As parents, counselors, teachers, mentors, and allies, we know that you want what is best for your students. However, there are many ways to define the best, and we think it’s important that young people be students and community members first, and applicants second.
As our Dean of Admissions, Stu Schmill ’86, wrote in a blog post:
In simple terms, we want students to pursue the things that interest them with energy and enthusiasm. We want students to make decisions that are educationally sound for them to best prepare them to succeed in college and beyond. We want students to challenge themselves appropriately in the areas that are most interesting to them. We want students to engage with their community in their pursuits. And, we want students who demonstrate strong ethical character.
We don’t want students to do things just because they think they have to. We don’t want students to take advanced classes out of a sense of competition, rather than the joy of learning. We don’t want a laundry list of a million activities. And we don’t want students sacrificing quality for quantity–something that is happening far too often. We also don’t want students who have other responsibilities (taking care of siblings or working 20-30 hours a week to support their family), or who come from school districts with limited resources and fewer advanced course offerings, to feel like they are not going to be strongly considered for admission because of their circumstances. And we don’t want this push for quantity to crowd out interest in the common good. Because when you get to college–this is especially true at MIT–engaging and collaborating with others is the foundation of our culture and community.
As such, we encourage you to first and foremost help your students become their best possible selves. It could be helping them find enrichment opportunities, or helping them remember to take some time off and just have fun (or both!).