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MIT student blogger Melis A. '08

Admissions process reflections from a crusty Junior by Melis A. '08

Try not to bite all of your fingernails off.

I’ve recently had a number of startling revelations: I’m almost halfway done with my Junior year, there are only 2 weeks left until Final Exam week starts, and before I know it I’ll be graduating. Where has the time gone??? I feel like just yesterday I was in your shoes, nervously waiting for my early action decision from MIT… *cue psychedelic time-traveling music and hand waving.*

MIT was my top choice and applying early action was a no-brainer. My anticipation was compounded by the fact that I had a list of 14 colleges that I was planning on applying to, but I had only completed about 5 of the applications by mid-December (under the assumption that if I didn’t get into MIT then I’d worry about the other ones later.) So, I bit my nails with the knowledge that if I got wait-listed or rejected, I would have to spend my Winter Break moping AND writing (approximately) 1,348,234 essays. About a week before decisions were due, my mom discovered and began showing me people’s ridiculous posts, which only made me more nervous and sure that I would never get in. Not a chance. Nope. For example, there was one guy who set-up a webcam on his mailbox that had some sort of complicated mechanism that I no longer remember (it involved the little flag that the postman raises when there’s mail.) (Do you remember, mom?) So, thousands of people could log onto his website to watch his mailbox for the arrival of a big, beautiful, yellow envelope. As far as I remember, he was admitted.

So as the decision date rolled around, I would run to my car after school and speed (I mean… drive quickly but cautiously under the speed limit) home to check my mailbox with my heart pounding the whole time. A week passed, and so did the day when we were supposed to receive the letters. It turns out that there was a giant blizzard in Cambridge, MA, which delayed the shipping of the decision letters. Oh man, was I upset. My heart couldn’t take the constant anticipation, the daily races home, and the deep disappointment of a mailbox filled with bills and coupons. I got so restless that I began to say that I had been put through so much anxiety that I wouldn’t accept the offer even if I did get in (clearly this was just an ill-planned coping mechanism, but it worked for a few days.) Finally, I got tired of racing home and just told my parents that if the letter arrived at home before I did and if they opened it before me, then I would fine them $1,000. They took my threat seriously. So a couple of days before Winter Break, I was sitting in Computer Science class and I received an email from my parents saying that I got a big envelope from MIT, asking if I would waive the fine and if they could open it. Of course, I caved in, and thankfully the news was good. I had gotten in! I experienced extreme shock followed by disbelief (thinking they must have made a mistake!) followed by “oh my Gods” followed by illicit phone calls and crying in the bathroom. I drove home with Britney Spears on full blast, yelling that I had gotten in.

The next day, I had found out that eight people from my high school had been accepted early action, including 2 of my best friends. The initial excitement was tainted by some impolite comments by some of my classmates who claimed that we had only gotten in because we were girls. Even when I knew of my accomplishments and those of my friends, we couldn’t help but feel some degree of self-doubt. In hindsight, it’s easy to recognize that they spoke out of jealousy and that MIT would never accept someone for merely having two X chromosomes, but it definitely hurt at the time.

So I know what you all are going through… in fact everyone around me knows what it’s like. Your parents, friends, and teachers are probably telling you to relax, that everything will be alright no matter what, that there are other schools than MIT…and they’re absolutely right! But it’s also easier said than done. Check out JKim’s blog for tips on what to do while waiting. Speaking from experience, make sure to obey traffic laws and try not to give yourself a heart attack (i.e. stay off of College Confidential!) Really, stressing out won’t change the contents of the letter. When I was a senior going through the application process and someone told me, “if you’re gold then you’ll shine anywhere.” They were absolutely right. Just keep in mind that you are all motivated and diligent for even reading these blogs to find out more about MIT, and you will do well no matter what school you get into! Obviously I got into MIT, but I also received rejections. Different schools look for different qualities, and it’s still early in the application process. Just breathe and you’ll get through it.

Good luck!!! Email me if before/during/after the decisions if you need help.

May the beaver be with you.

42 responses to “Admissions process reflections from a crusty Junior”

  1. Reg says:

    I REMEMBER THAT GUY!!! he had a webcam connected to a laptop, which was connected to the internet or something. and he told the postman to place anything from MIT on this designated spot so he could see what type of letter and all was it!!

    i think it was on Matt or Ben’s blog..

  2. Thank you so much! I am so nervous these days that I can barely concentrate. I never go on College Confidential! Those people just scare me to death. Well I really enjoyed reading this blog..and MUCH THANKS. Good luck on your Finals!

  3. Drew says:

    Wow…You make me so much better about this whole process…MIT is my dream school; that is to say that for the last seven years everything I have done was to get into MIT. Good luck to all you guys, and thanks for the insight, Melis!

  4. bj says:

    u r absolutely right.i am so nervous i cant sleep at 2am. a part of me doubts so much if i would get in.even delayed submitting my georgia tech application till decisions are out.

    i hope i last this week without a nervous breakdown…………

  5. Kevinr says:

    Thanks, that was really a good message!

    I just talked to my friend Nick Hong (’10), about EA decisions and it only brought back feelings of nervousness, etc. Did I put BME or BE ??? Aaah!

    But… Your message really helped to put things in perspective. I sympathize. I spent the better part of Thanksgiving break applying to what ended up being 13 schools, though MIT is totally my 1st Choice.

    At least I find out online. Thanks again.

  6. Sarab says:

    I am doing okay mainly cause my teachers are flogging me to death! in my spare time I do remember that MIT will be saying yay or nay soon, then I run to the gym and bury myself with weights. Very effective system!!

  7. Laura says:

    And might I reiterate the best message of this post: stay away from collegeconfidential! No really, I mean it. Turning to the dark side is a decision you will always regret. =P

  8. Anonymous says:

    this post almost made me cry of happiness for you… I’m having a terrible week and I’m really nervous for Saturday. AGH. but this made me feel a lot better. thanks. grin

  9. Anonymous says:

    Lol….the difference betweeen you and me is that I found college confidential on my own..and that i was showing my mom all this amazing stuff other people did smile

    Thanks…ur post gives me some perspective..though i still am really anxious about getting in?

  10. Estefi says:

    i’m so glad decisions are online. or else i would probably be speeding a lot for the next couple of weeks trying to rush home to see if the mail arrived, eventhough it now comes at like 4pm. thanx for the advice and by the way i saw that you were from bethesda and i’m from rockville maryland. haha just an observation. good luck with final exams smile

    ps. never ever have gone on college confedential. its a creepy place.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Sweet blog ! Thanks for the advice:)

    so, if you are majoring in 2A and you are premed, then are u filling up all your courses?

    Say, would it be possible for someone to do biological engineering and business? and then apply for medical school?

    And someone told me that if you wanted to go to medical school, majoring in engineering is like suicide for your gpa and extracurriculars…do u agree? Thanks

  12. Anonymous says:

    Sweet blog ! Thanks for the advice:)

    so, if you are majoring in 2A and you are premed, then are u filling up all your courses?

    Say, would it be possible for someone to do biological engineering and business? and then apply for medical school?

    And someone told me that if you wanted to go to medical school, majoring in engineering is like suicide for your gpa and extracurriculars…do u agree? Thanks

  13. Brandy says:

    Wow, that’s a great story. I’m happy for you. That was rude of the person saying you got in because you were girls.

    So when do you start applying to grad school? Is grad school equally tough to get into, do you have to start preparing in your junior year of college for grad school?

    Good luck on your finals.

  14. Robert says:

    Insightful and relieving, now to tudoring calculus, breathing exercises, and then an exhilarating game of ice tennis with Travis.
    Thanks Melis

  15. Zayyar says:

    By the way, why is MIT undergraduate website .org? And what is in the picture at the top of myMIT admission dashboard?

  16. Eileen says:

    wait..8 people got into MIT or college in general? geez..

  17. andrew says:

    8 people from her class got into MIT – It’s a math, science, computer science magnet of 100 kids per year

  18. Melis says:

    Anonymous: It depends on your school, but at MIT it is definitely possible to double major in Biological Engineering and Management. In fact, it’s a good idea! While Engineering classes may not be “suicide” for your GPA, they definitely can bring it down…but at MIT most majors are “suicide” for your GPA compared to other schools, where the pre-med curriculum may be graded so that it’s easier to get A’s.

    Brandy: Since I want to do an MD/PhD, I have to apply to medical schools and grad schools. So, the medical school application process starts in June of your Junior year and the grad school applications are usually due in the Fall of your senior year.

    Eileen: Andrew is right, 8 people from my class got into MIT (so 8 out of 100…not bad) early action. Sorry about the confusion.

  19. Larisa says:

    You rock my socks.
    I’m going to use your x chromosome line, hopefully in reference to college acceptances and/or…well take your pick haha.
    So glad to hear I’m not the only one who procrastinated college apps before the early action response.
    Thank you so much I really needed to read this.

  20. andrew says:

    Melis – I don’t think all 100 applied to MIT either EA or RD your year-I think the most over the last 6 years has been about 40 EA/RD 2 years ago. According to the school stats, 23 applied your year, so 8/23 is pretty good. Overall for the last 6 years, the accept rate from the magnet has been average 35%. Go Blazers! I don’t even know how many have applied this year.

  21. Zaira says:

    “May the beaver be with you.”

    The beaver IS with me! I have Tim as my wallpaper! (I used to have a picture of the Brass Rat)

  22. milena says:

    …collegeconfidential is hell! I can’t stand reading about people complaining because they got “low” scores on whatever test. And it also makes me very nervous to read about the kind of people I’m competing with for a spot on whichever college.
    Thanks a lot for this post, we all need it, MIT is pretty much everything I can think about. I even dreamed about getting rejected last night! ALL NIGHT. It definitely sucked, but if I get rejected, at least I know I can live off of my weird pseudo-psychic abilities.
    Gook luck to all of usss!!!!!

  23. Kevin says:

    My plan is, when I inevitably can’t sleep Friday night, I’ll work on my other college applications until I pass out and wake up to the EA decision.

    Kind of like doing one’s homework in order to ensure a snowday.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Haha wow, the pre-response you sounds exactly like me now lol. Let’s just hope the post-response me will be just as similar to the post-response you too (except I’ll be blasting Pink Floyd, not Britney Spears tongue laugh)

  25. dally says:

    Ha, I actually use College Confidential to *de*-stress… somehow seeing everyone else freaking out makes me calmer!

  26. Jessica says: is the antichrist.

  27. Anna says:

    I totally have no idea if speeding home to receive admissions letters or waiting for the clock to turn to exactly 12 PM on Saturday is worse. Oh, the suspense!

  28. Mom says:

    Of course, I remember everything. I found their website when I was trying to find out what color/size/shape envelope to expect. I slowly started spending most of my valuable time reading what others were going through=collective suffering, to ease my own pain. Needless to say, MIT-Admissions Blogs did not exist then…
    Good luck to all EA applicants!

  29. John says:

    just trying to remember – was it our year, ’08 that there were 5 girls and 3 guys in EA? I can think of you, ML, ET, … we seriously rocked the MIT apps. we rocked it so hard, apparently all the rock gave me retrograde amnesia.

  30. Kristina says:

    lol @ jessica.

    My friends can’t wait until this whole EA thing is over too. I keep on coming each day to school and counting down for them. raspberry

    Thanks for your post, it definitely was a help. Just gotta breathe. Good luck to everyone else.

  31. John says:

    Man, *woo-be-woo-be-woo-be-woo-be flashback music & hand waves* I remember how stressful EA was. I second Melis on the whole thing. Go read a book, it’s better for ya.
    I can vouch that 8/23 of her HS class made it to MIT EA- I was one of them. What’s better, the year after us (so ’09 MIT) was 7/~25, with 5 girls I believe. Go XX! (I’m not a girl, just a fan ;D)
    Anyway, my only other advice to all you prospective Beavers (MIT -or- Caltech, woo!) – take a deep breath before you open the mailbox. It’s only college, OK? Only college. You’re all going to college, anyway.
    Seriously, just that you’re reading this, like others have said, shows that you’re well-motivated and know how to find good resources. No matter the college, I’m sure you’ll all be successful there.

  32. Melis says:

    Haha, yea John, it was our year that had 5 girls and 3 guys in EA. Thanks for your advice, and for backing me up.

    All this reminiscing is making me miss Senior year…it was the craziest year of my life (sad, eh?) Hope all is well on the West Coast!

  33. Yossarian says:

    lool collegeconfidential is the bane of normal, non-Olympic athlete status kids.

    whoo. I’m already experiencing insomnia. And hey, senioritis seems to be rearing its ugly head, too. Both of them. I’m f*****.


    Thanks for the post. And yeah….after Saturday, we’ll all return to our normal lives, whatever the outcome.

  34. Ben says:

    Melis why are you so awesome? grin

  35. Melis says:

    Alli: The magnet classes may only be a semester long, but they’re intense and most people go on to take electives. So, I wouldn’t worry about it at all; taking upper-level classes like cell phys is definitely a good thing! The Magnet also had APs, so if you want to prove that you learned a good deal of info in only one semester, I’d recommend taking the AP tests or even the classes.

  36. Alli says:

    I have a question. It says we should have a year of each of the sciences, but the magnet ones are only a semester long. is that bad? do magnet electives count as whatever they are calling “high school biology” even though I’m taking cell phys and not “biology”. wow, that didn’t sound like typical me. o well.

  37. Aaron says:

    you know, collegeconfidential is a site for college counseling so I think freaking out is encouraged and serves as a marketing tactic to I refuse to accept everything on the website anymore.

  38. Minh says:

    WHOA! My parents found out before I did too!! Really! My tube didn’t get to my house until the day after all the other tube kids got theirs! Yay.

    Good seeing you around. We should hang out more. Nudge. Maybe I’ll come visit you. That would be fun.

  39. abib says:

    thats a wonderful message.thank you.(that wasn’t ur response by the way).hope I get in.thats my add;I have some really pressing quetions do you mind droping me a message so i follow up.abib

  40. Anonymous says:

    do international students need to submit mid year school grade report…i called up the admissions office and asked whether sat 2 scores from the jan 27th test date wud be accepted or not and they said yes…im only applying to MIT cuz i havent taken SAT1 as yet n i cant appear for it in the feb test date because it wud be too late…i am done with toefl n my scores shudve been reported by now but my application status doesnt show dat…i’ve sacrificed everything else fer da hope of gettin into MIT n ill be wasting another year if i don’t but i guess it would be worth newayz…do other universities like umich , pennstate n UTA admit students in the winter season…im too perplexed and need a reassurance that my scores will be accepted and my application not rejected without even being considered..can anybody help
    contact me at
    [email protected]

  41. heya bryan
    i think i have big blunder in my secondry school report which also incorporates kind of an evaluation by my principal..the problem is that i asked her to fill out the form but in the field that asks for the academic accomplishments of the applicant she put a check on the average box ..i was heart broken to see that because i stood 3rd in my class in the first quarters and i was awarded the best student award after grade 9 and i have alwayz maintained great grades ,,,so i requested her to correct that because it was giving a false impression of me ..a really degrading one for me to be called ‘AVERAGE’ so she used a blade to rub off that check and tick on the ‘outstanding’ or whatever was the exact word for a very good form looks like it has been tampered with..could that result in something serious like my application not even bein considered ???? i dont want that to happen
    please help