Nov 2, 2005
Ben’s Third Semi-Annual Q&A
Posted in: Process & Statistics
Ambreen wrote: "What is the rationale behind question 'what department at MIT interests you and why?'"
First, I should note that it has no bearing on your application, as ~50% of our admits end up majoring in something entirely different from what they write here.
It simply adds a bit to the context of your overall app - what you're interested in, what you're excited about, etc. But there's no right or wrong answer - remember that we have no quotas for majors, which is why you apply to MIT, not to one of its 5 schools.
Zack Yang wrote: "Should I have my November scores rushed to MIT?" And Sarah Bana followed with: "on the same note, should we have October scores rushed to MIT?"
Nope, and nope. If you've designated MIT as a recipient, there is no need to rush October or November scores. If, as Matt says, Thanksgiving rolls around and you're thinking "gee, I should probably send my scores to MIT" then at that point you'll want to rush them. ;-)
Shikhar wrote: "Should I carry any special thing or portfolio with me when I go for MIT interview?"
Eric responded that it would be a good idea to ask the interviewer beforehand if there's anything that he/she would like you to bring. I think this is great advice, as each interviewer is different. Many will say "just bring yourself," but others will appreciate the opportunity to see some additional things.
Shikhar wrote: "I think I'll ask the admissions office to consider me for submitting January test scores of SAT II. I also want to know whether it's SAT II which are more important than SAT I as SAT I can be replaced by TOEFL."
You can definitely submit test scores in January for regular decision. We make no distinction between the importance of SATI (or TOEFL) and SATII - all of these are important components of your application.
He-Who-Does-Not-Want-To-Be-Named wrote: "I got really bad scores in my SAT I. A 720 in Math is NOT MIT material. If I do get 750-800 in Math Level IIC and Physics in SAT II, will that over-ride my bad SAT I performance?"
A 720 is fine! Don't give it another thought. Remember that scores are used to determine whether or not you would thrive academically here. Anyone with a 720 has the potential to do just as well at MIT as anyone with an 800. Focus on the things that are actually used to select the class: match, essays, recs, interview report (if applicable), activities, passion.
Nina toleva wrote: "Well, I decided to apply to MIT but I have really big problem. I had great difficulties trying to save money for the SAT and TOEFL exams. At last, I have the required sum, but there are no free dates for TOEFL till early January. What should I do and how should I proceed? Please, help me!"
No worries, take the January TOEFL and feel free to let us know somewhere in your application that the scores will be coming to us.
Rob wrote: "What if an applicant doesn't have five meaningful activities? I have three activities that I value greatly and into which I put a significant amount of time. How would only three activities look to the admissions committee? I don't want to put down clubs I belong to that only meet once a week or honor organizations that don't do anything."
To us, it's quality over quantity. That's why we only have five slots (I'm aware that other schools have more, sometimes many more). If you only have three, that's fine! Not every admitted applicant fills up all the slots.
Karen wrote: "My college counselor... made my essay look like it came straight out of 'What Colleges Want to Hear.' (If that existed, she would have written it.) In this aspect, I defied her. I wrote another essay because I felt like the first was suffocating - and I didn't tell her. In fact, I didn't show it to anyone until after I mailed it (don't worry, my writing stands on its own). Was this wise?
Not only was it wise, but it was honest, and undoubtedly more "you." Bravo. The essay is not a writing test; it's your voice in the application. Therefore it's important that it represents your voice, not anyone else's. Don't get me wrong - there's nothing wrong with asking a counselor to review your essay(s) and offer feedback. But if a counselor changes things to the point that you no longer feel that your voice is represented, that's a BIG problem.
"If I don't get accepted EA, should I send in anything more to give my app. another push for regular decision, or should I just leave it as is? If I should, what sort of things could I send?"
You are always welcome to send supplemental materials if you are deferred. We encourage anything that will show growth or progress that occurred after the original application was sent in.