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Cristen C. '10

Oct 11, 2008

My College Essay

Posted in: Best of the Blogs, Freshman Applicants, Process & Statistics

Ahh, the application essay. Why is it so agonizing for students worldwide? Which topic shall be chosen, A or B? Can I impress those admissions staff? Is there such a thing as too personal?

I can't recall precisely when I decided to apply to MIT Early Action. Or precisely why. It was that dream in the sky that I think I wanted more than other dreams in the sky. And so my college application season began.

My interview was at the Cosi at 13th Street and 6th Avenue with a young recent graduate named Steve. I always get really nervous at interviews. I remember nothing else about Steve (was he Course 15? 14? did he even know NYC?), but he liked the drawing I'd made while waiting for him and seemed really impressed by my response to my upbringing and family situation. Like, about to pee his pants impressed that I'd climbed so high on the life ladder. I left more than an hour later feeling like that went pretty well.

Then there's the essay. Like a good hopeful applicant, I spent weeks thinking about and working on my essay. And reworking it. Over and over again. The online submission date was November 1. Shortly before then, something amazing happened.

The website crashed.
ZOMG THE SITE CRASHED

If I recall correctly, nothing was actually lost. But for the trouble, we were granted a few extra days to submit our applications. The due date was moved to Friday, November 4th 11:59pm.

WIN!

(Also known as, do you know how to procrastinate? You will soon...)

I sometimes wonder whether what happened next was a fantastic twist of fate. How much would have changed if the following had not happened?:

Early Friday evening, I decided I hated my essay. I hated it so much that I considered it broken beyond repair. So, with only a few hours before the deadline (maybe the site won't crash again?), I started my essay from scratch. The next two or three hours were a frantic night of keyboard-banging, friend-proofreading, and increasing panic. Wouldn't it have been safer to submit the overly-edited essay?

I gave MIT the new essay, and MIT gave me admission.

For those beginning their applications and perhaps working on their essays this very moment, and perhaps for those who were just curious as to what a decent college application essay is like, I share mine with you. You'll learn more about me in the process, which is really what the essay is supposed to do in the first place right? :)

(If Ms. Cleary happens to be reading this, um, well, hi. Look where I am now. :D)

Living in the graffiti-adorned projects of the Lower East Side, I’ve adjusted well to low-income living. Stuyvesant High School’s done a first-rate job on making me feel like an outcast for it.

“You can get a fee waiver once you give us a copy of your parent’s 1040 tax forms,” Ms. Cleary automatically explained.

“My parents don’t have tax forms,” I said pointedly. “They don’t fill them out.”

“Of course they file tax forms,” she shot back. “Everyone does.” After a few more minutes of fruitless discussion, I left the College Office, unsuccessful. I would pay for SAT II exams, again.

Even with fee waivers, applying to college is pricey. Sending test scores to more than 4 colleges cost money, AP exams fees are reduced but not obliterated, and I’d love to meet the genius who thought of charging a fee for applying for financial aid. When approaching Ms. Cleary for help with the CCS Profile - I didn’t know where to indicate welfare and food stamp income - she asked me which school I chose to apply to.

“M.I.T.,” I replied.

“Oh, M.I.T.?” she mused. “How ironic, that you’re applying to M.I.T. and yet you can’t fill out a form…” I don’t consider my school’s administration supportive or welcoming.

My family felt strained enough paying $57 for senior dues when I attended middle school. Being a senior at Stuy is much, much worse. So far, this year’s classes have demanded about $270 total in textbooks, workbooks, art supplies, and other expenses. When my teachers ask whether anyone will have trouble paying for their supplies, no one speaks up and an awkward silence ensues.

While academic costs have mostly been waived, high school memories are not priceless. Yearbook photos just came in, and packages cost from $86 to about $230. I’ll probably wear an old dress and take the subway to my senior prom, which will probably set me back another $160. I will not get a class ring.

Many of my friends carry $10 and $20 daily, while I get $5 on a good day. Most of their parents are middle to upper class, working as teachers, lawyers, programmers, doctors, writers, social workers, or scientists, unlike my mother who is excused from work because of illness. Some of my classmates come from private schools, and many buy prep books for exams and have been in expensive SAT prep courses since middle school. They seem unable to comprehend my situation; the blank, baffled looks on their faces upon learning I have no cable television, cell phone, or air conditioning shock me.

“We do it because we want you to be happy,” my grandmother had explained to me when giving me $60 to attend a discounted college trip. Even in a nation governed by socioeconomic class, I believe that happiness and perseverance are enough for success. Although I use second-hand paints and brushes in acrylic painting class, I know that my painting will look just as striking.

Comments (Closed after 30 days to reduce spam)

that was brilliant. (:

Posted by: heidi on October 11, 2008

that was really wonderful and inspiring.

Posted by: utkarsh on October 11, 2008

Inspiring! Well done with the essay and thanks for posting it!

Posted by: mohit on October 11, 2008

Nice post!! Very inspiring...

Posted by: Barack McCain on October 11, 2008

Oh thank god! *looks up and tears of joy well up*
Enough drama lol! Thanks so much for posting such a wonderful entry!!

Posted by: Ahana on October 11, 2008

nice post...and i must start with my essay to avoid "frantic night of keyboard-banging, friend-proofreading, and increasing panic" during wee hours

Posted by: Karan on October 11, 2008

nice post...and i must start with my essay to avoid "frantic night of keyboard-banging, friend-proofreading, and increasing panic" during last hours

Posted by: Karan on October 11, 2008

sorry...the 2nd comment was a mistake

Posted by: Karan on October 11, 2008

Impressive essay! Thanks for sharing this with us. It really inspired me:)

Posted by: Zhiren on October 11, 2008

Thank you so much. I'm pretty much going through the same thing you went through. I started my essay 2 weeks ago after months of scrapping topic after topic. This really helped.

Posted by: 0 on October 11, 2008

That was a good essay. But I would like to read the one that you rejected, if you don't mind.

Posted by: TBOL3 on October 11, 2008

Cristen!!! You want to be a meteorologist too!! :D :D Please tell me more…
And, wow, your story is amazing.

Posted by: Reena on October 11, 2008

After reading about your family situation, I can say that you are a truly inspiring young woman. Undoubtedly, your grandmother played an important role in your life.

The last two sentences in the essay summarize where you came from and how that has influenced your thinking. Fantastic! Exactly what the admissions office loves to see! You are an inspiration to other young women who are struggling in their home life, in their high school, or in their country.

Advice to perspective students - Show the admissions office what makes you tick. Speak honestly in your essay. You are not trying to win an essay contest, you are trying to give the committee a window into who you are. The essay should be a preview to the amazing person who is applying for admission!

Posted by: anonymous on October 11, 2008

thank you. so much smile

Posted by: June on October 11, 2008

slightly off topic but does anyone know why i cant get the teachers evaluation forms to load from my.mit?
good post, awesome essay..well done! :D

Posted by: erik on October 11, 2008

Wow.
That was inspiring.
smile

Posted by: Tree on October 11, 2008

you wrote your 500 on being poor?

Guess need-blind admissions don't really work if applicants can selectively choose to reveal this information.

By the way, everyone who's gotten turned down by MIT for financial aid (including many from Stuy, who are nowhere as rich as your essay seems to imply) hates your guts.

By the way, this isn't an "I hate poor people" or "I hate affirmative action" post. This is a "People who get into MIT while bending need-blind rules suck" post.

Posted by: current '11 on October 11, 2008

Omigosh, this is the first time I've decided to read an MIT admission blog and it's authored by a Stuy alum! As you can probably guess I'm from Stuyvesant too. What was the topic suppose to be though?

Posted by: Tiffany on October 11, 2008

I would like to say that I liked the essay (far better than I like my own, which I submitted a few days ago), and that I disagree with the opinion of the current '11 student. Although it would be nice to have some more information, I'm guessing that the topic for the year this was written in (the one she chose, at least) probably had to do with either hardship or adversity. Having to deal with financial difficulties definitely falls into those categories. It also, as we can see above, can make for a great essay, provided that the person can write effectively, which Cristen obviously can. Assuming that she got in simply because her family lacks money seems to be rather hasty. You appear to be following a "Cristen wrote an essay on being poor, Cristen got in, therefore Cristen got in because she is poor" train of thought. Essays aren't the only thing an applicant is judged on (something I am thankful for); if the admissions officers did not think that she deserved to get in, they would not have accepted her. You should think things through before making such accusations.

Posted by: Dane on October 11, 2008

Hm, I myself would like to apologize for that huge block of text right there. I seem to have temporarily forgotten about the enter key.

Posted by: Dane on October 11, 2008

@ current '11

Um... what? How's that "bending need-blind rules"? They aren't going to admit / not admit her based on how much money she has, and I don't get why anyone who's been turned down for financial aid would hate her for this essay. I know what it feels like to be in her position; it sucks. If you've been turned down for aid, I doubt you've ever been in a situation where you didn't know where the money for your next meal would come from, so don't compare your situations.

On a different note, that was a great essay; thanks for sharing. Thanks for the inspiration.

Posted by: Anon on October 11, 2008

Don't make assumptions about my financial status. If you want, we can do a line-by-line, day-by-day comparison of natural disasters, foreclosures, crimes, diseases, and arrests of family members, and we can see whose life sucks more. I've been there as well. I know what it's like too. But that's not the point.

Posted by: current '11 on October 11, 2008

In the interest of those who've asked, I can't find the '10 application, but here's the '11 prompts (which are probably the same) :

(Pick 1, write 500 words)

Essay A Tell us about an experience which, at the time, really felt like “the end of the world”— but had it not happened, you would not be who you are today. Describe the process through which you discovered value in the negative.

Essay B Describe the world you come from, for example your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations?

Posted by: current '11 on October 11, 2008

Cristen, I'm sure you've worked incredibly hard to get to where you are on the "life ladder," as you put it. I'm sure you're going to accomplish truly extraordinary things here and after you graduate.

Without assuming anything else, I just don't think the choice of material for your admissions essay was appropriate. I guess what comes to my mind are all those who aren't on welfare or food stamps (lucky them) who have worked just as hard.

By the way, despite my trollish tendencies, I have a heart too. I'm a human being who bleeds the same color blood as the bloggers. I'm an MIT student just like them. Sometimes, I just don't see things the same way they do.

Posted by: current '11 on October 11, 2008

current ’11, she answered the prompt. she talked about how her struggles shaped who she is. there’s a fine line between showing your inner strength and asking for pity, and she definitely stuck to the former, especially with that beautiful last paragraph.

Posted by: Reena on October 11, 2008

current '11 -

By the way, everyone who's gotten turned down by MIT for financial aid (including many from Stuy, who are nowhere as rich as your essay seems to imply) hates your guts.

I don't care whether or not you agree with Cristen's choice of material for her essay, or how angry you may be at MIT for screwing you for financial aid; saying something like that is never, ever appropriate.

Posted by: Keri on October 11, 2008

you fools sound rejected and insecure!

don't dare compare your selves for all of you are unique and blessed (in some ways you probably have taken for granted), nor have seen the horrors of war, genocide or death.

Just because you come from some place doesn't make you least/more than others. We are still blessed in so many ways: read, write, walk, see, etc. Dont forget where you came from and those who you make em proud.

If you dont like it then gather your stupid lil brains and make a difference about it, thats why we are fortunate to have at least some level of education and non the less the talent to succeed where others may have failed.

Posted by: akademika on October 11, 2008

I don't like this essay because it reads too much like a sob story. Judging from most of the comments which describe it as "inspiring," bringing people to tears, and esp. "[e]xactly what the admissions office loves to see!" I think other people read it the same way.

Applications to MIT aren't supposed to be about where you came from, who you know, what you look like, and who your parents worked for. MIT admissions are theoretically based on merit--which means they are about YOU. It's supposed to be irrelevant what your parents do for a living, whether they are unemployed or not, what race you are, whether your parents are alumni or the coaches think you'd be a good quarterback or rower. The application is supposed to be about the applicant, with enough context to give them a fair appraisal. This essay makes it more difficult to do so by playing on the reader's emotions, presumably hoping that because it's "exactly what the admissions office loves to see" (and loves to tell stories about on its website!) that it'll help you get in. That is wrong.

Don't get me wrong. I'm for class-based affirmative action. It IS relevant that you can't afford special SAT prep sessions and it is likewise relevant you went to Stuyvesant which is one of the best high schools in the world from what I've read.

But they already knew what your parents did for a living, they knew where you went to school, they could infer a lot about how you prepared for the SAT from other info on the app. This essay doesn't give any more context. It is as much a story about Mrs. Cleary and bad admissions policies as it is about you. This sob-story essay shouldn't be considered a model essay.

One last note: I know MIT loves these kinds of blogs because they show how open-minded and tolerant MIT is, and how MIT gives everyone an equal shot at getting in. But the truth is that the rural south and other poor parts of the country are vastly under-represented. African Americans are still very under-represented. MIT has legacy preferences like other universities and admits lots of privileged students who would never have been admitted if they went to a normal public school.

Posted by: Steve on October 11, 2008

@ Steve
During CPW, we were specifically told by Stu Schmill, the Director of Admissions, that no students are admitted for legacy, for being a world-class athlete, or because their grandma wanted to donate enough money to build a new research building. So, your last note really does not apply. Perhaps students in the rural south and other poor parts of the country have never even heard of MIT. We live an a city of 40,000 in the midwest and I can't even begin to tell you how many people here don't know what MIT even is. I can say that this is true for our entire state - most people here haven't heard of MIT. How can students in rural southern states with failing education systems be expected to apply/be admitted to a school they have not heard of?

This was not a sob story essay. No doubt there was not a single day that Cristen's family situation didn't effect her life. Did you read about her family situation? There's no way that the admission office could determine how she was treated by the staff and student body at her high school from basic information on the application. Her essay gave context to who she is and a lot of that was brought about by her family situation. I would think that many applicants write about a difficult time in their lives and how it changed them or made them the person they are today. The admission website tells you to let them see who you are and why you are that way. Cristen did exactly that!

And what I meant by "exactly what the admissions office loves to see" is that she showed how the world she came from has shaped her dreams and aspirations. Did you read the last 2 sentences?
"Even in a world governed by socioeconomic class, I believe that happiness and perseverance are enough for success. Although I use second-hand paints and brushes in acrylic painting class, I know that my painting will look just as striking."

Finally, it was not just one essay that secured her admission to MIT. It was the whole package that she had to offer - her interview, recommendations, transcript, test scores, and additional essays.

I say "thank you" to Cristen for sharing her essay with us. By doing so, she intended to give us an idea of what worked for her. She shared the process of writing her initial essay and a replacement essay. She should not be ridiculed for this.

Thank you, Cristen, thank you!

Posted by: anonymous on October 11, 2008

@ Steve:

You said: "African Americans are still very under-represented." Are you freaking kidding me? I see just as many African American people here as I see Latinos, or Chicanos, for example. If you think that African Americans are underrepresented, go to New House. There's tons of them there.

And to anyone trying to suggest that Cristen might have gotten in just because she grew up poor, you're so very wrong. I think her story is a very interesting one, and I can somewhat relate to it. She was trying to let the admissions officers know that she does whatever she can to reach her goals and that she has determination, which is something MIT students should have in general.

And current '11, if you're so displeased with your financial aid package, go and appeal it. You don't need to bitch at people who get full rides just because you're bitter about not getting one yourself. Don't make YOUR financial problems anyone else's problem.

Posted by: milena '11 on October 11, 2008

Great story.....early action Requires alot of work....especially when you attend a high school that's new...I go to New Day Academy here in the Bronx,NY and my school is doing a terrible job with early applicants....I am still waiting for an evaluation letter which I gave out in September......I already have my essay...had my interview in 40/ park ave and have my fee waiver...But I'm going nuts because I am going to mail my evaluation next week but my English teacher is lost.....

Posted by: Brayan on October 11, 2008

Finally, it was not just one essay that secured her admission to MIT. It was the whole package that she had to offer - her interview, recommendations, transcript, test scores, and additional essays.

I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly. The essay is intended to give applicants a chance to show an aspect of their personality or their background that might not otherwise come through amidst the jungle of standardized test scores, transcripts, grades, and other recommendations that are part and parcel of any college application. I think Cristen did exactly that.

This sob-story essay shouldn't be considered a model essay.

Steve, I sort of see your point - but more importantly, I think you're missing Cristen's purpose in posting this essay in the first place. Nowhere do I get the impression that Cristen was trying to pass this off as an example of a perfect or "model" essay - it is simply one essay, out of the thousands that MIT sees over the course of the year. By posting her essay, I believe Cristen primarily wanted to help students realize that even intensely personal stories can sometimes have a place in an MIT application.

Posted by: Paul on October 11, 2008

@anonymous

Stu Schmill works for MIT. He has to give the official version of the story. If they don't have a legacy preference, then why do they ask if your parents or relatives went to MIT on the application? I'd love to hear the answer. Remember how colleges used to insist that applying early decision didn't improve your chances yet ED applicants had double the admit rate at some colleges. (I believe it was 27% EA vs. 18% normal at MIT when this study was done.)

@milena

I've spent plenty of time in New House. Trust me. African Americans comprise less than 10% of every MIT class as far as I've seen, yet 12-13% of the U.S. is African-American and I believe close to 20% of 18 year olds are African Americans. Why isn't 12-20% of the MIT class African American too?

@Paul

You're right. But I don't think it helps to post essays like this because we know applicants are going to read them and try to draw some lesson from it on how to improve their chances. That lesson is likely to be that trying to make it sound like you had a hard life improves your chances which is, but shouldn't be, true.

Does whether or not her guidance counselor was a jerk have any relevance to whether she should have been admitted to MIT? I don't think so, so I don't think this essay is why she got in--but if it did help it was likely by playing on the readers emotions, not making a clear narrative about an obstacle and how it was overcome.

Posted by: Steve on October 11, 2008

Current '11 -- You say, "By the way, despite my trollish tendencies, I have a heart too. I'm a human being who bleeds the same color blood as the bloggers. I'm an MIT student just like them. Sometimes, I just don't see things the same way they do."

No, if you bled the same color blood as the bloggers you'd use your real name to post things on the internet, just like they do week in and week out. You are right about the trollish tendencies, though.

Posted by: Sam on October 11, 2008

Steve: Again, you raise some good points. But I think it's rather unfair of you to (obliquely) suggest Cristen was trying to play on her readers' emotions with this essay. As the adage goes, you write what you know. Yes, perhaps Cristen could have talked less about her guidance counselor - but I think overall you might be taking this a little too seriously, considering it's been about three years since she was admitted. wink

Moreover, at least in my opinion, the only way for people to overcome the obstacle of socioeconomic prejudice is to face the world with a positive attitude whenever possible. Among other things, Cristen wrote, "I believe that happiness and perseverance are enough for success." I think that managing to maintain that upbeat spirit certainly qualifies as overcoming an obstacle.

Posted by: Paul on October 11, 2008

WOW! Where did you learn to write an essay like that?

Posted by: Ehsan on October 11, 2008

Thanks for posting your essay, Cristen There's a lesson here for all 2012 applicants - write from the heart, not from that sanitized place where parents, advisors, professional coachs and others live and try to shape your ideas into that 'perfect essay.' Yes, Cristen took a risk in writing this straight from her experience, and it paid off handsomely. Think about that.

Posted by: anonymous on October 11, 2008

Uh, duh. Sorry, steve, but she HAS had a hard life. And she has as much right to talk about it as you do about your love of the violin or I do about my family in china or my friend does about the cancer she's overcome. So, what, should we put a gag order on her story because of a public sensitivity re affirmative action? How is that her responsibility? She has a right to her story as you do yours.

And honestly, people would save themselves a lot of anxiety and getting all worked up and jealous about a perceived advantage someone might have had in college admissions if they could just take a minute and ask themselves, would I trade my life for hers?

Posted by: lulu on October 11, 2008

Thanks for posting this essay.

It's nice to see that the admissions office isn't looking for a storybook conclusion but rather insight into each applicant's personality and aspirations.

(hopefully...)

Posted by: Sasha on October 11, 2008

@Steve

If you don't like it, just don't read it...
Don't make so much noise and talk all that NONSENSE!!

No one ask for your opinion btw...

Posted by: Barack McCain on October 11, 2008

@Barack McCain

If you don't like it, just don't read it...
Don't make so much noise and talk all that NONSENSE!!

No one ask for your opinion btw...

Posted by: Kyle on October 12, 2008

@ Kyle

If you don't like it, just don't read it...
Don't make so much noise and talk all that NONSENSE!!

No one ask for your opinion btw...

Posted by: Barack McCain on October 12, 2008

I always keep wondering if there must be something special in the essays like something that has changed your life but after reading this it doesn't seem so.

Thanks for posting it.

Posted by: Tristam on October 12, 2008

ty for posting this essay, exactly what we wanted.
it's absolutely wonderful considering it was written in a few hours.

sigh at the comments above me.

Posted by: mynameiscabbage on October 12, 2008

I guess I just don't see what's so great about this essay. The last paragraph is strong. I actually learn something about Cristen. But 80% of the essay describes the problem (the author's financial circumstance) and 20% manages to briefly support the "overcoming obstacles" argument.

I don't buy it, guys. This blog post implicitly encourages applicants to add a "my life sucks" flair to their essays.

Posted by: current '11 on October 12, 2008

Excellent essay! I have a few questions about the application that aren't at all relevant, but I didn't know where to ask them. First off, do honorary societies count as scholastic distinctions (NHS, Society of Women Scholars, Spanish Honorary)? Secondly, for the activities and summer activities sections, is it okay to leave the hours per week, weeks per year, and dates spaces blank if there were not specific schedules for these activities? Thanks!

Posted by: Lindsay on October 12, 2008

I can relate to and sympathize with hard circumstances. However, I tend to agree with those who have problems with the message being conveyed by this essay. To me, it played directly to the worst of the social engineering role that college admissions departments have adopted for themselves. The financial problems confronting applicants is and was addressed through need blind financial aid. Academics are something else entirely. Coming out of Stuy hardly qualifies someone as academically disadvantaged. And, having had the benefit of a first class high school education, why should one Stuy grad have a leg up on another? And, what about the applicant who managed to succeed without the benefits afforded by Stuy? [Indeed, the only "academic" disadvantage here seems to have been a rude and uninformed clerical employee.] I agree with leveling the playing field, but once it has been leveled, the same rules have to be applied to all. The rest is just mindless, politically motivated social engineering. Having said that, I greatly admire Cristen and her grandmother for working through a very difficult childhood.

Posted by: fidel on October 12, 2008

The last line of the essay is brilliant......equally the flow of the whole essay is very good....the reader wants to read more once he/she started reading it....

Posted by: SRV on October 12, 2008

"Waaahhh my life sucks more than yours, no mine does, no mine does and I'm proud of it!" Get over yourselves people.

Also, if Cristen did in fact "bend the need-blind rules," she bent them AGAINST herself, the point of need-blind rules is to keep colleges from denying poor students to keep their financial aid costs down. Thiiiink about it....

Also, Steve: "Applications to MIT aren't supposed to be about where you came from" Ummmm....except when the essay prompt is exactly about that? Also, "MIT has legacy preferences like other universities" is just plain false. They ask you to check that box because the dean of admissions personally reads every legacy application that gets put in the deny pile. Why? He/she never overturns the decision, but is fully prepared when entitled, angry parents call asking why their child wasn't accepted to say, "I read the application personally, and it doesn't merit admission."

You're certainly entitled to your opinions, but those two are presented as fact, and they're just plain wrong.

Posted by: Laura on October 12, 2008

I thought it was a nice essay. It was definately not what I was expecting, but it helped me to decide what to write in my essay because, I too, have a difficult home life and am very determined.

Posted by: nicole on October 12, 2008

Wow, that was a really brave essay to write. I admire you for choosing to submit the one which you felt was truly you over the one that you had edited to death. I also go to Stuy and also want to pursue Course 12 if I get into MIT, and I'm applying early action too! Hopefully I'll be able to come up with an essay as courageously truthful as the one that you wrote.

Posted by: Samantha on October 12, 2008

I guess I'm one of only a few who missed the "beauty" of this essay? Reads very much like something randomly pulled together in a couple hours, and certainly sounded more complaining/sob-story than really painting a clear picture of the applicant and/or overcoming adversity...
(btw I'm in a similar situation - much poorer than my classmates, though I'm not quite on welfare - so I've been there)

Posted by: bubbles on October 12, 2008

I could easily write paragraphs about this essay and my opinions on it, but all I'll say is that this essay and the litany of comments that have followed exemplify the problems colleges-- and students from all walks of life-- have with dealing with affirmative action in a way that is truly unbiased and fair to everyone who needs it.

Posted by: Anon on October 12, 2008

Hey, bubbles, bear in mind it WAS pulled together in a few hours.

Um, anyway, great essay Cristen!

Posted by: Claire on October 12, 2008

There is no "right" or "wrong" MIT admissions essay. I don't get why some people are saying that this essay is not good. I mean, in case you haven't noticed, Cristen got into MIT! It worked for HER because it told HER story.

One thing I do disagree on is that Cristen should not have posted her essay on this site. I appreciate your story, and I loved reading it; however, this post will attract a bunch of obsessed parents and students who would do anything to get accepted to MIT. They'll want to model their essay after yours, and originality will be lost.

Posted by: '11 (NOT "current '11") on October 12, 2008

I'm sure the Admissions Office would appreciate if the bloggers would stop posting their essays on this site (or anywhere else, for that matter).

Posted by: '11 on October 12, 2008

I want your phone number.

Posted by: Vishaque on October 12, 2008

hm i dont see why bloggers shouldn't post essays. I'd have really appreciated seeing some sample essays before I applied. From real people that I knew something about.

Posted by: lulu on October 13, 2008

i agree with lulu......

Posted by: SRV on October 13, 2008

Whoa whoa whoa.

SRV??

THE SRV???

Posted by: Ahmed on October 13, 2008

@ Current '11, Steve, and likeminded who want Einstein to support thier claim on being more broke and downtrodden than Chirsten

Usually I write on MIT posts whenever something bad hits me, to let an automated total recall play in my mind that situation could've been more chaotic. Why? Just look at the posts above. LOOK GUYS IF YOU'RE RICH, ITS NOT YOUR FAULT, AND IF YOU ARE BROKE BUT BEHAVE LIKE LORD SILVERSPOON (MENTAL TOUGHNESS, RIGHT C '11 AKA WILLIAM JAMES RESURRECTED) ITS NOT YOUR FAULT EITHER, but for God's sake, stop telling her that she did that to get admitted, since as I see it, she told the truth, and it must be honoured, as you all admitted guys did. Only because our truths don't match, ... ... As least have some degrees of sanity and ethics; so that folks like Chirsten wont get more mentally tough, thereby causing more problems to society by thier crazy new ideas.


P.S. - Please respect it, William James II. Don't get mad since you've earned this title, through your 360* perusal of situations in all available, imaginary axes, with all possible combinations of variable, constant , unspecified, unheard of, parameters. So be it. And yes current '11, I said all that for you.

Posted by: Vishaque on October 13, 2008

Cristen, your story is so incredible. Thank you for sharing. My story is comparable to yours in some ways and this summer I had the realization that, 'Ok, these people around me go to Choate and drink Fiji water and have the best SAT Prep schools, etc., but I'm going to the best I can with what I have(!) And I want that to be MIT.'

Posted by: Liz on October 13, 2008

@Ahmed

wat's ur problem??????

Posted by: SRV on October 14, 2008

I foresee a flood of similar essays this year...

Posted by: Ben '10 on October 14, 2008

Does anyone know When we're gonna be given this year's essays prompts?

Posted by: anonymous on October 15, 2008

Hey Cristen,

I also went to Stuy (graduated last year) and, while my situation wasn't nearly as hard, my parents are working class, and for a while I was obsessed with the bizarre race and class dynamics at Stuy and how so many didn't seem to notice them. Glad to hear you made it through--and whatever few things I miss about the school, I am SO glad to be done with the administration.

Posted by: Katie on October 16, 2008

I'm a low-income student and know how you feel. Or felt. Or how I will feel? LOL.

I know how it feels to come from a low-income family, and how it feels to ask for fee waivers and do financial aid ($10 for the CSS?? If I had money I wouldn't be filling this out!) and experience the awkward silences when teachers say, "Now, if anyone has trouble paying for this. . ."

I do not, however, know how it feels to go or be accepted to MIT. Yet, hopefully. (Hey, you never know.) But thanks for posting this!

(I don't think it is a sob story. smile )

Posted by: 0 on October 19, 2008

Very inspiring Cris.You actually gave me some hope.Thank you very much.I like you very much Cris because you seem to be very honest and,most importantly,are not ashamed of your situation. May God bless you.

Posted by: Inshaf on October 24, 2008

Cristen, I can't believe you got away with that essay. That's a blog, not an essay! But congrats for getting in MIT and still surviving raspberry

I did write something similar, but tossed it away because I wanted something less emotional and more factual. So, I wrote a horribly butchered up essay about my life (damn the word limit) and didn't get accepted :/

Posted by: Muz on October 24, 2008

"Sending test scores to more than 4 colleges cost money"
"Sending test scores to more than 4 colleges cost"
"Sending test scores... cost money"
"Sending... cost money"

FAIL

Other than that though, very nice, although not very informative. Entertaining to read though.

Posted by: Grammarfag on October 25, 2008

We are each entitled to our own views, including on whether this essay should have been posted, and I really see no point in all the arguments regarding that. In any case, I think it will be easier for admissions offices if they see a lot of similar essays because it will tell them about where they derived their inspiration from. In my opinion, Cristen has posted an honest post about herself and that is that. Anyone is free to disagree with me, but think about it..

Posted by: lwq on October 27, 2008

I feel like my essay is horrible after reading this essay. This one overshadows mine by a lot.

Posted by: Chan-Hee on October 28, 2008

I'm so glad you posted this. I wrote mine in the same sort of "style" (it was about my sister battling cancer), and was worried it would be frowned upon for a college essay, but this cheered me right up smile

Posted by: Tyler A on October 29, 2008

I loved the essay, but I agree that there will be many similar essays this year. I have many of the same circumstances working against me. I actaully began to write a similar essay, but decided that it would sound a little familiar to the admissioins office. But I loved the essay, and I'm writing a new one that can hopefully be as inspiring and clever.

Posted by: applyingtoMIT on November 1, 2008

zomg.. i love that word raspberry

Posted by: 0 on November 1, 2008

Its a wonderful essay. I'm sure everyone would love to read your other work.

Posted by: Avneet on November 2, 2008

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