MIT Admissions

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Chris Peterson SM '13

Sep 25, 2011

Ask Me Anything

Posted in: Miscellaneous

closed! at 10:54 EST. so i can go to bed without worrying about whom I'm not answering. thanks all! 

Today is Sunday. I am at home. After I do a small amount of requisite shopping, I am going to eat an entire apple pie and a whole bunch of delicious bread, then watch twelve hours of football until the insulin pouring out of my eyes from all of the carbs sends Jay Cutler into diabetic shock via the television. 

During that time: open thread. Ask me anything. About admissions or anything else. Unless the question is, as Elizabeth would say, "totes inapropes", I'll probably answer it. 

e: the pie

Comments (Closed after 30 days to reduce spam)

When submitting part 2 of the freshman application, do you prefer students to send their current SAT scores in the self-report section, or do you prefer students to wait for their most recent scores before submitting the application? When is the latest dates students can send SAT and ACT scores? I saw that the tests must be completed by the November test date, but when is the deadline for sending old scores? Also, when sending more than one supplemental recommendation, is it okay to use one envelope instead of two?

Posted by: Frank on September 25, 2011

And I see we go with the admissions route for the first one. Well, Frank: you can put your current scores on the self-report section, and then just send your official scores automatically/electronically. We will auto-update your scores as soon as we receive new ones from the college board.

Yes, we prefer one envelope. Actually, we prefer faxing, which is no envelopes!!

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Did you ever cry reading an app? Or felt jealous? raspberry

Posted by: Raj Kunkolienkar ('16)? on September 25, 2011

Absolutely yes to both.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Hey Chris, I have a weird question my guidance counselors and parents have had a hard time helping me on.

Last year, I took a college physics course at a local university as part of a dual-credit program and loved it. Now I'm taking a general chemistry course as part of the same program (I've taken a regular high school chemistry earlier), but it really isn't my cup of tea, for reasons like departmental size and actual content.

From an admissions standpoint, would it hurt my application if I took a higher level physics instead of chem2?

Posted by: Michael on September 25, 2011

No, not as long as you will have taken some chemistry by the time you graduate.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011


Who runs the Facebook Page?


Posted by: Adarsh Rao on September 25, 2011

It does.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

This might be a common question you often hear: how important are the SATs in the application against the application itself (interviews, submitting all your info via mymit)?
Also, what are the chances for an international student to get a scholarship (or some other kind of financial aid)? I heard that it is actually need-based but some universitites restrict financial aid if you aren't American.


Posted by: Albert Orozco on September 25, 2011

Here's another question :

Do you have any plans on releasing the number of applicants from each int. country?

Posted by: Adarsh Rao on September 25, 2011

No "plans", per se. We may or may not do it.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Also Albert:

The SATs are important to demonstrate that you can do the work at MIT. Once we think you can do the work, they diminish rapidly in importance.

We are full-need for all of our international students too.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Here's another question :

Did you ever read the application of a person who has re-applied and think something like "This person has changed a lot." ?

Posted by: Adarsh Rao on September 25, 2011

Hello Chris,

For courses taken at a local university, would admissions like a transcript of that course issued from the university (the class is not on my high school transcript)?

Another question: For short essay C, are there any limitations to what our specific challenge is? Does it really have to be "the" most significant challenge?

Thanks for your time!

Posted by: Ben on September 25, 2011

@Adarsh -

I haven't personally. Others may have.

@Ben -

Yes on the transcript, no on the limit to the challenge.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011


As an extension of Adarsh Rao's question, are there any statistics on international applicants alone (with regards to SAT score distribution, etc). The ones on the admissions statistics page only show statistics for all applicants


And yes, who runs the Facebook page raspberry

Posted by: Chris Ong ('16)? on September 25, 2011

Our international SAT scores are in similar ranges as domestic students.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Here's another question :

I was wondering, do you take Xth grade GPA into consideration?

The reason I'm asking this is I have an exam tomorrow and, the way I write it will pretty much decide what my GPA is going to be. If it's going to affect my chances at MIT, I'll pull-off an all nighter if it doesn't then I'll probably slack off a bit.

So, what's your take on it?

Posted by: Adarsh Rao on September 25, 2011

We look at everything.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Hi Chris,

I have two questions.

The first one is about the activities section. Is it better to write a broader Activity Name and then elaborate in the available space or write specific activities? For example, write "programming" as an activity and list a startup that I have founded as an example, or list the startup as a different-separate activity.

And the second one is for second time applicants, like me. Is it ok if we write in the additional information area what has changed in this year and why we think we might have a better chance this time.

Posted by: Dimitris on September 25, 2011

1) I'd write programming

2) yes, in fact we'll ask for it.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Hi there Matt,


I have a very dear 11 year old boy whose head is in Einstein's theories about time paradoxes, and is closely following this new thing going on in CERN about the particles going faster than the speed of light...he can explain things I don't understand. He does brilliantly on all kinds of tests (IQ, standardized things, school tests--gets 100 percent on every science thing) AND the teachers are exasperated because he's slow to unpack his backpack and his papers are a mess and he always forgets to bring his music to choir practice. To the point that they want him to leave the elite NYC private school he's in because "he's not in lockstep with the other kids."

So...I was thinking...would there be a summer program next year for 12 year olds and above to go and think about physics and the philosophical quandaries of the universe where he might be appreciated and not denigrated for being slow at unpacking his backpack? Do you have any suggestions? I love your blog and it did say you'd answer almost any question, and I'm hoping mine will count to be answered. We feel sad that our charming, passionate-about-knowledge-and-learning child is seen as 'defective' because he has trouble handling his classroom materials (they get upset that he loses pencils as well....). I thought maybe MIT was used to people like that....? He said to me, when he was 8, out of the blue, while doing the dishes, "Mom, I've been thinking about it. Philosophy is science without the answers."


Shira Nayman

Posted by: Shira Nayman on September 25, 2011

Aah. You are so diplomatic.

Anyway, last question(until your next such entry) :

Do you plan to change the MyMIT website design anytime soon?

I've checked it and it looks so old and I feel that it looks odd when we compare it to the 'web 2.0' look of the admissions website.

Posted by: Adarsh Rao on September 25, 2011


@Shira Nayaman : He's Chris not Matt raspberry

Posted by: Adarsh Rao on September 25, 2011

@Shira -

Short answer is no I don't know of any such program.

@Adarsh -

Yes, it will be updated soon. It's all ready, we just have to roll it out. It was supposed to go live with the new site but we wanted to make sure we double checked everything and got it right.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Hi Chris,
I have a question about athletic recruits. What kind of impact is there if a coach offers to support you in admissions (i.e. you're on the list of people he/she is talking to), but you are not one of the top recruits (i.e. the people he/she writes for and really pushes for)?

I understand that athletics won't get anyone in. But, assuming that someone is just as qualified as the next applicant, is there any difference in the way admissions looks at a supported athlete vs. a highly supported athlete?


Posted by: John on September 25, 2011

@John -

Well, a coach's support doesn't "get you in", no matter how highly you are supported, as you say. But it always helps. It's another thing you might contribute to MIT.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Hello Chris, I appreciate the initiative.

I attend a french high-school, so all my transcripts and national exams score reports are in french. Should I attach a translated copy with those, or are you officers accustomed to them (French Brevet, Terminale Scientifique subjects) ?

Thank you.

Posted by: Moe on September 25, 2011

we know the french grading system well. worry not!

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Is it possible to request a campus tour on a day when there are no tours scheduled?

Posted by: Brandon on September 25, 2011

not unless you're part of a large group, but we have tours every weekday at 11 AM and 3 PM so it shouldn't be a problem.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011


Unfortunately, this is yet another question about admissions :(

I have been reading the blogs while completing the application online as a domestic first-time applicant, and one of the top things that I keep reading about is "demonstrating passion." I have a big passion for computers and technology, but unfortunately things like my list of extracurricular activities and my transcript might not reflect that (due to my passion being more of a hobby than an organized activity). I already wrote the essays pertaining to my pleasure activity and desired major about my passion, but is there anything else that I could do so the admissions gets a better idea of this?

Posted by: Austin Rovinski on September 25, 2011

Not really. Your case is pretty typical, so I wouldn't feel stressed about it.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011


If I want to submit my Eagle Project as a part of my supplement, should I include everything, or should I summarize it?

Posted by: Ji Hoon Lee on September 25, 2011

Well what is "everything."

If it's a website or whatever you can certainly send that, but a summary will be useful.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Hello Chris,
Does MIT admit a student who has failed in 11th grade's last semester and 1st semester of 12th grade in Math and Physics "only because" of some intense personal problems (which he may write in his application). The same kid is known in his high school for presenting amazing science projects in the past, having excellent oratory skills and well versed in Calculus, winning awesome prizes in Quiz, scoring above 90 percentile in 10th grade and also works part time as a high school teacher?
Do you believe in admitting such student who missed some ways in life at a teenage but is now trying really hard to recover "fast" and bring back his real enthusiastic spirit.

Thank you.

P.S.: I am an international applicant (Indian).

Posted by: Jeevan on September 25, 2011

Jeevan, we'd need to be confident that such an applicant would be sufficiently prepared for MIT.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

"Everything" meaning about 30 pages worth of planning, budgeting, and constructing.

Thank you for the answer!

Posted by: Ji Hoon Lee on September 25, 2011

Probably better to go with the summary.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Thank you Chris. I believe Jesus will make a way for me. I have suffered and woke up in his name and I will keep struggling to make a mark on this world.

And one more question sir,
How can an applicant prove that he is actually dedicated towards learning and discovering science through just a written application? Would the SAT scores work as a "confidence booster" for MIT in the applicant?

Posted by: Jeevan on September 25, 2011

It's the whole package, Jeevan. SATs, grades, essays, recommendations, interview, everything.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Thank you Sir smile
I hope, I prepare the best package for MIT smile
God Bless You smile Have a nice day.

Posted by: Jeevan on September 25, 2011

Thank you for answering that fast smile

One last concern : should I at least include a translated copy of my trimestrial transcript (which includes very important, invaluable written notes of my teachers) ?

Posted by: Moe on September 25, 2011

That would be helpful.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

And what does 'transcript' refer to? My grades right since the 9th? I'm Indian btw.

Posted by: Raj Kunkolienkar ('16)? on September 25, 2011

Yes Raj.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Hey Mr.chris

At first , Thank you for paying attention for us, I'm an international student . I got a gorgeous TOEFL score ( 607 ) and I'm doing the sat next month . I have a question about the SAT subject test scores .....
what are the recommended scores for MIT ?

Another question , Is the interview gonna be fatful ??
I'm really worry because there is no Educational counselors from my region ( Gaza Strip )

Thank you Again ..... smile

Posted by: Abderhman on September 25, 2011

hey this is Devansh Jaiswal from India..... wht must I do to get into MIT

Posted by: Devansh Jaiswal on September 25, 2011


I'm a high school junior. I'm interested in studying either sports medicine or sports science. If I want to study sports medicine, should I major in pre-med in college?

Posted by: Johnny on September 25, 2011

@ Abderhman -

We don't have "recommended scores", but I would encourage you to do as well as you can. With your TOEFL you do not need to worry about the verbal as an international student; if you can get into the high 600s/into the 700s, you will see on our statistics page that we take more students from those ranges.

We can Skype interview to you in Gaza, or if your internet isn't good, we can just waive it with no negative prejudice to you.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Has anyone ever been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

Posted by: H.E. Rpderp on September 25, 2011

@Devansh -

I'd review this:

@Johnny -

I think so. It depends on what you mean by "sports medicine." Do you mean like being a trainer, or Dr James Andrews? Two good, but very different, paths.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

College Transcripts: Would it be fine if it was a photocopy of an official transcript? Dang those official transcripts are expensive.

Also, where/how on the application would we include self-studied courses from the OCW?


Posted by: Michelle on September 25, 2011

Dr. James Andrews

Posted by: Johnny on September 25, 2011

Hi Chris:
I have a little doubt about biographical information, I am an international Apllicant and I have two names Ana Gabriela, I should include both names on the First Name space? And what should I write in middle intitial space, thank you so much, I look forward to hearing from you

Posted by: Gabriela on September 25, 2011

Hi Gaby - I'd pick one name for first and one name for middle. Or, just put whatever name you go by (like Gaby) in the first name field alone.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Hello Chris-

My name is Daniel, I am currently a high school junior. Can I apply to MIT this year, and if so, would it significantly diminish my chances of getting in? Also, if I am rejected, then would this decrease my chances of getting in if I reapplied next year? Finally, are the application forms available yet? I tried creating a MyMIT account, but there are no links to anything other than spring 2011 campus visit signups (which are, quite obviously, closed).



Posted by: Daniel Kramnik on September 25, 2011

@Daniel -

You may apply this year. We do admit juniors sometimes, but there has to be a very compelling reason why. It will not necessarily diminish your chances next year.

Yes, they are available at

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

So, should I major in pre-med in college if I was talking about Dr. James Andrews?
Thank you very much!

Posted by: Johnny on September 25, 2011


Are we going to have a MIT Admissions Webcast session this year?

Posted by: Ji Hoon Lee on September 25, 2011

Yes, we will have webcasts.

@Johnny -

It doesn't really matter what you major in, as long as you are prepared to go to med school. We don't have a pre-med major, for example, though some schools do I guess.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

I see. Thank you!

Posted by: Johnny on September 25, 2011

Thank you so much :D

Posted by: Gaby on September 25, 2011

OK, thanks.

Posted by: Shira nayman on September 25, 2011

@Chris -

Where should I be looking on the MyMIT page? I'm logged in, but there doesn't appear to be any link to the application forms.

Posted by: Daniel Kramnik on September 25, 2011

Daniel -

What entry year are you in our system? What did you indicate when you signed up?

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

@ Chris -

I indicated that I will graduate in 2013 when I signed up, but I changed that to 2012 and everything started working. Thanks!


Posted by: Daniel Kramnik on September 25, 2011

Hey Cris,
I am planning on applying to MIT via Early Decision, however I am now debating whether I should go through with it or wait until the regular application date.
The reason for this debate, is because I have recently begun a community service project, and also a project for DECA, neither which will probably not have any significant results, or execution until after the deadline for Early Decision. Therefore, am I allowed to update the admissions department with that information later on in the admissions process, or at least before they re-review me in Regular Decision.



Posted by: Umair Khakoo on September 25, 2011

I just took the ACT with writing, so I haven't received my score yet. I was wondering if I should submit both my ACT without writing and this ACT, or does super scoring only work if it is the same test (i.e. both with writing)? On a related note, I took the SAT as well. Should I submit that too? And will MIT take into account whichever one is higher (ACT vs. SAT)?

Thank you so much,

Posted by: Emma Thompson on September 25, 2011

How do I get off the notifications every time someone posts? I've already gone back in and unclicked the "notify me" button but I keep getting emails....could you please let me know how to undo this? Thanks.

Posted by: shira nayman on September 25, 2011

Wow, lots of questions.

I have one or four. Does admissions hire students for anything, and what do they do? How to get a job? Is it competitive?

Posted by: Anthony L. '15 on September 25, 2011

@Umair -

You might as well wait if you are so inclined. There is no benefit strategically to applying EA.

@Emma -

Superscoring should work between the two tests, and also across the SAT.

@Shira -

Not sure, sorry :(

@Anthony -

We do hire students to work downstairs, but I think we hired everyone for this year. You can email [email protected] though.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

If I am submitting an arts supplement, would MIT prefer a CD or a link to a webpage with my resume, videos, and recommendations?

Posted by: MolesPerLiter on September 25, 2011

Hello Chris,
In your opinion is there an admission benefit to providing exceptional homeschooling for a mathematically gifted child, or to providing extracurricular math camps/courses to boost an education received at a public school?

...and how much pie is left, if any?


Posted by: Hollis Stoddard on September 25, 2011

I spent 11th grade abroad, mostly because high school is boring and unchallenged. Because of this, there are some funny things on my transcript, such as having straight-A's all throughout 9th and 10th, and then B's and C's for 11th. I also then have no APs, since all but one are only offered to 11th and 12th graders (though I'm taking four AP classes now) and I took the SAT in 10th grade, so my score is good, but not fantastic. How will this affect my application?
Thanks for all the advice you've been giving!

Posted by: Margaret Pavlovich on September 25, 2011

@Moles -

If it's an official art supplement, follow the instructions on our art supplement page.

@Hollis -

I don't know about full-on homeschooling, but definitely supplemental math is always great. And about half of the pie is left, but I've also killed a huge loaf of bread and half a quart of apple cider...

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

When will the MyMIT accounts from last year be deleted, so that someone who applied last year can create a new account and re-apply this year?
Thank you very much.

Posted by: anonymous on September 25, 2011

Hello Everyone ,
I am newly registered with MIT .Please guide me a little . I am from Pakistan and i want to get Admission in MIT for Architecture undergraduate Program , what's the Admission criteria and when should I Apply for it . Actually I need your guidance in this Regard. Please make me a Reply or do email me here's my ID : [email protected]
Basic things to know :
- Marks Obtained at Intermediate Level
- Fee and Financials
- Degree's Worth in market .

Mian Hamza Abbas

Posted by: Mian Hamza Abbas on September 25, 2011

@anon -

Not sure. Probably soon.

@Margaret -

You'll just need to convince us of your academic preparedness, same as any other student.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Another question, sorry. How long typically should you wait for an EC to respond to your initial interview request? It's been a week and I haven't heard anything and I didn't know if I should wait longer before sending a followup email.


Posted by: Emma Thompson on September 25, 2011

@Emma -

I'd say wait a few more days. If they have a number in there, you can try to call.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Hey Christ, could you please clarify
1. is 'Mid Year Report' only applicable to the present high school student applicants?
2. is TOEFL still required or preferable for International Student who is from a semi-English spoken country, had her lessons taught in English for the last 7 years, and a distinction in GCE O level English Examination?
3. Is on-line application fee waiver?

Posted by: Eugene Z on September 25, 2011

1) yes

2) preferred

3) yes, there is one

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Hey Chris, if your interviewer is not from your country or area, can you change who interviews you? If yes, how?

Posted by: Alhassan Abdul-Rashid on September 25, 2011

How was your interviewer assigned? Probably because they were the closest / most accessible to you.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Hello everyone.

I'm an international student but I have already begun my undergraduate degree at a local university (august 2011), anyways, I want to apply for MIT but I don't really care if I don't get any credit for the courses I'm taking right now.
My question is if I can apply as an international freshman even if I’m coursing my first semester of college or if it is strictly necessary to apply as an international transfer.

Posted by: Eduardo Ruffo on September 25, 2011

Hi Eduardo -

You must apply as a transfer student.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Its me again.

1) if I apply as a transfer student, do I get credit for the courses I'm taking?

2) does the university I come from has any influence in my admission process?

Thanks for your response.

Posted by: Eduardo Ruffo on September 25, 2011

1) usually

2) not usually

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Sorry to bother you on a Sunday and tear you from your all-american apple pie and football, but I need some help. In the MIT Application Guide (the one with the supposedly bad haikus), the guide says that to apply Early Action, you need to be able to complete all testing requirements by the November test date. Does that mean that even though Part 1 and Part 2 are due by Nov. 1, I can still submit the Subject Tests I'm going to take Nov. 5 and I'll still be able to apply Early Action?

Posted by: Cristian Morales on September 25, 2011


Posted by: Sara on September 25, 2011

How much are you willing to read in the additional information box? I have an essay that I'd love to share.

Posted by: Nikhil Benesch on September 25, 2011

Thanks for your immediate response. Further clarify,
1) So you actually mean no application fee is required for an on line application.
2) How about the Chinese given name normally consists of 2 characters (mostly just treat as a disyllabic word, and the first character is usually just a generation indicating character or word, while mostly the second word is the name called by everybody, unlike the Westerner that first name only is used for addressing) after the Surname, be treated as a First Name when filling the form?

Posted by: Eugene Z on September 25, 2011

A lot of people have been trying to tell me that the best way to handle a college application essay is to write about a story and imply it's implications about your character; they've been criticizing me writing about things directly, saying that for each question I need to "show, not tell" I tell them that there are only 250 words, and it's the best I can to fit in everything I want to say. The advice on the site here says to right in a true voice, so my main question would be: is it bad to be pretty direct in answering the questions?

Posted by: Ryan on September 25, 2011

Hi Chris,

I'm interested in submitting some music that I've recorded, but, as a rock musician, I'm not sure how appropriate it would be to have my recordings evaluated by the music faculty at MIT seeing as music departments tend to focus on classical and jazz. Music is a really huge part of my life, so I'm wondering if it would be possible for my recordings, music teacher recommendation etc. to be considered as a part of my application without it being an "audition" that needs to be evaluated by the faculty.


Posted by: Nolan Meghrouni-Brown on September 25, 2011

Do you have information session to Atlanta? can you post a link of session information-date, location?

Posted by: Zemin on September 25, 2011

Hello Mr. Peterson!

What is your most favorite part about being an admissions officer?

Posted by: Olurotimi Bolonduro on September 25, 2011

Hi Chris!
I sent this as an email to the admissions about two weeks ago, but I hadn't heard a response yet so I'm posting it here. I have a question concerning essay length, specifically the most significant challenge. The topic that I had planned to write about was a major event that greatly changed my life. I don't really feel like I would be able to convey my story properly in the given word limit (200-250). If I would still like to write about this topic, would you recommend that I submit it as part of the optional additional material section or will a longer essay be accepted? Or, do you recommend that I try to cut down the story to fit the limit?

Posted by: Jake Stevens on September 25, 2011

I am participating in Latin club, which is basically like Academic Bowl except the questions are about Latin. I really like this activity, but my parents are convinced that it's really dumb and it won't help me on my application because Latin and Roman mythology and history won't help me anywhere else in life. Do you think I should continue or will admissions officers look down on the activity?
Also, are my chance of getting in lessened if I haven't taken a computer science course? Should I take one, even though I don't like the subject?

Posted by: Tipsy on September 25, 2011

I'm currently a sophomore in high school and I had a question about extracurriculars. I am in the Language Learning Program at my school and am ttying to decide what else to do. I was thinking about Academic Decathalon but I'm not sure. I guess my question is how important are extracurriculars? Do you have any advice about what colleges look for (especially MIT). I really want to go there so any advice would be appropriated. Thanks!

Posted by: Patrick on September 25, 2011


@Cristian -

Yes, that is what it means. November 5th is the last day you can take tests and have them count during EA.

@Sara -

It used to be red, but now it's sort of like a very dark, deep blue.

@Nikhil -

Depends on how compelling it is to read. When it comes to reading things beyond the minimum, you essentially have to convince the admissions officer that it's worth their scarce time.

@Eugene -

1) No fee if you have financial need
2) The second name - your "given" name, the name people call you by - is probably appropriate for the "Preferred First Name" field.

@Ryan -

It's not that it's bad. It's that it's less effective. If you write an essay saying "I am a charitable person. I like to do charitable things. Look at how much I like charity" then we get it, but it doesn't take shape in our minds, we can't connect your characteristics to a concrete image or idea or example. Whereas if you write about something which demonstrates your charity, then we can understand it better.

That said, most adults - let alone high school students - haven't mastered "show not tell", and confuse it for writing obliquely or indirectly. That's not what it means. For a good example of show not tell: read "50 Things", a blog entry by Ben Jones. When you read it, he doesn't talk about how much he cares about the students we admit. He talks about a lot of other things. But his care bleeds through. That's what "show not tell" means.

If you haven't mastered it, and want to write more literally, that's fine.

@Nolan -

Well, it can be, but it might not be that effective in enhancing your application. If a faculty member really supports you, that gives you extra reason to be admitted. If I like your guitar solos, well, I like your solos, but it's not necessarily something that's a priority for us to admit. It's just an added bonus.

I'd do both: submit a recommendation to faculty and also include a link to something - a YouTube video? - of your compositions for the admissions officers to review.

@Zemin -

The Atlanta session already happened, sorry :(

@Olurotimi -

Working with really awesome students.

@Jake -

Cut down the story. Hemingway did it; so can you. I believe in you!!

@Tipsy -

You should continue it if you want to do it. There's nothing you can do extracurricularly to "get you into MIT." It's worth pursuing things that you enjoy doing because you enjoy doing it. That's the point of life, let alone admissions stuff.

No. At least, your chances would not be enhanced by taking a class to a degree that it would be worth doing something you don't like.

@Patrick -

Here's my advice:

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Thanks for the help Chris. One last question. I'm not sure whether I want to apply EA or RA. If I apply RA, the only upside is that I get to retake the ACT to try to improve my scores. I'm already busy with extracurriculars, AP classes, and high school in general, so I want to apply EA just so that I don't put it off and procrastinate (I'm a chronic procrastinator.) Do you have any advice or input? It would really help.

Posted by: Cristian Morales on September 25, 2011

Nope! You'll just have to figure out what works for you.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

This is probably a somewhat off-beat question, but about how geeky should my essays not be? Especially the personality one. I managed to work in a few Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and Python jokes but I could definitely use the word count for other things if you don't think there's a good chance reader would be familiar with those sorts of things.

Also, I was kind of worried that my essays might not be taken as serious if there are too many humorous things in them. Do you think it would be better to keep them with the current voice or tone them down a bit just to make sure they aren't taken the wrong way?


Posted by: Ramsey Natour on September 25, 2011

Thanks for the fast response, Chris! My guess is 500 words would be too long to keep you reading, no matter how compelling? I'll try to cut it down to half that.

Posted by: Nikhil Benesch on September 25, 2011

If you get dual credit through a local college for a class that is higher than ap calculus bc, do you get credit for it at MIT?

Posted by: Eric on September 25, 2011

Do you have any pet peeves when reading applications? Is there anything that immediately turns you off to an applicant?

Posted by: Ashlee on September 25, 2011

Was the comment number limit on the MITadmissions page recently increased? It seemed like it was staying on 90 for the longest time until recently.

Have you ever participated in a hack?

Posted by: Olurotimi Bolonduro on September 25, 2011

I have multiple side projects I'd like to share, but the application only offers one blank for a URL. Should I link to all of my projects from that URL (say, in a blog post/resume), or should I only link to my "best" project?

Also, I understand that high grades/standardized test scores are requisite, but aren't the determining factor in admission into MIT. In your opinion, how much should I minimize my purely academic achievements, either in the application or in the interview?


Posted by: Pete on September 25, 2011

Hi Chris,

So, I'm a Junior in High School, and I'm considering applying to MIT this year. Do you have any advice or any topics you think a junior should reflect on before applying? Also, you said to an earlier commenter that there should be a compelling reason to apply early. What would you consider compelling.


PS Any pie left?

Posted by: Andrew on September 25, 2011

So on average what is the accepted applicant's SAT score or GPA?

Posted by: Kelsey on September 25, 2011

Thanks Chris!

Posted by: Jake Stevens on September 25, 2011

hi chris, for regular admission, when is the latest you can take the SAT/ACT? i think i read somewhere on your website that it was decemeber, but i haven't been able to find it since, and want to double check, thanks!

Posted by: Emily on September 25, 2011

I have a question regarding the ethincity section of the application.
My dad is from Afghanistan and I am debating whether to put my eithnicty as Asian or Middle Eastern.
According to the United Nations, Afghanistan is part of Southern Asia.
What do you suggest I put?

Posted by: Victoria Suha on September 25, 2011

@Eric -

Sometimes! Depends on what the registrar and departments policies are.

@Ashlee -

People who try and make jokes that aren't funny. People who don't come remotely close to the word limit. Yankees fans (just kidding).

@Olurotimi -

No, it wasn't increased.

@Pete -

Either. We'll likely look at whatever you link, but we may not click through each thing. Many people upload a portfolio. You can do what you'd like to do.

I don't think you need to "minimize" anything. We don't look down on academic achievement. It's just not the only dispositive thing.

@Andrew -

I'd go read my "Applying Sideways" blog.

Just a tiny bit of pie left now...

@Kelsey -

Those numbers are meaningless but you can go look at the statistics page if you really want to.

@Emily -


@Victoria -

Whichever you identify more with. You can also tell us more in the essays.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

I got skipped :(
Although I have a feeling my answer is probably inside Ashlee's

Posted by: Ramsey Natour on September 25, 2011

Hello, I'd like to know about reapplying, since some things related to it are pretty misty.(I am a international student who wasn't accepted but changed a lot this year)
For instance, when will the MyMiT account be reseted? Is there any rule against sending last year's score?(I aced all the tests, so i'm pretty sure that wasn't a reason for me not being approved) Finally, I'd like to ask someone from admission's blog to point out that the midyear report can be used to submit results that were released after the second part of the application being submitted, because I wasn't aware of that last year, and, waiting for a result that was published on 30 december, I ended up sending my application(seconds part) almost at the deadline.

Posted by: Danilo on September 25, 2011

Chris, I just read your comment that said that you have never being impressed how a student has changed over an year. I hope you get my application this year. wink (Sorry if I sounded too full of myself, that wasn't the intent).

Posted by: Danilo on September 25, 2011

Will there be tours on November 11th or 12th? (Veterans Day) If not, is the campus open for self-guided tours?

Posted by: Brandon on September 25, 2011

how does MIT admissions regard the level of competition at Math Prize for Girls?

Posted by: Judy on September 25, 2011


What is your favorite ice cream flavor at Tosci's? Have you tried the Saffron flavor? Its quite good.

Posted by: Nathan K. '14 on September 25, 2011

Sorry for double posting....

If I already explained a science competition that I'm part of in the Activity Section, do I need to explain it again in my essay? In other words, do you guys read our essays knowing our activities, awards, and etc. we put on other parts of the app?

Posted by: Judy on September 25, 2011

@Danilo -

Not sure when it will be reset. You can use last year's score.

@Brandon -

Yes, campus is open, and there are maps everywhere.

@Judy -

We love to see it!

And yes, we know what you've won, or will deduce it, from your essays.

@Nathan -

I've never tried the Saffron flavor. I'm actually not a huge ice cream guy. I grew up gorging on Ben and Jerry's as a kid in Vermont. Maybe that poisoned it. In any case, my favorite cold sweet is gelato, and angelato's in Belmont makes the best I've ever had in the United States.

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

And with that - I'm going to close this off. I'm going to bed, and I know I won't be able to sleep if I am getting emailed comments all night. My brain will be fidgeting...

But hopefully I helped some of you, and to the rest, I may do another one of these some other time!

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

or, to put it another way - LAST

Posted by: Chris Peterson SM '13 on September 25, 2011

Comments have been closed.