Skip to content ↓
MIT staff blogger Ben Jones

A New Year’s Resolution, MyMIT-Style by Ben Jones

Thoughts on my proposal to make MyMIT more community-based.

Happy new year everyone!

I’ve been out with the flu most of this week so I’m feeling horribly behind in most areas of life. Being sick just blows. Most of the time I can ignore it and power ahead, but the flu seems to demand attention. Alas. Hoping to be back in the office tomorrow at any rate.

EA admits: after today’s build, you’ll be able to upload your photo into the admitted student guestbook. Check it out!

So what’s going on in MyMIT land? I submitted a big proposal just before holiday vacation outlining a lot of changes I’d like to make to MyMIT to make it a better experience for you guys. First, we’ll be adding a lot of new portlets in the next month or two based on requests that you’ve made for specific types of content. Second, I’ve decided to display portlet content by date instead of by user-preferences. Based on the feedback I’ve recevied from you, it seems that you’d rather see all the new stuff each week even if it falls outside of your preferences. So we’ll be changing the functionality a bit to make sure you’re seeing new stuff all the time.

The major part of my proposal was an outline to turn the portal into more of a community-based experience. You guys have been requesting a more streamlined ability to interact with each other, with us, with current MIT students, and with the authors of our features. I think we’ll be able to get there in the not-too-distant future, although it will take a lot of planning and design. I’ll keep you updated.

Let me know if I’ve read your priorities right (new portlets, fresher content, online community) or if there are other things you think are even more important to address. Remember that MyMIT is designed for you, so you should have a hand in its design. All feedback welcomed!

Here’s to a great 2005 and stay healthy!!!


19 responses to “A New Year’s Resolution, MyMIT-Style”

  1. Ben says:

    Note: on 1/26/05 I migrated this site to a new publishing system, using Movable Type as the backend CMS. Though the comments were preserved, I had to manually move them over, and there was no way to preserve the dates on which the comments were originally posted. That’s why they’re all logged on 1/26 or 1/27, even though many of them were posted earlier. Sorry for the inconvenience! Comment dates will be correct moving forward.

  2. Kaushik says:


    First of all thanks for holding this box. I have a few suggestions and questions. Sorry if they have already been posted. Suggestions:
    – The MyMIT site takes too long to display. This doesn’t apply to all those 10MBit guys but to dial-up users like me. Worst part is, the browser waits for the entire page to load before displaying it. Please optimize the pages; Even HL2 loads faster :(
    – Make this box bigger. Is it setup for 640 by 480?
    – A daily/weekly poll (MyMIT)
    – Message Boards!! This should definitely be implemented.

    Question: If I’m in an international education system, should I send my school curriculum / course work description or do you already know a lot about internationl systems to have a good idea of what I’ve studied at school and what grades/marks my transcripts show?


  3. Ben says:

    Hey Kaushik,

    Great comments. I’ll pass your download time woes onto the tech folks. RE the size of my blog – I just wanted a cool design, but perhaps I need to redesign with more of a compromise between function and beauty. wink I’ll think about that for the future. The poll idea has definitely been discussed and we may implement that sooner than later. And message boards – probably my biggest priority right now. How cool would it be to be able to discuss any given MyMIT feature with the author, with current MIT students, and with other prospectives? I’m workin on it… grin

    I feel like we have a pretty good grasp on international education systems, but that said, it *never* hurts to send curriculum and/or coursework descriptions. So if you’ve got it, feel free to send it!

  4. Ben, great work on coordinating the guestbook and (upcoming) photo feature. I’ve talked to probably thirty other admits already, and I’m hearing a LOT of “definitely goings”. Can’t wait to see the result of your recent proposals – the community model sounds very promising! Take care. smile

  5. Sean says:

    Get well ben!

    Everything sounds good.

    Ben For the Win!

  6. Sorry you are sick Ben, here is some reading material though!

    When posed with the question:

    “Matt, are you willing to go on the record as to saying that nobody has it easier than anyone else due to race/gender?”

    Matt replied:

    “Another Asian Boy and Against AA, I will continue to talk about all of the factors that go into admissions as I continue to blog. This will be too big of a topic to cover in one post, but I will continue to address topics like this bit by bit as I write about admissions and MIT’s process.

    Let me briefly address the topic of the qualifications of women at MIT. Women at MIT have a higher graduation rate than men at MIT. Women at MIT graduate with higher GPAs. Women at MIT run a majority of the student activities. We have no affirmative action in admissions of women at MIT — the women we admit to MIT stand out on their own.

    Let me also touch briefly on the other topic you raised, admissions of Asian students. Asian Americans are 26% of MIT students, 23% of MIT applicants, and 4% of the US population. The Asian American community at MIT is vibrant and strong, as is the pool of Asian Americans from which we receive applications.

    We were only able to admit 13% of applicants during early action. Many very strongly qualified applicants were deferred. We receive more qualified applications than we can possibly admit. But when I look at the strength and the success of the MIT community, I know that we are doing a good job with admissions.”

    Because I didn’t feel that his reply answered the question, I followed with the following multiple choice question:

    ‘Since you don’t consider it to be a “black-and-white response” why don’t we do this SAT style. Choose the best answer:

    “It is not harder for Asian males to get into MIT than any other race/gender or combination thereof.”

    “It is harder for Asian males to get into MIT than any other race/gender or combination thereof.”‘

    Ben, if he HAD to choose, chose the first one.

    “If I had to choose, I would choose A. But I fear that you’re missing the point. I am sorry that you are disappointed – you have every right to be – and I understand your need for answers. But you’re not going to find any peace in this trumped-up quota argument.”

    Still Unsatisfied, I posted:

    “Do Asian males have it harder (to get into MIT) than any other race/gender or combination thereof?”

    To which, Ben answered:

    “Some do, and some don’t. It really depends on what any given “race/gender combination” (including any given Asian male) brings to the table… other than race and gender.”

    Alas, I was tired of getting no where and the admissions officers were too. Tired of receiving half truths, non-concrete answers, whatever you want to call them, I decided to look for myself. The quest to answer the question

    “Do Asian males have it harder (to get into MIT) than any other race/gender or combination thereof?”


    Before I go any deeper, I would like to thank “theleet” of Apparently other people on forums have been exploring this topic as well. Some of the sources he cites are used here.

    First, let us break the question up. This section will answer, Do Asians have it harder (to get into MIT) than any other race?

    A quote from the current Dean of Admissions Marilee Jones directly answered this question.

    “MIT also has an active commitment to affirmative action.

  7. Hey Ben,

    Get well soon!! Props for blogging even when you’re sick.

  8. From NY says:

    Hi, Ben,

    Get well soon!!

  9. Ben says:

    Thanks everyone for the wishes of good health! I was feeling better this afternoon but tonight’s kindof a bummer – it seems to be worse in the morning and at night. DAMN FLU!!!! Going to bed early again – my nocturnal tendencies are out the window this week.

    Still, I’m heading in tomorrow to infect the office. Might not make the early train though. wink

  10. Ben says:

    And because I know you’re all wondering: no, my infecting the office tomorrow will not affect our mail date in March. wink wink wink

  11. Phil says:

    Hi Ben. I am very sorry you got the flu; it must be a nasty strain this year. I have a friend who hasn’t been in school for almost a week with it. Being deferred I do not get to see a lot of the features you mention here, but fortunately Jenna has been kind enough to share the full MyMIT portal experience with me. Today I helped her pick out and upload a picture for her profile. At the time we didn’t find any other students with pictures posted but then again it was around noon today so most people will probably notice this new feature when they get home from school, and check your blog. If you are looking for some reading material I have a few posts on Matt’s Blog about some good news sites and blogs to read:

    Feel Better,

  12. Jenna says:

    Hi Ben-

    Feel Better Soon
    I may have unknowingly already posted this, forgive me if I did. But I want to make sure you get my message, I recommend taking a strong nighttime cold medicine or soem basic pain reliever. Good Luck.

    Happy New Year

  13. Hamid says:

    Hey Matt and Ben!

    Thanks for the replies, greatly appreciated! And get well Ben!


  14. a fat sheep says:

    guess what? i was looking at a page at they charge 600 dollars for a package that advises you what to do if u get defered!! 600 dollars!! MY GOD!! will it make a difference if someone buys it??
    but 600 dollars!!!!!!!!!!!!*totally amazed and shocked and startled and ……*

  15. Frankie says:

    First I’d like to congratulate you on the fabulous job you’ve been doing. No other college has personalised the admissions process as much as MIT has. I’m an international applicant and I’m aware that this applicant pool is especially competitive. What I read about international students gave me the impression that all accepted international applicants are Nobel laureates or Olympic athletes. Tell me that there is hope for normal people like me!

  16. Meder says:


    Get well soon, Ben! and we are waiting for new features…


  17. A Mom says:

    hope you’re recovered from the flu!

    MyMIT is a great thing! You’ve done a wonderful job. I have a small suggestion, however. It would be nice if you could go from one profile to the next w/o going back to the guestbook index. The way it is, you have to pick out students one at a time and cannot get any quick sense of what’s there. It would be particularly nice to be able to go through them sequentially in some quicker way now that photos are being added.

  18. Ben says:

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the posts! Here are some quick responses…

    Phil – thanks so much for the links. Those definitely helped me pass the time between coughs. grin

    Jenna – thanks for the advice! I got some Tylenol Cold Nighttime which definitely helped me get some rest.

    Sheep – $600… wow. Probably not worth it, especially for the folks in this applicant pool who are generally the best of the best. Unless that $600 can make more spaces in the class… now *that* would be something…

    Hamid – no problem and thanks!

    Frankie – there is hope! As Matt points out on his blog, things are indeed very competitive for international applicants, but you certainly don’t have to be a Nobel laureate or Olympic athlete. grin

    Meder – we launched some new things this week – for example there’s a new end-of-semester photo gallery from Mitra and Tri did a cool athletics interview. Unfotunately you probably have to dig in the archives for the new stuff – that will change soon, however, when the portal starts displaying all of the new content automatically.

    A Mom – that’s a great idea – I will ask Quinton and the other tech folks about that.