MIT Admissions

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Chris Peterson SM '13

Aug 16 2018

Sneak peek at the new admissions and SFS sites

Posted in: Miscellaneous

As I've mentioned here, here, and here, I've been spending my summer leading a project to redesign the new and Although we are two separate offices, we report to the same Dean (that would be Stu) and share a communications team, and are working with Upstatement, the agency that helped design the new and

We're coming up to launch on both sites and so I wanted to take this chance to blog a preview and talk about some of the design decisions we've made. These aren't final -- things will change before we launch -- but you can get a sense of the basic design direction. 


Student Financial Services (SFS)

SFS is the office at MIT that combines the function of assessing and providing financial aid with billing and collecting tuition and other payments. Their processes are very complex and highly regulated by institutional, state, and federal policy. And, while we offer generous financial aid, anytime money is involved... read the post »


Aug 11 2018

The Making of Embrace

Posted in: Life & Culture

A few weeks ago, Ayomide F. 18, better known to longtime blogreaders as our own personal Riri Williams, sent me a copy of a new video she had helped choreograph, perform, and produce. 

It was (and is) incredibly arresting and compelling video, and I asked Ayo if she'd write up how it came to be so I could post it. She did, and I have reproduced it, unedited, immediately below. 


I put my first pair of heels on when I was 6. Maybe even younger. I charged into my mother’s shoe closet and beelined for these crimson-colored wonders that I’d been eyeing for a while. I strutted around for a bit before my ankles buckled and I knocked over a jewelry box. The clatter of pearls and gold sent my mom rushing into the room, ready to scold me. But when she saw the mess I made, she only laughed. “So when is the fashion show?” I smiled up at her as I struggled to get back on my feet and cheekily replied, “Tonight! After dinner.”

She beamed radiantly at me with her makeup... read the post »


Aug 3 2018

College Admissions and the Public Interest

Posted in: Miscellaneous

In 1966, B. Alden Thresher, an economist and the first ever Director of Admissions at MIT, wrote a short book called College Admissions and the Public Interest. It's a longstanding handbook of the admissions profession, and one of those texts that reads basically as true today as it did more than 50 years ago. What I love about CAPI (as it's called) is the honesty and integrity with which B.A.T. wrote, which values I hope (and think) still guide our office today. I know it's been a big influence on Stu, and on many other people in our office too.  

The book has been out of print for decades, but for our new website, the College Board agreed to publish it as a free PDF for anyone who wants to read it. Now that it's up, I wanted to direct people to it.

The foreword sums it up well: 

College Admissions and the Public Interest continues to help admissions professionals grapple with the central questions facing them every day: Who should be admitted to college, and why?... read the post »


Jul 28 2018

Our 2018-19 Application Essay Questions

Posted in: Miscellaneous

We've gotten some questions about our essay prompts for the forthcoming cycle, so I'm posting them. I want to be clear that there's no reason to start on them now, but some people like to begin thinking and planning ahead of time, which I respect and value (maybe the most underappreciated thing a good college applicant can do is make sure everything is done on time!).

As you may know, we have our own application, with 5 short-answer essay questions (I've blogged about the philosophy behind that here). Sometimes we change the prompts between cycles, but this year, we've kept them the same as the last few years, to wit: 

  • We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it. (100 words or fewer)
  • Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words or fewer)
  • At MIT, we bring people together to better the... read the post »


Jul 25 2018

PSA: there’s a new!

Posted in: Miscellaneous

This is just a quick blog post to tell y'all that there is a new It was designed and built by the same agency, Upstatement, that is redesigning admissions and SFS. Elizabeth and I were both on the core team that helped set the early cultural conditions and priorities for this site, though it was carried through by the team at MIT Communications, whose director, Nate Nickerson, wrote the following this morning: 

The homepage we replace has given good service to the Institute. Since its launch in 2009, it has maintained a straightforward and uncommon aesthetic: a single “Spotlight” image surrounded by links to sites from around MIT. (And that basic approach had been established years before.) The page has been well-liked and well-used.

But research of our audiences showed us that it was time to make some changes. First, we wanted to transform the Search function. We sought not just to make it perform better (it’s both highly used and a frequent source of frustration,... read the post »