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MIT staff blogger Quinton McArthur

Advice for Seniors by Quinton McArthur

From me to you. Why? Because I care

I have been back from my fall travel rounds for almost a week now. This year, I travelled to sunny Southern California. I visited high schools, met with students and parents, and just spread the good word about MIT. I spent eight days travelling as far north as Malibu and as far south as San Diego all the while attempting to hit as many points in between.

My trip was a lot of fun!

I saw the Pacific Ocean……

….got lost on my way to Hollywood, but found Christopher Columbus, who pointed me in the right direction…..

……eventually found the Hollywood Walk of Fame and saw the stars of some of my favorite actors…..

He graduated from my alma mater Morehouse College.

FYI – That is my shoe on the right

….and even ate some strange fruit (Do you know what this is? No, it is not a lime. However, it does taste like an orange!)

I had a blast in California, but it is good to be back home in Cambridge. I got a warm welcome at the MIT Book Fair from an old friend.

Nevertheless, while I was on the road, there were a number of really interesting questions that I thought could be helpful to my nervous prospective student friends on the blogs. So with no further ado….the questions!

Q: I am really nervous about applying to MIT. Do you have any last minute suggestions for me?

A: I know that the application process can be really nerve racking. So here is the best that I have to offer

1. Take a DEEP BREATH…..In fact, take a few
This year you will have to multitask like never before. You have Honors & AP courses to manage, extracurricular activities to lead, jobs to work, family responsibilities to juggle, prom preperations, and on top of ALL of THAT, you are applying to college. Whewww….That makes me tired just THINKING about that list. In order to not go absolutely crazy, you will want to make sure that you have a solid plan in place to get everything done on time. But even before you begin to devise your plan, you need to take a DEEP BREATH and know that you CAN and WILL be okay. So breathe deep and have full confidence that your senior year will be challenging, but oh so worthwhile and enjoyable once you are accepted to colleges and have the opportunity to select which school you would like to attend in a couple of months.

2. Schedule your MIT interview!!!
With everything going on, don’t forget to schedule your MIT interview! The interview is a great opportunity to connect with an MIT alum (Who we call Educational Counselors or ECs for short), share more information about who you really are as a person, and learn some new information about MIT from someone who has actually graduated from the school that you would love to attend. Our ECs are the BEST ever (and I’m not just saying that because they buy me delicious dinners every now and then). Our ECs come from all over the world, have had really interesting and diverse careers, and are (most importantly) really nice people who want to talk to students just like YOU!!! In sum, help me to help you, make sure to schedule your interview!!!

3. Pay attention to your grades
Don’t forget the reason for the season. This is the college application season, and academics are the primary reason that you will be attending college. With that said, you’ve GOT to keep your grades up senior year. Sometimes seniors think that they can slack off since thee college applications are already submitted and in the evaluation process…… NEWSFLASH —-THIS JUST IN —– Sometimes MIT will call your guidance counselors, teachers, or other references you have submitted to ask further questions about academic progress. You don’t necessarily have to be getting straight As in all of your classes (but if you ARE, that is great!), but you ABSOLUTELY should be giving your very best effort and working hard to do your best in school.

4. Take time to enjoy your senior year (I know that you have a lot to do this year, but you have to stop to smell the roses).

Go to the homecoming game (or parade). Audition for a role in the school play. Tell your favorite teacher “thanks” for being such a great instructor. Take a friend to one of the school dances. And don’t forget to make it to prom. Take lots of pictures, smile, and know that your future will open a whole new set of opportunities for you.

5. My last piece of advice comes from the wise folks at Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach, California. Shout out to all of the students, administrators, ECs, and fun people who I met out there. These are indeed, words to live by.

35 responses to “Advice for Seniors”

  1. Emily says:

    Great of you to post some advice for us all!
    Though I only feel like I can enjoy my senior yera once I’ve actually finished all of my applications. smile

  2. Mike says:

    Would have seen you at Corona Del Mar, but I decided to splurge and stay overnight at MIT instead.

  3. @ all the blog stalkers,

    Please DO link to your blog/website when you comment. I am (and You are too!) SO itching to know more about the other prospectives out there.

  4. Nissi('14?) says:

    I think that fruit is a tangerine;at least that is what its called here in Nigeria.Anyways thanks so much for the advice, its really comforting. Like I usually tell my mom and anyone who cares to know,this is my most hectic year in my 16yrs of a bit nervous about being accepted into MIT but its all in good faith. CHAO!!!

  5. Nissi('14?) says:

    Ps; I love Eddie Murphy and Samuel.L. Jackson too. Especially Samuel.L.Jackson’ roles in coach carter and The Man

  6. Piper '12 says:

    Ah, memories. I can’t believe three years ago I saw Nance as Cal Poly Pomona (MIT doesn’t visit St. Lucy’s) – which convinced me to 1) apply early and 2) get an interview.

  7. VAL ('14?) says:

    I am not sure what kind of fruit it is… But I do not think it is a tangerine, at least in the way I have seen tangerines. Tangerines, as I know them, are small and orange, with a brighter taste than an orange.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Tastes like an orange, with an odd name. This sounds like a Dalandan, a common fruit in the Philippines. Like the fruit in the photo, Dalandans are green.

  9. kimd says:

    The Columbus pic is great :D

  10. kimd says:

    The Columbus pic is great :D

  11. Ryan says:

    Hey, sounds like you had fun! I’m really sorry, I would have come and seen you in Santa Monica, but i got really sick the night before. Glad you had fun out here!

    And I agree with Emily, it’ll be easier for me to enjoy senior year after all my apps are in.

  12. Kal('14?) says:

    Random question NOT about the potential orange: I’ve seen essay advice about taking a risk, but would it be too risky (and into the realms of bad idea) to write a 250 on using photoshop to create forum graphics (banners, sigs, icons) and mix-cd covers?

  13. Hey Kal! I am actually going to post a follow up to this entry either on Monday or Tuesday. Shoot me this question in an e-mail so I can better understand your what you are asking. Are you referring to the short answer question where we ask you to discuss something that you have created?

    My e-mail is [email protected]

  14. Thanks for all of the guidance on the strange fruit. After doing a little bit of research, I think that “Anonymous” is probably right. It was probably a dalandan!

  15. Armin says:

    The fruit you’re talking about is yellower. I think this one is tangerine/clementine. it has softer skin than orange and is smaller in size, but tastes almost the same.

  16. Jill says:

    I am trying to get my daughter to MIT for the overnight visit. I have Emailed to the [email protected] and no response (on 8/29 and again on 10/2 with the medical form). She has registered on the myMIT (in mid Sept) and gotten the auto-confirmation. But it’s this weekend (Sun 10/18) and no actual contact yet! How do we get a live person to confirm the visit is on? Do I just start trying to call the admissions office on Monday?

  17. Val says:

    Thanks for the advice!
    I would love to smell the roses, but I think they will have been dead by the time I finished my applications. =P

    P.S The picture with Christopher Columbus is really cute!

  18. Zeki(14?) says:

    Yes it must be tangerine/mandarin orange.Grandparents have a garden of this.In Turkey we call it “Mandalina”…

    Also there is a chinese lime like this.It has a sweet taste…

  19. Great post, it was definitely helpful! Looking forward to the follow-up ^_^

  20. sepideh says:

    isn’t that sweet lime, a fruit that looks like lime but has a bittersweet taste a bit like grapefruit, and if you don’t eat it fast it will turn bitter…am i right?

  21. Anonymous says:

    yeah it’s a mandarin. We have lots of them in my country.

    Hey, I am from Azerbaijan smile

  22. sepideh says:

    but isn’t “mandalina” orange colored? green “mandalina” most be sour…(I know turkish)
    so this is somthing completely different of what we know as “limu shirin” ? and if zeki is right than this must be “narengi” however it doesn’t look like it; intresting…
    now people may think what an obssesive person about a single fruit…but I love orange like fruits!

  23. Sawyer says:

    Just wondering, I know that admission chances quadruple if you have an interview. Does staying overnight also increase your chances, or is it mostly a good way for us to learn more about MIT?

  24. Mike says:

    Don’t worry about it. The overnight office emailed me the information 3 days before.

  25. Derick says:

    Thanks, this is a very good advice for me. i would do my very best in school

  26. maryam says:

    @sepideh & @armin: I think you guys are close but no ‘cigar’ here!
    The color is a bit odd and perhaps the jpg or bmp loaded here somewhat off and not the true color. This little citrus might be a hybrid of orange an tangerine, known in northern california as Tangelo. It is a bit more sour than Orange but definitely has the characteristic of a tangerine. Hope you all have a tangy taste in your mouths and good luck to all applying to MIT! I am a CAL alum and wished I had the chance or gumption to apply to the very cool MIT!

  27. maryam says:

    Hi Quintin! Question here: Does ‘minority’ include applicant who are first generation American from foreign born parents? Technically speaking that could be an inclusive definition, not? Appreciate your feedback.

  28. Light ('14?) says:

    Appreciate the advice. I actually just finished my apps a few days ago (and shouted “ALEA IACTA EST!” as I hit submit)

    Afraid there isn’t much in the way of a blog or website in my name. =/

  29. Hey Sawyer! We would love for you to come and stay overnight, but alas it will not increase your chances of being admitted to MIT.

  30. Hey Maryam! TECHNICALLY, I am responsible for outreach to students who identify as Black, Latino, or Native American. And (again) TECHNICALLY, Mikey Yang is responsible for outreach to first generation & low-income students at MIT. HOWEVER, ALL of our counselors work with ANY students who apply to MIT. If you would like to be BFFs with me, I am more than happy to help you out through the application process. If you would like to be BFFs with Matt, Mikey, Kim, Dave, Chris, or anybody else who works in the office, that’s cool too. We all want to make sure that we have the best possible class each year that we can have. Finally, thanks for reading my blog and posting a comment! wink TTYL

  31. addisoncox says:

    Quinton McArthur,
    What’s good? I’m a senior in high school, I must add, nothing outstanding, but not bad at all. I hate to sound so dubious, but I’m in quite the predicament. First off, i want to apply to MIT early action simply because it’s my hopes and dreams, but I have registered for the November 7 sat and have subject tests the 5th of December. Not having these tests completed am I incapable of doing so? The clarity of what MIT’s website says about deadlines isn’t so clear to me. And applying early action only to MIT is what I’ve intended.
    But either way I think I’m going to apply anyway, it’s just something I feel I have to do.

  32. Yaman says:

    Hello Quinton. I’m a senior in highschool and MIT is the first school I’m going to be applying to. I go to a small private religious school, and my whole class is only 35 people. with that said, does my class rank really matter? I’m currently tied for first (both me and another girl have an average of 98.37). I just want to know if I have to really concentrate on getting that valedictorian spot or whether I can put more effort towards extra curriculat activities and whatnot. Thank’s for your time

  33. Kush says:

    Does MIT check for your online footprint?

  34. Anna says:

    Thanks for the reminders! Wish you could come East Coast (Pennsylvania!) although I did visit over Columbus Day weekend. It was my parents’ anniversary and we had never been to Boston before. Got lost a bit but we all loved it.

    I’m positive that your fruit there is a dalandan. I have grown up eating them in the Philippines.

    That site explains more about the fruit. It’s like a sweet orange on the inside but with a lime-like outer skin. It’s like the way a calamansi is like a sweet-ish lemon on the inside but a lime-skin on the outside. Both of them are very good as juices if you ever get to try them again.

  35. Armin says:

    I got a question…
    Referring to the application fee:“Full name of the applicant must be on the money order”. How can I indicate that someone else is providing the fee?

    And here’s a photo about the strange fruit:
    strange fruit