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MIT student blogger Erick P. '17

A Penny for Your Thoughts by Erick P. '17


These past few weeks haven’t been easy. I’ve had to stay up really late working multiple nights in a row and it culminated with me dropping a class. It’s been a hard few weeks for my friends too, with the long winter and the slew of second semester tests starting to take its toll. It’s also been a rough few weeks for the MIT community overall, with the losses of Matthew Nehring and Christina Tournant. And for you, dear applicant, decisions day is either here or has passed, depending on when you read this. Perhaps you’ve been having a rough time dealing with the wait. Or perhaps it’s passed and now you’re having a rough time dealing with a rejection. Or perhaps you were accepted and are worried of the stresses that come with MIT. Whatever the case, it’s clear each of us has hardships.

But in times like this when we go through hardships, no matter how similar or different they are from each other, a little dose of community support can go a long way. I’ve been very lucky to have the amazing support of my family, my fraternity, and the rest of the MIT community. And I hope you know that I fully support you. I don’t believe all of you can get into MIT, but I do believe you’re all guaranteed for success just because you tried.

Every year around this day, I try to make an encouraging post to remind you that success is something you pull out of yourself, not something an college bestows upon you. Last year on Pi day, I wrote an anecdote about how your dreams can’t be taken away from you onto two pennies and published them in my post My Two Cents. I got a lot of responses in the following weeks from both rejected applicants and fellow MIT students telling me how I had encouraged them to continue striving on past hardships. I felt like I had made a difference in many people’s lives.

So it’s true that one person can bring about big change, but then imagine the kind of change entire community can bring together. This is what I wanted to show this year. That power of community.

So I asked my fraternity brothers what encouraging words they have for you, and, on their own initiative, they in turn asked their friends and first-year dorms. Then I asked my groups on campus, and they asked their friends and dorms. Pretty soon, my question “what encouraging words do you have for applicants?” was on a lot of mailing lists and all over Facebook. I had gotten close to two hundred responses in close to three days. So I say this to you, dear applicants: not only do you have my full support but you cleary have the full support of the entire MIT community.

I now present “A Penny for Your Thoughts”, a compilation of the responses of members from all over the MIT community coming together for one reason: to tell you that you CAN do it.


A Penny for Your Thoughts


*Quotes that are written below were too big to fit on the penny.

*A special thanks to East Campus and Simmons for having the top two most responses, 18 and 17, respectively.


Olivia ’16 (Alpha Phi & McCormick) – “Sometimes what seems like a broken dream or a missed opportunity is really a blessing in disguise. The hard thing is, the blessing probably won’t reveal itself until a little ways down the road. Just remember to remain hopeful, and seize every beneficial opportunity presented to you. If you do that, you’re guaranteed to discover the blessing in disguise.”

Anonymous ’15 (Kappa Alpha Theta & FLP) – “You want to attend an institution that appreciates you and understands why you’re special. If MIT doesn’t see that, then you are probably better off going somewhere that gets it.”

Caroline ’17 (Alpha Chi Omega) – “By the time Pi Day came around 2 years ago, I was convinced MIT was the greatest. But now I realize MIT has its flaws, just like every other school. There’s nothing magical that makes the school extraordinary. It’s the students, and what they accomplish, that make it what it is. Just because you’re not coming here doesn’t mean you can’t do everything you wanted to do at MIT. This school is just a place; it’s what you choose to do that matters, not where you do it.”

Jennifer ’17 (Alpha Phi & Baker) – “Take a break for a moment, let the impact of the decision hit you, and do whatever you need to do to cope with it. Cry, scream, eat your feelings. But only for a moment. Because when it comes down to it, this is just one decision. Don’t let it break you down. Don’t let yourself be defined by where you get accepted/rejected, because there is so much more to you, your abilities, and your happiness. College is the next step, but it didn’t necessarily have to be MIT. You’re going to have a wonderful, meaningful college experience as long as YOU make it happen. Best of luck for wherever you go!”


Independent Living Groups


Carolyn ’17 – “College is a business. MIT admissions do not determine your success in life. If you feel bitter, prove them wrong. You are undoubtedly a talented student with great ambitions, and you are more than capable of making the best of your college years no matter where you go!”



Anonymous ’15 – “You want to attend an institution that appreciates you and understands why you’re special. If MIT doesn’t see that, then you are probably better off going somewhere that gets it.”

Aritro ’17 – “I’m sorry that this happened but it’s clear that you’re a motivated and talented person to have applied in the first place. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but that’s not your fault. Remember who you are and those qualities you have, and you will still make a difference.”

Kayla ’18 – “You make the place, the place doesn’t make you. Hack on.”

East Campus

Anonymous – “Keep breathing. if you had the guts and the grit to apply here, and you took enough joy in learning and struggling to be willing to go here, you can figure out how to thrive most anywhere. this is not an ending–it’s the beginning of a path you might not have meant to take at first.”

Anonymous ’17 – “You are so valuable as a person. Being a successful person isn’t just about what you can produce or create, it’s also about experience, conversation, and connection. No matter what college you attend, you will be a successful person.”

Anonymous ’17 – “Aside from the people here, everything at MIT has made my life worse. You’ve escaped.”



Anonymous ’16 – “It’s YOU that makes your college experience what it is, not where you are. Take advantage of the opportunities available to you, and you’ll reach great heights no matter who is giving you the chance to do so.”

Anonymous ’17 – “It’s ok. People here are trying to survive.”

Mackenzie ’17 – “What school you go to does not define you. Your hard work, heart, and will power will make you what you want to be, regardless of where you end up for college. Have faith in yourself, and know that you will be successful and can change the world no matter where you end up”


Anonymous ’16 – “A school or name on a diploma doesn’t define you. Your life, experiences, and how you choose to be does. Any future graduate program, employer, etc who doesn’t understand that, isn’t worth your time.”



New House

Nisha ’16 – “You are a process, not a product. Therefore you cannot define yourself based on one achievement or one disappointment. Celebrate the person you are (about 2 decades in the making!) and don’t focus on the present too much.”


Next House

Random Hall

Senior Haus

Sienna ’18 – “Your college experience is what you make it. no matter what school you’ll end up at (or whatever else you end up doing next year), you will find classes and activities and places and people you’ll love. i believe that wherever you find yourself in the fall is a place you can make your own :)”


Anonymous ’18 – “Getting rejected from your dream school can be hard. I know, because I felt that I was. I applied to MIT Early Action, and I was deferred, and then waitlisted. Knowing that last year MIT had admitted no one off of the waitlist, it was essentially a rejection. To cope, I focused on all the positives of the schools that I had gotten into. As an MIT applicant, you probably have many other options where you can excel. I found that I loved my school as much as I had thought that I would love MIT. It was hard to let it go when I found out that I was admitted off of the waitlist. Remember, one school does not define you. You’re sure to find your ideal college somewhere.”

Brianna ’17 – “‘The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts’. You’re not just the lows & highs in your life (in this case the rejections & acceptances), you’re a unique individual that has a *something* to contribute to this world”

Faith ’17 – “You are not the sum of your academic choices, your school acceptances, your performance, or your abilities. You are a person, which is much better complex than a simple sum of achievements. Don’t let one thing define you!”

Emily ’17 – “Every time you succeed in life, someone else will be failing at the same task. Every time you fail, someone else will be succeeding. Celebrate the success of your peers with the knowledge that your time for success will come.”

Kira ’16 – “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11. This verse often gives me encouragement, and I hope it gives encouragement to you as well, whether or not you’re Christian. Keep pressing on always, even when it seems like you can’t. There may be hard times along the way, but don’t give up! :)

Spanish House


Lisa ’17 – “Wherever you go, you’re going to do amazing things, meet incredible people, and change the world, Find happiness wherever you end up and keep pushing on. You still have a beautiful, nerdy life ahead of you :)”


MIT Staff/Alumni

Even more students


Anonymous ’18 – “My older brother is smarter than me and he got rejected from MIT for undergrad and just got rejected from the graduate program. He’s smarter than me, but he never should’ve gone here. The motivation he garnered from getting rejected has served him much better than an MIT education could have in four years. You’re all very smart. Be great regardless of the admissions’ decision.”

Beki ’17 – “Steven Spielberg, Katie Couric, and Warren Buffet were all rejected from their top choice college. They overcame it. You can too. It’s not an end all be all kind of day. It’s one where your life goes in a certain direction, distinct and full of potential. You are skipping this stop but your success doesn’t get left behind. Have a great life that’s as shiny as a new penny.”

Anonymous ’16 – “There will be plenty of you that are smarter than I am and will accomplish things that I never will–just because I got lucky doesn’t mean you should stop being the awesome human you are. Don’t forget, your education doesn’t define you, YOU define you. Sometimes I think it would’ve been better if I had gone somewhere else.”

Ariella ’16 – “Going to a certain school isn’t going to make you special. It’s you that makes the school special. No matter where you end up, you are going to find an environment that you ultimately enrich by being there.”

Eric ’16 – “Rejection is tough. From a potential lover to a potential college, we have all felt rejection. How you react to rejection is one of the most important life skills you can learn. When dealing with rejection, remember why you were pursuing your goal in the first place and realize that rejection can serve as a stepping stone to other successes.”

Anonymous ’15 – “It’s honestly so arbitrary and almost random in the end — MIT has way more qualified candidates than it can feasibly accept. Know your own worth and you’ll do great things no matter where you go to school.”

Anonymous ’16 – “Friends of mine who were rejected from MIT look at my life here and see that they would not have liked the reality of MIT after all. Trust that the admission process rejected you because you will benefit more from education elsewhere.

Anonymous ’16 – “MIT was just one path to reach your goals. Many still remain waiting for you. Go out and make that difference–you’ll make it no matter where you are.”


Next Steps:

If you still feel like you need a little more empowerment or you’re feeling empowered and want to know what to do with it, check out these articles:

The Pretender: Do I Belong at MIT? by Erick ’17 on

“Your life’s legacy does not start nor end with MIT. You must empower yourself to move on. Work hard, play hard, do want you want, and if someone doesn’t let you into their school, go somewhere else. Press onwards. Whether you get in or not, after decisions, listen to this song (or another song) but listen deeply. Close your eyes and let it move you. Then get to work . . . [Read more]

Acceptance Letters: Don’t Have a Dream School, Just Have a Dream by Martin ’17 on

“You WILL still make an impact in the world because success is all about perserverance. You are bright and have purpose. You have a great attitude and there is a lot you can accomplish. In many ways – it may be a blessing that you didn’t get accepted – no matter how strong or smart you are . . . [Read more]

Good luck to you, that you may do good in your future, wherever you may be.