Answers To Questions Fall 2007 by Ben Jones
Here are answers to the questions posted in my blog over the last month or two.
Here are answers to the questions posted in my blog over the last month or two. I apologize in advance to the folks who have asked chances-related questions – I don’t have enough information to answer those without your entire application in front of me, in the context of the overall applicant pool. That’s why chances-related questions are simply impossible to answer outside of selection committee.
To everyone who asked score/grade-related questions, here are the general answers:
I got 7xx on some test. Should I retake it?
Probably not, especially if the rest of your application is compelling. 7xx will make us confident in your academic abilities, at least as far as standardized testing goes.
I got less than 7xx on some test. Should I retake it?
Plenty of people get into MIT with some scores that are lower than 7xx. Consider your scores in the context of your overall application and use your best judgment. If you decide to retake one or more tests, you have nothing to lose, because we’ll use your highest scores regardless of when you received them. But only you can decide if it’s worth your time/money/effort/etc.
My scores are xxx and my grades are xxx. Should I apply EA or RA?
Again, totally up to you. There is no admissions advantage to applying in one period versus the other. If you’re deferred, you can submit additional materials for RA consideration, such as your senior year first semester grades.
English is not my first language. Should I take the SAT I or the TOEFL?
Take whichever test you feel you’ll do best on. Or take both – we’ll use whichever score puts you in the most favorable light. Remember that regardless of which you choose, you will still have to take the SAT IIs – one in math, and one in science.
Vijay wrote: “How many international transfer applicants are generally admitted to MIT, and what is the usual admit rate for international transfer applicants?”
The admit rate for transfer students – both domestic and international – is generally quite low. MIT’s retention rate is very high, so few spots open up for transfers each year. Last year several hundred transfer students applied; from this pool MIT admitted 16.
Any student who is thinking of transferring to MIT in the future should mirror MIT’s freshman year as much as possible when selecting his or her coursework. Please see the General Institute Requirements page for further guidance.
Becca wrote: “I had my interview almost a month ago, and it’s still not on MyMIT. I tried contacting my EC about it, but haven’t heard anything back. Any ideas?”
You asked this awhile ago and I’m late in responding – sorry! Hopefully it has shown up by now, but if not, let us know.
Generally speaking, sometimes it takes awhile for things to show up on MyMIT. Remember that ECs are volunteers, and many of them are quite busy with work, travel, etc., so it’s possible that the EC simply hasn’t had time to file his/her report yet.
Dustin wrote: “By your post, do you mean that admitted students definitely can stay overnight in March, or just that the admitted have priority?”
Essentially both. Admitted students have priority, and if an admitted student gives our office enough notice, I can’t see any reason why we wouldn’t be able to accommodate him or her in March.
‘Mangy’ Matt, PSU ’11 wrote “Might a prospective transfer participate in [the overnight program], or is it exclusively for freshman applicants?”
I’m fairly certain that the program is only open to freshman applicants. :-(
Milena ’11 wrote: “Can freshmen host pre-frosh too? I want to host someone adventurous enough to want to give Senior Haus a try!”
Sanja wrote: “I’m taking 3 SAT subject tests (Math, Physics and Literature) and all three scores will be sent to MIT. Will my lower Literature score hurt application or you won’t even look at it since MIT asks for only 2 tests?”
This won’t hurt you, no worries.
Caitlin wrote: “Do you know anything about sending in essays separately? The MyMIT account sent my Part II before I’d attached the essay.”
You can send anything you’d like to us at the address at the bottom of the screen. Just be sure to include your full name and birthdate. (And I liked your vegetable metaphor. :-)
Domenzain wrote: “What if I tend to write meticulously enough for a paper to seem déjà revised?”
As long as it’s your true voice coming through, I wouldn’t worry about it.
Eldrick wrote: “Do you mind to furnish me with more information about what kind of person MIT basically is looking for? And how can I actually get to catch the eye of the admission officer when i send in my application?”
Please see this page. It does a great job of explaining what sort of folks are best matched to the MIT community.
Sarthak wrote: “I would like to know whether the process of granting financial aid at MIT is the same, or different, for U.S. and international undergrad students… does MIT meet 100% of the need of international students?”
Yes, MIT is committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated need for each student it admits, whether domestic or international.
Emma wrote: “I’ve recently been getting frustrated over the MIT essay topics because they do confine you into choosing one topic or the other, thus ruling out an essay that I wrote for my other top choices that I’m really sure represents me well. So I’m just curious – why did MIT choose these two topics specifically, and do you know how the admissions at MIT would review essays differently than, say, Harvard, which does give you the option to choose ‘A topic of your choice?'”
We find that our essay choices work well for us in bringing out a student’s character and personal qualities. Having said that, if you’re proud of an essay that you’ve written for another school, by all means submit it to us in the “optional essay” field (yes, we do read those just as carefully!).
Self-Advocator wrote: “MIT Office of Admissions, will you hate me if I send in a resume listing my community service? Because I’ve done so much more than just 5 activities during high school. But I won’t send it in if it will give you guys an automatic reason to reject me!”
You are welcome to send in a resume, just not in lieu of our application question that asks you to choose up to five things that meant the most to you in high school outside of the classroom.
Ginger wrote: “I was at MIT and was told by a tour guide that my teacher recommendations need to come from a teacher who’s known me for at least a year and has had me in junior or senior year. Is this true, or can I submit a recommendation from a sophomore year teacher?”
There is no requirement that the rec come from a junior year or senior year teacher. Choose teachers who know you well, that’s really all that matters. Having said that, my advice would be to choose a teacher from sophomore year only if you’ve maintained a relationship with that person since. I imagine you’ve done a lot of growing in the last couple of years, and your rec writers should be able to comment on that even if they haven’t actually had you in the classroom since 10th grade.
Ally wrote: “I have a question for you regarding the optional ‘Tell us about something that you have created’ essay. Does this have to be something unique? Say, for example, that I really love to bake apple pies (I don’t, but use your imagination). Could I write my optional essay on a pie that I’d made, even if it had been from a recipe in a cookbook and had little or no relation to math or science?”
Absolutely, and people do this all the time. The question is intentionally left open to your interpretation.
Akshay wrote: “I have a question about length of the essay. My essay is around 550 words. Are the admissions counselors going to get mad over that?”
Anon wrote: “It took me 25 words extra on the long essay to say what i needed to say. Bad? Good? Indifferent? These have got to be the most stressful 25 words of my life. :P”
Definitely not a problem. We don’t actually count the words, so if your essay is a little bit over the limit, no one will notice. If it’s significantly over the limit, however, it will be fairly easy to tell.
Anonymous wrote: “There doesn’t seem to be an area for the required-but-not-core-classes section of the self-reported course work and there wasn’t enough room in the Additional Classes for all the art/computer/PE/Health/Theory of Knowledge classes I took. Should I just fill them in other spaces?”
You can simply add them to any of the optional-info parts of the application. We’ll find them. :-)
Haya wrote: “Why doesn’t MIT accept the National Merit Scholarship money?”
I asked Daniel to respond, and he wrote: “We do accept National Merit Scholarship money, but we do not match it. Some colleges choose to match the amount National Merit awards to students, but these are mostly colleges who do not meet full need. Since we do meet the full need of every applicant, there is no room in the budget to add a ‘match’; it is already contained in the MIT Scholarship award. We do allow students to reduce their loan/work amount by the amount of the outside scholarship, however, which means that a student who receives a National Merit Scholarship has to work or borrow less than someone who doesn’t.”
Tina wrote: “For the first essay prompt about overcoming a situation that seemed like “the end of the world”, does the situation have to be serious? Or can it be something that was discouraging while I was a child but seems funny now?”
It’s intentionally left open to interpretation – so your idea is totally fine.
To everyone – remember that all of the prompts on our application are simply there to help you tell us a lot about yourself – so we’re not terribly picky about how you interpret the essays and short answer questions, as long as your answers help us get to know the real you.
Anonymous wrote: “could i know that approximately how many applicants to MIT were there from India and how many were accepted?”
I’m not sure of the breakdown by country, but the statistics for international applicants are here.
Chris wrote: “I am a transfer student who switched his major. On one MIT admissions site it says that I am ineligible for transfer if i’ve been at my current college for more than 5 semesters (which I will be upon my applying for transfer), the other site says that I need to spend at least 4 semesters at MIT to be eligible (which I will be upon applying). Are they both correct?”
I’m not involved with transfer admissions, so I just walked over to their office to ask them about this. The official answer was “if the student is within a year and a half of graduating from his or her institution, then he or she would not be eligible to transfer to MIT.” So if I understood correctly, it’s not so much whether or not you’ve been there for five semesters, but whether or not you could graduate in three more.
Taylor wrote: “Would it be best to include an essay that demonstrates my love of math and science or an essay that talks about something unique that I do? I want to make myself stand out, but I also want to make sure MIT knows that I love Chemistry.”
The essay is really about personal qualities and character – giving the selection committee a window into who you are and what makes you tick. Sounds like either of your choices would do a good job!
Kate wrote: “I just sent in my application online – and it completely ruined the format of my essay – taking out all quotation marks and making reading it very confusing. I uploaded a plain text file as my essay that was formatted with indentations and spaces between the paragraphs, but on viewing it in PDF, all the formating and quotation marks are gone. Is there any way to fix this or will this just be a hard-learned lesson?”
Zhexi wrote: “I just have a quick question on submitting the essay. So basically, when i try to preview my application everything up to the essay looks fine. However, when i get to the essay it looks like someone was beating me over the head with a skillet as i wrote it (which is NOT that case ;). Do you know what i should do to correct this problem?”
I know that formatting is an issue with our PDF generator, and I apologize. If formatting is important to your essay, please print out a copy and mail it to us with a brief note explaining that you wish for that version to replace the one you submitted online.
Applicant wrote: “Do 3-letter words count in the word counting process. My English teacher claims they do not.”
Yes, three-letter words count. :-)
Jacob wrote: “Hi im a sophomore at cass technical high school and am striving to go to MIT. but i know my english has always been a challege for me and have never done real well on standarized tests and was wondering if you could give me tips on writing better and for my vocabulary skills as well.”
I’d talk with your teachers about this – they’ll be able to give you much better advice than I.
Dan wrote: “I was planning to write an essay, which would describe a particular day of my life, but is not exactly the answer to either of the prompts. Once I started writing it, it became quite obvious that 500 words is definitely not enough to say what I want to say. On the other hand, I feel that I could write a 500 word essay that described one particular side of me. I know that the first essay is way too long (1000 – 2000) words, but the smaller one would not show all of what I want to show about myself. I have been trying to make decision about what to do, but I just keep going in circles about it. Any advice?”
Anonymous wrote: “What about 800ish words… ack, i have no idea what to cut!”
You should definitely try to stick to the word limit (going a bit over is okay, but 1000 words would not be). If your current topic is really giving you trouble, I’d advise you to cut all but your favorite paragraph and build an entirely new essay out of it.
When I wrote my own college essay, I had the same problem – I was writing about a day in my life, and it was way too long, and a very helpful teacher chose one particular 2-minute moment and said “write your whole essay about this moment – forget the rest of the day.” It worked beautifully.
Anonymous wrote: “I just submitted my application BUT I found one mistake… I put 2007 instead of 2006 :[ Do you think if I call the admissions office, they can change it for me?”
Taylor wrote: “Is there a deadline for the midyear grade report? It says to turn it in as soon as the grades are available, and says that you realize some won’t be available until January 1st. But I can’t get my grades until January 21st. Should I turn in first quarter grades instead of first semester?”
You’re welcome to turn in quarter grades and then follow up with the midyear grades when they become available. Many students do this.
Brian wrote: “My school does not provide any AP courses, but I took the AP exams. In question 8, Should I write the name of AP exams instead of the AP course names, or should I just leave everything in blank and only send the AP scores through College Board?”
I would list the AP Exams you’ve taken (and your scores) in #8 and then use #14 to explain why the courses do not appear in your self-reported coursework or transcript.
Anonymous wrote: “when it says “application materials” can be turned in a few days late, does that include the essay?”
Inshaf wrote: “I am an international student hoping for the class of the 2012. I need to know whether January test scores (TOEFL) are accepted without any penalty imposed on the applicant.”
No penalty, but please see Stephanie’s question for more detailed information…
Stephanie wrote: “The next test date for SAT2 is in January. I found out that MIT accepts January SATs on a case by case basis. I would like to know how and to whom I could send my explanation for this so that I am considered as one of those case by case bases.”
What we mean by that is that we’ll use everything in our possession to make a decision when the time comes. The reason we say “case by case basis” is because we can’t always depend on the various testing services to get us January scores in time (although often it works out just fine). But you certainly don’t need to apply for consideration or anything like that on our end. If we have the scores, we’ll use them!
Jacob wrote: “Regarding the following – ‘If we are missing required scores at the time of EA selection, we’ll simply defer an applicant to Regular Action (with no penalty, of course) and consider him/her at that time, once the scores have reached us’ – does this mean that we automatically get deferred if you don’t have our test scores?”
Unfortunately, yes. We cannot make an admissions decision without the required test scores.
Molly wrote: “How do you attach a resume to an online application? Should I just mail it in?”
That’s probably the best way to do it.
Anonymous wrote: “Is it still alright to send in the second part online on Nov 1st? Like can I send it an hour before midnight before Nov 2nd?”
Definitely. A lot of people do just that. :-)
Anonymous wrote: “It has been more than 3.5 weeks that I sent my Secondary school transcript but MIT has not yet recieved it. Should I wait for more time?”
David wrote: “Regarding deferring EA applicants if scores aren’t in: Will the same happen if a teacher recommendation is sent later? The teacher I asked to write the recommendation is swamped with other students as well, but would like time to write more than just a generic recommendation for me. If she turns it in late, will they wait, defer my application, or reject it?”
Sad wrote: “Its been 2 months since I gave the Toefl (25 August) and MIT hasnt yet recieved it!!!!! What shud I do????????”
Please see Joanne’s message about deadlines. No worries!
BB wrote: “Is it ok if i submit BOTH part 1 and part 2 on oct 31st? Or did part 1 have to be submitted earlier?”
Nope, that’s fine.
Andrew wrote: “I am a International student from Jamaica. This is now my second year in college in the US and i am strongly cosidering transfering to MIT for fall 08. My last SAT score was not strong and i’m scheduled to retake them December first. Also, I will take the SAT 2s (math and physics) In january. Will the SAT 2 scores be accepted at the end of January? It will take a while for me to go back home and get my secondary school transcripts from jamaica. How flexible is the due date for these transcripts? My secondary school GPA is not very strong, but i have excelled in the leadership and co-corricular activities. Also, since my college experience in the US, I have performed superbly academically and have done summer projects and research. Will MIT consider my average high school performance a problem, or will they consider my current performance more heavily?”
See a few answers up for info on January scores, but since the transfer deadline is later, I can’t imagine it would be a problem. You should have plenty of time to get your transcripts in prior to the March 15th transfer admissions deadline (the only one available to int’l applicants). For transfer applicants, your current performance in college will certainly be more important than your performance in high school, but without seeing your entire application, I couldn’t tell you for sure how much of a factor your high school performance would be in the transfer committee’s decision.