Mar 13, 2010
Posted in: Process & Statistics
Ahh Pi day. It's an important day for nerds worldwide, but it's perhaps most important for some future nerds here at MIT (not to be confused with nerds from the future here at MIT). As I'm sure you already know, decisions day (D-Day from here on out) is upon us and for the prospective students that means sweaty palms, quickened paces, and anxiety that WebMD can't explain (the likes of which you won't see again until prom) and bandwidth-crippling refreshes of https://decisions.mit.edu/verify.php. If this sounds like you, then you are who I'm talking to right now. There's just one thing you need to do between now and tomorrow:
(and remember your towel)
You see, MIT is a great many wonderful things, and it's the place I love being at the most (a good thing since I spend most of my waking hours here – most of my sleeping is done when I'm on vacation =] ). It is not however the end-all deciding factor of whether or not you'll be happy for the rest of your life though. Somehow I missed that when I was applying so I hope you guys don't. D-day is a day of extremes, lots of people will be ecstatic to get their decision; many more will be disappointed.
If you don't get it, don't sweat it. Really. The admissions office is a well-greased machine that is incredibly efficient at figuring out who's gonna be happy to be here or not. Their job is in some ways to look out for you. There's a certain relationship the two of you have: Admissions knows MIT very well, but you not so much. You know yourself pretty well (at least I hope you do -- you live with you!), but you don't really know how MIT is. You might think to yourself "oh but I know so much about MIT!" and that might be true, but you don't know about being at MIT. And that's what Admissions knows about.
MIT is hard. Almost anyone knows that, but the way it's hard is a bit more transient. It's tough now even to explain, but I distinctly remember my first week real week here I thought, "I get it, I know why people wouldn't want to come here." It's not for everyone.
So in short, if you don't get in, don't worry. It doesn't mean you're not destined to do great things, nor that you're forced to be unhappy at some other college because you're not good enough. On the contrary, if you don't get in it's a good indication that this probably wasn't the best choice for you.
From here on out, changes in your life are dramatic and fast. It doesn't seem like two years ago that I was driving home from the bank thinking about what the computer screen would tell me I'd do for the next four years of my life. Before you know it, it will be you guys who'll be amazed by how far away just two years ago seems (and I'll be graduating--EEP!). But no matter where you end up going to school, take it by the horns. Carve out a niche for yourself, join clubs, talk to professors, explore and think. Those are the qualities that will make your life as an intellectual enjoyable no matter where you go, and those are the qualities you already have– just don't forget about them. MIT is a tool you can use for your education, but there many others that can do the job as well. You're in charge though; it's your life. Make something of it.
(also feel free to read what I wrote before decisions last year: http://www.mitadmissions.org/topics/misc/miscellaneous/about_tomorrow.shtml)
Good luck, so say we all!