recommendation letters from you, but if there is someone who you think provides a different perspective, please feel free to upload the letter into your student portal. While there are no set numbers of students deferred from Restrictive Early Action who are admitted at Regular Decision, please know that it does happen.

And some students will learn that they have not been admitted to Princeton. Please know that after our careful consideration and based on what we already know about our larger pool, we realized that prolonging your wait to receive a decision was not going to be the best use of your time in this college admission process. It is by no means an indication of your ability to thrive in a college setting but rather a factor of our large pool. And while we know that the initial reaction might be one of disappointment, we hope that you will take the time to put your all into your other applications.

I am thrilled to be back at Princeton nearly three decades after I graduated and to be entrusted with this important work. I am also supremely grateful to every student who took the time to apply and who trusted my team with your thoughts, your achievements and your dreams for the future. I wish you all the best in this process and hope that you will take advantage of each and every opportunity offered to you wherever you choose to spend your postsecondary years.