MIT Admissions

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Ben Jones

Mar 17, 2006

It’s More Than A Job

Posted in: Best of the Blogs, Process & Statistics

In response to an earlier entry of mine, this post appeared on College Confidential:

You know, I get sick of college admissions officers saying how they couldn't accept so many wonderful people. While it's supposed to be comforting, obviously, I just find it really insincere. I mean, either you're accepted or you're not. There is no grey area... so they shouldn't try to sugarcoat the harsh reality.

I'm thankful to whomever posted this, because it really made me think. It's certainly a fair post, and I imagine a lot of our applicants share these sentiments. A million years ago when I was applying to college, perhaps I would have felt the same way.

I've written before about how the class is selected, but I'm too tired to dig up the post so I'll give a quick recap. First you apply. Your application is read by a senior staff member who will look for deal-breakers (like a bunch of D's, for example). Assuming you're competitive, your application is then read by a primary reader who will summarize it at length for the committee. Then a second reader (and sometimes a third) will read and write their own summaries. Then it will go to selection committee, where multiple groups of different admissions staff and faculty members will weigh in on it. Assuming you've made it that far, the senior staff will then review it again. Approximately 12 people (give or take) will significantly discuss and debate your application before you're admitted. This is all very intentional; committee decisions ensure that every decision is correct in the context of the overall applicant pool, and that no one individual's bias or preferences or familiarity with a given case has any chance of swaying a decision unfairly.

With that in mind, let me tell you a little bit about what my job is like from November through March. Three days a week, I take a random bunch of applications to the public library, find a quiet corner, and immerse myself in your lives.

I read about your triumphs, I read about your dreams, I read about the tragedies that define you. I read about your passions, your inventions, your obsession with video games, dance, Mozart, Monet. I read about the person close to you who died. I read about your small towns, your big cities, the week you spent abroad that changed your life. I read about your parents getting divorced, your house burning down, your girlfriend cheating on you. I read about the car you rebuilt with your dad, the championship debate you lost, the team you led to failure, the performance you aced. I read about the people you've helped and the people you've hurt. I read about how you've stood tall in the face of racism, homophobia, poverty, injustice.

Then I read about the lives you've changed - a math or science teacher, a humanities teacher, a counselor. I read the things that they probably don't say to your face for fear of inflating your ego: that you're the best in their careers, that kids like you are the reason they chose to be a teacher in the first place, that they're better people for having known you.

If you've had an interview, I get to read about how you come across in person to someone you've just met - how your face lights up at the mention of cell biology, how you were five minutes late because you had an audition, how your smile can fill a room, how you simply shine.

(Your grades and scores are clearly competitive or your application wouldn't be on my pile in the first place.)

By now I'm fully invested in you so I write a gazillion nice things about you in your summary and I'm smiling the whole time. I talk about your depth, all the ways you're a great match to MIT, all the things I know you'll contribute to campus. I conclude with phrases like "clear admit" and "perfect choice." In my head I imagine bumping into you on the Infinite Corridor, asking you how your UROP is going, seeing your a cappella group perform.

I come home each night and tell my wife over dinner how lucky I am, because I never seem to pick boring applications out of the pile. In fact, I tell her, I'm inspired enough by the stories I read to think that the world might actually turn out to be okay after all.

In March I go into committee with my colleagues, having narrowed down my top picks to a few hundred people. My colleagues have all done the same. Then the numbers come in: this year's admit rate will be 13%. For every student you admit, you need to let go of seven others.

What? But I have so many who... But...

And then the committee does its work, however brutal. It's not pretty, but at least it's fair. (And by fair I mean fair in the context of the applicant pool; of course it's not fair that there are so few spots for so many qualified applicants.)

When it's all over, about 13% of my top picks are offered admission. I beg, I plead, I make ridiculous promises (just ask the senior staff) but at the end of the day, a committee decision is a committee decision.

Of my many favorites this year, there were a few who really got to me, and when they didn't get in, the tears came. Some would call me foolish for getting this wrapped up in the job, but honestly, I couldn't do this job if I disconnected myself from the human component of it. It's my job to present you to the committee; if your dream of being at MIT didn't become my dream on some small level, then really, why am I doing this at all? Others would disagree, but then, others aren't me.

To the 87% of you who have shared your lives with us and trusted us with your stories over the last four months, please know that they meant something to me, and I won't forget you. When I say that I share the pain of these decisions with you, I'm not lying. I'm really not lying.

To the person up there who said "while it's supposed to be comforting, obviously, I just find it really insincere" - you have it backwards. I don't expect it (or anything else) to be comforting at this moment. But insincere? No. Not that.

Just got confirmation that the USPS picked up the mail (for real), so it's on the way. I'll be thinking about all of you.

Comments (Closed after 30 days to reduce spam)

That was very heartfelt Ben. Thanks for sharing with us the human side of admissions. 13%? That's brutal. I hope I'm one of them. Good luck all!

Posted by: Anonymous on March 17, 2006

this is simply a beautiful piece of writing. A clear admit to humanity,..

Posted by: rorosen on March 17, 2006

Thank you for this post. It brought tears to my eyes. It helped me to understand why my son was one of the lucky ones to be admitted early. There are so many talented kids out there, hoping and dreaming. IТƒфm looking forward to meeting you & all the admissions staff to thank you all for your hard work, understanding and commitment to the students, both those who receive the fat envelope and those that donТƒфt.

Posted by: Oakland mom on March 17, 2006


Posted by: Anthony on March 17, 2006

Ben, I am proud to know you and proud that you, and people like you, have our children in your hands througout the admissions process. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything you do, and for the very human person you are.

Posted by: leftcoast mom on March 17, 2006

This post really warmed me inside out. =]

You may not know, but knowing that someone like you spends much time reading and glimpsing the sparkes of our lives actually comforts me a lot.

Time flies.

Posted by: Phil on March 17, 2006


Thanks a lot for this entry.

Posted by: sachit on March 17, 2006

I didn't apply to MIT (I'm more into theatre than math, imagine that) but one of my close friends is, and suggested that I read the post. I only hope (yes, sometimes even pray a bit) that the admissions officers at my schools put in the sort of emotional commitment that you do. Thank you. Jake

Posted by: Jake the Snake on March 18, 2006

Thanks you for all the effort on the entire admission process.I was touched beyond words, for every post of yours gave me a new inspiration and thought of life, which I couldn't gain simply from going to school every day! No matter what kind of decision will come up to me tomorrow, this journey has been wonderful and priceless.^_^

Posted by: Rosa on March 18, 2006

I didn't apply to MIT, but thank you Ben, for your clever, humane, and heartwarming posts. They reflect well on college admissions officers everywhere, and are very encouraging to students like me! Institutions seem cruel, heartless, and decisive, but they are run by human beings, and thank you for bringing that across.

Posted by: Jason Wong on March 18, 2006

=) Thanks for being thoughtful to the end.

Posted by: Christine on March 18, 2006

Thank you very much :")

Posted by: Rodrigo on March 18, 2006

There's that familiar combination of fear and hope... part of you wants to get your hopes up because that's what hopes are for, right? And yet another part tells you the higher you raise them the harder they'll crash if they fall. It's the part of me that says "the glass is half full," right before the other part chimes in with, "but it's a shotglass, and there are eight of you, and you're in the desert." While I await your decision, I'm struggling with my own. The war I fight now is with myself, with all of thirteen hours until we know whether I made the right decision. My hopes are up, and that's dangerous, but it empowers me. I'm sure others have taken a different road, and I hope that works well for them regardless of their decision. I know I've prepared myself whatever comes, but I just can't help that tiny bit of myself that escapes the cage of hopeful realism I've built.

I would venture to say that most everyone who applies has the same dream. Through your occupation, it becomes your dream. What becomes of our dreams? I don't know. Some fade when you wake.

But some... some you sieze, and make real.

Here's to our dreams... some shattered, some fulfilled... let's not forget we have more than one, and if this one crumbles, others will come to pass.

It's been a pleasure dreaming with you, Ben, Nancester, Marilee, regardless of how my dream ends.

Posted by: Timur Sahin on March 18, 2006

Ben, you are the best admissions officer I ever meet before. I will not regret tomorrow if MIT rejects me. Your entry tells everything.

Posted by: Alice on March 18, 2006

Thank you.

Posted by: jgao on March 18, 2006

"My hopes are up, and that's dangerous, but it empowers me."

Well put, Timur. :] it does feel like we're ending part of a journey and starting another...

Posted by: Phil on March 18, 2006

Heartfelt post.God Bless You.

Posted by: Dapo on March 18, 2006

Arr ye be makin' landlubbers proud Ben. Ye'll a'ways be a saltydog in meh book. smile

Posted by: thatolchestnut on March 18, 2006

Sounds very fair and sad, however it is false. You knew before the entire process started that some limited % would be accepted. It could have been as little as 10% or as high as 17% - but based on past years and the volume of applications, you knew when you assembled your folders that over 80% were going to be rejected.

It is a part of the reality of your job, saying how sad you are and how unfair it is that only 13% were admitted and how it pained you when it was always going to be that way and you knew that and know that.

Frankly, if you want sympathy or a friend, do what Harry Truman said if you want a friend in Washington "get a dog".

Seeking sympathy because you are part of a process that mandates that over 80% of the 'qualified' applicants will be disappointed is bogus and you should look in the mirror and recognize that those few that you say "really got to you" - well they did not get in because you and the committee rated others ahead of them.

You placed them below 13% of your stack, you let them become 'rejected'. Saying you felt their pain while you were judging them to be less than the 13% that were admitted is just so much hogwash and weepy-willy BS.

Look in the mirror and admit it to yourself, your job requires you to reject many 'qualified' persons. You did this year, past years and you will do it next year if you stay in this job.

I do not have any children or friends in this applicant pool that MIT is/has reviewed. I just have little patience or sympathy for your false agony and self pity.

Posted by: joe on March 18, 2006

Joe, look at it this way. Applicants pay the $65 and apply to MIT knowing full well the odds.

Posted by: Anthony on March 18, 2006

your words make me feel unworthy yet graceful...

Posted by: martin on March 18, 2006

Joe, did you even read the entry?

Sure I know the odds at the beginning of each year. How does that change anything? Am I supposed to just decide not to care because I know most of my favorite kids aren't going to make it past committee?

And where do I ask for sympathy?

I think I just talk about my experience in doing my job. You, however, don't talk about much of anything beyond your own unfounded bile. Say something constructive or be gone, troll.

Posted by: Ben on March 18, 2006

So if the last post...of you and Nance smiling with envelopes in your teeth...made me can only imagine the tears right now!

Thank you so much for your intense dedication.

Posted by: Christina on March 18, 2006

Nowhere does Ben ask for or seek "sympathy or a friend" in his post. He is describing his feelings, and how his own humanity entwines with the job he knows he has to do, and does with compassion. Sometimes writing about a process that affects us personally, in an honest and self-examining way, is a means to living an even better life. Ben, most of your readers here understand that, and thank you for your comments.

Your criticism is far off the mark and isn't likely to win any friends or influence any people here, joe. I hope your life is filled with happiness, and not the bitterness you seem to show here.

Posted by: leftcoast mom on March 18, 2006

Quite interesting, because I read that post on CC right after it was posted.

I kinda glossed over it, thinking *well, someone's not in the mood today*

Thank you for your heartfelt reply and for clarifying your job.

Posted by: dan jang on March 18, 2006

Dear Joe,

It might be important to consider this:

Ben has a soul! You don't!

Posted by: Christina on March 18, 2006

Thank you

Posted by: Andrew on March 18, 2006

ehhh be easy on joe, he's probably just insanely stressed or something of the sort.

Mr. Ben

- I really cried after I read that.

Posted by: anon king on March 18, 2006

Anon king is right. I'm sorry, Joe. Stress does weird things to people.

Goodnight and good luck, everyone.

Posted by: Christina on March 18, 2006

Joe: I'm going to ignore your bitterness for a minute here and just say this: your comments don't make any sense!

Of course MIT will need to reject a large number of the applicants. That is a sad fact. Do you suggest that they accept them all? How is that remotely feasible? You criticize Ben for "judging" people, but the class won't select itself. Again, if you know of a way to let every single student in the world attend the college of his/her dreams, please share it!

You criticze "the system," you criticize admissions officers for selecting a class, you come within half a breath of criticizing them for ADMITTING students!

What exactly would you like them to do?! I have a solution- we should just admit no one at all. That would be fair. We'll just get rid of college altogether. That would solve this whole problem rather nicely, don't you think?

I'd be happy to listen to any alternate solutions you might have.

Posted by: Laura on March 18, 2006

Thank you for that entry. No matter what the outcome tomorrow, I will be pleased that my application even got attention from someone like you.

You've really helped relieve the stress in this process.


Posted by: Olga on March 18, 2006

Way to go Olga.. that's the attitude we need to keep, I know how it feels to get rejected from colleges, and I know it really sucks.. but honestly, you gotta keep the faith no matter what.. smile

Posted by: Laila on March 18, 2006

Thank you a lot for all those feelings and those tears that you give to us, so wonder ful. Thank you.

Posted by: C Minh on March 18, 2006

Yep. You can tell that all that came straight from the heart.

To put it nicely... Shut up Joe! You weren't making any sense at all.

"Say something constructive or be gone, troll.". Nice retort, Ben!

Good luck to all again. This post really made me feel that rejection is completely ok, and not shameful at all. Thanks, Ben.


Posted by: The original Sid on March 18, 2006

Wow... thank you for sharing this with us. The guy in that entry you mentioned does sort of have a point that after a while of hearing it, it just starts to lose its sense, you feel like admissions officers don't really mean what they're saying.

Then I read your entry... and the whole applying to the MIT thing (even taking the odds into acount) made sense, because you guys really try to match the passion that all (or at least, I'd hope, most) of us put into our applications.

Once again, wow, and thank you for treating us all the same way without looking at the odds and knowing that most of us won't be admitted anyway. That sort of attitude would actually make the process unfair.

Thank you for your passion and for taking this as more as a mere job.

Posted by: Arturo on March 18, 2006

Ben, with practically everyone asking about college news and the pressure of people knowing this coming decision, I truly appreciate your honesty and kind-heartedness. Thank you for everything.

Posted by: Rajeev on March 18, 2006

Hi Ben,

I must thank you for writing this blog, as it clearly shows the consideration, seriousness and the level of personal feelings that are inserted.

However, my question to you is: Sir, why do you need to justify or defend anything? I thing the job you have is perhaps one of the most difficult jobs that anyone can have in the world. If others can't understand the level of difficulty, responsibility it contains, those individuals are better off to go away as they don't deserve to be part of this whole process.

I really admire your comments and how personal you make them. Hats of to you sir. Regardless of my admittance, I will always have a memory of applying to MIT. smile (GOODLUCK TO ALL APPLICANTS smile )

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

@ Joe: I'm very frustrated by your inflammatory comments. Sure, Ben and other admission officers at MIT have a 'mandate', if you will, to reject 87% of qualified applicants every year, for so many apply for a limited number of places; and yes, it's harsh for us applicants, and it's also harsh for them. But your qualifying their jobs with a cynical attitude and their feelings as hypocritical really makes me hope that you should never be(come) an admission officer. I imagine you'd treat our applications, to which we put much thoughts and energy, as another stack of paper which you have to mechanically sift through.

Finally, I'm curious why you're reading this blog after all, if your children are not going through MIT's application process. However, if they do apply to college, you should sincerely hope that there will be admission officers at those schools who are willing to devote as much feelings and empathy to individual applications as MIT's.

Posted by: Minh on March 18, 2006

13%? Oh snap.

Posted by: JT on March 18, 2006

Arguments over an admissions officer's blog. Serious business.

Posted by: Anon on March 18, 2006

Well said, Minh. Think you echoed my sentiments.

You're right... what's Joe doing in this blog anyway.

Joe's under a lot of fire now, isn't he? He deserves to be, with no disrespect intended.


Posted by: The original Sid on March 18, 2006

7 hrs 15 min...

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

Ben, I've never said "thank you". And... your post sounded as a farewell and... I just wanted to say thank you for being with during the past months. I wanted to say "thank you" for answering our questions, for making us not so worried and trynig to find out something interesting and new, so that we stop just for a while thinking about the addmission. Just..Thank you

Posted by: Nina on March 18, 2006

It's so moving.

Thank you.

Thank you very much, Ben.

Just try to cheer up and the new students are coming. You're proud of them, aren't you?

Posted by: Si Shen on March 18, 2006

I have never commented on Ben's blog, but I have been religiously reading up on these to ease my stress.

I just came across a piece of news that broke my heart.

Right now, a child is dying

A taxi ran over a 13 year old girl and her 7 year old sister. The sister died on the spot. The 13 year old is currently in surgery for the upteenth time, trying her damnest to survive.

Surgery after surgery later, she wakes up...only to find that her already impoverished parents sold everything worth anything to cover the medical fee. The surgery has already cost them 170 K Yuan and will probably cost another 200 K.

She knows it is better to die, thus leaving a will. Let me translate it.

Dearest Mommy and Daddy, I woke up today to your crumbled and defeated faces, despairing over the lost of our dear sister. I can barely swallow my tears, wondering when I will ever have the chance to make you smile again.

My biggest wish is to bring my sister to the bookstore everyday, but she went before me. I am not faring much better; I have long lost hope.

Dear mom, dear dad, we have no more money. Please don't worry about me anymore. Let me go! Please don't cry, sister went alone, and I am sure she will be terribly bored up in Heaven. I promise to take care of her.

After I died, please grant me two wishes. I would like to be buried next to my sister and would like to die in that lovely dress Mommy and I saw the other know, the yellow one with the beautiful feathers.....

Your daugther, 2006 March 5th


You may wonder why the son of a gun (cabbie)didn't pay. Oh he did. A merger 60 K yuan before he disappeared amongst the chaos.

Here I am fretting over a piece of decision, knowing full well that if i didn't get in, I'll still survive, while on the other side of the world, we'll never know when the child will perish.

I've never been so ashamed of myself.

So when I am rejected, I'll have my miserable moment, but I assure you that I will be back on track within 30 mins, tackling that Calc problem.

And whatever happens, I'll thank god that I am at least luckier than that poor little girl...

Posted by: Joanna Lin (don't count on seeing me at MIT) on March 18, 2006

God Bless you Ben! You probably won't have enough room for all the blessings and thanks coming your way. Thanks for this post at the beginning of the end-or the end of the beginning...whichever way it comes out to be. You made me feel like a million dollars...I can keep my head high...whatever the decision. So can all of us. Thank You!

Posted by: Mushal on March 18, 2006

Ben, I can only say thank you for all you've done. It has truly been a great year for me applying to MIT, and I can't thank you enough for these heartlfelt comments!

Good Luck to all applicants!!

6 Hours, 12 Minutes!!

Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar

Posted by: Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar on March 18, 2006

Ben, I believe you meant what you said. And the overwhelming positive responses support that.

Don't let what a few frustrated souls say deter you from continuing your good deed.

What you did is being compassionate and is certainly commendable.


Posted by: Say-Chong Lee on March 18, 2006

Its been an experience applying, Ben, and whether I get in or not, I shall always remember MIT as the only university that has such a personalised, caring and thorough evaluation process.

COmpetitive and difficult to get in as it may be (especially for int'ls) I rest assured in the knowlegde that there are people on the other side of the process who take the utmost care in their jobs in order to choose the best applicants there are.

Sure, I'll be upset if I don't get in, but hey, thats life and I know that I need to work with whatever I've still got in life in order to succeed.

Good luck to all.

6 hours 1 minute

Posted by: Mahul Patel on March 18, 2006

Thank you, Ben, for everything!

Good luck to all applicants!

Posted by: Adrian Burciu on March 18, 2006

Thank you Ben for doing such a wonderful job for us! smile

Posted by: Amit on March 18, 2006

Hi Ben,

I want to say thank you from the core of my heart.

What you wrote was really comforting during these anxious moments.

You have said that you make our dreams, yours.

What more can be expected from an admission officer ?

There are very few people in this world who strive to make others dreams come true. I think I am lucky that I applied to MIT, whether I am accepted or not. Otherwise I won't have got a chance to know that there are such people at MIT.

I would surely love to meet you all.

Applying to MIT has really been an adventure to me and I have learnt some lessons too.

Now I know that its worth pouring out my mind in my application. Because you understand.

No matter whether I am accepted or not, I would always love and respect MIT.

Thank you so much.

Posted by: Rupa on March 18, 2006

To Joanna Lin:

There are many sad and unfair things in this world. There are hundreds of children starving and dying. There are hundreds of young people, just at our age, who can't even stand on their feet because they are too exausted from the diseases and the starvation. There are many others which are now gone and deserve to live. But all I believe in is that God does his work well. And as it is said in my country : "God takes his angels first". And sometimes I am ashamed of being so selfish. And whenever I am sad or worried, I try to find something little and beautiful to smile on. There was a book : "Polyanna". And I'm not going to tell you what it is about because it is too good to be retold in few words. Just read it and I'm sure you'll find something very special in it.

Posted by: Nina on March 18, 2006

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. You guys are amazing and I feel extremely lucky and grateful that you put your hearts into the process and that you truly care about your applicants. Whatever the decision is for me, I'll remember you and your support and dedication. Thank you for everything!

Posted by: Marie-Odile Fortier on March 18, 2006

The sympathy overflowing this blog is just overwhelming, and I would like to add to it. Sympathy for those who will not admitted (which will, most probably, include me). Sympathy for those at the brunt end of the admissions system. Sympathy for the sympathetic.

Thank you, Ben, for being there when we needed you the most. You remind me of the Rembrandts song:

"I'll be there for you, when the rain starts to fall.

I'll be there for you, like I've been there before.

I'll be there for you, because you're there for me too. Ooo."


Posted by: Jean Atkin on March 18, 2006

Thank you very much for your comforting words!

I only hope that all university admissions tutors are as devoted and motivated as you.

Just under 6 hours left! Getting accepted by MIT will definitely mean a lot to me. Otherwise I will take the whole application process (spending some time reflecting back to these past years, traveling to Madrid for the interview, conveying my enthusiasms and dreams on paper, etc.) as a positive experience, because there was nothing to loose by having a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. But still, fingers crossed!

Posted by: Bij-Na on March 18, 2006

The sentiment is best described in tears. I can't believe I'm crying even before the decision's out. ;__;

Posted by: fugue on March 18, 2006

4 hours left !!!!

Posted by: Gunda on March 18, 2006

Do you remember mine ever being in that group that got debated?

cuz i know that I won't get in, but I wonder if I got dropped in the first cut >_>

Posted by: Fahmil on March 18, 2006

Doesn't the first cut remove those who have bad grades, transcripts, scores, etc? The second cuts are where actual readers read the whole application, and take their best 100 or so, and then its the 13% thing with the debate?

Hopefully I made it through all of these, but I doubt I even made it through the first stage with my SAT I score though my grades in the UK are top.

3 hours and 36 minutes until D-time.

Posted by: Mahul Patel on March 18, 2006

You, sir, are a good man. Thank you for all the effort you've put in during the past months in hopes of admitting the best class to date.

Although there are less than 4 hours left until decisions arrive online, I think I've finally come to terms with any of the possibile things which might happen (admit, deny, waitlist). Regardless, please know that the rest of us who didn't write posts like the one on CC, although the thoughts cross our mind, can't help but think highly of you after a blog entry like this.

Thank you, Mr. Jones.

Posted by: David Kratz on March 18, 2006

thaks for everything...

Posted by: nurlan on March 18, 2006

Ben, Thank you so much for everything you have done so far for us. I really apreciate it!

Posted by: Juan Jhong Chung on March 18, 2006

Wow, that was a really good post, thanks

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

Thank you Ben for this entry. This is exactly the reason MIT is for me. Everyone is extremely passionate about their work. The compassion you showed through this entry is amazing. I've meet many college reps some who just rattle off statistics and tell you what your chances are of getting into a certain school. They don't tell you the work they put into making these crucial decision and how it impacts the admission them.Just to see that you actually care about every applicant dedication is tremendously satisfying.

Posted by: AR on March 18, 2006

I really feel sympathy to you. Even if I'm not admitted, I will still feel good as my application have been treated so thoroughly

Posted by: tam on March 18, 2006

Okay everyone, I know it's cliched but "THIS IS IT"...The past admissions year I've spent with everyone on these blogs...all the fellow applicants has truly been AMAZING for me!!! I mean it!! All of you are such inspiring people, have such inspiring personalities and are overall a motivation for me to excel in life!

To the admissions staff, I would really like to give you a heartfelt thank you...Nobody has made me LOVE MIT other than you guys. Really, truly, the finest admissions team in the entire world. The admissions process can now be remembered by MIT applicants as not just some wall you talk to without getting replies. The admissions officers are friendly people who are the best of the best at what they do. Matt, Ben, Nance, everyone else...Thank you...really thank you!!!!

To all the fellow applicants...also a BIG thank you...for making this year special to us all smile Whether we are accepted or not, I know that we will all go on with our lives (eventually :/ )...Please remember what an amazing group of applicants you were competing against when you get your decisions. 13% Admissions rate for domestic students...4% for internationals...Ridiculously please don't think you are useless or stupid or anything like that...You were JUST as good as those who got in...but their was a certain little thing that gave them that extra push, and at another university they might look at it the other way and you'd get the "push"...

We are all lucky to even have the grades and academic capability to allow us to apply to MIT...It's been an experience I will cherish and never forget...

Now I was the one who started the first countdown to admissions I will stay here until it is 1 Minute to 8 pm (12 EST)...Then I will go pray for the best and I might or might not return to these blogs...but thank you everyone for everything you've done...It's been great!!!! Really!!!

And with only 1 Hour 16 Minutes to go I think I'm a nervous wreck!!!

Yours truly from Kuwait,

Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar

PS: Sorry for the long post :/

Posted by: Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar on March 18, 2006

Since a long time i have fanatically read multiple entries by admission officers and wondered what their job is..... how they do stuff and what they do.. having read many entries before , i was yet to find one as touching as this.. I havent applied to MIT.. but that's for some other weird reasons.. I would always not look on to MIT stuff until i found it really interesting coz i felt after all it wont do me any gud.. among the few i read was this entry .. and i couldn't help being awed by the sheer honesty and heartfelt words that went deep to it..

I know plenty are rejected and this rejected list wont be consoled by any simple article or letter.. but i know that well maybe there were some 13% of them who were equally gud and maybe provided greater match for MIT...Its a part of the big game of life to always have majority rejected and minority accepted or to generalize. fail at majority to succeed once.. knowing this fully well i never expect the process to change at MIT too...

Well more than the sheer no. of apps rejected i see those 13% accepted and cant help wonder how gud they are.. well the one thing i have always loved about MIT admissions is they just dont care about big numbers on any single test ( this has been proved time and again).. I really laugh off at some colleges when they say admissions are not all numbers and then during decisions go on to follow the contrary...

Well I loved this article for this provided to us THE TRUTH.. however harsh or bad it maybe ...

Thank You Ben . .. i never applied to MIT but applied to many others .. but would have loved to get my application reviewed by the committee ( i know no other coll that has 11 reading for 1 applicant) .. coz i feel subjectivity gets long way beyond stats..


Posted by: ankur aka SM(cc) on March 18, 2006


I have so enjoyed reading this blog from time to time as my son went through this whole 'admissions process' Your most recent post reminded me of Marilee's post after the EA mailing snafu while she was recovering from bronchitis. I got weepy over that one too! It's obvious you are all caring and dedicated people. If you weren't, this blog would probably not exist. I'm glad it does though, because it gives MIT a human face. Honestly, I wasn't sure I wanted my son to attend MIT. I thought is was a huge, cold 'institute',where he would possibly feel lost. But that's not MIT at all. I think it would be wonderful if he was chosen (and if he chooses MIT!!)

I've also gotten to 'know' some of the bloggers. Like April (deferred) and Christina, Mahul and leftcoastmom!! April...I REALLY hope you get admitted!! I've been rooting for you since EA!

Anyways...this whole process will be over soon, and I probably won't be visiting this site anymore (compulsively!) My wish for all of you is to find your place in this world and fill it with happiness.(You can do that anywhere fate may land you.) Thanks for making me laugh and cry.

Mike's Mom

Posted by: Mike's Mom on March 18, 2006

Hey! There are exactly 16 minutes and 2 hours left until my best friend finds out if she got into MIT or not- and so she showed me this, while we're passing time till 10 o clock. She's eating popcorn and sulking.. But I just wanted to say that you're really really sweet smile Anna keeps saying "Maannn I'm not going to get in" and I kept saying "Who cares about MIT - they're so stupid anyway" but this post really changed my mind. It's nice to see that you feel even a little bit of what we do (But imagine poor Anna!) The fact that you added a humanizing touch to the brutal process-- well, that's just amazing.

Posted by: Shehrbano on March 18, 2006

*2 Hours not 1

Posted by: Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar on March 18, 2006

Ben, You have been more than fair in responding twice to joe's insensitive blog entries. His ramblings are nothing more than an attempt to gage the feelings of everyone on this subject. The more comments he gets about his posting, the more he will gloat over it. So let this be the last posting that addresses the insesitive remarks from joe. Ben, you have clearly done your job in the best and most fair way possible. period. end of discussion.

Posted by: fairAndBalanced on March 18, 2006

13%? hey that's better than then 12% for Early Action! whohooooo!

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

"Obsession with video games"? That must be me! Oh shi-!

Posted by: dyzzy on March 18, 2006

Thank you so much Ben!

It was really nice of you to tell us about your experience..Thanks for all the support and the hard work...

Well, I guess I will have to wait another couple of hrs for my decision..


Posted by: Akhil on March 18, 2006

Is anyone bothered that an admission to MIT depends, in part, on how well one can write essays that tug at the heartstrings of administrators?

Posted by: Frank on March 18, 2006

LooL Frank, it is sometimes that way...but at MIT you have around 12 people looking at your application at different it's very difficult to write something that "tugs" at ALL of their hearts...I don't really think any of my essays tugged anything =D I just wrote what I thought suitable as a reply, and there are infinitely many interpretations smile As long as you did your best, Frank, you can leave saying you did so, which at least gives you the pride of knowing you did your best and there was nothing more you could do...the competition is what it is and we have to deal with it some way of the other smile Hope that cleared up a few things smile

1 Hours 46 Minutes...

Good Luck...No, really, GOOD LUCK!!

Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar

Posted by: Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar on March 18, 2006

Hey guys... I was doing some calculating to pass the time. (Nerd alert)

So I came up with this:

8346 domestic applicants for consideration

841 spots (assuming international gets 10% and early applicants got 30%)

which leaves 7505 in the "screwed" category. and now I realize that if I'm rejected, I'm probably in good company.

Posted by: anon king on March 18, 2006

Thanks for allowing us to see part of your life through what has got to be the most well-written MIT blog entry of the year. I had to take a deep breath as I read it. In my heart I sensed that in no way could my app have risen to the top of your admiration. I am left with the hope that I was at least among those apps that you were forced to reluctantly put back in the non-admit pile.

Good luck Masha, Nina, Chris, chris and every one else. This is Chris H signing off.

Posted by: Chris Harris on March 18, 2006

LooL...actually just a little less in the "screwed" category, because internationals will never get 10%...they only accept around 100-110 of us out of the 2500 internationals that apply...that's a 4% acceptance rate for just internationals...while u lucky domestics get 13% =) Figuratively speaking, though, because you have to compete with much more people than we do :D

So 1 hour and 26 Minutes I'm probably gonna be "screwed" smile

Good Luck...we need it!

Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar

Posted by: Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar on March 18, 2006

I think your comments were a bit out of line, just because someone HAS to do something doesn't mean they enjoy it. Ben is just trying to share with us how hard it is rejecting people like us hahahahha ... and I doubt its for sympathy, its probably to make the applicants feel better! why would an adcom want sympathy from a bunch of high-schoolers?

Posted by: salik on March 18, 2006

and i love this usage of adcomms on every place which shows the typical CC lingo.. not at all officially recognised..

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

ar... in 55 min

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

Have any int'ls heard anything from DHL?

Posted by: Mahul Patel on March 18, 2006

I expect there are a lot of other kids who will want something to do with their nervous energy for the next 45 minutes. I suggest people meet up in an AIM chat room. Join "Crunch Time", or paste the following into your browser:


Good luck all, and terrific post.

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

Hey Mahul Patel...Nope nothing from DHL here...but I wasn't even expecting'll take at LEAST 3 days to get to Kuwait (Middle East region) and sometimes up to 5..and the problem is sometimes the DHL sorting center isn't better to check online and hope for the best....

Oh well, there's only 41 Minutes Left =/

Good Luck to all!!

Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar

Posted by: Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar on March 18, 2006

Thanks Abdulaziz. I'm in the UK, and guess what, I'm not expecting anything either. But you're right, lets just hope for the best. Its 16.21 here in the UK. at 17.00 GMT, decisions are fingers are crossed.

Posted by: Mahul Patel on March 18, 2006


Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

Beautifully written. *applause*

Posted by: Colin on March 18, 2006

About 30 mins left........

Good luck and have the power to accept the truth!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Rupa on March 18, 2006

That was absolutley amazing. You make this process worthwhile.

Posted by: --- on March 18, 2006

Okay so what I'm going to do is count off every 10 Minutes...and then when it gets to 10 I'll count off every minute...!!

28 Minutes left...that's LESS than half an hour!! :/

Good Luck to all!!!

Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar

Posted by: Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar on March 18, 2006


Posted by: fugue on March 18, 2006

20 minutes left...i wonder if i'll be able to type in my password at the time:)

Posted by: Mushal on March 18, 2006

lol...same here Mushal. I'm trembling all over. Part of me wants to do it, the other doesn't.

Good luck everyone.

Posted by: Mahul Patel on March 18, 2006


The post is awesome, we know what kind of agony you go through and we also appreciate the hard work you guys put in . keep up the good work.

Posted by: Aditya on March 18, 2006

So many people are waiting!

Posted by: Anthony on March 18, 2006

posted, check!

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006


Mahul Patel and Mushal...same here smile I'm kind of wondering how I'll be able to type the password !! ;P

Good Luck to all!!

Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar

Posted by: Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar on March 18, 2006


Posted by: Mahul Patel on March 18, 2006

12 minutes!!!!

Good luck everyone.

Thanks, Ben.

Posted by: Edward on March 18, 2006

Decisions are online !!!

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

awww....didn't get in:(

Posted by: Mushal on March 18, 2006

Thank you very much BEN. You brourght me some courage... Right now, I will look to my decisions.God bless us!

Posted by: Emin J. on March 18, 2006

decisions are here..rejected

Posted by: me on March 18, 2006

I was rejected.

Posted by: Mahul Patel on March 18, 2006

I was rejected, now I get to wait a few more weeks for Columbia.

Posted by: Xander on March 18, 2006


Posted by: jc on March 18, 2006

rejected...ahh well i did the best i could..

Posted by: Shikhar on March 18, 2006

I didn't get in. I was hoping I would. But it really doesn't feel all that bad.

Posted by: Sam on March 18, 2006

Even though you know it isn't that bad, and even after hearing ben's great comforting message,...I still feel pretty bad. Just hoping, now, that i'll get in somewhere....huff

Posted by: jc on March 18, 2006

its a no for me.

Posted by: --- on March 18, 2006

i got in! im so thankful...

Ben, im sending u an email! :]

Posted by: Phil on March 18, 2006

Phil, are you a domestic or an international applicant?

Posted by: dave on March 18, 2006

Congrats Phil!

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

What about Albahar?

Posted by: Anthony on March 18, 2006


Posted by: Mushal on March 18, 2006

I got in! Now it's going to be a tough choice - I am early admit to Harvard wink Considering I am an international applicant, I feel really lucky! Ben, I have to say that you make the MIT application process truly transparent and exciting at the same time! Your blob rocks and I will miss itТƒґ Good luck to all those who applied. Guys, I know youТƒфve heard this before, but you all will end up doing something extremely cool.

Posted by: simon on March 18, 2006

blob=blog (I'm just way to excited wink

Posted by: Simon on March 18, 2006

to=too smile

Posted by: Simon on March 18, 2006

Anyone got waitlisted?

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

freakin flat-out rejected. thanks for caring, ben, but you can't make me feel any better. bye.

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

I got waitlisted. Hoo. I'm really twisted up inside right now. :( I really just wanna know ... and I know the waitlist is an unlikely string of hope to hang on to ... considering the amount of waitlisted students that end up at enrollment.

Posted by: Sandy Tran on March 18, 2006

Rejected. :(

Thanks for all the time and effort you put in to the admission process guys...


Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

Wow, Ben. My son didn't apply to MIT, but my gut is telling me that he's going to get a thin envelope from his dream school. I only hope someone on their admissions team appreciated him for the wonderful person he is.

Posted by: JustAMom on March 18, 2006

So, after essentially 6 months of waiting, I got rejected.

Thanks again for that entry, Ben. It really helps with swallowing the bitter pill of rejection.

Posted by: Dave Kratz on March 18, 2006

How is the waitlist decided?

Posted by: Sandy Tran on March 18, 2006

Can we review our teacher evaluations? I really want to know what they wrote about me... (i checked on my application that i wanted to read them - when can i do that?)

Posted by: Phuc on March 18, 2006

Congrats to everyone who got in...and good luck for every one like me who didn't. We'll all find our destinies...outside MIT:). Best of luck to all of you!

Posted by: Mushal on March 18, 2006

Didn't get accepted either (that sounds much better than the word 'rejected').

Funnily enough, there doesn't seem to be any hurt. Ben's message softened the blow, I guess. I know I did my best. I know I shined somewhere in the admissions committee's hearts. I know that there must've been something lacking.

In the words of my dad, 'at least I tried'.

In my own words, 'I'm in good company'.

Best of Luck, guys and gals (who were denied), and Congratulations, guys and gals (who were not).

I'm sure, through the posts I've read here, we'll ALL do well. Time heals all wounds...


(Listening to Josh Groban comforting me by raising me up).

Posted by: Jean Atkin on March 18, 2006

Call the "waitlist" something else. Call it for what it is. It really does not define a realistic group from which MIT will pull to fill its classes. The list is way too large for that purpose (the waitlist was even cancelled last year). MIT's waitlist is merely a way for it to recognize candidates who passed the initial smell tests - - which is good. This is not news, I suppose. However, the use of the term "waitlist" deviates from the straight-forward approach that your MIT candidates truly deserve. Cogitate and come up with a more honest term.

Posted by: do you read this stuff, really? on March 18, 2006

I am crushed: I am valedictorian, a part-time teacher, passionate(and recognized) dancer, figure skater, artist, and musician; I am a personality! I want to shout, "Sir, I exist!" to no one in particular, but to everyone.

Rejection was a blow to the stomach that I was still lacking something that wouldn't put me in the top ~27% of female acceptances, though it makes me wonder how competitive those admitted must be.

= = = =

A Dream Deferred

-Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore--

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over--

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

= = = =

ТƒъA man said to the universe: "Sir, I exist!" "However," replied the universe, "The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation.Тƒщ --Stephen Crane

Posted by: Jenny on March 18, 2006

I... I'm in.

I wish I had something more significant to say. The shock is still wearing off.

I'll be back in a bit with some words of wisdom. smile

Posted by: Timur Sahin on March 18, 2006

Online decisions are now available at The MyMIT site ( will not be accepting logins during peak decision notification times. You'll be able to log into your MyMIT account after 2:00PM (Eastern Standard Time).

Is it not already 2:00 PM? tongue laugh

Posted by: Mr. Ken on March 18, 2006

I'm out...i promised myself i wouldn't cry..and then i read this post...ben, you guys are amazing..thanks for everything

Posted by: April (out) on March 18, 2006

Dear Ben,

I really hope you read all these comments. After you rest, I mean. Hope you're getting some well-deserved sleep. smile

I was rejected, but for some [fortunate] reason, it doesn't hurt at all. Not even a little bit! I mean, obviously it would have been nice to get in, but it doesn't hurt the depths of my soul to be rejected or anything.

A lot of it has to do with genuinely not thinking I would get in anyway. Not the self-pitying-not-wanting-to-get-my-hopes-up kind of feeling, but honestly, I know there are applicants who really deserved to go to MIT over me. And I have no doubt in my mind that the freshman class you all picked is outstanding.

Thanks for starting the blog thing. It's really beneficial for the applicant, as you can probably tell. It's a huge relief to know that the people reviewing our applications aren't mindless drones and will be evaluating them from a holistic perspective.

MIT is an amazing school, and it will always have a fond place in my heart. I hope this comment serves to show you that although you will hear many statements like "My heart/dreams/hopes is/are broken/shattered/etc." on Collegeconfidential or here, most applicants who were rejected are not utterly lost and melodramatic. You have made a positive impression on many people's outlooks on the college application process. I still have to wait on ten more schools, but rest assured, I know I will be happy at any of them.

So far, the best prospect looks like UCLA. Go Bruins!


Priyanka, the dancer from the OC

Posted by: Priyanka on March 18, 2006

Thank you for reading about my dreams, goals and aspirations. I believed we all appreciate the dedication of you and other admission staffs.

Thank you, Ben and thank you MIT.

Posted by: william yee on March 18, 2006

As the poster of that statement, I give you thanks for replying. I understand that selecting the class is a very difficult task at a school as prestigious as MIT. I just saw inherent insincerity in sending the same rejection letter to the 87% of people who didn't get in. I do hope you mean what you say.

I was just bitter when I said that.

Posted by: Johnny182 on March 18, 2006

I am surprised I got rejected.

Posted by: Yizheng on March 18, 2006

I got rejected... I wish I had never applied

Posted by: Rodrigo on March 18, 2006

Dear Ben,

Even though I am a humanities/social sciences girl and did not apply to MIT, I have to take a moment to thank you for your very human, sincere messages on this blog. I can only hope that admissions officers at other schools (especially the one up Mass Ave) are as human and caring as those at MIT. Even if I get rejected from my dream schools, I'll remember YOUR words and have faith that I was as appreciated by the schools I applied to as you appreciated MIT applicants. Thanks for the comforting words! Now go and take that well-deserved rest!

Posted by: YUB on March 18, 2006

rejected -- but I wanted to say thank you for keeping up with the blogs. I'm not saying I'm not upset, but I know this would hurt a lot more if I wasn't aware of the sincerity you guys (ben, etc.) put into the admissions process.

Posted by: Rebecca on March 18, 2006

Great entry, Ben!

I read it before seeing my decision and was really moved by it. It really feels very good to know that you care so much about us.

Posted by: Sarang on March 18, 2006

Wow. I can't believe I read that. Another person in the world actually cared about all of the tragedies in my life (abusive family, having to homeschool myself, being homeless), all of the academic accomplishments I made (state winner on the AMC12 twice, top score on the GED, etc.), and yet, they found another way to tell me how worthless I truly am by rejecting me. Thanks. Your post really makes me reconsider my position of giving higher education to the birds when many of the people I associate with that have gotten accepted to MIT have much lower scores, much less "life tragedy", and in general, were just applying for the prestige of an MIT education. Thanks a lot. I am not pursuing higher education anymore as a result of all of this agony. I have decided that getting a real job or just living up to the fact that the world laughs in my face is much better than being lied to.

Thanks for your brilliant letter of concern.

Posted by: Arejectedloser on March 18, 2006

"sending the same rejection letter to the 87% of people who didn't get in"

i feel the same way. to send the same exact letter to thousands of rejects (or admits!) kinda makes it less personal, even if it is more logical to do it that way.

but i'm being biased because i'm bitter too. i'm a girl from a small town, and everyone here was counting on me getting in. i really don't want to tell everyone (or anyone) that mit doesn't want me...

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006


april, that is not a nice thing to say to someone who deeply cares so much about the admissions process and about each one of us individually!!

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

I just got in. Thanks Ben and all of you MIT admission officers and well wishers!

Posted by: Mugisha on March 18, 2006

BEN, I thinkthere can be no one better than u at this job. I feel how kind and open you are and your message has moved me. You are simply amazing! (Personally I feel if I was an admissions officer I would even cross all limits to admit someone like you to MIT) MIT has the honoour of having someone like you. Even if I had not gotten selected, this would still enlighten my mind and rejuvinate my soul.

THREE CHEERS 4 BEN!!! hip hip....




Posted by: Prannay on March 18, 2006

My acceptance had already made me energetic and i have lost my sleep (Its 3:40 in the morning here). BEN, your emotions have made me more philosophical and I don't think I will sleep today, I feel like writting down all I feel now, write a book 100-200 pages, watch the star studded sky, feel the wind, u know Wordsworth like stuff. I have never felt this good my whole life! aas every moment pases i discover more of my self. This is, I belive a landmark in all speres of my life. Thank you BEN. Congrats to all selected!

Posted by: Prannay on March 18, 2006

i feel like the lowest scum on earth :(

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

I have just come back to my senses and realized that i had other people from my country also applying.

BEN, can we get to know who all have been accepted locally, or is it against policies. Actually I would like to interact with them, get to em and know em better. Thanks in anticipation.

Posted by: Prannay on March 18, 2006

Hey, I got rejected too, as I mentioned above. It seems sad that the journey has come to an end for about 87% of us. I wasn't that sad when my rejection came through...well I was a bit but I knew that the stakes were extremely low and therefore I was sort of prepared for it.

Ben and the admissions team, I think you have all done an excellent job this year. I appreciate how much you open up the admissions process to your applicants, and that, in itself, is great (unlike other tech schools...)

Despite the fact that I was rejected, I have no real hard feelings against any of you. You have to be selective and have to select the best people of the lot, so I'm not surprised I was knocked out

To that note, "Arejectedloser" doesn't echo the sentiments of us rejectees - sure, we're all disappointed we didnt get in but, hey, we realise that life goes on and we need to work hard to make that life a success. You win some and you lose just have to make well do with what you won, and what you already have.

Goodbye everyone,


Posted by: Mahul Patel on March 18, 2006

that seriously was really well put.

i would love to have that kind of job.

Posted by: Jason Scott on March 18, 2006

amen, mahul.

Posted by: anon on March 18, 2006

Thanks Ben. The post made me feel better. I know you guys have an impossible job since all the applicants have great grades and test scores. Even though I'm in the 87% who didn't get in, life moves on and I'll do well wherever I go. Thanks for making the process really smooth, and congrats to everyone who got in.

Posted by: Sean on March 18, 2006

Unfortunately for Ben and the other good people at MIT, there's also a

stream of e-mail from applicants with concerns about the decisions.

Here are a few examples of what they really don't need to receive:

"The Over-Analyzer," "The Angry Dude," and "The Sour Grapes."

1. The Over-Analyzer

To: [email protected]

Subject: the frog lab, right?

Was kinda surprised at the decision. My grades were right up there,

especially this year. I'm thinking it was my Bio 251. And specifically

frog anatomy. Davidson took off 20 points on the writeup when I didn't

bother with those graphs. (For that matter, I didn't do the tables

either. Heh!) That knocked me right down to a B-, and then I messed up

the last drawing, and took home a C+. I bet that's it.

Can you just own up to it? That the frog graphs did it?

2. The Angry Dude

To: [email protected]

Subject: E. Jones Squared this is not the end!

You have rejected me and you think that is that. It is not.

Yes, MIT is very powerful. You have the science. You have the

engineering. You have the hegemony. And then you say, "well, we do

not like this kid."

A day will come. You may not expect it, but did the Romans expect

August 24, 410? Yes, I am a Visigoth. You are thinking the Visigoths

are not out there. But we are out there. Indeed, we are out there.

One day we will sack MIT and E. Jones Squared will be called to

account for many crimes at the International Court of Justice. This is

my promise to you.

Mr. Squared, I shall see you in The Hague.

3. The Sour Grapes

To: [email protected]

Subject: cancel

I hereby cancel my application to MIT effective 11:59 AM March 18. My

friend told me you have a nuclear reactor and I cannot in good

conscience support that. I say that we should leave the atom alone,

for the memory of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and (last but not least) Bikini

Atoll. What the strong force holds together, let no man pull apart.

My friend also said the reactor is in the middle of the city right

across the street from a dorm.

R U RETARDED??????????????????????????????

Sorry, I'm going to a school that doesn't have a dorm next to a

nuclear reactor. Even if it's a dorm for graduate students. Because

they are people, too.

Posted by: Cecilia-Anne on March 18, 2006

Hello Ben,

Thank you for this heart-felt post. This kind of service makes me place MIT on top of my college list. Yup, you guys make everything more teenage-friendly and more humane. I mean, I don't know of any other colleges that offer blogs that through which students can read and find out more about the school. The blogs are real because the bloggers are real, the experiences are real. There's no empty slogans that advertise the school.

Also, when opening the blogs to public, I am pretty sure that you take the dissenters into considerations. I mean, when you type up this entry, you must know that there are people who disagree with you entirely, no matter what you say. Yet you still posted this entry. I applaud you for doing this, because it shows me that the admission officers are not just another type of beaurocrats who do things automatically without feelings.

Again, thank you for this entry. It helps with the confidence yet at the same time makes me feel humble and unworthy.

Posted by: l0ngL on March 18, 2006

A friend got rejected but died before getting the decision!

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2006

I was rejected, but that doesn't change what I think about the admissions team. That would be selfish. You're still the best damn ones out there, and I respect that.

Posted by: Steven Lu on March 18, 2006

Also note that the people saying "I feel terrible" or "my friend died" are just trying to guilt trip you. They are assholes.

Posted by: Steven Lu on March 18, 2006

ARejectedLoser: You think that by rejecting your application, MIT is trying to tell you that you're "worthless" and "the world laughs in [your] face?" Maybe you need to read Ben's entry one more time because you clearly didn't understand it. I hope you are not serious when you state that you've decided against attending any college solely because of this rejection.

Posted by: MIT Educational Counselor on March 18, 2006

Thank you, Ben.

Still... :-----
DATE: 03/18/2006 11:02:13 PM
I can't pretend I wasn't incredibly disappointed when I got my decision (which you can probably guess from the tone of this sentence). I am, in fact, still kind of disappointed, because I had really hoped to get in. It's an awesome school. My friend goes there (freshman now). And I really enjoyed when I visited.

With my love for MIT professed, I was thinking about my application, and while I'm pretty sure I had the "numbers," I became convinced that it was everything else that weren't enough to get me in. Maybe I wasn't really a fit? Maybe my extracurricular activities didn't really cut it? Maybe I said something wrong in my interview?

However, now that it's pretty much over for me at MIT (unless I'm somehow lucky enough to get in for grad school), all I hope for is this: I hope that an admissions officer read my application and enjoyed whatever he or she read. I hope that he or she appreciated what was there, and that he or she thought that I wasn't just another applicant with great numbers, but that I had real interests and ideas, all of which I was prepared to contribute at campus if I was ever admitted.

And with that said, I sincerely appreciate you gusy reviewing my application and giving it all due consideration. And whether or not you rooted for me in committee or thought that I probably shouldn't get in wink I'm grateful anyway.

My last thoughts: I hope - or rather, know - that the admitted class of 2010 will go on to do great things at MIT... and I hope that this decision isn't a complete indication of my fate at other schools. smile

Posted by: zoogies on March 18, 2006

Dear Ben,

I really appreciate all of the work you guys put into this. Putting myself in your shoes, I know how difficult it must have been for you. Nevertheless, it doesn't make the pain subside. I am afterall just a foolish 18 yr old (it didn't help the timing of this decision was two days after my b-day) who wears her heart on her sleeve and hopes that the universe is looking out for her. I think the thing that makes it the hardest is that I really really thought I deserved it, late night study groups and fretting about standardized testing seems all in vain. If anything, I've learned to resist my urge to be a workaholic and enjoy the journey more. So many things in life, I will get through this too.

It was fun hoping and dreaming about going to MIT, but now it is all over, and I just have to accept the fact that the contributions I will make to the world will be at some other lucky university. This has been a reflective day for me. Crying in my mom's lap brought me back to the feelings of disappointment I often had as a young child, talking to this guy I fell for who I met at MIT's website... the irony (he got in and I didn't) brought me back to the hopeless crushes I've had throughout junior high and high school, and finally tonight I've went for a walk to clear my head; while looking up at the sky I realized the multitudes of opportunties there are for me and how relaxing it can be just indulging in something you love. For me it is the stars. Yes, I will always have the stars. Hopefully my application was considered competitive if anything, and I hope that you at least got the opportunity to read my essays. The last line of one of them is fitting for this occasion, and I believe this optimistic philosphy on life will carry me through the next even more difficult weeks to come of receiving admissions decisions from other universities. "It not the never falling that allows me to succeed, it's that every time I do fall, I hang on for life." Pain, rejection, the story of my life, but God knows best, presumeably. The admissions process shall simply be chronicled in the top-ten list of emotionally difficult things I've had to overcome.

I don't mean to complain, I'm just speaking my heart, and it does help.

I bid you farewell,

good luck to all

Posted by: Dani on March 19, 2006

To Joanna Lin,

I hope that you are admitted. Your story of the two sisters is very poignant. Anyone with your depth of character and insight will be a terrific student and will add much to the student body.

Posted by: Judo on March 19, 2006


Your comments were both heartfelt and beautifully written. They went as far as any such comments can in mitigating the pain of rejection inherent to the condition of college applications. I've seen the process of applying to MIT from many angles; my application many decades ago, those of all my siblings and then of my children. But the part of me that resonates most powerfully now is that of my present role as educational counselor (EC). Though I only tangentially participate in the present MIT admissions process, your comments have made me very proud of being involved in the process. On behalf of your colleagues, on behalf of the applicants (certainly including those not offered admission), and on behalf of the parents who often feel the pain of rejection most acutely, Thank You.


Posted by: Alfredo on March 19, 2006

Yesterday I learned my son was rejected at MIT. His basic stats were SAT I M=800, V=790, SAT II M2=800, USHIST = 780, CHEM =740, score of 5 on all 7 AP tests (2 taken in his sophomore year), unweighted GPA = 4.0 (class valedictorian), took toughest academic program available (including 2 college-level math classes past AP Calc BC), top chess player with national recognition, excellent violinist with state-level recognition, etc. Ben, did the 13% of the applicant pool which was admitted truly dominate this record? Really? Try answering this with no spin, Ben; try really hard to be honest (without Bill Clinton-like "I feel your pain" rhetoric). What could possibly be the academic basis for this decision? Please avoid the "there are many factors we look at" bs line; please focus on the basics & fundamentals. With all due respect to the goals, concerns, & biases of the MIT Admissions Office, this decision made me emotionally vomit. He's already been accepted to a university that's higher ranked (in US News & World Report rankings), and most important, he's incredibly bright, hard-working, & creative, & expected to thrive wherever he ends up, and I'm delighted that he's dealt with this inifintely more calmly than I have. Ben, do you know what a Type I error is? I believe you & your colleagues commit this type of mistake with far higher frequency than you delude yourselves into thinking. That said, I wish everyone who applied to MIT, the admitted, waitlisted, and "rejected," the best of luck in the future.

Posted by: Father of Rejected Student on March 19, 2006

Dear Ben

Sharing the sentiments of the majority of MIT applicants, whether accepted, waitlisted, or rejected, I would like to thank you as well as the entire admission committee for not only your time and energy in deciding the class of 2010, but also for your heartwarming empathy and honesty shown throughout the process.

However, before we part ways, I am asking for a favor. I am asking for one or two sentences explaining my rejection. For much of my life, I could not see myself, could not imagine myself at anywhere but MIT. Seeing my brother off to MIT two years ago only strengthened my resolve to be the best I can be, to not only get in to MIT by the slimmest margin, but to wow and awe the admission officers with my dedication. Needless to say, I was speechless when I found out about my decision this morning. I saw my dream shattered before my very eyes.

I am not asking for my decision to be reversed. I am merely asking for the reasons in which the MIT admission committee deemed me not compatible enough to be selected. To have the dream that has been guiding me throughout my academic life disappears without the knowledge of what I could have done better only sharpens the stinging pain of the rejection. I sincerely thank you for your consideration of this matter and I do hope for a positive response. If my request is not possible due to university policy, I hope that a new policy can be instituted for future years as I do believe that this sentiment is shared by many waitlisted and rejected applicants now as well as in the future

Posted by: Oliver on March 19, 2006

rejected dude. not even waitlisted! i wasn't that sad about my rejection until i thought about hours, weeks, and months i spent on my application to mit. i guess i'm destined to surf the shores of california and kick it at caltech.

Posted by: 0 on March 19, 2006

I serve as an EC and teach high school seniors. Although I am biased towards MIT, one of the things I've learned following the careers of my former students is that the United States has many, many incredible colleges and universities. Each school does have its unique characteristics and idiosyncracies, but generally speaking, each of you who were competitive applicants for MIT will end up going to a school that can fully foster your growth as a college student. Wherever you end up going for college, never forget to actively seek out new opportunities and experiences.

On a side note, I've only had one of about 20 of my former high schools students who have applied ever get in, and none of the students I interviewed last year did. I too have felt the same type of emotions that Ben so eloquently described; both for my own high school students and the students I have interviewed. (I really did cry after conducting one of my interviews this year.) I have also seen those students go to many different schools and flourish, just as I know all of you will.

Posted by: Arup on March 19, 2006

Great piece of writing Ben. Extremely heartfelt, the world needs a lot more people like you

Posted by: Joe Gaylor on March 19, 2006

So, here i am reading a MIT blog at 2:22AM in the morning. I read my rejection letter online more than 12 hours ago. As MIT is one of the hardest schools to get into in the US, it was not all that surprising for me to be rejected. I guess I was hoping to be accepted, but life never goes the way one wants to. What's important now I believe is to keep moving on, and to keep trying my best, and at the same time enjoy what's out there. With that said, congratulations to all who were accepted, and to all the rejectees, let's keep our heads high and go on with our lives.

Posted by: makun on March 19, 2006


Thank you for your eloquent words. I read them prior to DD learning of her decision. More to calm down my jittery nerves as well! grin My daughter has faced many hardships and rejections in the past but with each one no matter the size she learned from the experience and moved on.

I tried to remind her that Admissions Officers are human and they have feelings just like you. I believe that your post clearly reflected that sentiment.

It will be a great pleasure to meet you and the rest of the Admissions Office at CPW.

Posted by: AnotherMom on March 19, 2006

Ben, I would also like to know why I was rejected. Just a few sentences before I leave this process behind me and get on with my life.

[email protected] please

Posted by: Mahul Patel on March 19, 2006

So, humour me, Ben. Let's hear about those crazy promises? Did you offer foot massages in exchange for an applicant's admit?

Posted by: 0 on March 19, 2006

Clearly MIT has not grown it's undergraduate capacity to keep up with the number of deserving candidates. Fourty years ago there were twice as many undergrads as graduate students. Today's Enrollment is 4,112 undergraduate, 6,228 graduate.

Posted by: Rick Merrill on March 19, 2006

I was rejected. I wish I hadn't read that "consolation" letter on the online decisions site. It was pure rubbish. I would have preferred a huge graphic of a red "REJECTED" stamp across the page, with "Ha ha." as page title. Really, this "we are sorry to disappoint you, etc." stuff no one cares about: REJECTED means: you took all that time to prepare essays, work hard to be valedictorian, lead your classes, pay for, and ace these ripoff "SAT tests" (which, MIT should know by now, tell you NOTHING about the applicant, because practically everyone, even the greatest dumbass, can score 750+ on them maybe with some preparation, more on this later), you wrote all these essays and guess what? MIT thinks you are not even worth the trouble of letting you try to put up with their standards. Rejected means we don't want to hear from you: but then, what kind of students do you need. I know for a fact not all admitted have perfect records (far from it), yet tons of people with FLAWLESS records are rejected. Is it maybe that MIT doesn't let in the very best, only those who are sufficiently good to put up with their extremely high standards (and, in a world of billions, that's still a shitload of people)?

I feel very stupid for writing this, partly because I know that, despite all talk, the admitted and the faculty are laughing their ass off reading these whiny comments (I can hear them: "Aah... the indigent whining of the impotent. Hehehe"). No matter how good I cut off in college (and if all goes according to plans, that should be "hellagood", judging from some offers I got - BTW, how do you explain some top-level students get accepted at some top US univs, and not at others, in a seemingly random way), no matter how good, every time I meet an MIT alumnus, I'll tell myself: this guy did it, and I did not. All talk around it is useless: so all masks off please. Congrats to those accepted, and to those rejected: you are not in, that's it.

Now on SATs: why are they still used by MIT for admissions. Many imperfect test takers are accepted, while some straight 800 are rejected. By now, the admissions office should know that with appropriate preparation, anyone can get good scores, and likewise, on a bad day, a genius can get a poor score (2-3 mistakes is enough to get you down to 720 or 740 in reasoning).

Posted by: Pissed on March 19, 2006

I can remember how it felt 7 years ago to get my own decision. I had to wait for it in the post because we didn't have the internet then (can it really be true??)

I had less emotionally invested in going to MIT than most people do now simply because I knew less about it. There was no internet and I had to decide based on paper brochures.

I did get in, and I had a great time but I also know that if I hadn't, and I'd gone somewhere else, I would have had an equally great time but in a different way. I would have learnt as much, just different things.

I'm now an Educational Counsellor and I get really emotionally invested in wanting the students I meet to get in. I've done this for four years and every year I am sad when the ones I meet whom I KNOW would have fit right in, don't get in.

It IS unfair that only 13% get in. But there isn't any better way to do it. I've been rejected for jobs / auditions before, and it always hurt less to know that my application had been considered carefully. But that's just my opinion.

Posted by: PC on March 19, 2006

Hey Rejected Father: My DAUGHTER had better stats than your son- all three satIIs(chem,ushist,math2) were 800s, is first in class of 229,etc etc,.. dances semi-professionally(modern)and acts, plays 3 instruments, sings, golfs, has extensive community involvements,her essays were complex and delightful, she is delightful, fundamentally creative and sweet and was rejected. Took it with a smile. not so me,..there couldn't be a significant number of females who surpassed her in stats or really anything else given the particulars of her humble school offerings. No one ever applied to MIT from there and I suppose no one need ever apply in the future.

just a bit of healing fodder to soothe your perceived injustice,..

Posted by: rejected father two on March 19, 2006

Father of Rejected Student: Of course you are dissapointed, and of course your son is dissapointed, but must you add to his dissapointment by wearing yours so prominently. My son also dealt with a few rejections last year and I tried my very hardest to not let him see MY dissapointment. Tell him you are sorry, then let it go. For him. It IS about him you know.

Posted by: Tom on March 19, 2006

I don't understand what you "fathers of rejected" are complaining about. I think it's been made pretty clear that myriads of top level students were rejected: there are only so many who are admitted (and these are certainly top level too, whether they are all better than any of those rejected is humanly impossible to tell, but certainly the very best are among them). Rejected means your children are not worth the trouble for a high level institution like MIT: they need to be content with what they have . In this case it means dealing with the harsh realization that no, after all, they are not really that good.

Posted by: pissed2 on March 19, 2006


Thanks for the armchair-psychologist advice, and in this whole process I have never once forgotten that this process is about my son; and wrt to his rejection from MIT, it's also fortunate that it actually was far from his #1 choice (w/o encouragement from my wife & me, he probably would not have applied). That said, the main substantive point is that Type I error rates are far higher than the offical MIT apologetics imply. It seems to me that to suggest otherwise is, at best, delusional & bordering on dishonesty.

Posted by: Father of Rejected Student on March 19, 2006

As an Educational Councilor (or is it Counsellor), I have a part to play in this process too. ECs come in at an earlier stage because many kids we see come from schools with really awful guidance departments, and the kids do not have a clue about what they want from a college, or where they should apply. So sometimes, I encourage interviewees to look at more suitable schools.

On the other hand, I talk to truly outstanding students and get involved in their hopes, dreams, and activities in the same way that Ben does. I always recommend that students visit MIT and attend classes. MIT is a great place, but it is not the right place for everyone. The only way to tell is to take up the offer of the Admissions Office and go see for yourself. If you have been admitted to MIT and other good schools, go to classes at each one before you make up your mind.

So congratulations to those who got into MIT. I won't know the results for my interviewees until next weekend (after the mail notices have arrived). Like you, I can't wait.

Posted by: Anonymous EC on March 19, 2006

I would like to second Oliver's comment. He expressed my sentiments perfectly. I think it is fair of us rejected students to ask for one or two sentences of explanation for the rejection. We may be upset with what we hear (in fact, we may not even be granted the explanation in the first place due to MIT policy), but we have every right to ask and to hope for a positive response. That being said, I would really appreciate it if we could call in on Monday.

Posted by: One of many on March 19, 2006

has anyone not checked online yet and instead been waiting for the traditional snail-mail letter? I want to know if im the only one who can't bear to look at a computer to tell me my decision. i guess I just always expected to open a mailbox and not to click a mouse...

Posted by: Tyler on March 19, 2006

Mhm...I think it's counsellor. Councilor is more like...Jedi. Or local government.

Posted by: zoogies on March 19, 2006

So how do the admissions officers make their decisions, and what does it mean? I like what Dani and Einstein had to say about this in the "not admitted blogs"

No, it is not essays, and evidently not test scores from what I have seen, but downright fate. We were noT meant to go here-- think about it this way, maybe there is a person you are supposed to meet, or research you are supposed to do, or a cure to a disease you are supposed to discover that you just wouldn't if you went to MIT b/c the life events that would play out if you got in and didn't go somewhere else. I'm not completely comfortable with the idea that I'm not in control of my life, but this way of thinking has gotten me through poverty, deaths... about eveything you can imagine. Hold your head up high, you are great all great ppl. I'm glad I can be more positive in this post after a good night's sleep (my last one I was on the verge of tears).

Einstein once said, "God does not throw dice." and I tend to agree.

Posted by: 0 on March 19, 2006

Note: Sorry for the cross posting but I've meant to post here.

My wife whispered into my ear five something this morning that our S has been rejected by MIT. While it had come as no surprise, I was still worried about his state of mind, this being his first rejection in his 17 years of existence, more than half of which in academic pursuit.

Somehow I already had a premonition of this would be the case as precipitated by a prior event. A couple of days ago my S checked on the status of his application and noted that his financial statement (my tax return, W2 form, etc) and application for financial aid was still listed as not received. I checked my record that I always keep and noted that the documents have been sent via certified mail in Feb. So somehow they fell through the crack.

Of course I'm being irrational as this non-receipt has nothing to do with the considerations that culminated in my S's rejection. But still I guess it's human nature to rationalize one's behavoir.

Anyway my purpose of the posting is not to bore you with details of the aftermath of the rejection, but rather to thank you and Nance for your pieces that help put this whole episode into perspective, as a kind of closure.

Deep in our hearts we know that you and your colleagues have done your best to pick the best match for MIT. And therein lies the operative word, best match, which in no way imputes on the academic capability, or the lack thereof, much less the future performance, of those in the rejection pool. And that's all anyone can ask for under the circumstances. And that's what I'm going to tell my S that he has tried his best.

And then we can all move on.

Posted by: Say-Chong Lee on March 19, 2006

Tyler, I waited =) And got mine Saturday, so that turned out fine. Keep waiting.

Posted by: zoogies on March 19, 2006

zoogies - thanks for the affirmation; where do you live to have gotten it so quickly?

Posted by: Tyler on March 19, 2006

In response to "Father of Rejected Student":

You claim MIT was far from your son's top choice college and also that he has already been admitted to a school ranked higher than MIT. I am able to glean, then, that your brilliant son will end up at NOT ONLY his #1 choice but also the "best" school in the country. Yet, you are on an MIT admissions blog, surrounded by heartbroken young adults who have just been rejected from their top choice school, complaining because your child or (more likely) you won't have the satisfaction of saying he was admitted to MIT.

It is clear you need to get your priorities in order.

MIT has made no "type 1 error" in failing to accept an apathetic-about-MIT student who would not attend their school.

Posted by: Christina on March 19, 2006

I want my international applications scatter/chaaaaaaart... ;P).

Posted by: Jpsi on March 19, 2006

I applied to MIT Early Action way back in November 1995 for a spot in the Class of 2000. MIT was certainly my first choice. I was, academically, 9th in a class of 170 students, SAT Math 750, Verbal 640, AP classes up the wazoo, etc, etc, yada, yada, yada. I'm pretty sure I was among the scores of highly qualified candidates that the Admissions Committee reviews each year.

I was deferred to regular decision, and then rejected. I'm fairly certain it was because of my interviewer; she was pretty mean. She flat out said, "it's clear you're not MIT material, and I don't think (list of all the other schools I had applied to) will accept you either." Personally, I think that's conduct unbecoming of an MIT alumnus, but at the time, I was so upset leaving that interview, that I worried I'd never get into college anywhere.

That was my first college interview. I left the interview sobbing and drenched in tears.

A friend of mine who was ranked 4th in the same class and had 1580 SATs (including an 800 on math) had reported a similar experience with the interviewer. His deferral and ultimate rejection took away the sting a little bit, as he was better than me academically, but it nevertheless hurt. I can say that the day I received my MIT rejection in the mail was one of the worst days of my life. I was positively inconsolable for weeks.

Years later I had an MIT alumnus who does applicant interviews tell me that I should have complained to the alumni committee about my interviewer. Of course, at the time of my interview, I did not know this was an option.

I turned out OK. I ended up being accepted to every other college I applied to, and went to Cornell, my second choice. I considered sending copies of my acceptance letters to my MIT interviewer, just because of her comment that I wouldn't be accepted anywhere, but I decided that would merely have been spiteful. I struggled a little bit at Cornell the first few semesters, but I graduated on time, and I'm 98% certain it was the right school for me. After graduation, I took a job in the Boston area and moved up here. I remember driving/walking frequently past the MIT campus, feeling dejected, wondering "what if that interviewer hadn't been such a b***h?" This after getting a good job!

I thought the sting of rejection from MIT would go away after these ten years, especially now that I am so successful in life (I own a house, I have a job that on most days I love, and I make more money than probably 90% of people my age) but it hasn't. Sure, it's not something that consumes my mind every day anymore, and I can drive/walk by the MIT campus now without feeling like a complete failure at life -- but it still hurts. I have friends who currently go to MIT or are MIT alums and while I try not to show it, I am secretly quite jealous of them.

That all having been said, the Admissions Committee has a really difficult job; probably not a job I could do... I'd feel really sad for all the truly qualified people I'd have to reject outright merely because of the 13% quota. I'm pretty sure I went on the "reject" pile instantly only because my interviewer was an obnoxious, insufferable wench, however, there are lots of people who aren't as unlucky in their interviewer assignment and the Admissions Committee really can't admit everyone who would fit at MIT.

I was pointed to this blog entry by the same MIT alumnus who told me I should have complained about my interviewer. It pained me somewhat to read it, because I was one of the "qualified rejects," as it were, so many years ago. However, to read something like this from the point of view of someone on the Admissions Committee -- how they have to reject hundreds of qualified applicants -- gives me pause. It tells me that the people who read the applications are indeed people, and actually do read the applications, and become invested in the students said applications represent.

So to those of you who were rejected from MIT, I advise you to do your best at whatever college or university you end up attending. I can only say that the pain decreases quite a bit over the years, even though it never really goes away.

Posted by: tckma on March 19, 2006


Bingo! you have nailed it. No mistake was made on MIT's part. As they make abundantly clear, it is all about "fit", and clearly MIT was NOT this young man's top choice and undoubtably that fact showed in his application. I agree with you, I think dad lost bragging rights and can't deal with it. I am very happy that his son will attend a school higher on his wish list.

Posted by: Tom on March 19, 2006


Thank you so soooooooo much for this AMAZING post. Ive always known you guys were great, but this seriously brought tears to my eyes. Pleaaaaase don't listen to what all the stressed and disspointed people are saying - they are obviously not understanding that you ARE a wonderful and SINCERE person. And even though my count of admitted friends and acquintances (all of whom I unbiasedly think deserve to come to MIT) is still 0, I still have a ton of faith in the MIT admissions process.

And for everyone else whether admitted or rejected, please please please remember, no matter how hard it is, that where you go to college really is not everything. You can succeed without going to MIT or another top-notch schools. Have you looked at resumes of top professors and nobel laureates, who went to colleges I havent heard of - probably becasue there are so few spots everywhere else?

As Ben said, we are all extremely deserving, and good luck to everyone in the future!

Posted by: MB on March 19, 2006

Tom, your psychological insights are truly impressive. I "can't deal with it," and encouraged my son to apply only for the "bragging rights" which I have now lost. I quickly moved through the 5 Steps of Grief/Loss and have converged to a certain epistemological take on the matter. If you feel that MIT's applicant-filtering process is on-target, good for you; ignorance is bliss.

Yes, Christina, plenty of people associated with this blog are "heartbroken," and I happen to think they are deserving of better treatment than what they've received. What's so disturbing about this claim? This is a sign that my priorities are out-of-order? Is it so controversial, so troubling, to end all of this feeling that the MIT admissions decisions are less accurate than they assert (e.g., that the stochastic component is larger than they would admit to)? Is higher authority never to be questioned, esp. when casual empiricism suggests otherwise?

Posted by: Father of Rejected Student on March 19, 2006

I wonder if people know that it's not entirely about your stats, whether or not you had the most competitive scores or played a hundred instruments and did ten thousand hours of community service. It's about how well you'd fit in at MIT. You can have a wonderful essay that says nothing about you. I'm positive that the MIT Admissions Officers are looking for heart. For passion. And they are GOOD at their jobs. So if you're just not a fit, don't bring it to the boards and say: "SAT--blablah800790. APs51000commservgibberish" Imagine how much it must hurt for everyone who got rejected. Give them a break. No one needs that. It makes me sad to see.

Posted by: Sandy Tran (waitlisted) on March 19, 2006

Father Of Rejected Student,

Fine if you'd like to make me the scapegoat and spew your antagonism at me, I signed up for that when I took this job. But don't come here and start attacking the other members of the community - they don't deserve it and I won't tolerate it.

I'll address your questions later this week.


Posted by: Ben on March 19, 2006

i have a question.i am admitted,but will dropping/adding a course now affect/change the admission decision?

Posted by: david on March 19, 2006

Dear Ben,

Considering that I have spent not only hours but weeks on my MIT application form and that MIT is my very very first choice (even above Harvard and other prestigeous school)and that my all my heart and soul have been put in MIT so much, CAN YOU PLEASE PLEASE tell me WHY I was rejected? I deserve to know what went wrong with my application, why i dont fit in MIT (maybe It's also a lesson for me to strike for the better me in the future) Just a few lines would be really really great. I would appreciate it very much. Thank you Ben.

Email: [email protected]

Sincerely yours.

Posted by: phuc on March 19, 2006

OR, could you please just tell me how i can review my teachers' evaluations? Since there is a part on MIT application form says that I have the right to review that... Thank you

Posted by: phuc on March 19, 2006

phuc, you really need to learn to accept pain when it comes. As humans, we are cast in a world of suffering and there's little to do about it. Do not ask why. Accept that there are things you cannot know or do, and focus on those you can do from now on.

Posted by: FaceRejection on March 19, 2006

honestly I am tearing up; your entry is incredibly moving. thank you for opening your heart to us aspiring college applicants - it means a lot that you truly do care.

Posted by: Marta on March 19, 2006

Moderators- if there are any- the FaceRejection comments really could use removing, because they don't seem to be constructive or offering any sort of useful viewpoint, and I suspect they're just making people feel worse.

Posted by: PC on March 19, 2006

Hey, just a thought... if the same "extremely qualified" people got accepted into every extremely competitive school, then where will everyone else go? The reality is that people who are rejected from MIT get into other top schools and ones accepted to MIT can get rejected from the other top schools. So in the end, almost everyone has a top school to go to. All works out:) I guess there are some pride hurt, but time heals all things.

Posted by: 0 on March 19, 2006

PC: I challenge your characterization of my posts. I understand the viewpoint of people who post on these blogs, particularly at these times, but I am just reminding them that academic achievement is a road you go alone. In the end, even if the admissions staff is moved by this or that story, they know nothing of the people behind them, and will eventually forget them or, over the years, conflate many such stories in a "textbook example" of how moving applications can be. I'm just trying to tell people not to waste their time in superfluous discussions. Nothing can help you get over failures, except moving on to new successes.

Posted by: FaceRejection on March 19, 2006

FaceRejection: You are dead wrong.

Academic achievement is not a road that you go alone.

By that statement alone you have just proved that you don't at all understand the viewpoint of people who post on these blogs, let alone the admissions staff.

I have interviewed lots of students as an EC and the outstanding ones still stand out, so don't tell me that I will conflate "many such stories in a textbook example" blah blah blah. You are presumptuous and you have no idea what you are talking about.

Posted by: PC on March 19, 2006

PC, it seems we cannot agree. However, I maintain that the whole selection process in the academia, the research funding system, the awards system, the tenure track system, are all symptomatic of the fact that academia is all about individual achievement, and forgetting those who did minor, however significant team work in favor of those who did spectacular, lonely work. I will stop posting the kind of comments you asked to be removed, as I understand they may hurt some, and my point has been made, but I stand by them. I know MIT'ians, and many tell me it's all about individual achievement.

Posted by: FaceRejection on March 19, 2006

"Тƒґeither you're accepted or you're not. There is no grey area..."

Why must we view the world in black and white, winners and losers, accepted and rejected?

In the recent winter Olympics if someone ended up with a silver instead of gold medal the question from the reporter was "ArenТƒфt you disappointed?" The response should have been "Hell No! IТƒфm a Olympic medal winner!"

IТƒфm an EC and have probably interviewed 50 applicants over the last 15 years; only 3 have been accepted (maybe I donТƒфt write well enough to make strong cases for them). But not one of them have I ever viewed as a loser. They were all bright and talented young people with a rich future.

LetТƒфs not be so black and white. All these kids are winners.

To those who did not get an acceptance letter, when the reporter asks "Are you disappointed?" say

"Hell, no! IТƒфm a successful student! I know that I will do well and make a great difference in this world wherever I choose to go to school."

Posted by: Shades of Gray on March 19, 2006

FaceRejection: This is not the place to have a discussion about academia; it's a blog about admissions to MIT, which don't necessarily have to lead to academia.

You may "know MITians"; well, so do I. I went to MIT, and *I* can tell you it's not all about individual achievement. You do us a disservice.

Anyway, I beg to differ that MIT admissions are a "loss game" for anyone not admitted. When I was applying I didn't get in to some of the schools that I applied to; hours spent on the applications, thrown away. Now, that wasn't a loss game. I learnt about myself in the process.

What is wrong is to sugarcoat the bitterness; it IS a tremendous disappointment. There is a sting to every rejection letter, but in time to come I think people will realise what they have got out of the process too.

All the best to both admitted and non-admitted, alike.

Posted by: PC on March 19, 2006

Hey facerejection:

Lighten up! No one who's just been rejected from their top choice school needs to hear you jabberring on about how they wasted their lives applying and that no one in the world cares about them. So, so many students have handled their rejections with grace, poise and optimism. You can be as angry and bitter with the world as you want, but leave them the hell alone!

Posted by: Laura on March 19, 2006

Laura, for me, handling rejection with grace involves letting the pain penetrate me, and draw conclusions about what I did wrong, not "trying to make the best of" something that is ultimately purely negative, and listening to the "encouraging comments" of people who do not know me. I am not angry and bitter about the world: it is because I love it so much that I am telling people to realize that the greatest achievements come from solitary processes, which are also the hardest. That was my last post here.

Posted by: FaceRejection on March 19, 2006

Thank you Ben for sharing your experience with us. Spasibo.

Posted by: Timur Starobinets on March 19, 2006

FacingRejection: THE WHOLE POINT is that not being admitted to MIT is NOT purely negative, and the "encouraging comments" are made by people who certainly make an effort to know the people behind the application.

I try to know the students whom I interview as an EC. This is the entire point of the interview. If I walk away from the interview NOT knowing them, then I feel like I have failed as an EC. If they choose for whatever reason to not talk, or to give me a fake picture of themselves, then there is not a lot that I can do but I still feel that I have failed in my responsibility to get to know them.

I would say that if someone's college application doesn't allow the people reading it to know them, then that is not an optimal application.

And as I've said before- the greatest achievements DO NOT necessarily have to come from solitary processes.

If anyone's wondering why I'm trying so hard to belabour these points, it is because I just don't want anyone to think that the people behind the admissions don't care, or that not going to MIT means they are a failure. Furthermore, having gone to MIT, I cannot remain silent when someone says that "MIT is about solitary achievements", because that is just not true.

Posted by: 0 on March 19, 2006

Taylor (if you can possibly follow this from about twenty posts up) - I live in MA, about an hour from Cambridge. So hence it was pretty fast.

Posted by: zoogies on March 19, 2006

Thanks, Christina.

Perhaps hiding behind anonymity helps some people to let go of their steam more readily, which in the overall scheme of things may be a good thing. Viewed in that context, those outbursts could just be temporary aberrations and cooler heads should prevail with the passage of the heat of the moment.

Coming back to giving reason(s) for rejection, perhaps there is indeed merit for the suggestion but then there is also the risk of inciting further arguments. That could be why no reasons are proffered.

As is the common thread in most previous dispensations of advice, many roads do lead to academic success as attested to by the many Nobel laureates who are non-MITians.

Posted by: Say-Chong Lee on March 19, 2006


I just wanted to say thank you for this heartfelt post. I applied and somehow, miraculously, was accepted last year; today I'm loving every minute I spend on campus and I'm so glad that I somehow made the cut. Reading through all these comments reminds me just how lucky I am to be here, even when people statistically more qualified aren't... I'm still not sure what it is you folks look for in applications, but I thank you so much for investing yourselves so thoroughly in us.

As for all the rejectees - don't be bitter. Please, don't. You or your kid will go on and do amazing things, and they'll actually have fun doing it elsewhere, while they likely wouldn't have here. Just because your child has perfect scores on everything doesn't make them any more of a good fit for this school, where personality, innovativeness, and collaboration are valued far more highly than grades and scores and we have such a twisted, masochistic sense of "fun".

In that sense, I don't think applications or admissions are about numbers or grades at all. I think that's an incredibly minor part of it, like a pre-screening process, but the actual acceptance decisions go much farther than that. I think it's about figuring out who would have fun here and who wouldn't... because it really takes a very particular type of person to have fun at a school like this.

In the end, we all end up with a college diploma, and it's not about the difference between a 4.0 and a 4.3; it's about looking back on the years you spend here and wishing you could do it all over again, because even though your 8.02 professor sucked and you didn't like your roommate first term and you couldn't STAND unified, you had more fun than you ever had before, and made the kind of friends during those all-night tooling sessions that will last for life.

That's what college is about no matter where you go... isn't it?

Posted by: Allison on March 19, 2006

I was waitlisted.

Ben, I sent you a letter privately but I want to publicly state that you did the best job you could, and while I am angry, I don't want to be angry at you or any of your collegues. In fact, I don't even know to whom or what I want to be angry.

I had plans for MIT. I was about to jump onboard a research project at the SSL partially inspired by my work, a project whose professor had used me as a consultant from time to time, a project that could very well have had a substantial impact on industry, society and the future of mankind. I wanted to participate in one of your many outreach groups, the same groups that got me involved in science in the first place. I was even going to start a few of my own.

I had such great respect for you that I wanted to join you guys in the admissions office and help get other students like me excited about MIT, whether it be as a student blogger or a full time employee such as yourself. Now I'm not so sure I could handle making many of the decisions you had to make, decisions that inevitably shattered the dreams and aspirations of many individuals.

I hope to God that you guys go to the waitlist this year. Being shut out of MIT would bar my access to your unparalleled facilities, and make my ability to follow through with my plans infinitely more difficult. It would also fly in the face of much of what the Institute values. Sure, I'd get just as good an education elsewhere, but only at MIT would I get the oppurtunities I desire to make my dreams a reality.

Add this to my file and include it with my recent letter if you think it will help, and I hope we'll be able to make all this work out.

Posted by: Brian McDermott on March 19, 2006

thanks, zoogies, im in md so it might take a little longer...latin rocks!

Posted by: Tyler on March 19, 2006


I am really wondering, say an application doesn't have above 700's in every portion of the SAT and every SATII. Would that application simply be thrown out during the "screening process" and not even evaluated for personal achievement and qualities b/c the application is deemed as not competitive? I am really wondering this b/c I'm hoping my application and essays were at least considered and not thrown out because I had horrible testing anxiety. I am sure I worked as hard as everyone else, and I would at least like to know I was given a fair shot in the decision of whether or not I would be "a good match." When I made the decision to apply to MIT I had the impression that it would be thouroughly reviewed by the committee. I did not know there was a possibility of being "screened-out" by a senior staff member. And so this is the case, but I would also like to know if the senior staff member just looks at numbers, or reviews the whole application for its good qualities? I would really appreciate an answer on this to help me gain some closure... I know, I know, I need to move on.. blah blah blah, but I feel this part of the process needs to be somewhere in the application before applicants get their hopes up on having as good of chance as anyone. Thank you for your consideration.

Posted by: needsclosure on March 19, 2006

I have a question I've been wanting to ask for such a long time now and it's for you Ben.

This may seem stupid yet not, but no one had ever explained to me on how to become the Dean of Admissions, let alone an admission officer. Would you mind explaining the process, specifically yours?

Thank you very much. =)

Posted by: Elle on March 19, 2006


I am at MIT and I know many people whose SATs are fairly low when compared to the 800/* (myself included). I do not work in the admissions office but from what I can tell I am pretty sure the "cutoff" is not at 700, if there is one. I think the numbers themselves are probably used to give an overall rank before it's "screened out".

Although this could all be wrong; I have only few instances of empirical evidence.


Posted by: Mike on March 19, 2006

^ and by "the numbers" I mean "all the numbers together"

Posted by: Mike on March 19, 2006

Honestly, I do not think all admission process is only about being qualified and good enough.

That's why some of you claim stochastic.

It indeed IS random! (In terms of academics...)

In the MIT application, there are several points:

"MIT students are..." The part with being qualified is obvious. These seven or eight [I do not quite remember] features are the key components of admitee.


If you just look at stats and competitions, it will look random, because it's just independant variable.


Guess why... How are you able to distinguish between 3000 thousands of people sharing similar competitions, AP's and SAT scores sets...

And How is the 780 SAT student worse than 800?

In country where I came from the only basis of admission is the test. I am telling you, people are much less happy and universities are much worse than here.

Posted by: jpsi on March 19, 2006

it might be better if those who were accepted would not refer to 'fit' and then equate 'fit' with "personality, innovativeness" as if a separation was made between those who have it and those who don't, suggesting that high-scorers were simply industrious grinds without that magical spark required for admittance into MIT. It reminds me of plane-crash survivors who believe in divine intervention--it doesn't account for those who went down,...unless in order to maintain the belief system, you attribute sin to their demise.

Posted by: rorosen on March 19, 2006

Oh. You are talking about the unrelated random conditioning. wink

I must tell you that I haven't met a lot of people "unfitted." You have the rules of fitness laid out clearly: innovative, initiative...

For each point you can go over your application and ask yourself: how is that proven? How they will see I have each of these traits?

Or do I really have them? Or just conditioned myself, trying to convince myself it is true, because I want to go to the famous college to get a good job in the future and lead a sucessful life.

I was applying to two very selective places, first was UWC, second MIT. UWC was insincere, and I did not get in... I think it was fair. It was not a fit for me. In such a selectivity, you can be sure there are enough people satisfying every little point of MIT objectives, the vision of mr. Rogers when he was founding MIT. All in all, it is independant private institution which can laid out rules as it likes!


What all disastered people should think now is not that they were not good enough. There is no good and bad. There is some distinct section of people who are good, some fit to vision of Harvard, other for objectives of MIT, and yet others will fit best to air of Stanford.


It is also for you, MIT can be @!#@!$ tough place if eaten improperly. You can benefit endlessly, but you can also limit yourself to graduation with A's and stop to like science. this option is not a success, and it might have been better if such a person would have gone to some other good college - emphasizing on other skills than sitting in the lab all day, enjoying Nucleic Acid Research journal and building stuff more than frat party. You might just not feel as good as somewhere else here...

Posted by: Jpsi on March 19, 2006

rorosen: while you do raise a good point, I'd like to clarify what others have said.

It would be pretty rude to say that those who weren't accepted were not creative/ambitious/whatever other qualities MIT values. But things are a little more subtle than that. I know plenty of brilliant people from my high school who would just simply not be happy here because their personalities would not mesh well with the atmosphere of MIT. I believe that some (not all) rejected students may fall into this category- and it's not a negative judgement.

I fully understand what you're saying, but I think it's important to note that when it comes to personality we're talking "different," not "worse" or "less."

Posted by: Laura on March 19, 2006

> MIT can be @!#@!$ tough place if eaten improperly

did you find a recipe in some college digest?

Posted by: rorosen on March 19, 2006

yes Laura and the point you are missing is that due to the volume of applications it is not true that anyone rejected lacked any quality whatsoever. You go to a restaurant. You order a steak. You fill your stomach. There is then no room for fish although you love fish and fish agrees with you, is good for your brain and heart. But steak was on the plate that day,...many foods would have provided you with an excellent meal but your stomach can only accomodate so much food and no more, even though the food you did not select would have fitted in your belly and gotten along very well with every part of your body it merged with on its path to becoming another brilliant thought,..of course when you are stuffed, the menu begins to look a little less inviting. As to the reason you ordered steak that day,.. well, then the minds begin to whirl

Posted by: rorosen on March 19, 2006

Oh no! I am faaaaaa(a)^naaar from saying that it's worse! It's just a WAY of selection, a set of rules that apply to each person. Some have more, some have less - in different intensities.

Application is a kind of approximation, and the job of applicant is to make this approximation the best possible. The job of admission committee is to find people which fit to the vision of college...

There is no negative/positive part. Vision of college cannot be an indicator of moral values.

It's just like a score in alignement in DNA. It's not bad, or good, you either get homology or not. If you do not get it in the first time, yeah it's a bit bitter, since you have to run second alignment until you find the right one.

Cheer up. If there was a mistake in your case, and you are a great fit to MIT - they will find you finally =). There is also Ph.d. which is even more important than college smile.


Among the good ways of eating MIT is going to study right now, instead of writing on the blog.

But I was hoping to release some tension.

Hey hey!

Posted by: Jpsi on March 19, 2006

rorosen - I will tell you the thing I am thinking about now... I noticed that my friends who were writing how hard it was for them to cross all the obstacles, and how these obstacles made it impossible for them to reach things that other people did. They were seeking explanations outside. If you got rejected, and you want to be at MIT, it is not time for deciding whether it was a right joice of McGann or whomever else.

It's right time to start working further, so you will get in as a transfer.

You used steak analogy. Now I am primed, so...

Assuming you are researching prion disease, and you have just read a new H. Lodish paper about the function of prions in stem cells development.

You state a hypothesis that the prions will have act upon your favourite membrane bound receptor.

You check the hypothesis. It;s not true.

You start to blame the matter of fact, the physical existence that it does not go with what you have imagined.

It's just not a good way for life. It is you who have to adjust. It's just much easier and more effective.

If you want to be at MIT, but you were rejected -> go to good college, and show admission committee that they were wrong. And you WILL be here if you put enough work and enthusiasm.

Cheer up. I am sure it will be fine, it is mostly about you not external factors, like college.

Posted by: Jpsi on March 19, 2006

Sorry for language errors. I learned english in high school in Poland... which is not the best place to learn english =).

Posted by: Jpsi on March 19, 2006

I didn't get in. Sure life goes on, but rejection sucks. Ben, I understand your position, having to let go of so many wonderful and qualified students. But I would surely like to know why I was rejected. Comparing myself with others who got in and who didn't, I don't understand what could possibly go on behind the scene, what factors ultimately make or break the application. I guess I won't find out unless I work in an admissions office in a college. This is one of my senseless rants.

Posted by: arjay on March 20, 2006

Let's be reasonable ... it was a lotery ... 1000 places for 15000 of the best students in the world, most of them scoring in the 99% percentile like me, it was a lottery ....

and each of us had more chances than we have on the national lottery... so don't take it to seriously.

"There's no better time to be alive"

Posted by: me on March 20, 2006

well,Janek(just a guess) it seems you didn't go off to study after all. No need to apologize for your limitations in expressing your thoughts in english. You might want to investigate the comprehension skills a bit. I am pointing out the folly of those who, once rescued, suddenly become masters of navigation,.. when in fact all they know is their position on a dry boat that cannot accomodate another soul.

It's not about advice or comfort.

Posted by: rorosen on March 20, 2006

Hey Tyler, if you're still reading the comments on this blog, I haven't checked online either. I'm waiting for the actual envelope, although I guess I'll be able to tell anyway by the size of it.

I'm out in the Midwest, so I'm not really expecting it until Monday or Tuesday.

Good luck to everyone else who hasn't checked yet!

Posted by: Melodie on March 20, 2006

[moderator] I am removing the "greases in ya palms" entry that used to be here for obvious reasons, but leaving that line in because (a) other comments won't make sense without it and (b) it is sortof hysterical.


Posted by: 0 on March 20, 2006

I'm not even applying to MIT- but I read the blogs because you've made the application process seems so much more humane. I don't know what's coming in the mail for me, but it makes a world of difference knowing that there's a possiblity someone read that pile of paper I (tried) to encapsulate my whole life in- and cared.

Posted by: Shalene on March 20, 2006

I can't believe you people are abusing a service that MIT provides for your convenience. Yes, disappointment is definitely understandable... as is questioning the system, but the myriad of "you sucks," sarcastic bitterness, and ill-defended arguments really shouldn't be here. :/. The very fact that the MITBlogs exist shows the sincerity of this process, and I'm saddened that many of you can't see that.

As for the big debate with Father of Rejected Student, it seems like his son had no real interest himself of going to MIT. His application likely reflected that, and I'm fairly sure the admissions committee picked that up.

Posted by: Anonymous on March 20, 2006

Ben, thank you so much for this entry. It's partly because of you and the other admission officers that I applied to MIT at all -- because of your respect and consideration for the applicants, because you treat us as people, because you even find the time to reply to some comments.

I want to apologize for all the posts by bitter & angry applicants or their parents, please don't let them upset you. It is not your fault they were not admitted, and you shouldn't have to make excuses for doing your job. I can't believe there are people arrogant and insensitive enough to blame their rejection on you personally, to try to offend you as if in revenge. And the people who ask you to e-mail them the reasons for their rejection are being almost as irrational.

Thank you again. I'm glad that MIT has people like you there. You deserve only the best wishes.

(I was wait-listed. Of course I was upset at first, but this made choosing my college much easier. I'll be at Harvard, my second-choice school, for the next 4 years. I will probably never like it as much as I love MIT, but at least it's only 10 minutes away from you guys!)

Posted by: JS on March 20, 2006

Man, this is horrible, but at the same time laughable. I cant believe the level of immaturity some people are showing on this board! Seriously guys, u expected urselves to be going to one of the best schools in the world, and now u show that kind of attitude? no wonder they didnt take you, and i dare say good thing. I doubt MIT would have been a better place with a bunch of people who complain and yell at those in charge everytime they dont succeed, because be assured, there would have been times were u dont succeed.

Posted by: JM on March 20, 2006

Obviously, some people get angry when they do not get accepted and think it is nice to release their anger here...

But I suppose this happens everytime. It's not an easy job you have...

Uuum, I was also angry. But I was angry at myself. Not that I could have done a lot more... (perhaps only the essay I could have improved a bit, but I know that I couldn't have, because if I could have, I would have). But I felt that somehow I did not do the best I could (while I think I did).

Anyway, I doubt that... OK, you say the contrary, but still I am going to say it:

I doubt that anyone cares what I think, just because I am one of the thousands that got rejected, so I am just going to stop here.

Posted by: Momchil Minkov on March 20, 2006

Right, I agree that there is no different between 780 and 800. I also agree that SAT scores are not everything and should be only a small part of the big process. However, all acceptees at least must reach a CERTAIN level to be considered.

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND how MIT accept a student with STATS like this:

SAT: 510 W, 580 CR, 690 M

SAT IIs:530 Literature, 590 Biology, 600 Math 2

I thought it would be kicked out from the very first row... In fact you can check that in . The person himself told everybody that and i swear i dont exaggerate anything here.

Really, i want to accept this reality but it doesnt seem reasonable for me at all!!!

Posted by: phuc on March 20, 2006

OMG! I hope Ben never gets to this part all the way down and reads those comments. Anonymous on March 20, 12:58 am take a hike and pull yourself together.

Posted by: s(rejected) on March 20, 2006

Thank you for spending the time to write to us applicants. If anyone here ever becomes an admissions officer I hope they will be inspired to have the same compassion. I know I will.

Posted by: Spenser on March 20, 2006

I would like to share this message from my elder son to his younger brother (Dee), a MIT-rejectee:

"I'm sure Dee will do great wherever he goes. It's MIT's loss that he wasn't accepted. Dee just needs to believe in himself and the rest will come."

What we need at this time of emotional stress are encouragements and not irrational rantings. Remember it's all about the young minds who have the whole future lying ahead of them.

Posted by: Say-Chong Lee on March 20, 2006

Phuc, I don't think that going to such a sensation-promoting board as CC to find some obscure stats about an admitted student will help you. That guy may have sth else that would fit with MIT that you don't. If you have time, look at Mollie's blog and see how bad her boyfriend's stats were. It's all about fit and it's as simple as that. Stop being a sore loser and move on.

By the way, the form says that you can choose whether to waive your rights to review what has been written about you; it does not actually grant you the rights to do so if you didn't sign it. I think that MIT might have destroyed it after selection is completed. Besides, I believe the 1974 act only grants you the right to access your record if you matriculate at the university, so there you go. Stop thinking about this and be happy with your second college choice. Best wishes.

Posted by: Minh on March 20, 2006

"Grease ya palms" is probably the funniest phrase I've seen in several months.

Everyone who insists on being bitter -- that's fine. It's a perfectly natural response. I'm just saying that perhaps you might want to hold off posting to a public forum until after you've cooled off a bit. I've got a feeling you're going to feel pretty embarrassed once this initial shock wears off. Ben and the other admissions officers have a job to do, so they do it. NOT EVERYBODY CAN BE ADMITTED. If you were in Ben's shoes, you would also have to reject some kids, and I bet it would make you feel crappy to see reactions like yours. He is not the one to blame here for your rejection; nobody is. If the officers could let in everybody, they would.

You shouldn't want your reaction to show that you don't deserve to get in anyway. Saying "MIT sucks" just shows that you only cared about it if things went your way. I'm sorry for your disappointment, but you shouldn't take it out on Ben.

Posted by: Colin on March 20, 2006

I couldn't post Saturday, i was crying too hard.

mike's mom, thanks so much for your support.

When God closes a door He opens a window. We'll see what He plans. I'll just pray about it and ask Him to show me where is best for me. I know He has a plan for my life. I just can't see it right now, I thought it might be MIT but if it was i know i would have been accepted. Dont' get me wrong, it still hurts and i can't help but wondering what i did wrong, but in the long run it's not that big of a deal. I'm healthy, happy, and i have my whole life ahead of me. During EA while we were waiting for letters, a bunch of people (including me) posted things that they were thankful for. That's what is important, to be thankful for what God gives us. Maybe i'll go to MIT for grad school! In the mean time i'll pray for God to show me what He wants me to do.

congrats to all of those who got in, i'm sure you deserve it.

Posted by: April (out) on March 20, 2006

Thanks for writing that. It just confirms that people can do well even if they AREN'T admitted to MIT or some other big school. And that they're still successful people - life isn't all just about college admissions

Posted by: Anonymous on March 20, 2006

haha...I can't help haunting this place even tho I've been rejected. I mean, you don't really stop loving someone because they turn their back on you, or because they end up with someone better than you...and yeah, there is always grad school to look forward to:)

Posted by: Mushal on March 20, 2006


same here...i guess i won't be leaving until they cancel my account. smile

sorry guys, ya'll are stuck with me raspberry

Posted by: April (out) on March 20, 2006


I just laughed for ABOUT five minutes straight. I promise I'm not lying.

Posted by: Christina on March 20, 2006

alright melodie! let's hope for a big envelope sometime this week!

Posted by: tyler on March 20, 2006

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND how MIT accept a student with STATS like this:

SAT: 510 W, 580 CR, 690 M

SAT IIs:530 Literature, 590 Biology, 600 Math 2

Phuc, I completely share your sentiments regarding this. I received two 150.0's on the AMC 12, homeschooled myself, was homeless, etc. my essays and reqs were very good (both from CMU professors that I had met during the summer), and my SATII/ SAT I scores were near perfect, if not perfect. I still got rejected. I understand that people must be rejected, etc. and, wow, I can't even express my thoughts eloquently right now, but I still feel very cheated, as I am sure many students whom "worked so hard" that were not offered admission also feel.

Posted by: ARejectedLoser on March 20, 2006

... Whether this means anything or not, it does take a lot of work to achieve high scores on exams, high GPA, etc. and it really does hurt me to see that many other students (I know some of them personally) that didn't work as hard as some of the rejectees were offered admission. This entire ordeal (seven years of homeschooling and achieving 96%+ on everything, being homeless, and then being rejected from a school that purportedly wants high achieving math and science students) has made me seriously reconsider my position on higher education. I question myself as to whether or not I even dare to pursue it any longer. I really don't believe that my application was given a fair look... and I really don't relish to have to nearly mutilate my brain like that ever again in order to gain acceptance to a school that apparently does not appreciate my struggles and everything else I've gone through and still managed to achieve what I have.

That's okay... life does go on, however, I can most certainly say that I am not pursuing higher education anymore as a result of everything.

smile Good luck with everyone else! I wish you all the best, if it means anything.

Posted by: ARejectedLoser on March 20, 2006


Did you apply to any other schools?

Just because you didn't get into MIT doesn't mean that you shouldn't pursue higher education!

You sound like an amazing applicant and i know that there are other schools that would LOVE to have you!

You sound like you have worked very hard to get where you are now, that's great, but pointless if you give up now.

I wish you the best and I hope you get were you want to go.


p.s. i can't even imagine what you've gone through being homeless etc, but i am home schooled. i am the oldest of 4 kids so i am almost self-taught, so i can imagine what that was like

Posted by: April (out) on March 20, 2006

Ben's post was very heartfelt and comforting, but not to mother of a 'BOY'.

Everything else seems fine and humane - but I would like to let all MIT applicants know before hand, almost on the application and in the MIT brochure about the gender bias. If you are a guy, that is if you check 'Male', your chances of admittance are poor!!! Does a guy have any control over that? All things being equal, the admit pool should be the best - in whatever criteria the counsellors consider - except the MALE/FEMALE. Looks like the males admitted are the ones in the international pool -

Posted by: mom of a 'boy' on March 20, 2006

I'm an MIT alumna. Yes, that's alumna. That makes me female.

I'm just as good as any of the males in my year. Now I'm not going to say anything about how admissions works, but I am going to say that I am just as good as the men in my year.

Posted by: PC on March 20, 2006

Mom of a 'boy'

No matter even if a single girl was not in the applicant pool or a single girl was not given admission, the chances of getting into MIT would still be low. If every applicant was a boy and 12000 boys applied to MIT and MIT gave admission offers to 1500, the percentage of acceptance would still be a low 12.5 percent.

Posted by: 0 on March 20, 2006

For what it's worth, last year 10 of the 13 students admitted to MIT from my son's graduating class were male. And just for the record, *anyone's* chances for admittance are "poor" if you consider that 7 out of every 8 applicants are not offered admission.

Posted by: mom of another boy on March 20, 2006

To mom of a 'boy,'

You don't mean that. I am a rejected female applicant, and I'm just as competitive as many of my friends (male) from school who were rejected. The overall admit rate for females may be higher, but that does not mean that the rejected males are 'better' applicants than the accepted females.

Posted by: me again on March 20, 2006

I just wanted to say thank you for the message you wrote on my admissions letter. It just made it that much more personal- a very nice touch that caused a very big smile. Thanks smile

Posted by: Jessi Murray on March 20, 2006

Phuc and aRejectedloser:

In regards to you comments about low SAT scores, you guys don't understand at all how someone may have the ability and intellegence to do well in life and at MIT but not on these standardized tests. I congratulate you on your near perfect scores, just realize, for example, if you have went through times where you were practically living on the street, when you go in to take a test it is not the sole thing on your mind, and then when you realize so much of your future could be depending on it, it makes it that much harder. Personally, if I were an admissions officer I would look at someone's application who has eaten out of garbage cans but still managed to have the perserverance to pursue his goals in science and math while maintaining a 4.0 and taking 4 AP classes as much more impressive than someone who went into an exam and did well for 3 hours on a saturday morning. I would just like to say excellent job to whomever had the low stats and managed to get accepted. The applications are evaluated in the context of the situations. Don't be bitter. Please just be glad you are not eating out of garbage cans, and feel lucky that you are probably in the top 5% of the worlds educated population to even be in the position to apply to MIT! There are so many people around the world who would gladly trade spots with you even if that meant being an MIT rejectee!! Thanks again to all the admissions committee b/c I'm sure they have to make some really tough decisions.... and I'm saying this as a rejectee myself.

Posted by: Dani on March 20, 2006


Thanks for your insight on my SAT question. I am still wondering though, so the question still stands, and I would appreciate an answer from one of the admissions officers. The way Ben put it in his above comments just seemed like the application isn't evaluated as a whole, and that they are not even looked at any furthur if their happens to be a low test score. With the above comments from ARejectedLoser about being homeless, I'm just wondering if the applications are really viewed in context to the situation. I could be terribly mistaken on this issue, but still just wondering....

Posted by: needsclosure on March 20, 2006

I wonder why all you people are thanking the admissions staff for reviewing your application. Maybe you forgot that a) you had to pay MIT a ripoff price to even be able to apply. b) it's their job. I'm sure they do it well, and are probably the very best at it, as they are working for MIT, but it's still their job. Do you thank the cashier for accepting your money? Well it's the same thing here.

Posted by: pissed2 on March 20, 2006

Dani: I agree with you - great job to the person that got in with the 'poor' stats. But 'A rejected loser' is right...the SATs don't really tell you much about an applicant, therefore MIT evaluate them in context. I was rather sad when I got rejected, despite having all A's and close to 100% in the 10/11 of the British A-level exams (similar to APs, but just more indepth and broken up into 6 separate, cumulative units) I've taken in the past 2 years - its not really about your grades anymore (everyone who applies has pretty much high grades, look at what Ben says at the top) and that's why ECs, essays, ambitions and passions matter that much more. Sure, we all tried our best to show our passions in an essay, but in some cases, they just didn't have the right effect on the readers.

April, I'm so sorry to hear you got rejected too. Your posts have always been meaningful, especially your one about God and what he has planned. I'll always remember that, its a great entry.

For all those who got rejected, theres a poem on the internet about rejection. I've added it to my MSN Space / blog.

Posted by: Mahul Patel on March 20, 2006

Actually, pissed2, having worked as a cashier, I can say from experience that it can actually *make your day* when someone is pleasant and polite. A thank you goes a long way, especially when often there are many rude and unpleasant customers yelling at you for mistakes that you often didn't even make.

Posted by: Jessi Murray on March 20, 2006

pissed2: I do thank cashiers. And bus drivers, hairdressers, waiters, etc. Why? Because it's impolite not to, and because I want people to be nice to me when I'm working. Thus, admissions officers should be thanked too.

Posted by: JS on March 20, 2006

pissed2- actually I had a fee waiver, so I can't say I feel ripped off, but just thankful that I mustered up the courage to ask my guidance counselor to write me one, I was so embarrassed at the time, but looking back on it.. a good decision.

Jessi- you are absolutely right, I have worked as a cashier as well as various other odd jobs. Why can't ppl. just be pleasant and polite? Is that so much to ask?

Posted by: Dani on March 20, 2006


You rock! I was admitted early action (shock of a lifetime, no joke) and since then, every time I come in contact with anything MIT, I am more and more in awe of its...awesome-ness. Thank you Ben and Matt and all other admissions and financial aid people for making this a personal, eye-opening experience. Don't let the haters get you down. =)

Posted by: Emily on March 20, 2006

I'm a male applicant who didn't get into MIT. I do think that there is a gender bias in the admissions process, and I've written about it at length in my blog here:

However, note that in my blog post I'm not judging whether it's a good or bad thing. And girls, please don't take this as an insult: on an individual level it seems callous to say that girls were admitted to MIT who were not the "best" of the applicant pool, but "best" is so subjective; I know that all of the people admitted are excellent students, and definitely worthy of being at MIT. The question is the differing *percentage* of people admitted. In any case, my post (which is also backlinked to this one) discuesses pros and cons of this differing percentage.

Next, yes, I do thank cashiers. I work at an ice cream place, and given that we give the best service we can possibly give, smile at everyone, greet and say good-night to every customer, chat with them, ask how they are, and even make friends with the regulars (none of which are part of our jobs), I think that thanking the people who run our primarily service-driven industry is the least we can do. Thank you, MIT admissions officers; I know that even though I got rejected, it's all for the best in the end.

Posted by: Nirav on March 20, 2006

Father of Rejected Student--Thank you for having the courage to write your first post. I'm sick of the spin, too.

Posted by: 0 on March 20, 2006

Yes, Father Of Rejected Student, I thank you as well for being so courageous. You've given Anonymous a role model. Bravo!

To the rest of you - thank you for understanding that I'm a human being with actual feelings. It means a great deal.

Posted by: Ben on March 20, 2006

Dear Ben,

I got my packet in the mail today, and I saw your comment on my letter. I just wanted to say THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH for reading (rather extensively, as I can see from this post!) my application and deeming me worthy of being a member of the MIT Class of 2010. I'm ecstatic, and I promise I'll live up to it!

Looking forward to CPW!!



Posted by: Anupama on March 20, 2006

Ahhhh... I can't take this anymore! Was my application even read?

Posted by: ARejectedLoser on March 20, 2006

ARL, yes, of course it was.

Posted by: Ben on March 20, 2006

Nirav- i'm a girl who got rejected. it feels just the same. get over it.

Posted by: rejectgirl on March 20, 2006

Seriously, when it is said that "The applications are evaluated in the context of the situations (apropos to Dani's post)", is that really true? Homeschooled myself for 6 years, homeless for nearly 3 years and still taking college-level courses, abusive family, female URM, perfect scores on nearly everything (including the AIME for Christ's sake!), great essays and recommendations (from Profs. at CMU nonetheless)... and still rejected?

Yes, I suppose you can understand why my hsc (homeschool coordinator/test proctor) literally dropped her jaw and stated, "WTF?" [this coming from a middle-aged church-going exceedingly proper never cursing mother of two].

I understand that you are human, Ben. I understand you have feelings. Please understand that this "rejection" was not a mere loss of hunt for me; I really am just, well, shocked and would love to know why I was rejected/ what was wrong with my application. Could I please get an answer? Please?

Posted by: 0 on March 20, 2006

BTW, I am Anonymous March 20, 2006 10:16 pm.

Posted by: ARejectedLoser on March 20, 2006

^^please move on with your life and stop haunting ben, all of us here, and college confidential^^

Posted by: rejectgirl on March 20, 2006

Reality isn't kind, it just is. Thank you so much for your sincerity, your commitment to justice, and your compassion for us. Thank you for taking us all seriously.

Understandably, we feel let down, but I know I am invigorated to prove myself even further and better now; I'm not rejected for life, and no one here is. My EC recommended this post to me, and I see why. I hope you continue to make the best decisions possible in your difficult task, and that all of us, admitted and rejected students alike, prosper wherever we go.

Posted by: Nimrah Ahmed on March 20, 2006

rejectgirl, please don't respond to my posts. I am directing nothing at you.

Posted by: ARejectedLoser on March 20, 2006

I have a question, did the SAT writing score have any effect? i didn't do too well on that part of the SAT. I know in the past it has been said that it won't be looked at, but in retrospect, did you? at all?

Muhal, thanks for the comment.


I'm a rejected girl

Posted by: April (out) on March 20, 2006

this is not your blog. it is the blog of one of the coolest guys ever, ben jones. i can respond to posts if i so choose.

i responded to your posts for his sake. all decisions are final. the admissions team has worked extremely hard and for long hours to create the class of 2010. it's already a tough job for them. don't make it any harder.

Posted by: rejectgirl on March 20, 2006

Father of rejected, is neither courageous or correct. He is angry. He is demanding to know the "academic basis" for his son's denied application. Maybe there is no academic basis, maybe his academics are just fine, maybe it was something else. We don't know, We will never know. How many times does the admissions office have to say that it's about "fit"? We are talking about selecting people here, not toasters, it gets complicated.

Posted by: Tom on March 20, 2006

And to add to Tom's brief but excellent comment above, I would like to suggest everyone go back and read Marilee Jones's "Tim Guest Blog" comments from Dec. 11, 2005.

"... Because I believe that the happiest people always create their own reality, I suggest that you see the college admissions process for what it really is - an initiation or rite of passage into adulthood. ... Odds are that many of you will be rejected somewhere this year (especially if you stretch yourself as the most talented people do) and I assure you, speaking as one who has gone before you, that life will present you with many such rejections. As you walk through them, you'll see that things always turn out for the best in the end. I do believe that when the door closes, the window opens. If you get a rejection this year, feel the hurt, yes, feel it fully to metabolize it, let it move through you and then release it. But then look for that open window. It's always there. After all, everything always works out in the end."

I hope those of you who are hurting can find your way to that open window and glimpse your bright future.

Posted by: leftcoast mom on March 21, 2006

leftcoast mom,

thanks for that, and thanks for all the wonderful things you have posted over the last couple of months.

Posted by: April (out) on March 21, 2006

was giving your gender optional? i know race was, i put "prefer not to answer" to that one.

Posted by: April (out) on March 21, 2006

Ben, your post made me tear up. Thank you so much for giving each application the time and depth it deserved. Really, thanks. See you next fall!

Posted by: Anna on March 21, 2006

i consider myself incredibly lucky, for many reasons. I received my acceptance letter to this amazing place on december 17, 1966 - almost 40 years ago. IТƒфve been involved in a love affair with MIT since before then. I used to keep the catalog (of courses) next to my bed. Just reading about the courses was thrilling. I donТƒфt remember how or why I knew about ТƒтtechТƒф, just that it was the only place I wanted to go. I didnТƒфt even think about it. I went to a local high school in queens, ny, not one of the special schools. I traveled into manhattan for my interview. I often went into the ТƒтcityТƒф to attend lectures on math, to take classes at Columbia on Saturdays for a couple of years, to sing in the boysТƒф chorus at the Met Opera. I was in the chorus in high school, in MITТƒфs glee club, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and have rehearsals this week in a terrific chorus in Philadelphia, where I now work.

My EC told me to look up a friend of his in the admissions office. My dad and I met her the first day I arrived. I worked there for a while to earn some money. (tuition almost broke my parents at a whopping $1,700.) She became a friend Тƒм came to my wedding. We still exchange birthday cards in mid-february. WeТƒфve had lots of talks and IТƒфve learned a little about the admissions process, although I continue to be puzzled sometimes.

It is really only many years later that I realized how MIT changed my life. and yet, in the interviewing of prospective undergrads IТƒфve done for almost 30 years, IТƒфve been asked a lot of times about the issue of going there. I have seriously mixed feelings. Neither of my kids was interested in MIT for college, but I told them until they could see it coming (again) that life, whatever the heck it is, is at least bidirectional Тƒм you give, it gives. Sometimes you get what you want for no really good reason. Other times you work your tail off and everything works better than hoped. Sometimes you donТƒфt get what you deserve. The story is so much more complicated than quantum mechanics.

I could use extra hands, because when I look at the issue of getting into any college, let alone MIT, or what you do there, or after, is so much a matter of Тƒтon the other hand.Тƒф When I got in the acceptance rate was 33% ! Every single EC IТƒфve spoken with in the last 10 years, while IТƒфve been coordinating EC activities in the philly area, agrees that none of us would be accepted now. No way. We see, talk to, listen to, some amazing people. And I know some who are not happy when Тƒтtheir kidsТƒф donТƒфt get in. including me. On the other hand, I know ben, and Marilee, and other folks in the admissions office. They are very much like most of the staff and faculty and students and applicants of MIT; theyТƒфre passionate about what they do. IТƒфm choked up when i think about them and the level of integrity they bring to what they do. And continue to wonder how I made it into and out of the place. On paper I was fine. But when I think about some of my classmates, or my kid brother (two years behind me at MIT, and much smarter than I), IТƒфm in awe of their accomplishments. All colors, genders, countries, money.

OTOH Тƒм most applicants donТƒфt get in, and some who do donТƒфt go. And a hell of a lot of you/them/us still, amazingly, go on to do incredible stuff, in spite of not going to MIT. And as much as weТƒфd be so much poorer without MIT, there are lots of other institutions with talented, passionate people doing wonderful things.

OTOH, MIT is unique. Although I wish we could build another on the west coast so we could take twice as many applicants. But thatТƒфs naИЎve and unrealistic. MIT is more than buildings, labs, and talented people. ItТƒфs a process and community. (part of the reason that itТƒфs so inherently ТƒтinterdisciplinaryТƒф) ItТƒфs also fantastically expensive to duplicate. Expanding it to accommodate more undergrads would be pretty tough, although someone with a handful of billions couldnТƒфt spend it better. Much of MIT is analogous to Тƒтmusic minus oneТƒф Тƒм and youТƒфre the 1. your partners in the process and journey (students and faculty Тƒм theyТƒфre really the same) are going in the same direction as you Тƒм pursuing truth, and literally Тƒтmaking thingsТƒф better.

The pain of an MIT rejection has to be profound. Obviously, I donТƒфt speak from direct experience. But IТƒфve experienced other failures. And whether there is a grand plan for me or not, IТƒфm the one who must participate in it and act in it. From the perspective of an MIT experience, itТƒфs interesting that so many grad students and faculty didnТƒфt go to MIT as undergrads. They arrived via a different route, and still made it. Peace.

Posted by: mark on March 21, 2006

Profound pain? A rite of passage into adulthood? Come on... Now you'll excuse me if you think I am being insensitive, but I think some of you need rest. It's just rejection from a college... it's not a death sentence, and MIT isn't some sacred temple. It's just one college in millions others, every one of which is unique. If you go to college to perform, then it doesn't really matter where you do your undergraduate studies. If you're good enough, they'll come and get you, no matter where. This is all that matters: what you personally achieve. Who cares that some girl or guy who had perfect scores on 20 APs, writes published essays, blogs professionally was an Intel finalist, sings, plays golf, hockey, soccer, tennis, swims, does jazz dance and likes cats got accepted and you didn't? Maybe you are just some exceptional student who doesn't have a trillion extra curricular activities and awards under their belt. In the end that's all that will matter; when you apply for graduate studies, all people will care about what you achieved, not what video games you play, how many dogs you saved from drowning, and whether you like your mother. All that will matter is academic excellence. If you know that is your strength, then your every waken moment from now on should be dedicated to the field you want to graduate in.

Rejection from MIT if not a "strengthening, thought-provoking" experience, at least no more than any other failures; it is a complete and utter failure, don't let ANYONE tell you otherwise. However, f you are really so good as to genuinely think you deserved to be admitted, it is a laughably, ridiculously minor failure; a "removable singularity" in a life of brilliance.

Posted by: pissed2 on March 21, 2006

Well since i made a post before being rejected I guess I should make one after.

What can I say? Am i dissapointed after being rejected, of course. Why would I spend the money or effort otherwise?

So how do I really feel? I feel like the kid at the buffet who decided to stuff his plate full of random food only to learn that he's got a bad stomachache at the end. I really miss how things were five years ago. The drive to do what you liked -- not what you HAD to. And that's something I can always carry forward with me.

I dont need to work hard, I just need to have fun in the work that I do. Anyway, it looks like itll be four more years of sunny so cal, the palce with two seasons, hot and cold (and i hate the cold...).

PS Ben, I still think you're the coolest landlubber around, and I'm sorry I missed you at the Overnight a month ago smile. Who knows, maybe I'll see you in four years.

But thats the end of it, and as much as I hate to say it, it's something I need to say

Goodbye MIT


Posted by: thatolchestnut on March 21, 2006

Hi Ben,

If you're the one who leaves personalized notes in the margins of acceptance letters... thank you, thank you; what might seem like a tiny, simple touch just adds that much more kick to the initial sheer exhilaration.

(You probably won't remember, but indeed, I will bring a mean mashed potatoes.)

Props to this amazing post. Cheers and success to you all smile

Posted by: Tiffany Chen on March 21, 2006

Hey Ben,

I heard you wrote a really nice letter to my sister...or at least you're the only Ben that I know of in the admissions office.

Don't worry, I'll be trying to convince her!


Posted by: Stephanie on March 21, 2006

This is the short message from my S's uncle to him:

"That rejection is part of the learning process - part and parcel of life. One door closes, another one opens."

When the pangs/throes of the rejection are over (the sooner the better), the episode will fade into memory and remain there as one of life's many lessons learned, not knowing the "real" reasons notwithstanding.

Posted by: Say-Chong Lee on March 21, 2006

To all -

I have lurked on this blog for quite some time. I found it interesting to read the comments of high school seniors preparing for the next phase in life. Since the posting of decisions on Saturday, I have been disheartened by the comments that I see on this blog.

I'm a mother and I am certain that many of you could outrank me on a Calculus exam now in a heartbeat! I took Calculus oh so many moons ago, but I don't use it as much now as I did before. Your academic credentials are outstanding and I commend you for that. I am also happy to see academic excellence. However, if you look at 's website, this is a portion of what is written about MIT's admissions requirements:

Very important admission factors:

* Character/Personal Qualities

This is at the top of the list. Under that for important admission factors they mention grades and academic performance.

It's not all about the grades. Think back and reflect. How did you conduct yourself during your interview if you had one? Was it all about "I, I, I" or did you mention how you shared a part of yourself with others? How do you conduct yourself in the classroom? Is it all about doing the best to beat someone so that you are "it" or is it about sharing with others from time to time so that they can seek to excel. Teachers notice things like that and remember them when they are writing letters of recommendation. Did your teachers or extra curricular leaders have the opportunity to see you grow?

How did you come across in your essays? I challenge you to go back and read them. Did you answer the question posed or was it more an impression of "I'm so great - bow down and kiss my feet!". I don't mean to sound harsh here, but I guess it is the mom in me coming out.

If MIT wanted to make a class with perfect 1600's or 2400's depending on which SAT you took and perfect 800's on every SAT II and 5's on every AP exam they could do that. In fact, I'm sure they could do that many times over given the number of applicants that they had this year. Book knowledge is important to be sure but so is common sense and compassion.

If some of you demand to see your teachers letters of recommendation, how credible will letters of rec be in the future? How will schools be able to get objective feedback on applicants?

I know some of you are upset and that for some not getting accepted to MIT may be the first taste of defeat in your life. Embrace it, learn from it, and move on. Believe me, you will face many more hurdles in your life. Show the maturity that I believe you have inside of you. There is no need to "diss" (I think that is the term you all use these days!) the messenger who in this case is Ben or your fellow applicants who were granted admission.

Twenty or thirty years from now you may be married with children. Think: would you want your offspring to respond in the manner that some of you have on this blog or would you wish that you had written something such as April (out). Sorry to single you out April (out) but your comments brought a feeling of joy in my heart.

Cruelty and hostility towards other will not get you far in life no matter how stellar your academic credentials.

To all - I wish much success for the future.

Posted by: AnotherMom on March 21, 2006


Eloquently put.

I too have kept my high school years (calculus included) in the deep recesses of my mind. But the years since then have taught me to treat life, and more important, fellow human beings, with respect and humility. These are the human traits that have sustained me, and I'm sure everyone out there.

One can be academically brilliant, and compassionate at the same time. Let your compassionate self surface and move on with dignity.

Posted by: 0 on March 21, 2006

To AnotherMom,

I, too, am a lurking Mom and an MIT alum myself. You post was very well put. As I told my own children when they were applying to college, their good grades, stats, and accomplishments bought them the metaphorical lottery ticket for college admission but did not guarantee them anything. Acceptance into the most selective and competitive colleges, like MIT, is an honor and a privilege, but never a reward or an entitlement.

While AnotherMom found it disheartening to read some of the comments of high school seniors, I was especially disheartened to read comments of some adult parents whose children were denied admission, ESPECIALLY the comments of those whose children didn't even seem to want to attend MIT in the first place. Parents should be the ones who understand the concept that competitive college admission comes with no guarantees for anyone. Parents should be the ones who help their own children deal with the understandable disappointment of rejection. Parents should not be spewing venom at college admissions officers on behalf of their "rejected" children.

And to Ben, your heartfelt and eloquent post also filled my eyes with tears. It's people like you who make me very proud to wear my Brass Rat.

Posted by: Mom from MIT 78 on March 21, 2006

300th comment. Wow. smile.

Posted by: Timur Sahin on March 21, 2006

I just noted that my previous post has been listed as from "Anonymous on March 21, 2006 07:46 AM", which is strange as I've never deviated from using my name. I think this clarification is warranted since there have been several previous postings from "Anonymous".

Say-Chong Lee

Posted by: Say-Chong Lee on March 21, 2006

Looking back at my time applying (only 8 years ago!), I remember that we were not as emotionally invested in any particular college because there was just less information around. It meant that our decisions weren't as informed, but also that if we didn't get in it was less heartbreaking.

It's such a double-edged choice. By getting so involved in the process one develops a real passion for a place, but there is also the tremendous letdown if what one desires, doesn't happen.

Posted by: PC on March 21, 2006

You are so bad Timur...I wanted the 300th comment:)

Posted by: Mushal on March 21, 2006

I got into the class of 2010, and it wasn't because of my numbers. My SAT scores were below 1800/2400 in both SAT and SAT II's, plus my GPA was in the 3.8's but lots of determination, hard work, and real passion for MIT along with many other factors made my way into the Class of 2010. After reading messages from many angry rejected students, I questioned myself if I deserve the spot I have been offered, but after thinking about it, I got to the conclusion that I will definitely attend MIT and show many people that numbers aren't anything when there is determination and real passion. I really want to succeed in life, and I trust that MIT will help me achieve my goals.

Many thanks to the admission officers for really seeing who I am and having admitted me to the class of 2010.

For those of you that still don't beleive that a student with low numbers can get to MIT, read the following article, which is one of the best articles I've read in the past years

Marilee Jones is quoted on that article, Read it.

Congratulations to all of you who made it into the MIT Class of 2010. I hope to see you all on Campus Preview Weekend (CPW)!

Posted by: Omar on March 21, 2006

I really appreciate Mark's words of wisdom. There are times when life experience is the only thing that helps you gain perspective, and hopefully going through this whole admission process will help us gain perspective we will need for the future.

'Sometimes you get what you want for no really good reason. Other times you work your tail off and everything works better than hoped. Sometimes you donТƒфt get what you deserve. The story is so much more complicated than quantum mechanics.'

Well said Mark, Bravo!


haha, I have to say your sarcasm is extremely entertaining to me, and even though I haven't agreed with all of your posts, I have to say you have quite a comic flare. The 'likes cats' comment..seriously, LOL!


Good job!! Numbers aren't everything, evidently this didn't work for me, but this is so comforting to know that the admissions committee did look beyond this in some cases. I wish you the best, make me proud.

I would just like to comment that reading these posts has made me really excited and looking forward to college that much more. The reason I had my heart set on MIT was the collaborative environment and the brilliant and amazing student body I could be a part of. Well, knowing so many of you who have not been admitted are brilliant and amazing gives me hope that I will meet some of you wherever I end up going raspberry I know it has been said before, but the students make the school.

Posted by: Dani on March 21, 2006

I got this from my pastor.

problems are:

P redictors

R eminders

O pportunities

B lessings in disguise

L essons

E verywhere

M essages

S olvable

Posted by: April (out) on March 21, 2006

Congratulations to all those who are accepted, and good luck to all those who will be going elsewhere. Remember, life is what you make of the opportunities, not the opportunity itself. MIT offers the opportunity, but you all will have many windows open to you. Look at the ray of light, and do what you are passionate about. Life will bring its rewards - MIT or not.

Good luck

Posted by: a mom on March 21, 2006

w0000t for the moms!

Posted by: April (out) on March 21, 2006

Hi, my name is Hashem and IТƒфm a junior at MIT. I read these blogs on occasion and I wanted to give my two cents on some of the comments expressed here.

To those of you admitted, congratulations! You should take pride in your achievements and realize that MIT will act as a stepping stone for you to accomplishing your dreams. MIT accepts students not only on the basis of their academic merit, but rather on the belief that these students will change the world in their own way. IТƒфm sure choosing a university to attend will be a very difficult choice, but I encourage you to attend CPW and see for yourself what MIT is all about. Do not pay attention to the stereotypes associated with MIT, the beauty of this institution is that it allows students to be themselves and therefore prosper and grow on an individual basis. At MIT, you will be surrounded by individuals that will help shape society. If you are looking for a premier education that will teach you to be an analytical thinker and someone that can deal with the pressure as well as adapting to new situations, MIT is THE place for you.

For those of you not admitted, I can appreciate your pain and anger. However, going to college is a significant stepping stone in your lives Тƒм it transitions you from being boys and girls to men and women. One important aspect of this transition is knowing how to deal with disappointment, which is something you will inevitably have to encounter many times throughout your life. How you deal with rejection will shape the person you are Тƒм successful individuals take this disappointment in a mature way and learn to move on to accomplish newer challenges. It is very disheartening to hear mothers and fathers lash out at Ben and MIT, when they are supposed to be role models Тƒм people who you look up to in times of need. YouТƒфre supposed to help reduce the stress on your children, not increase it! Mothers and fathers, throwing around accusations or insults is not the right way to teach your children life lessons. I thank my parents for being great role models for me, teaching me how to deal with pain and adversity in a mature way.

For those praising ТƒъRejectedFatherТƒщ for his courage to speak his mind, let me very blunt with you. MIT looks for independent and mature individuals that know how to deal with failure and come out of rejection as stronger people. Maybe some of the immature kids here should think about the rude comments theyТƒфve posted and question whether they were not granted admission because they donТƒфt present themselves as the mature young adults MIT is looking for.

I know many of you would like to know why you werenТƒфt admitted, and its been mentioned time and time again, thereТƒфs no secret reason. ThereТƒфs no magical formula to get accepted to MIT, and no specific reason why you were not accepted. MIT is fortunate to have one of the best admissions staff in the country, and they are the best because of the experience, wisdom and compassion they bring. When you consider that less than 13% of applicants got accepted, it should give you an indication about the level of competition youТƒфre up against. Not being accepted to MIT is in no way the end of the world. You will go to a university thatТƒфs a better match for you at this point in your life and you can experience the wonders of MIT in grad school. You have to believe that it was extremely difficult on the admissions officer who read your case and knows your ins and outs to hear that you were accepted. However, this is not an exact science Тƒм thereТƒфs no algorithm that determines whether a person is accepted or not. ItТƒфs a process and a search for those who MIT believes will be able to succeed and benefit from its educational experience.

I find it very disheartening to see some of the abuse that Ben, Matt and the rest of the admissions officers are getting on these blogs. You should be appreciative of the fact that they have helped humanize the admissions process by being the pioneers in admissions blogs. They have been as transparent as they could be and continually updated you on the progress of admissions. Admitted, rejected, or waitlisted, you should all thank them for taking the time out of their busy days to help you go through with this difficult and stressful time of your lives.

Posted by: Hashem on March 21, 2006

beautifully put, Hashem.

Posted by: April (out) on March 21, 2006

Your idealism makes me sad, Hashem. I'm saying this not to be sarcastic: I am deeply sorry that many of you really believe admission or rejection to MIT has some kind of mystical dimension, that it makes you stronger, that some were rejected because they "just don't fit", no matter their academic achievements.

Let me tell you why I think the personality factor is largely a mistaken myth. In ancient past, on a science olympiad, I met the US team. It was August, and two team members were going to MIT. One of them was an extraordinarily conceited person (so arrogant he didn't even try to seem humble when he was interviewed, after the awards ceremony - of course he had done well). Like many other 'high-flying' students (I'm not talking about the average MIT student, I'm talking about the really good ones), he already had relations at MIT, and he was assured to get in. He was simply too good for them not to let him in. He wasn't just some straight-A Ohio Joe who also happens to lead the local science club, but a genius on several Science Olympiad teams. So maybe they select based on personality up to a certain point, but as I have stressed before, academic achievement is king. If you reach a certain level, no matter what kind of jerk you are, all doors are open. (Just look at the number of internationally recognized scientists who also have racist, neoconservative, far left, homophobic leanings - no one cares because they are too good to be ignored.) Moreover, when you are that smart, and have a lot of insiders to tell you what admissions look for, you can easily write your essays such. Of course I could be making all this up, but why should I? Everyone who has understood my point must recognize I'm right (at least to some degree).

Now on to the myth that rejection somehow shapes people. This is quite simply untrue. Rejection simply means you don't get into MIT. It's not something mystical, or magic. It's just as if you dropped your pen. You pick it up, and that's it. Of course, it's not positive, but as I said before, if you are truly brilliant enough, you will do well anywhere. But certainly the fact you were rejected won't suddenly make you better or whatnot.

Finally I'd like to comment on the recurrent maxim that [MIT alumni/Admittees and rejected alike/The mosquito that just stung me] will "change the world for the better". This is again pure mysticism. Being a shamefully rich entrepreneur who runs for mayor of his middle American town, and sometimes drives up to Boston to tell MIT students to work hard to become like him doesn't necessarily put you in a position to change the world, let alone for the better. Recent history has thought us that people with little education can rise to [dangerous] heights, and have a far greater impact than any number of nerdy, "backroom boy", consultant-type genius or scientist.

As an MIT student, and "analytical thinker", I would have expected more pragmatism, more down to Earth realism, Hashem. Life is not the American (college) dream. That is all. Congrats to the admitted though, that I forgot to say.

Posted by: pissed2 on March 21, 2006


You can call me idealistic, but IТƒфd rather be idealistic than cynical. Eleanor Roosevelt said Тƒъthe future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.Тƒщ MIT is looking to accept those types of people; people that have dreams and aspirations, people that come to MIT thinking this will help them accomplish their dreams, people who want to be the first [insert nationality] in space, people who want to cure cancer, people who want to use the skills and tools they leant at MIT to do good. Whether thatТƒфs idealistic or not, thatТƒфs been MITТƒфs way of going about things for a long time, and I think you would agree with me that the results of this philosophy havenТƒфt been bad.

In no way was I saying that being rejected from MIT will give you mystical powers. The point I was trying to raise was as you said Тƒъif youТƒфre bright enough, youТƒфll do well anywhere.Тƒщ So, if you are not admitted to MIT, thatТƒфs not the end of the world, which you seem to be in agreement with me. All IТƒфm saying is that dealing with adversity is an important component in your personal development, and from the comments written here, it doesnТƒфt look like many have learnt (or ever encountered) how to deal with adversity!

What you do need to understand, however, is that admissions officers judge you based whats on your application. They donТƒфt know you, they havenТƒфt lived with you for 18 years, they havenТƒфt gone to school with you for 12 years. They base their judgment on your essays, your interview as well as your recommendations to know who you REALLY are, not who you say you are. They are so good at their job because they can differentiate the genuine applicant from the person that has their heart set on Harvard but wants to get in to MIT to say ТƒъI turned down MIT, and Stanford etc to go to Haaavad.Тƒщ Yes, sometimes there are people that fool admissions officers, and as I mentioned Тƒм this isnТƒфt an exact science. People and not computers are making these decisions. Is the process 100% flawless? IТƒфm sure it isnТƒфt. But is it the best process given the constraints they are faced? I can confidently say it is.

I really hope that you believe ТƒъyouТƒфll do well anywhereТƒщ because if you have your mind set on something, and work hard to accomplish it, youТƒфll put yourself in the best position possible to do so.

Posted by: Hashem on March 21, 2006

Mr/Ms pissed2:

Rejection and failure most certainly do shape people, and believe me I had a lot of it at MIT.

I had to drop a class.

I didn't win a music competition.

I got 40/100 on a test (yeah yeah, maybe I shouldn't have been admitted after all)

I got a C.

Up till then, I'd never failed at anything before, so you can bet I had a hell of a hard time dealing with it. In fact, I was rubbish at dealing with it, and I went to pieces.

If I'd perhaps had some lessons in failure earlier I might have known that it is OK to fail sometimes.

So I don't buy that it doesn't make you stronger. Obviously at some point you want to get to the point where you can just pick up and go on, but most people aren't born with that.

What exactly is your point with the Olympiad story? How does that prove that the personality factor is a myth? All you've done is prove that one arrogant jerk got in (OK, possibly a few more). Having been to MIT, I can tell you that the vast majority of my classmates were indeed not arrogant jerks. You yourself say "I'm not talking about the average MIT student, I'm talking about the really good ones", so all that means is that you are talking about a minority.

Oh, and I also observed that quite a few of the arrogant jerks got the arrogant jerkiness beaten out of them in the first year. That means by the time senior year comes around, they're significantly less jerky.

So, in summary, the personality factor is not a myth and you are completely wrong. I've been there, and therefore I challenge what you say.

There's nothing wrong with being pragmatic; not being admitted to MIT isn't the end of the world, but let people take what lessons from it that they will. Human beings strive to find meaning in what happens to them.

Posted by: PC on March 21, 2006

Well, something (in this case somebody) does fall through the crack and end up in MIT. Just shows that admission officers are human too.

One can always work on beating the system, but ultimately one beats oneself only, if one does not realize one's folly by becoming a lesser jerk.

Posted by: Say-Chong Lee on March 21, 2006


You had pi comments!!!!! Until I posted raspberry So very popular.


Posted by: Kiersten on March 21, 2006

We celebrated pi day in my pre-Cal class once; everyone brough pies and after our test, we all dug in. Just thought I'd share that funny story.

I do think that not being admitted to MIT changed my life, given that I might have gone there if I got in. Can anyone disagree that the university you go to affects your life in a complete and profound way? It's not for me to say whether it changes it for the better or for the worse, but there's definitely an impact on your life.

I'd like to clarify that I'm not complaining when I pointed out the gap in the percentages between admittance based on gender. In all seriousness, I probably wouldn't have gotten into MIT even if the admissions process were somehow changed. Also, in my blog post ( ), I carefully laid out both sides of that argument; I'm not taking a certain side. Believe me, I'm not saying that the women who get into MIT don't deserve to be there; far from it. All I'm pointing out is the differing percentages in admission rates between men and women.

I do think that applying to, and admission/rejection from colleges is an important rite of passage for us. Go back and think about it; most of us spent countless hours filling out applications, writing essays, asking teachers for recommendations, writing short answers...all this to essentially encapsulate the essence of YOU into a manilla envelope (figuratively speaking) to send out into the unknown. It forced me to do a lot of personal reflection and think about my priorities. I'm sure for a lot of you it did the same. There's nothing idealistic in thinking that this is a special process and time for each of us, and there's nothing wrong in feeling like admission or rejection has shaped you; I know they have for me.

Posted by: Nirav on March 21, 2006

To the MIT Admissions Team (especially Ben):

You are really some of the most amazing people in the world. It is clear from all of your blogs that you deeply care about your school and all of its applicants. Although I am disappointed about not being accepted, I am touched by your honesty and obvious concern for the well being of your applicants. Its nice to know that there is a human aspect to the application process. Best of luck to all the admits and to all of the MIT Admissions staff for the coming year.

Posted by: Movie Guru on March 21, 2006

To the MIT Admissions Team (especially Ben):

You are really some of the most amazing people in the world. It is clear from all of your blogs that you deeply care about your school and all of its applicants. Although I am disappointed about not being accepted, I am touched by your honesty and obvious concern for the well being of your applicants. Its nice to know that there is a human aspect to the application process. Best of luck to all the admits and to all of the MIT Admissions staff for the coming year.

Posted by: Movie Guru on March 21, 2006

Is there any way for rejectees to find out the reasons of rejection?

I think it can help many to calm down! grin

Posted by: Jen on March 21, 2006

Is there any way for rejectees to find out the reasons of rejection?

I think it can help many to calm down! grin

Posted by: Jen on March 21, 2006

IRT Nirav: Yes, yes! I've thought about that many times. Your undergraduate college choice truly has such a great impact on the rest of your life.

Posted by: Christina on March 21, 2006

I find it funny how so many ppl. have used their grades and test scores to characterize who they are... i.e. the 'Not admitted' blogs, well here I go..

Top Ten Fun Facts About Myself:

10) When I get upset or frusturated, I like to paint to let out my anxiety.

9) I have an obsession w/ Billy Joel... he has an appropriate song for every mood.

8) I brush my teeth in the shower, haha, I know this one is weird.

7) After 5 painstaking years of toughing out Spanish presentations.. I am finally almost fluent and the hard work has paid off.

6) I have found myself to have a weird habbit of ranking things that really shouldn't be ranked.

5) I bring a mean game of chess to the table, haha, no pun intended.

4) When I was 8 I would spend hours laying outside in my yard and watching planes fly overhead. I was in awe.. this started my love for science and figuring out how things work. Then, I begin to realize how annoying planes can be at night when you are trying to fall asleep, but at least I learned I liked science.

3) I am afraid of wearing yellow underwear, and I can gladly say I've never owned a pair. This is tied with the fact that I have memorized Act V of Hamlet. You decide which is better.

2) If I could choose one thing I want out of life it would be to be happy...okay, it is hard to have just one, it would also be to make a difference. (I am aware of my idealism FYI)

1) I was rejected from MIT, and it is not the apocalypse by any means.

okay, okay, I can't really say that #1 is a fun fact, I just had to make my point at some time.

here is the real #1, we will call it (.5)

.5) I can gargle any Disney toon at request, given that I have a glass of water within reach. The favorite (a concensus among my friends) is THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT.

Everyone, please stop second guessing things and go enjoy your lives. Thanks again to Ben et.all plus all the bloggers who have spoke their minds and provoked some pretty interesting and heart felt conversation... can't get that just anywhere! It is so interesting reading this post compared to my original post, time does lend you perspective.

My final post on this page. Farewell and good luck to all!

Posted by: Dani on March 22, 2006


LOL! i love .5..i happen to be a disney freak. especially the Lion King.

thanks for reminding all of us that we are not our scores.

Posted by: April (out) on March 22, 2006

Why are some people so negative about the post of the father of rejected? He has his point. If you look through the qualifications for the accetped students, his kid is better than lots of them. Yes, we did not read essays. But this is mostly for technical students. The techical part of qualification should be weighted more than non technical part. When the techinical part is too close to call, then the non techical part can make a difference. Obviously some of the adimitted may not be even to get into a good public school based on their test scores. This will make people wonder the basis of the decision. People are entitled different opinions and there nothing worng with that. At least he stands for what he posted. I have seen someone post something and then change it. It is not a nice act to reveal others' indenties, and privicy needs to be respected. Type I error is more severe than type II error. Someone says that if MIT wants to fill the accepted with perfect scores for SAT I, SAT II, and APs, they can do that many times over given the number of applicants. This is definetly a type I error. You do not need math beyond grade school level to know this. To get all these prefect is not as easy as baking cookies. MIT is an excellent school. However, you still can be a good engineer without going to MIT. Just look at the high tech industry. How many of the founders from Microsoft, HP, Dell, Intel, AMD, Yahoo, Google, etc, got their undergraduate degree from MIT? Without true talent and hard wroking a degree from MIT or other top schools alone will not take you far in the real world.

Posted by: GPA on March 22, 2006

Hashem: I never seriously thought of getting into MIT, so no need to tell me about the problems and strengths of admission. I am only here to tell the poor souls who think something disastrous has happened that what has happened is not only of minor importance, but in the context of their terrestrial (and probably only) life, nothing has happened. Also, I want to warn everyone from falling into the typically American-dream-talk of the "mind strengthened through failures" and related rubbish bordering on mysticism. It's better to have a more realistic view of things.

PC: Again, your idealism is sad. So you actually believe everyone who comes out of MIT has a great personality? I smell the rancid reek of deluded idealism...

Posted by: pissed2 on March 22, 2006

As one who invisioned those who attended or worked at MIT as robotically engineered beings, it is a bit odd to be so moved by such a heartfelt letter. It is encouraging to see such passion into their work, and my misconceptions about MIT continue to be unraveled. Perhaps next year I will be one of the many scourging your blog with the enthusiasm and dedication of the others this year, hoping to be admitted to this great university.

I just want to thank you, Ben, for going beyond. For sacrificing your time to explore the life of that student who might be looked over by a less observant individual. For fighting for those students whose passion exudes from their application. I feel so encouraged, knowing that when I spend my time expressing my life experiences (successes and failures, hopes and fears) onto paper, that it might fall into the hands of such a caring individual as yourself.

Thank you.

Posted by: Cameron on March 22, 2006

Ben, you have made me cry. And you have made MIT so real. Thank you for keeping the updates for us back in December and for going through all these agonizing months with us. You have shown me that the people at MIT are warm-blooded people that care about who they admit and who they reject and are making sure that the people who did not get in are going to be fine in their lives and will still contribute to the world as a whole. Thank you and the rest of the admission staff for everything.

Posted by: Fan on March 22, 2006

Oh yes, pissed2, now call me deluded.

I never said that everybody who comes out of MIT has a great personality.

I said that most of the people I've met there do, in my opinion, which means that the personality factor in admissions is not a myth.

Go ahead and keep trying to twist my words, if you like. It's so painfully obvious how you're trying.

I wouldn't have got into MIT without the idealism that I do have, anyway. Not to mention I wouldn't have done well there (in spite of my failures that I'm quite happy to publicly post) without it.

Posted by: PC on March 22, 2006

I think highlighting the dichotomy of technical side and non-technical side (whatever that means) is a stereotyping tendency close to anachronism. It's akin to the traditional twin-mode of left brain and right brain development, which is on the wane. The push today is for whole brain development. The perils of leaning too much on the technical side have been expounded by John Naisbitt in High Tech, High Touch.

I do hope that the primary aim of an esteemed institution such as MIT is not to produce, for lack of a better word, technocrats, but technocrats of high EQ.

As for hiding behind anonymity, one should be able to stand by what one said, more so in a public discourse.

Posted by: Say-Chong Lee on March 22, 2006


You said "It is not a nice act to reveal others' indenties, and privacy needs to be respected."

I addressed the gentleman by his first name and mentioned in my response that he was a professor. There are *thousands* of people who share this combination of first name and profession - rest assured that his anonymity remains quite intact. In two years of keeping this blog I've never once compromised on that front.

I wish people would stop reducing his son (and other applicants) to the information provided up there - some numbers (which are common in our pool) and a few words of description. We have a 25+ page application for a reason. Clearly no one knows the whole story on any applicant except for the applicant him/herself and the committee. That's why all the speculation in this thread (and on College Confidential) is so utterly ridiculous.

Posted by: Ben on March 22, 2006

speculation as to what is required for admittance might be ridiculous but you will agree Ben that so is the implication that not being admitted implies a deficiency in personality or passion. Passion and personality is apparent in the posts of those who were not admitted and it has been my point that admitted students should not imply that those "rejected" lacked some quality, were automatons, grade-grubbers or any of the stereotypes that have often misrepresented MIT. Only so many can be accepted and Miss America is not the single beauty,..that's why there is a contest. And all the states who go home crownless look damn nice on the arm of your average lucky Joe,.. so wear your crown with humility.

Posted by: rorosen on March 22, 2006


Posted by: rorosen on March 22, 2006

Rorosen, I absolutely agree and I hope I haven't implied otherwise somewhere (if I have, please let me know where and I'll correct it immediately!). The whole point of the original blog entry was that there were many more applicants than spots and that no one should ever take a rejection from MIT personally.

As I keep saying over and over again, the committee votes to accept the applicants it accepts, not to reject the ones it doesn't.

Posted by: Ben on March 22, 2006

Hey guys- some people have beenn shaped by the experience of failure/rejection, and that's great for them if they learned something from a disappointing situation. Maybe you haven't had a similar experience, and that's cool too. But do you really need to go around calling them deluded? That seems, at best, a bit childish.

Posted by: Laura on March 22, 2006

Of course I was not referring to you, gentle Ben. Horrors. Entirely the opposite. I am trying to make a point that you are not blunt enough to make to those who claim insight into a process akin to Pope selection. I simply wish to defend the non-admitted against seeing this as an indictment of their character. Yes, we on the outside do believe the selection looks beyond academic stats but this does not mean that the unselected lack passion, were not unique, could not craft delightful essays, spread themselves out too thinly among extracurriculors, didn't do this or that,...I am believing what you say, reformulating it with my characteristic blunt wit into a statement even I can understand which is "Perfectly wonderful brilliant sensitive dynamic ambitious cooperative individuals are frequently

and regrettably not granted admission to Mit"

Posted by: rorosen on March 22, 2006

Laura: If someone hit me on the head with a hammer, I guess my fractured skull would have also been '(re)shaped' by that experience, but that doesn't make it positive.

I see people around here do not appreciate realism all that much, so it's probably time for me to stop posting. I had a lot of fun reading the hysterical, feel-good, "American college dream" (wow, I am so proud of myself for coming up with that one) type talk on this thread; I hope you enjoyed reading me too - judging from the feedback, my views are perceived as being just as ridiculous as I consider the generally-accepted truths that circulated on this comments thread.

Remember not to take it all too seriously: the world doesn't care about your problems, but you can always laugh hard at them, and the world will join you. Live well, kids! :D

Posted by: pissed2 on March 22, 2006

"Perfectly wonderful brilliant sensitive dynamic ambitious cooperative individuals are frequently and regrettably not granted admission to MIT."

Perfectly stated - *thank you.*

Posted by: Ben on March 22, 2006

[Perfectly wonderful brilliant sensitive dynamic ambitious cooperative individuals are frequently and regrettably not granted admission to MIT] But Why?

Posted by: 0 on March 22, 2006

[perfectly wonderful brilliant sensitive dynamic ambitious cooperative individuals] > [spots in the class]

Posted by: Ben on March 22, 2006

I just know this process aint going to be pretty in 10-20 years when things are even MORE competitive.

Posted by: thatolchestnut on March 22, 2006

Ah... I got to angry after skimming through some of the comments to read them all, but anyway -

I was in LA visiting schools when MIT's decisions went up and my internet access has been shaky or nonexistant, and thus didn't have the time or ability to obsessively track the admissions decisions. I was rejected, not only to MIT but to Caltech as well, where I'd just recently spent the best 24 hours of my entire school year thus far with amazing dorky people in the kind of environment I hoped I'd get to experience at either school. I promised myself ahead of time that I wouldn't cry about any of my decisions because in the larger scheme of things, it's not worth it.

I'd just like you to know, Ben, that your entry did make me cry. Thank you for doing your job so well. Your entry helped a lot more than Marilee's short letter.

Posted by: Catherine on March 22, 2006

Its probably been said many times before, and even in this thread, but i get the fealing people arent reading most of the posts and simply venting their anger. Its not the college that makes the person, its the person that makes the college. If your smart, youll be smart wherever you go. If your inventive, youll be inventive wherever you go. The material tought is just about the same in any of the universities that any MIT applicant is going to attend. Its up to you to make the best out of your life. Not going to MIT does not mean that you cannot be as/more sucesfull than an MIT graduate.

PS: Germany Pride!! We just beat usa 4:1 in soccer! Nice try guys, u got a couple of weeks to prepare for the real thing! Good luck, and maybe we'll see each other in the semi-finals, again.


Posted by: JM on March 22, 2006

Sry, I was jk when I said my last post would be my final!

April- I read your list too in the 'Not admitted' blogs. It's good to know there are others out there w/ a sense of humor and positive outlook. I also appreciate your PROBLEMS list. It's too bad you won't get to hear any of my Disney toons, maybe I should come out w/ an album, those I know have discouraged me away from this dream though, so don't look for it at your local music store any time soon. Do you like the Lion King musical by the way? I love #9 from your list.. haha. MIT is missing out on you, and you've just proven this through the grace you've shown in all your comments. Best of luck to you! Sry I posted the almost identical response on the 'Not admitted' blogs, oh well. Do you know yet where you are going next year? Sry if you've posted this already.

Catherine- I'm sorry about Caltech's admission decision for you. Just know that there will be 'dorky' ppl. anywhere you go (probably in a smaller masses though). Like we always say in quiz bowl, "The geeks shall inherit the Earth." Going to MIT or Caltech doesn't make you a 'dork/geek/many other words I could use', this is something you are born with. I feel so priveleged.

Posted by: Dani on March 22, 2006


I need to make a minor correction to your math symbols. Your equation should be

[perfectly wonderful brilliant sensitive dynamic ambitious cooperative individuals] >> [spots in the class]

where the symbol ">>" stands for "much greater than" (except in computer science where the symbol >> can stand for other things, but that's another story....)

You may not be up on the subtleties of math symbology, but you are an amazing writer, and a truly caring, sensitive soul. MIT is very, very lucky to have a person like you on staff.

Posted by: MIT grad on March 22, 2006


Posted by: Christina on March 22, 2006

hmm MIT goes on...I wonder how my country mates got in.what is the secret

Posted by: dude on March 22, 2006

if it's truely aba match then how can a student not be a good match at one time and a good one at some other time(transfer or grad school)Stop lying to us.There's some other reasons.Hmm one

Posted by: 0 on March 22, 2006


i replied in matt's post!

don't listen to anyone telling you not to record an album..i want one!


i'm so sorry...good luck in all you do

"Perfectly wonderful brilliant sensitive dynamic ambitious cooperative individuals are frequently and regrettably not granted admission to MIT."

i like that..since i wasn't admitted maybe i'm one of those individuals..i hope i am

Posted by: April (out) on March 22, 2006

Dude, pissed2, chill man. Realism is cool, but you should be realistic and accept the fact that you cant fight this one. But as they say brother, u can lose the battle but win the war. So make good use of ur energy.

Posted by: banks on March 22, 2006

To April (out),

Not being admitted to MIT in NO WAY is an indication that you're not perfectly wonderful, brilliant, sensitive, dynamic, ambitious, and cooperative. Admissions, sadly, is ultimately a numbers game -- far to many wonderful candidates, and far too few spots to put them. Don't let the fact that you have placed in the "majority group" of students who didn't get in make you feel badly about yourself. It's OK to feel disappointed that you won't be going to MIT, but you should not take the decision as a personal rejection.

Since I'm a Mom, all I want to do right now is give you a great big reassuring hug and tell you all those things once again. Not getting into MIT is NOT a personal rejection of you and your accomplishments. Really.

I'm old enough to have experienced rejection and disappointment in my life, especially as a teenager. I'm also now far enough removed from that age to know that, although the silver lining might not always be immediately obvious, things do have a way of working themselves out for the best.

**Big hug**

Posted by: Mom from MIT 78 on March 22, 2006

I couldn't agree more, Mom from MIT '78. My mom always tells me (and yes, I do listen to my mother) that everything happens for the best. I see people posting comments on this post, and although a few arguments have broken out, I see mostly a lot of people feeling a lot better about the letter that they received from MIT, be it admission or rejection. Not only do I feel better about my rejection letter too, but I also am encouraged by the fact that wherever I go, I'll be sharing my education with these other bright, talented people as well.

I wish other schools (the University of Pennsylvania, in particular) had admissions officer's blogs such as this one, where students can comment, and the author of the blog will actually answer back. One of the best things to come out of MIT, I think. Parents and applicants will agree with me, I think, when I say it is an immense relief to read about, know about, and hear from the person/people who actually read the applications. Thanks Ben, for putting up with us. *wink*

Posted by: Nirav on March 22, 2006

Mom from MIT 78,

*returns hug*

I really didn't mean to come across that way. I don't take the rejection personally and i most certainly know that everything will come out right in the end.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

-Romans 8:28

Thanks so much for that comment. Maybe in 4 years I'll be at MIT, in the meantime, i have my whole life ahead of me, and i can't wait to see what's coming!

Posted by: April (out) on March 23, 2006

The dwindling posts indicate that most people have gotten over the initial shock of rejection but if should anybody still harbor self doubt, know the important thing that:

They didn't reject you. They rejected your resume.

This reminds me of what Marilyn vos Savant once said in the PARADE that her answer was wrong, but never she was wrong.

Perhaps we need to instil this kind of detachment when handling rejections and defeats in life.

But by all means, be passionate and celebrate success.

Posted by: Say-Chong Lee on March 23, 2006

Hi Ben,

I was not accepted.

We all know that life is made of good and bad. When there is darkness somewhere, there is always some light somewhere else. Ups and downs are always there in our lives.

It feels bitter to be not accepted by a college where I have dreamt to be, for the past 8 months.

But this would not bring anything to an end. If today is cloudy, tomorrow would be sunny. Nothing is unbalanced in life. I am hopeful.

But there is one thing in our lives which is inevitable. That is our memories. Good memories are like fragrant flowers, but bad ones are like thorns that prick painfully.

Memories of failed dreams would prick us throughout our lives. Is there anything that can balance that pain ? If only we could throw away the thorns....

Posted by: Rupa on March 23, 2006


You're my favorite person. Ever. In the world. In the history of the world. I just think you should know that. I don't think I could even survive if I was in your position because I would get to be best friends with people I never met, and then get depressed over the fact that I never WOULD get to meet them. And I think it's amazing that you can withstand that.

My heart goes out to you on this one.

Posted by: Jess on March 23, 2006

you know, when I first got in, I definitely thought, "MIT must be letting me in because they think no one else will!" I was shocked. I would normally never say I'm an average student, but compared to some of the people who've commented with their stats and rejection notices, I feel a little intimidated. I've always been scared that I would be competing against robots who've spent their lives studying standardized test booklets.

Ben, thank you so much for this post. MIT was probably my farthest reach school, because I thought you guys focused mostly on scores. but I think you've really shown me that you guys care about picking people not robots!

Posted by: aditi on March 24, 2006

Christ. I never imagined that admissions could be so tedious. I had dreams of waking up to someone calling me down for a special delivery of a little gray tube with three big letters on it. Hmmmm. Damn, seems much tougher now. Thanks for the truth anyways.


Posted by: Sarab on March 27, 2006

Hey Ben, I read ur letter today and trust me this is the second time I'm all in tears once again! The first one when i got rejected? I thought that the life is over now (which i think now too), its not at all because i am weak or unable to bear this and take this in its stride but because I gave the hell out of me to MIT. I worked day and night. I knew the admission process earlier only but now reconfirming it from your page make me think that i m really nothing... And I see my labour; all my hard work going in vain - in a bin - for i am no one now! I had hopes! I had expectations! and I thought I was already admitted! Me bagging all the admssion aids and a good record throughout my online application tracking period -- but to my shock ! (trust me, my life's biggest shock) I was "REJECTED!!!" But why? I wanna know --- I know you people are the authorities and have the ritght to do "ANYTHING" but still what was my fault that I am suffering?!?! I know I am taking it a bit heavily and in over stress but trust me friend I am disturbed since March 18th. Can you please contact me once? Please I beg you to contact me once at any of my contacts:

[email protected] [phone number removed for privacy issues]

Posted by: ketan on March 31, 2006


Why are you still here?

Move on, people have. The talk now is CPW.

Pick up your pieces and regroup, and march on valiantly in the Post-MIT era.

Posted by: Say-Chong Lee on April 1, 2006


I just read your entry from an MIT alum mailing list (yes, you're getting around!), and I really appreciate the look into the application process. Back when I applied, it seemed like a black box. My first year, Marilee even held an IAP session to reassure students that, yes, you *do* belong here.

I've been skimming some responses to your blog, and I've been touched by a lot of them. But I'm also suprised by some of the negative responses.

To Applicants: First off, No, a rejection from MIT is *not* the end of the world...after all, you can always come here for grad school! Seriously...I had 1 (one) TA who was an MIT alum. All the rest had applied to MIT for undergrad, been rejected, and then ROCKED their respective undergraduate institutions to get into MIT grad school programs.

OTOH, While a rejection letter isn't the end of the world, an acceptance letter really is an invitation to a wholly unique undergraduate experience. I *love* MIT, I *loved* my time at MIT, and I completely blossomed when I got there. Before MIT, I worked really hard. I didn't go to drinking parties, I stayed up until ungodly hours of the night researching for papers, and I completed nearly every math problem I could find (even if it wasn't assigned). While I sincerely loved my work, I definitely didn't jive with the high-school culture. I've talked to high school classmates who opted to go to state schools, and they had a completely different experience than I had at MIT. MIT lets you be you. But it's more than that: MIT allows you to find yourself in college, and then allows you to be yourself, while having enough diversity in the campus to ensure you'll find friends who accept you for yourself. It's an amazing experience that you don't find very often. And once you graduate, it makes you want to change the world to be more like that. MIT really is something special.

So, to conclude a super-long post, I'd like to encourage any and all applicants to find their own MIT's. I mean, if you get in, you should just go to the original. But even if you don't get in, seek out MIT's in the schools you choose to attend. Seek out those students who share your same values and will allow you to think for yourself. Seek out professors, even if they don't technically have office hours, and get them to teach you about what they've learned. There's a whole world of knowledge, and if you're applying to MIT, that means that you're already two steps ahead because that shows you have the drive to change things.

Good Luck, y'all.

Posted by: Kristin on April 4, 2006

I am one of the 87% you rejected. It really helps to know that you care.

Posted by: Yuekai on April 15, 2006

You must cry a lot.

Posted by: 0 on April 16, 2006

Thank you so much for that post. It nearly brought tears to my eyes. I didn't apply to MIT, but I did apply to several other prestigious universities, and some rejections did depress/anger me quite a bit. I completely agreed with that cc poster - until I read this blog. It really made me see the human side of the admissions committee, and I hope that my future [very, very far in the future] kids will be facing adcoms like you. You have a wonderful job, and I can see that you do it very well. This gave me more comfort than any rejection, or even acceptance letters I've received.

Posted by: Kristy on April 16, 2006

awwwwww. . .


Posted by: Tolu on April 17, 2006

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