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Ben Jones

Mar 17, 2005

The Burning Question Part 2

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Quoting Prashant from the last thread, "Number of ways to compare two applicants from a pool of 10,500 is 10500(C)2 = (10500!)/(2!*(10498!))"

I don't need to win the USAMO to know that's a lot of ways.

What a lively discussion it has been. It's grown too long, so we're continuing it here for those of us who are using slower connections...

If you're just joining, start here and catch up before joining this thread.

Comments (Closed after 30 days to reduce spam)

thanks for answering my question. new question: how much weight do summer programs carry? (rsi is different obviously since that almost guaruntees admission). for example, suppose we get into a research program that is for free or get into one that we pay for but does in-depth research - are they differentiated? do summers even matter?

Posted by: nehalita on March 17, 2005

Hello Ben,

I got my rejection letter a few days ago. Guess no more Beavers for me.

As an international student living in the United States, I would like to ask a few questions. There will be another international from my school who will be applying to MIT this year, and I would like to help him.

Given comparable extracurricular activities and scores (published research, science and math passions through club foundings/participation, in addition to other activities, 1500+ SAT), how do you consider the local context of: international students who immigrated to the United States from rural parts of non-english speaking countries as a middle school student (meaning that said international student would have had to overcome both language barriers and cultural barriers and still accomplish that much), versus international students who applied from countries such as India where they stay immersed in the same culture throughout their entire lives and had learned English from their very beginning (meaning such students would have had a much easier time overcoming any barriers and accomplishing the said activities)?

Posted by: Rejected International on March 17, 2005

still waiting

Posted by: sreraman on March 17, 2005

So, say you pick a random pair: you have 10,500 choices for the first applicant and 10,499 for the second. Because there are two permuations (12 and 21) for each pair, the number of combinations is 10,500*10,499/2 (equivalent to what Prashant stated earlier). That is equal to 55,119,750 (fifty-five million, one-hundred and nineteen thousand, seven-hundred and fifty). If one such comparison operation were executed every minute (if applicants are complaining now, what would they say if such decisions were made in only a minute [granted, the application would be compared to 10,499 other applications, and, assuming 30 seconds of each inspection are spent on each application in the pair, each application would still get over 87 hours of attention), it would take almost 100 years (calculated at 104 years, 317 days, 14 hours, 30 minutes and 0.00 seconds, but everything except the 100 years is irrelevant due to significant figures) to complete the selection process. However, this is probably the least robust algorithm possible. In order to be excluded from the pool, an applicant must be "exceeded" by 1,500 other applicants. This presents another (if still imperfectly efficient) method. For example, consider a group of 6 students {1,2,3,4,5,6}, with the lowest-numbered applicants being the "most-qualified" (for the purposes of this example, MIT has a 33% acceptance rate, id est 2 applicants will be accepted). The first round compares 1v2,3v4 and 5v6. Now, the pool is divided into those with one loss {2,4,6) and those with no losses {1,3,5}. The next round of comparisons might pit 1 against 4, 3 against 6 and 2 against 5; now there are three classes: those with no losses {1,3}, those with one loss {2,5} and those with two losses {4,6}. 4 and 6 can now be discarded because they both have two negative rulings (they are not in the top 33%). The third and penultimate round could pit 1 against 5 and 3 against 2. The results of this competition would be as follows: no losses -- {1}, one loss -- {2,3} and two losses {5}. The final round would decide between 2 and 3, leaving 1 with no losses, 2 with one loss and 3 with two losses (additionally, this has the effect of ranking incoming applicants, another hint that this method is still imperfect). Now, consider doing this for 10,500 applicants. With a 15% acceptance rate, 1575 applicants would be accepted. This, unfortunately, entails rejecting 8,925 candidates. Each of these rejected individuals would suffer 1575 losses for a total of 14056875. Because the list is ranked for acceptees, each of the 1575 admittees would suffer a number of losses equal to his/her/its rank. Thus, these individuals have an aggregate of losses expressed by the summation Sigma (i,i,1,1575). This sum is given by the summaiton formula n*(n+1)/2 = 1575*1576/2 = 1241100. Thus, the total number of comparisons is 15,297,975 (only 15 million, two-hundred and ninety-seven thousand, nine-hundred and seventy-five). With the above-mentioned time parameters, the process would take only 30 years instead of 100. See, it's really not that hard if you work intelligently grin (this begs the question of why I was still waitlisted :-( j/k).

Posted by: MindBoggled on March 17, 2005

Ben, I have to say, you are quite attractive. Your teeth are so shiny, they're like... newly polished shoes. And your eyes, don't get me started on your eyes. *swoon*

Posted by: Single Parent of 09er on March 17, 2005

Having read the original Burning Question (which is very important for the new posters) I would like to state that I am sickened/sadened by the use of the word FAILURE. What is that? NONE OF YOU ARE!!! Domestic, International, it does not apply to any category. You put your life into the hands and minds of some excellent individuals for a brief time period in your life. Hopefully, you did that with many other individuals at other institutes, colleges and universities. Unless you are a jokester, your appyling to MIT had, at the time, a heady, life altering experience attached to the results. The results are in, regardless of what they are, LOVE YOURSELF. You know you busted your butt to place yourself in the enviable position to even be considered. You are no less of a person because of a "skinny letter". Think about it. What impact are you going to let a skinny letter have upon all the achievements of your life? Better still, what impact will you let it have upon the rest of your life?

Posted by: intleyes on March 17, 2005

Hi again

My my, this has been fantastic--mature, contemplative, and insightful. I hope lulu, mike, MIT admitted, prashant, amrik, and everyone else all come back to continue the discussion...

A few new thoughts, sprinkled in for good measure:

1) Demystification
Applicants need to understand that the burden is on them to shine within the confines of their application. I myself didn't know how all the pieces (SAT, recs, transcript, essays) fit together to complete the portrait that the adcoms saw. Heh, it's like Laplace transforms: the process still has a veneer of murkiness around it. (Perhaps this murkiness in college admissions comes from the "human element" and holism we were talking about?) Still, MIT admissions can look into ways of making the process more *human*.

2) A guide to applicants
Many questions--about midyear reports, international applicants, awards and essays--have been repeated time and time again on CC and various blogs. Almost *all* of these procedural and conceptual questions can be answered in an MIT-produced booklet. Consider, perhaps, publishing a guide that specifically *looks* for questions and grey areas in the application that might need answering, and tries to answer them. (A step by step guide to the application?)

"Here's a page on the do's and don't's of being waitlisted"
"Here are things to look out for when applying internationally"
"Here are the common pitfalls of past applicants"
"Yes, we do actually care about you, regardless of whether you're admitted or not"

3) Understanding the international scene
Something prashant said struck a chord with me: he perceived that the MIT office didn't understand what it was like to be a student trying to make his/her own opportunities in India. Do admissions representatives travel internationally? If so, they could:
a) study the cultural, political, educational mileu of the countries they're visiting and the contries they're in charge of in adcom
b) look for/solicit nuance and complexity within the countries themselves--where are things different? what do i have to be mindful of?
c) actively challenge the perception that, for example, "It's no use to apply to MIT if you don't have major awards."

This would improve the holistic aspect of admissions w/ regards to internationals, and make them feel that the office is trying to connect with them culturally, too.

4) Response and feedback, even if it is generic
I think it's important. It can be a simple one-liner of encouragement, feedback, *anything*.

"Fred--you came so close--I thought you were great!"
"Amrik--congrats! I loved your essay about XYZ"
"Bob, we think you are amazing--we're sorry we didn't have enough spots"

If that's too much, then at least make a pack of material for the waitlists/rejects. Put some time into it; strive for the goal that no applicant ever says "...and all I got was a lousy piece of paper."

These are all thoughts, opinions, suggestions to elicit some interesting discussion--in case i've offended anybody, do let me know.

--someone

Posted by: someone on March 18, 2005

I think that MIT makes a special effort to understand the international scene. Note that I am living outside the US and am subjected to the GCE A-Level curriculum, and I think the adcom understood well the difference in marking schemes between this type of course (75~80% = A) to others in countries such as the US where (90~93%=A).

I also think my grades from my A-Levels were uber-important, because without them you do not have any solid qualifications. I had fedexed them my results slip from the Nov exams on Feb 7th, which was a few days before they closed off submissions to the committee.

Posted by: amrik on March 18, 2005

MIT was actually my favorite admissions department, even though they did not reciprocate. While "someone" posited interesting questions about undeniable problems, I am not sure if any of the accompanying suggestions possess either relevance or applicability:

1) demystification -- Clearly delineating the precepts and criteria used by the admissions committee would greatly ameliorate the burden of "why" questions. However, there are unfortunate non-incidental concomitants which bear consideration. If the method of consideration were entirely transparent (or even vaguely diaphanous), there would be an inevitable "rise of the machines" (John Connor, it is time; come with me if you want to gain admission to MIT) and applicants would strive not to develop as people, but to force themselves to conform to MIT's standard of admission.

2) Guidebook -- there was some disparity between between the general indications you prescribed and the examples you later put forth. A guide to the application is available now in as complete an incarnation as I would like to see it (refer to 1) on the MIT website. But I would have appreciated more comprehensive information on the meaning and ramifications of a waitlist decision (this blog has provided some answers and MadMatt has promised that more information will be forthcoming on his site as well). To use your example, a guidebook would likely transmogrify the process from the proverbial inverse Laplace transform into a Laplace transform (inverse Laplace, not being unique and all, are inarguably more mystifying and, at once, more artistic and inspired than evaluating any improper integral to get a Laplace).

3) international scene: ??? no idea, I've only been out of my hometown ::removes seductive leather gloves, refulgent boots and socks (no wonder I didn't get in):: I want to say 14 times . . .

4) Feedback: This part made me really :-(; I couldn't think of a single thing to disagree with (how infuriating!). I know I would have appreciated even some small word with personality (they expect humanity from us after all). But I'm pretty sure I know why I didn't get in anyway (reading my essays, I can't even really recognize myself [aside from characteristic diction, syntax, et cetera]; that's the worst part, my own shyness and timidity negated years of hardwork). But anyway, I doff my hat to you for excogitating this seemingly incontrovertible suggestion . . .(I'll muse on it; I'm sure I can come up with something). But I've read somewhere that they don't just categorically reject all sub-1000 SATs or anything of that nature, so it doesn't seem like taking a few moments to scribble a small comment at the time of the final rejection decision would be too much additional effort.

P.S. a mildly tangential blog etiquette question: are we supposed to keep the same handle throughout the conversation (as my name implies, I'm on my third incarnation -- there's a virtual high-five in it for you if you can name the other two)? But, what if I'm a bit schizo and need the different names for expressing different sentiments?

Posted by: Alias#3 on March 18, 2005

Nehalita - summers definitely matter - we like to see that you're not just sitting around doing nothing (although some of that is certainly good - and necessary). grin How you use your summers is really up to you - working, researching, going to band camp - so many options. Do something that means something to you, not something just to look good on a college app.

RI - we definitely consider the context of every applicant individually, and within that context, the challenges he/she has had to face and ovecome.

Single Parent: you are sweet. Thanks for making my night!

All: thanks for the continued wonderful input to the admissions process conversation!

Posted by: Ben on March 18, 2005

I wanted to comment on something that was being discussed in the previous post, which is that certain people are better suited to the culture of MIT. I guess everyone who applies to MIT is exceptional in some way or the other and people can always learn from the environment that prevails at MIT. Its not about just taking leaders and teamworkers, but about taking bright kids who are willing to learn, willing to change themselves for the better. Someone who is not ordinarily a teamworker can learn the value of working within a group at MIT. I think MIT should take people with all different kinds of personal traits, but with one thing in common and that is the desire to learn and to change for the better. Its about taking bright passionate kids and turning them into leaders, teamworkers and achievers.

Because if you have the passion to learn, I don't see any reason why you won't succeed at MIT. And yes, if you have that I don't see any reason why you won't succeed outside of MIT.

Posted by: Neeraj on March 18, 2005

Hah, Alias, I think you're Devil's Advocate too grin

I never purpoted my suggestions to have either relevance or applicability--they were merely catalysts of discussion. Let's keep going; this is fun!

Posted by: someone on March 18, 2005

I completely agree with what Prashant has so clearly articulated earlier. I wonder if many, or any, of the people in the Adcomm are really aware of the realities prevailing in other parts of the world. It is not the first time that people from Under-developed and/or developing countries are applying to MIT. But in the past few years, with the advancement and penetration of Communication media around the world in the form of Internet, and Television, have enabled many from poor backgrounds to know about big places like MIT. And some have showed courage and dared, yes dared - in my case, at least - to apply to such a big place as MIT.

In the past applications to MIT, and the likes, were the exclusive privelege of only those who could afford them, and who could afford to know them. (None in my family knew about MIT a few months ago, though I had known it for many years, as a great place beyond even my overstretched reach.)

Even today, as it was yesterday, the affluent and the opulent from the developing countries find it easier and simpler to apply to institutions like MIT and get selected. Why?
Why? Why?

Because:
- They have the means to afford it.
- They have the means and resources to prepare for it.
- They have private tutions, coaching, and all the things that will make them fit in the mould of perfection. I was the only student in my class of 110 to have no private tution. All others had private tution, personal coaching etc. which gave many of them an added edge that I/my family could not afford to indulge in.
- Their predecessors had the knowledge, expertise and means to guide them properly and through the right roads leading to the doors and gates of the likes of MIT.
- They can afford to have Kaplan and Princeton Reviews. They don't have to sacrifice food and clothing for education and books. I had to make my own means to buy books and even pens, by emploting the means said in the last sentence.
- They don't have to walk to school. I had to walk 5 km to and 5 km back from school, everyday and each day.
- They know about things like RSI, Olympiads, etc. and are given special care and attention, plus coaching for preparing for it.
- They afford to go to the best of schools with the best of resources, facilities and teaching.
- Their top-notch schools and teachers have the knowledge and resources to prepare them for big recognitions and elite institutions.
- They have to care only about their passions and studies. No worry about food for today, for many others tomorrow may come, and may not.

People in the developed countries may never know, better not know, the state of affairs in other parts of the world where the majority of us try hard to thrive everyday, every minute, every second. All they have to do is to TURN AROUND, FORGET AND WALK AWAY!

SHABIN
Mar 18, 2005.

Posted by: SHABIN on March 18, 2005

Hey Amrik. It is not that silly. Find a computer that will compare so many things in several minutes.

Similar method was used to solve the problem of possible routes from one place to another.
DNA complementing is a very useful tool for combinatorics.

Do not say something is silly when you can't see the sense. If someone says it, he has some idea.
There can be error, but rather say where is the error, so we can both repeir it to make it working, than say "it is silly, it won't work".
I guess it will make your life at MIT muuuch harder :D. Just imagine/visualize...

Posted by: jpsi on March 18, 2005

It is Mar 18 and I have not received anything from MIT.

But MyMIT page has given me the hint of what to expect.

Thanx Ben, for all that you have been to all of us.

From today onwards, I won't be able to frequent the British Library quoting the excuse or reason that there might be something new on MIT webpage. For this was the reason I could give to my parents whenever I visited the Library. And I frequented the Library in the last few days for this sole reason. Well, I must be grateful to the British Library that they give 30 minutes of Internet Time per day for a member and it has helped me a lot as I don't have any computer, internet or even a television in my house.

- THANK YOU, ALL FOR ENRICHING MY MEMORIES WITH THE SWEET HOPES AND BITTER DREAMS OF HAVING APPLIED TO MIT.

- IT IS BETTER TO HAVE TRIED AND LOST, THAN NEVER TO HAVE TRIED AT ALL.
I AM HAPPY AND PROUD THAT I DID DARE TO TRY AND APPLY. AND I APPLIED!

Yours Truly,

SHABIN
Mar 18, 2005.

Posted by: SHABIN on March 18, 2005

"And as for you, Mr. Ben, all that you can do now is to delete this post of mine. Thank you."

Shabin, everyone understands that we are pretty emotional now and when someone is in a state like ours, words will flow without a check. I think that sentence above was a bit too strong.

Posted by: Prashant on March 18, 2005

Brother Prashant,

I think that the points I stated may sometimes appear harsh to some of those who were accepted and fall under the category stated. Hence, with an intention to not offend or worry someone, who may be priveleged because of no fault or virtue of his, I had asked Mr. Ben to do so, IF FELT NEEDED.

I had a very tough time applying, though I applied to only one college and could not afford more. SAT, TOEFL, Application etc. took a big dig from my family's meagre and scanty income of $700-750 per annum, parts of which had to be borrowed to meet MIT's requirements.

Maybe, I thought of indulging in something that was not for people like me in the first place. How queer that people realise their pitfalls only from the bottom of the pit.

But I fought valiantly and lost with valor.

I will not be returning for Graduation studies here or anywhere, because the question of Undergraduation itself has now become a question, for me.

Yours truly,
SHABIN
Mar 18, 2005.

Posted by: SHABIN on March 18, 2005

Shabin, You are a very special individual. I'd like nothing more than to see you achieve your dreams.

Please don't give up! The world needs more people like you. You would be a great asset at many fine universities.

Would you be willing to let my family help you with books, etc.?

Let me know.

Posted by: 0 on March 18, 2005

Shabin, Sorry. I wrote the previous post. Didn't mean to sign it Anonymous.

Posted by: pamom on March 18, 2005

You know what bugs me most about MITs claims that it is just a matter of numbers - its that i wonder if i was as good as the guys who got admitted, why didnt i get i instead of them (i know that sounds selfish and egoistic, and im sorry). But then again, I hope now that its a matter of luck beyond a point since otherwise the same 4 chaps would end up getting into all the ivies s well, and i would be left out in the rain

Posted by: Shashank on March 18, 2005

Ive been wondering if it would be woth it to wait out the year and try again, but then i realised that i dont have the emotional faculties necessary to take rejection twice. I thought I could take it until about 11oclock the night i got the rejection letter, but i then just broke down - and until a week ago i thought nothing could move me enough to do that. Also, my parents wont even hear of me skipping a year, and being a product of the Indian Education system, i wouldnt even consider it seriously. However, if by some twist of fate i end up skipping the year, i swear i'll take 2 AP exams every month starting July. Then id like to see mit rejecting me.

Posted by: Shashank on March 18, 2005

"Hey Amrik. It is not that silly. Find a computer that will compare so many things in several minutes.

[...]

Do not say something is silly when you can't see the sense. If someone says it, he has some idea.
There can be error, but rather say where is the error, so we can both repeir it to make it working, than say "it is silly, it won't work".
I guess it will make your life at MIT muuuch harder :D. Just imagine/visualize..."

Wow, someone is quick to take offense. I was obviously joking! And read on the P vs. NP problem and exhaustive searches so you will understand what point of view I am trying to make.

Posted by: amrik on March 18, 2005

P.S. I'm sorry if I offended you in any way.

Posted by: amrik on March 18, 2005

When I win the Nobel Prize and MIT gives me an honorary degree (I know they dont usually do that but they'd better make an exception for me, if only because they rejected me now) i'm going to look at that rejection letter, smile, and consider calling the local Reuters guy.

Just kidding (about the Reuters guy)

Posted by: Shashank on March 18, 2005

ok. I do not read all of it and I did not see the countenance. It seemed patronizing, not offendable.
It was hihgly possible since there are very talented people...

Posted by: jpsi on March 18, 2005

But I did not take it personal, come on wink.

Posted by: jpsi on March 18, 2005

Shashank, are you framing and keeping that letter, or did you tear it already? :-p

Posted by: Prashant on March 18, 2005

In his first post, Shashank brought up some very good points on the state of international admissions/relations...any thoughts? Goes hand in hand with my suggestion for the adcoms to research the countries they represent (if, of course, they aren't doing this already)

Posted by: someone on March 18, 2005

Shabin - that post is a good and worthy post, I only deleted the line in which you told me to delete it. grin I second Pamom's sentiments - please don't give up. MIT may not be your destiny, but that's not losing the grand fight - it's losing one of many smaller battles within the grand fight, many of which you will win. Because you are strong and resilient, and a good person, and you are destined to do good things in this world. Please do not give up.

Shashank, the same is true for you - and I look forward to hearing about where life takes you both.

Someone - those who are heavily involved with int'l apps here are very well trained and knowledgable in the countries they read and select. As I am not among these int'l "experts," I hesitate to comment further, but I am hoping that Matt will jump in here and share his opinions as a senior int'l selector.

Posted by: Ben on March 18, 2005

I guess one thing that strikes me out of this whole conversation is the request to have MIT personalize its rejection notices. I can't recall ever hearing anyone request that any other school send them a personalized message about why their application was not successful: that would be >8,000 individual letters, unreasonable at best. Why is it that people feel more free to expect MIT to give them a personal response than they would get from any other large institution?

Similarly, is there such anger or bitterness from international applicants to other universities that do not have enough places for every qualified applicant? Surely people understand that the vast majority of places for students in a US university are appropriately held for US applicants. What makes MIT a bigger target for this frustration than other schools?

Folks, I agree that MIT is special, but I do wonder why these attitudes seem prevalent. Ben et al., has it been this way in years past also, or is it only because of the openness of the blogs this year that it's come into the open? (Or perhaps there was no easy means of gathering or expressing this sort of frustration in years past, so it existed in silence.)

Posted by: leftcoast mom on March 18, 2005

"Ben et al., has it been this way in years past also, or is it only because of the openness of the blogs this year that it's come into the open? (Or perhaps there was no easy means of gathering or expressing this sort of frustration in years past, so it existed in silence.)"

I think that very well sums it up, leftcoast mom. But we knew when we embarked on the journey of putting ourselves "out there" that there would be bad parts alongside the good parts. Despite the week I've been having here, I still wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

Posted by: Ben on March 18, 2005

leftcoastmom/Ben (a little for both, I'm sure you can dissect it and parse the appropriate sections):
If I were you, I would find it far more palatable to treat our seemingly unreasonable demands as a compliment rather than the querulous demands of rejected students -- if MIT did not already so far outstrip other institutions, such requests would surely not occur. Therefore, it is reasonable to construe these "un-reasonable . . . requests" as flattering felicitations rather than the acrimonious and negative remarks you would now have them be (even if this conception is not true, it is philosophically much more logical [confer the Bokononism of Cat's Cradle]).


to leftcoastmom in particular (with an additional query for Ben):
I thought the logistics of the problem had already been addressed. (Enter Ben) I remember reading somewhere that all applications are read by an actual person (MIT doesn't categorically deny certain groups based on SAT score, et cetera; Ben please intercede to comment on the veracity of this supposition). The remainder of my analysis is contingent on this presumption, but anyway: The press is evidently capable of letter personalization (the names were tailored to the individual); the inclusion of a small text field for the personalized message would then seem a paltry task in implementation and execution; I shouldn't think it'd take more than a few seconds to write a small message, a single sentence even, at the time when the final rejection/waitlist decision is appended to the file stating the rationale for the verdict (the reason would still be fresh in the adcom's mind and would take only a moment to transcribe). This does not seem like an "unreasonable . . . request," but, as a waitlisted applicant with no objective weaknesses, I can assure you that the weight such a comment would carry is immeasurable.


to Ben:
I recall that you earlier said you were not involved directly with the waitlist committee, but I was wondering if I might pose a general question to you: cna waitlisters submit additional application materials like EA deferees? Thanks for any help!

to someone:
Devil'sAdvocate was indeed Alias#1 grin, but Alias#2 is still outstanding . . .

Posted by: Alias#4 on March 18, 2005

"Similarly, is there such anger or bitterness from international applicants to other universities that do not have enough places for every qualified applicant?"

leftcoastmom, that is a very good question. I don't know about others, but I feel MIT somehow has a greater responsibility -

- It has frankly restricted international admits to 8% of total class. Others do not actively restrict, but wind up having the same % of intl admits.
- MIT's alleged (sorry for that word!) admission policies are very idealistic.
- After all is done, one if left wondering if those glorified policies were put into practice.

Yes, I believe this more verbose uproar is becuase this year MIT has made efforts to connect with its applicants and it is only fair that the communication be two-way. Why must everything be sugar-coated? It is one thing to be polite and another to be flattering.

I am one of those other 296 rejected/waitlisted candidates from India this year. In the past, no one probably bothered; but *I* am not going to stay quiet if I have I feel something wrong going on (inadvertantly?). I am glad several other applicants have taken the initiative and joined this discussion. I really hope the people who are more involved with international applications, including Dean Jones, gets to read and consider our comments.

All this talk about doing great wherever one goes to, and that MIT is not the end of the world is fine. But let me ask one admitted applicant - if it's not the end of the world, will your give your place at MIT to someone else, say Shabin?

I am not offering a "wonderful input to the admissions process conversation" as Ben put it, but a thorough criticism. When I was applying to MIT, it seemed like an almost angelic place. Everything the admission literature talked about seemed perfect. I did not apply because it was the numero uno, I applied because I felt it gelled with me. However, I have been left shattered by the decisions. My worst fears have turned true, and I have not been forced to pose a more cynical attitude towards this. I have suffered, but I do not want MIT to make the same mistake again. I do not want the Indian (and other countries') applicants for the class of 2010 to face disappointment once again.

That is why I find myself returning over and again to Ben's blog, to write out my heart.

(Matt's blog is now divided into guilds - admitted, not-admitted and waitlisted).

Posted by: Prashant on March 18, 2005

I feel I somehow left the original question unanswered so:

Yes, us applicants have a greater expectation from MIT because MIT has taken the initiative to connect with the applicants. I don't give a d**n about Harvard, for example, because I know there are no "humans" in the admission committee to look after the vaaast number of appliants (have you tried emailing them? You get instant response - a ready-made FAQ).

I think, as the world's premier institute, MIT has a greater reponsibility - that of setting a standard. Remember the movie, The Matrix? Or Yamaha - the music company? These are all standard-setters rather than followers. So, I think asking for a short personal note on each application is not too much to ask (they *do* discuss every application, don't they?).

Posted by: Prashant on March 18, 2005

I am posting far too much on your blog, Ben. Sorry for that :-( I just need to talk to someone since I got rejected/waitlisted (whatever it is)... no one knows yet, other than friends on CC and here.

Posted by: Prashant on March 18, 2005

"and I have not been forced to pose a more cynical attitude towards this" -- change the 'not' to 'now'

Posted by: Prashant on March 18, 2005

Hey guys, I don't have time to write a long comment right now but I will later. A few quick things though -

1) Prashant, no need to apologize. I admire you a great deal and you are welcome to say as much as you'd like here.

2) I want to clarify my previous comment. When I said "there would be bad parts alongside the good parts," I wasn't referring to the endless criticism that this week has brought, because that is part of the job and to be expected.

Rather, I was referring to the events that would produce that negativity: that is, not being able to admit people who deserved to be admitted, people who I really wanted to see at MIT.

I represent MIT and am therefore the logical weathervane for everyone's criticism. I simply ask folks to remember that I'm just a guy with a job who fought hard for many of you, and in doing so, faced the same numbers and odds that we've been discussing here.

Posted by: Ben on March 18, 2005

I do not think a rejection letter from MIT should be personalized. Application to MIT is not a job interview where you are competeing with <100 applicants. I would not want one quick comment attached to my declination as the reason I wasn't chosen. One would tend to focus too greatly on that single comment and not reflect upon the whole process.

Posted by: intleyes on March 18, 2005

Prashant, I can understand and sympathize with your predicament (not abstractly, but with lamentable familiarity), but I think you are being led astray by your anger, as evidenced by the numerous logical fallacies in your post. Allow me to elaborate:
1.) MIT has a greater responsiblity because it is forthright with its international admissions policy? How could an explicit quota be more offensive to the senses than a tacit, clandestine one? You yourself said that other schools evidently employ a similar criterion (approximately 8% internationals), but do not publish this principle. It is simply incomprehensible to me how this can make MIT more culpable -- it doesn't offer false hope; it informs internationals of the daunting odds they must surmount to gain admission. A rational mind would take this information and submit his/her/its application with humility and hope, not an air of entitlement and expectation. The implicit caveat in this 8% figure is an admonition: dare to dream, internationals are indeed expected, but be prepared for ultimate rejection if it should come. In this way, MIT attempts to mollify the concussion of rejection, a laudable effort, not a reprehensible one.

2&3) Ambition has been the impetus for many good things. By establishing a lofty goal, MIT is pushing itself to ever greater standards of excellence. Thus, these "idealistic" admissions policies can act as a catalyst for reform. However, I do take exception to your diction. "Alleged"/ostensible or any other similarly pejorative synonyms all connote premeditation and guile, a volitive attempt at deception for personal gain. This, you must admit from your experience with Ben, is an extremely unfair characterization. Any shortcomings of the adcom are not the result of some sinister plot to suppress internationals, they are the natural and unavoidable consequence of the size and quality of MIT's applicant pool.

Random Errata:
* what you intend to convey with "flattery" would be better expressed by "obsequiousness" or "sycophancy"
* penetrating objectivity, not specious opining, and developed arguments, not acrimonious ranting, are generally considered the requisites for a "thorough criticism"

Something else to consider:
Who are you to judge who is qualified to be an admittee? It wasn't just dedicated, qualified internationals who were rejected. I'm a domestic; I have a 4000 SAT, the highest GPA in the history of my school, 8 AP 5s, a 4 and a 3 and I was waitlisted. Do you want to know why? The essays were kind of impersonal and uninspired(additionally, this serves as a counterargument to intleyes's assertion -- I didn't get a personalized message and I'm still fixating on a single aspect of my application). MIT adjudicates applicants to the best of its abilities; the acceptees are not arbitrarily determined. While the process may seem inscrutable and somewhat random from the outside, I can guarantee you that each of the admitted students possessed some virtue which you either lacked or failed to efficaciously communicate in your application.

Since this post was rather discursive and inclined to wild flights of fancy and broad deviations from the main point, I'll try to synopsize (or perhaps do a "re-telling" which seems so in vogue in Hollywood of late):
you have every right to vent your frustrations; it really does suck to not get in (no better way to put that I'm afraid). But you need to understand the genesis of your pain and its fundamental nature if you are ever to surmount it and move on with your life rather being consumed by your bitter rage. And remember, rejection is not a harbinger of doom, a cataclysm of Biblical proportions or an ineffable horror -- 'it happens to lots of guys.' But your argument that 'dismissive' admittees relinquish their positions is flawed as well -- by commenting on the difficulty of gaining acceptance (and hence the futility, impracticality and irrationality of being too put out by a negative decision), these admits tacitly bear witness to the premium they place on the ability to attend MIT. Why, then, would they willingly part with such a blessing?

Posted by: Alias#5 on March 18, 2005

Uh. Well, I was wondering, more than anything, I guess, probably, why specifically did I not get in? What would be the proper avenue to find this out (phone call, written inquiry, guidance counselor doing it, blog comment wink, etc.)?

I can provide information on email... I'd just really like to know what was wrong with me.

Yeah, I know, I know, it wasn't what's wrong with me or my application, but more like 'not a good fit' or 'too many good people' or whatever. raspberry

Posted by: gameboyguy13 on March 18, 2005

Hello kids and parents,

the emotions attached to an MIT rejection do seem to be more intense than to any other top school's rejection. While I cannot attest to this personally as I was never rejected by MIT, my kid commented that it was because of the special attachment to MIT. Special attachment? "It's the top school in the world and the only place that brilliant geeks and gnurds can really call home". The disappointments to me seem akin to unrequited love - and clearly there is no way to elaborate or give logical reasons for feeling such dissappointments of the heart.

So why do people fall in love with MIT is the real question - not why do they feel so badly when they don't get in.

Thank you MIT for making this forum available. It is almost akin to a personalized letter of rejection/waitlist with people like Ben and Matt cathartically engaging with the kids (and parents). And it can only feel cathartic when there have been deep emotions attached to it. Otherwise it might look odd to the onlookers and some parents who cannot relate to their kids sentiments.

Can other kids relate to this?

Posted by: parent on March 18, 2005

Im not framing that letter - i dont want anyone to see it until it burst it out onto the world once i become famous.
lol

Posted by: Shashank on March 19, 2005

I have finally done it - i could not take it anymore and spent an hour last nght (or was it today morning) to put down my thoughts in words (in someone else's words, actually, but what the hell)

To *see* (i recommend you dont read the whole thing) it, visit

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/showthread.php?p=547004&posted=1#post547004

(id post it here, but i dont for 2 reasons. First is that the thing is too long and irrelevant to interrupt the discussion with, and the second is that it is easier to quote in CC.

Posted by: Shashank on March 19, 2005

Dear gameboyguy13

My kid showed a photocopy of part-2 of the mit app to the school principal. The principal commented that he could not recognize the "real person" that he knew from the essay questions at all - that none of the real stuff that had made my kid the top student at the school and that had impressed him over the past several years came through at all. The principal noted to my kid that just the vacations every year and the adventures were so unique that describing them would have been far more interesting a self representation. The Principal knew my kid so well that he listed a bunch of topics that could have been talked about.

Then the principal called MIT to talk to them - and had a long conversation with MIT admissions and I believe provided a verbal recommendation of sorts, in addition to trying to understand how MIT had viewed the application. Clearly it did not help. The EA round apparently had been lost on first inspection when the essays had been read and impressions formed and perhaps entered on the summary card!

My kid used this feedback from the Principal in December to develop better essays for Caltech/Harvard and other similar schools that had been held off awaiting EA decision from MIT. We shall know shortly if that was indeed the problem or not!

So - what you might do in your case is have someone who knows you very well, and whom you trust, look over part-2 of your app and ask them if "you" are properly visible in the app. You might glean a lot from their frank assessment. Clearly MIT is not going to be providing any feedback beyond the general statements. Take these seriously and have your reviewers apply these statements to your app. I believe any third party who knows you well can do this very effectively for you - heck the paid "college counselling" industry does it without knowing anything about you, and MIT evaluates you knowing only what is in your application using the same statement of principles that they have openly expressed.

Apart from venting frustrations which is beneficial, this thread is now flogging a dead horse.

I feel for all of you kids. Take care.

parent

Posted by: parent on March 19, 2005

"penetrating objectivity, not specious opining, and developed arguments, not acrimonious ranting, are generally considered the requisites for a "thorough criticism"

I cannot be more objective and forthright than to speak about the conditions prevalent in my country and point out the fallacies of the admission committee in this context. It is very true that the admission committee is well aware of the Indian context, but that in essence is the problem! MIT selections seem like merely a reflection of the "cutoff" selection scheme followed by colleges here. I am not debating my own rejection, because that's final, but making the admission committee aware of the things it might not have known (made-up extra-curricular activities, inconsistent school reports, unwilling teachers and disparaging interviewers). Or maybe MIT knows about it, and so they choose to disregard all of the above, and go solely by tangible evidence of academic excellence rather than the "passion, motivation and initiative".

"this thread is now flogging a dead horse."

Very correct. So I take a break.
Alias #5, I wanted to respond in great detail, but the above phrase is stopping me.

Posted by: Prashant on March 19, 2005




---------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------
SHABIN
Mar 19, 2005.
---------------------------------------------

~~Prashant: "everyone understands that we are pretty emotional now and when someone is in a state like ours, words will flow without a check. I think that sentence above was a bit too strong. "~

I have somehow mastered the art of concealing my emotions and suppressing my tears, but also at the price of suppressing a smile. May it's because, there is no more of tears left to flow, or maybe, no more of reasons in life left to smile. The last time, and for the first time in many months, when I saw my mother smile was when I got my SAT-II Scores in December of 2004. Many of my classmates and schoolmates have many a times asked the same question: "Why can't you return a smile, at least for the sake of it?" Sometimes, a smile may hold the key to unleash a big torrid and horrid flow of tears.

The truth is always strong.


---------------------------------------------

~~papmom: " Shabin, You are a very special individual. I'd like nothing more than to see you achieve your dreams.
Please don't give up! The world needs more people like you. You would be a great asset at many fine universities.
Would you be willing to let my family help you with books, etc.?
Let me know."~

Thanks papmom. Very rarely does people show such kindness and empathy, as you have shown.

I do not know if I would be going to college. So, if you can, you must help with the books to those of who will be going to college but find it difficult to afford. As for me, I do not know if I will need them, and then I have a membership at an excellent library (British Council [email protected]) which has always satiated my needs, thirst and quest for knowledge, for the past 8 years. That membership is the only thing that I ever had, otherwise why would I be here now, typing this message from here?

As about achieving the dreams, I am presently trying to pick the pieces of a big dream shattered and fallen. I may create, with those broken pieces, a new pattern of a new dream, more varied, more vibrant, maybe equally brittle, but only if I succeed in picking them all. The higher one may dream, the bigger will be the fall and the more will be the pieces of it. And the height depends on where one is, and who one is.
To some that is what life is, picking up pieces of hopes, dreams and life itself, making them again and holding on to them, untill they break again and start the vicious cycle again.

More people like me need the world and a small place in it, more than the world needs us. The world has more of us than it has ever wanted. What are we, after all?
For the democracy, we are the vote-bank.
For the dictatorship, we are the subjects.
For the governments, we are mere statistics. For the media, we are the coverage.
For artists, we are the color.
For the philosophers, we are the variety.
But for us, we are everything. And for others, we are nothing. Six thousand million is lot more than the world can handle and it can easily do well without many of us, but we can't do anything without it.

I can't give up, ever. There are many others who have pitched their hopes on me. My mother, who works hard only to keep the family alive, and who was many years ago told that her child inside her would be kicked to death if she doesn't bring in enough money(dowry), but she went on to give a life, to ME. My younger sister, aged 12, who told me that she would relinquish her schooling, if the need be for me to go to college (I must be glad for that if I do not get into MIT, for her, at least). My father, who could not afford to give me private tutions worth Rupees 5,000 a year (US $ 110 approx.). My cousin, who hopes that my getting into a college will give him a leverage to press for and request his parents to let him go to college. My younger cousin, who had given me what she earned from fields so that I could finish my schooling. My friends, who think that one day, I will be the one amongst us to bring glory to us. No. I can't give up. I must not.


---------------------------------------------

~~Shashank : " Ive been wondering if it would be woth it to wait out the year and try again, but then i realised that i dont have the emotional faculties necessary to take rejection twice."~

I have enough faculties needed to take rejections in life, because acceptances do rarely come easily for all of us. It is a lesson learnt many times over.
If MIT looks at the individual and checks if the individual fits in the mould of perfection that the AdComm wants him/her to be, then there will be no point for me apply ever to MIT again, because I will be the same individual with the same faculties of the same mind. Unless, of course, in the next one year I build a bridge to moon, and/or make a controlled and sustainable fusion reactor.


---------------------------------------------

~~Ben : "Shabin - that post is a good and worthy post, I only deleted the line in which you told me to delete it. grin I second Pamom's sentiments - please don't give up. MIT may not be your destiny, but that's not losing the grand fight - it's losing one of many smaller battles within the grand fight, many of which you will win. Because you are strong and resilient, and a good person, and you are destined to do good things in this world. Please do not give up."~

Even that counts as a deletion, I suppose. In India and Iran, it is called censoring, when only a part is deleted so as to conceal the bitter/immoral/forbidden truth.

I can't give up, ever. There are many others who have pitched their hopes on me. I wonder, if you have read my response to `papmom', and if also if you had read down till here.


---------------------------------------------

~~ leftcoast mom : "Surely people understand that the vast majority of places for students in a US university are appropriately held for US applicants. What makes MIT a bigger target for this frustration than other schools?"~

A hint at the answer is in your question itself, leftcoast mom. MIT is a Bigger target, because MIT is Bigger. Being Big, makes it Powerful. With power comes Responsibility. Responsibilty must be handled with great Care. Care must be disseminated with Kindness. Kindness must be given Equally. Equality must not be denied to anyone, even to those who are not a `perfect' match for MIT.


---------------------------------------------

~~Prashant : "All this talk about doing great wherever one goes to, and that MIT is not the end of the world is fine. But let me ask one admitted applicant - if it's not the end of the world, will your give your place at MIT to someone else, say Shabin?"~

Prashant ! Of all the `great and wonderful applicants out there', as Mr. McGann says, why ME ? Well, it is true that I have got nowhere else to go, as I could manage to apply to only one college - MIT. It must have been already established beyond doubt that I do not match, or lack the needs, criteria and requirements sought by MIT. The AdComm will surely be sure about what they seek in their students, don't they? I do respect their decisions, though it has caused, is causing, and will continue to cause a lot of worries for me personally.


---------------------------------------------

Once again, Thank You, papmom, your words means a lot to me. A lot that comes in only rarity to someone like me.

Thanking you all.


Yours truly,

SHABIN
Mar 19, 2005.

---------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------

Posted by: SHABIN on March 19, 2005

Shabin what are your current plans?

Posted by: amrik on March 19, 2005

"Well, it is true that I have got nowhere else to go, as I could manage to apply to only one college - MIT."

[This info might be useful to others:]

Shabin, as I have said countless times, I am not in a much different situation than you, yet I applied to more than 1, eight in fact.

I spent less on all the eight colleges than you did for one. E.g. I sent all materials airmail, which is a straight 20x saving (compare Rs 40 to Rs 800 for DHL). I also emailed MIT and most other schools and asked for a fee-waiver. They all agreed to waive the fee if my principal wrote a letter. Since I was on aid at school also, my principal was generous enough to give me 6 copies of the letter. The other two colleges did not need an official letter.

Next, I opted to not take the TOEFL. A straight saving of a couple thousand rupees. I even paid for the SAT tests and score reports from the commission I earned from selling my MIDI files.

So all in all, all I ever had to spend was the transportation cost to Delhi, which again was a lot, but we managed. Once you have the SAT out of the way, applying to more than 1 college is not that difficult. Plan effectively in the future. grin

Posted by: Prashant on March 19, 2005

"Unless, of course, in the next one year I build a bridge to moon, and/or make a controlled and sustainable fusion reactor."

LOL Shabin... you can be funny in this time of despair :-p

I'm off to make a perpetual motion machine too... will be useful for transfer next fall grin

Posted by: Prashant on March 19, 2005

Shabin, Your story has touched me deeply.

Yesterday, you wrote: "People in the developed countries may never know, better not know, the state of affairs in other parts of the world where the majority of us try hard to thrive everyday, every minute, every second. All they have to do is to TURN AROUND, FORGET AND WALK AWAY!"

You're absolutely right. And I vow to you right now that I will NOT walk away from you if you'll accept my help.

I realize how fortunate my family is compared to many others in the world. We lived in Hong Kong in the late 90s, and during that time we had the opportunity to travel around the Asia-Pacific region. For this American, it was a life-altering experience. I'll never again take anything in my life for granted.

At this stage in my life, I realize I can't change the world, as many of you brilliant people have the opportunity to do. If I can change the lives of just one or two people, however, then I will have done something worthwhile.

We're all brothers and sisters, Shabin. I want to help you achieve your dreams, and I'm talking about more than books.

I'm willing to help with your expenses if you'll accept my help. Since you have only limited internet access, I can also help you by finding opportunities for international students at various universities.

You said: "More people like me need the world and a small place in it, more than the world needs us. The world has more of us than it has ever wanted. What are we, after all?

For the democracy, we are the vote-bank.
For the dictatorship, we are the subjects.
For the governments, we are mere statistics. For the media, we are the coverage.
For artists, we are the color.
For the philosophers, we are the variety.
But for us, we are everything. And for others, we are nothing. Six thousand million is lot more than the world can handle and it can easily do well without many of us, but we can't do anything without it."

I'll say it again, Shabin. You are special. You've got drive, initiative, and courage -- qualities that are sadly lacking in most.

Do you have an e-mail account? If so, perhaps it would be better if we carried on this conversation there.

And, Shabin, don't forget -- I care. I won't walk away.

Posted by: pamom on March 19, 2005

Shabin, dont lose hope. I know its easy for me to say that than it will be for you, but you've had the courage to apply to MIT. I find it hard to believe you don't have it in you to fight your way through the storm. As Ben says, Keep the Faith

Posted by: Shashank on March 19, 2005

ퟙIt is not about beating the system. It is about knowledge. And making the most of the system, even if it has flaws.ퟘ
-Chetan Bhagat, in 'Five Point Someone"

I

Posted by: Shashank on March 19, 2005

Shabin, I am sorry you saw that as censoring. I was trying to make a very different point but it seems to have been lost. Would you prefer that I return the line I removed, where you ask me to delete the whole post? I am sorry to have offended you.

All - I'll be back with a longer post on Monday. To be honest, I just don't have the emotional capacity to be here today. I just need a bit of time for myself to reflect and charge my batteries. Back soon.

Posted by: Ben on March 19, 2005

Shashank, your idea to bring together MIT applicants in a forum where all can share thoughts on improving education and enriching the lives and studies of those taking part is a wonderful and positive one. I hope you will be able to establish such a group, and that it will flourish and thrive and find its honorable purpose without rancor. And if you will have parents of applicants as participants, I would be happy to be invited.

Posted by: leftcoast mom on March 19, 2005

"Since MIT is clearly out of bounds for 8500 of us, is there any way for us to exploit the benefits of an MIT education."

OCW!! Seriously, http://ocw.mit.edu is great. :-p
By the way, I did create a blogring for the *other* 8500 students..

http://www.xanga.com/groups/group.aspx?a=1&id=1049233
Doesn't seem to be gaining any momentum though...

Ben - It's funny you are even posting on a weekend. Go get some rest! grin

Posted by: Prashant on March 19, 2005

I find it extremely distressing that anyone believes that they have a right to get into MIT. Everyone can apply, but in an institution like this, no one has guaranteed admission and it is the lack of judgment of the applicants not the unfair admissions policy that get people in trouble. If you are qualified applicant, which I am sure most of the applicants are, you will surely find a home at a university that is just as wonderful as MIT.

No one should only apply to MIT and expect to be admitted. Being good at math and science is not good enough to survive at MIT, one needs good judgment too and I am astonished of the lack of planning that some of the applicants have. It

Posted by: Middle of Nowhere on March 19, 2005

I was hoping Marilee would have responded somewhere in there... :(

Posted by: Shahab Umer on March 19, 2005

Dear MIT

There are extenuating circumstances and there are extenuating circumstances. After hearing Shabin story - I am in tears.

Considering the peculiar circumstance of this courageous youngster, who instead of sulking in his room like I might have were I in his shoes, has found a strong and very articulate voice to tell about his circumstance to the world - a circumstance that may not have been known to the admissions committee earlier - he demonstrates more passion for learning and being at MIT than anyone else I have known in my life - would it make sense to reconsider this person's application ?

Thank you.

Posted by: parent on March 19, 2005

Shabin:
"Even that counts as a deletion, I suppose. In India and Iran, it is called censoring, when only a part is deleted so as to conceal the bitter/immoral/forbidden truth."

Actually, it would seem to me that Ben's minor amendment is actually quite the reverse of censorship. By removing only your suggestion that the entire post be deleted, Ben offers tacit approval of what you said (or at least of your right to say it and the possible catharsis it could provide). In your posts, you have shown yourself to be a hard-working, dedicated and inspired individual -- don't let the relatively minor misfortune of rejection from MIT destroy your virtues, which, even in your psychologial state, you must admit are far more valuable. Your story carries an undeniable pathos, but your posts have lately smacked of extreme bitterness, irrational anti-Americanism and an overwhelming air of self-pity and unfounded indignation; you must be ever mindful of the fact that no one is entitled to attend MIT (this was elaborated in much greated detail above by another poster).

Ben:
I posed a question earlier which I fear was lost in the torrent of posts which has lately inundated the blog:
"I recall that you earlier said you were not involved directly with the waitlist committee, but I was wondering if I might pose a general question to you: can waitlisters submit additional application materials like EA deferees? Thanks for any help!"

Posted by: Alias #6 on March 19, 2005

Prashant - I know about those threads. Thats not what i meant. From what i understand, those threads have become a forum for helping each other get over MIT - a relatively short term goal. What i propose is for the long term

And Ben, I dont envy you your job - its probably one of the hardest in the world (emotionally)

Posted by: Shashank on March 20, 2005

"...and an overwhelming air of self-pity and unfounded indignation..."

Yes Shabin, keep that chin up. There's a saying - I was complaining because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet. Just imagine someone who doesn't even have the food or clothes or a home! I know you'll get over all your difficulties (as you've been doing all along).

Posted by: Prashant on March 20, 2005

-


---------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------------
SHABIN
Mar 20, 2005.
---------------------------------------------------

~~amrik: "Shabin what are your current plans?"~

I don't know exactly, amrik. There aren't any options before me to pick one.
I will need to plan something, and I will try to let you know, as and when I am into any plans.


---------------------------------------------------

~~Prashant: "Shabin, as I have said countless times, I am not in a much different situation than you,
yet I applied to more than 1, eight in fact."~

Prashant, if I remember right, you had once said that your family income per annum is around US $ 3,000-3,100.
And that is Four Times my family's annual income of US $ 650-700. When I look at closely, I see a small difference.

Prashant, you have got many things that I don't have, like computer etc. In comparison, there is only one electric light at my home and that too wasn't there for my entire childhood.

I had visited the websites of many universities before I applied. I chose to apply to MIT because, only MIT mentioned that they gave `need-blind financial aid' and will delve deep into the `context' in which the applicant has made his/her achievements. I felt that if I do not have a chance at such a generous place as MIT, I will have none at any other.

I had sent only my Financial Aid Application through DHL, and it costed Rupees 600.


~~Prashant: "LOL Shabin... you can be funny in this time of despair :-p"~

It somehow gives some courage and hope, not to me, but to others.


---------------------------------------------------

~~ Shashank: "Shabin, dont lose hope.
I find it hard to believe you don't have it in you to fight your way through the storm.
As Ben says, Keep the Faith "~

Thanks Shashank.
I think that the storm is trying to fight it's way through me.

Shashank, I fully support your Idea and Initiative for another forum for Creative Ideas. There will be many who will support it.
But, I think that you may have to start it. I do not have much material resources to setup online Groups and Blogs. I think that Prashant will also support it. Once you get it rolling, others will join the suit.
`leftcoast mom' is already interested, Shashank. Parents also needs to be included.


---------------------------------------------------

~~Ben: "I am sorry you saw that as censoring. I was trying to make a very different point but it seems to have been lost. Would you prefer that I return the line I removed, where you ask me to delete the whole post? I am sorry to have offended you."~

It does not suit you to apologize, dear Mr. Ben. I am sorry for making such a post.
No, Mr. Ben, your point hasn't been lost yet. I am thankful to you for keeping my posts on your blog.
Mr. Ben, do you think that it will be inappropriate if I post on your blog a part of my Application which gives some information about my family and me? I use internet from a public library and so I do not get enough time to type much things, hence the question.


---------------------------------------------------

~~Prashant: "There's a saying - I was complaining because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.
Just imagine someone who doesn't even have the food or clothes or a home! I know you'll get over all your difficulties (as you've been doing all along). "~

I know how much I had to press my father to get a shoes while I entered 8th standard, and I used it for 5 years till 12th standard. My school also required uniform and shoes. I never complained, nor am I complaining. I had only two shirts at any time of my high-school. I didn't care. Nobody cared. There were other things to care.

I was put in a school when I was four and a half years old, because they gave free lunch due to some government program/policy. All one had to carry was one slate and one plate, and they would give:
1. Boiled rice
2. Boiled pulses
3. A pinch of salt.
Most of my classmates came there only for it, I remember very well.

From there to shoes was a long way, my friend.


---------------------------------------------------

~~ Alias#6 : "don't let the relatively minor misfortune of rejection from MIT destroy your virtues,
your posts have lately smacked of extreme bitterness, irrational anti-Americanism"~

Alias#6, I shall remember your words forever and I shall never let any misfortune interfere with the virtues, qualities and the character of mine. I know that if character is lost, everything is lost. I will keep it within me and will never lose it.

I do not know how I could have carried any bitterness against anyone, or for that matter, anti-Countryism against any country. You may not know it, but in a country like mine, India, where the society is supposed to look down at the neighbouring countries, I have always refused to join the hatred campaign. For thousands of years India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar (Burma), Tibet and Afghanistan have co-existed in this corner of the world. But today, political boundaries and rivalries have betrayed the trust among brothers and sisters of this area. I have always loved Pakistanis as much as I have loved Indians. I have always respected Americans as much as I valued and respected any other countrymen. Irrespective of anyone's nationality, gender or religious affiliations, all of us are human beings, all with the power to love, care and to show kindness towards each other. This is a very big power as `Middle of Nowhere' has rightly said that :
"Power is earned through responsibility".
Same is the case with this power. One much take the responsibilty to spread the message of love, affection and understanding, equally to all. As `pamom' has said it so rightly :
"We're all brothers and sisters".

Alias#6, you have mistaken me.


---------------------------------------------------

~~parent : "After hearing Shabin story - I am in tears. "~

I never get much time to cry for myself, dear `parent'. I very rarely cry for me, even though I do rarely have much reasons to smile.
I think that it's all because my Mother cries for my part as well. I had wished that if I get accepted to MIT, I may be able to put a smile on her face. She never had much reasons to smile ever, even in her childhood. All she ever wanted was to have a good and great college education, but circumstances were pitted against my Mother. My Mother tried hard, very hard, but it wasn't finally hard enough. Her family were against it, as is the case with most women in India. She was forced into a marriage that had only a reserve of pain and tears awaiting her. I think that it is reasonable from the part of a son to wish for and try for giving a smile to such a mother, or even any woman.
She had always wanted me to attend a great college and this was the precise reason why she supported me, against the many oppositions from the family and the circumstances, and encouraged me when I applied to MIT.


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~~pamom: "Your story has touched me deeply."~

Dear pamom, it is my life and to me it is no story. It is every day of my past, every minute of my present and the unpredictable future that awaits me.
Sometimes I feel that I would not have been the person that today I am if my life had been better. While many of my friends from wealthy families got involved in non-constructive activities and wasted all their resources, I have learnt to make the most of everything that I had been lucky enough to avail.


~~ pamom: "You're absolutely right. And I vow to you right now that I will NOT walk away from you if you'll accept my help.
At this stage in my life, I realize I can't change the world, as many of you brilliant people have the opportunity to do. If I can change the lives of just one or two people, however, then I will have done something worthwhile.
We're all brothers and sisters, Shabin. I want to help you achieve your dreams, and I'm talking about more than books.
I'm willing to help with your expenses if you'll accept my help."

Dear pamom, I may not be able to express how much your words mean to me, because I rarely had such words coming in my way.
With the heart that you have, it is still dawn to bring changes in the lives of many, dear pamom.
Dear pamom, I am already indebted to a lot of people for my life, my schooling and also my application to MIT etc.
Dear pamom, I fear, but given my present scenarios, I am willing to accept your kindness and generosity. Will you be able to help with my sister's schooling?


~~pamom: "I'll say it again, Shabin. You are special. You've got drive, initiative, and courage -- qualities that are sadly lacking in most."~

Drive, courage, determination, perseverance and hope have led me till here. I believe that they won't betray me.
I wish to disagree with you on one point here dear pamom. These are qualities present in all, which comes out mostly in adversities. To quote a big lesson learnt in life and to quote a few lines from my Application to MIT :

- "Distance is Nothing, when you have a Destination.
Distractions are Nothing, when you have Dedication.
Difficulty is Nothing, when you have Determination."

- "My life and my experiences are my greatest teachers. It has taught me to respect and care, to love and share, to give and forgive.
I learned that determination can move mountains, willpower can shorten distances and love can build bridges.
Today, I know that hope can make skyscrapers, imagination can make elevators, dreams can make you fly and resilience can make you win."


If anyone out there thinks that he/she can't. I say YOU CAN. Because, I have done it, many times. So you too can.


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With immense gratitude to all of you: Ben, amrik, Prashant, Shashank, Alias#6, parent and the most, dear pamom.


Yours truly,

SHABIN
Dated Forever.


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Posted by: SHABIN on March 20, 2005

Shabin,
Although they may not be comparable to MIT, there are still many American universities whose deadlines have not yet passed. Many of them are probably state-funded, and I do not know have any details right now, but many of them would probably be very willing to take on a bright international student like yourself. (For example, all the universities in my state, New Mexico, are still accepting applications). I don't know if this would be a viable option, but I hope you will consider it if you have not already. If you are interested I would be happy to help you in your search.


-Fiona
ps I do not think that your posts sound of "extreme bitterness" or are "irrational." After I was deferred (from EA), I was easily as frustrated as you are, and I had much, much less reason to be.

Posted by: Fiona on March 20, 2005

Dear, dear Shabin. Like Parent who posted yesterday, I

Posted by: pamom on March 20, 2005

Hi everyone,

This thread has evolved a bit into a discussion of individual situations as opposed to a general discussion of admissions, as it was originally intended.

As this is an MIT admissions blog, there are certain guidelines I must follow. I'm certainly not going to delete any posts, as I think the connections being made here are wonderful, but I'm going to close out the comments before it gets too far off track.

I thank all of you who contributed, for your amazing insights and additions to the conversation. As promised, I'll publish the response I owe you and some sort of conclusion to this thread sometime this week.

As far as the individual situations discussed here are concerned - it seems that everyone has posted contact information above. I encourage you to continue to connect with each other on these matters via those channels.

Posted by: Ben on March 20, 2005

Alias #4/6, Absolutely - waitlisted folks are encouraged to keep in touch and submit additional materials if they'd like.

Intleyes - you said "I would not want one quick comment attached to my declination as the reason I wasn't chosen. One would tend to focus too greatly on that single comment and not reflect upon the whole process." Thank you for that. It is very much why we would never sum up a rejection in a single line.

I also appreciate Alias #5's post where he/she says "How could an explicit quota be more offensive to the senses than a tacit, clandestine one? ...other schools evidently employ a similar criterion (approximately 8% internationals), but do not publish this principle. It is simply incomprehensible to me how this can make MIT more culpable -- it doesn't offer false hope; it informs internationals of the daunting odds they must surmount to gain admission." Very well said, and thank you for saying it.

Shashank - your group idea is inspirational. Thank you for posting it here, and I hope it is a great success!

Parent - I hope I've made it clear that I too am very affected by the stories shared here, and I understand wholeheartedly where you are coming from when you say "...demonstrates more passion for learning and being at MIT than anyone else I have known in my life." But what you must understand is that this story is shared by literally hundreds of our int'l applicants. That is certainly not to diminish any single story; I just want you to realize the number of folks who are facing these odds, most of whom are wholly qualified and deserving.

I only wish I could help each and every one of the people, both int'l and domestic, who deserve to be at a place like this reach their dreams. For now I must accept that one person (or one school for that matter) cannot, no matter how hard we try. Let's all hope for a world where that's no longer the case. And let's each do what we can to get there.

Posted by: Ben on March 20, 2005

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