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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Application dreaming by Matt McGann '00

The reading continues, almost non-stop here… for another perspective on the reading, go on over and visit Ben.

Shahab commented with this question:


Would a non-techie passion (like poetry, painting, dancing) be
valued as much as a techie passion (like building stuff, research etc) ??

I am an international applicant, and I will definitly be majoring in BME.
I am a published poet in my country. Should I send my book as part
of the application to be reviewed? Will it be interpreted as “diverse”
or “confused about goals”?


In the past week, I have read the applications of ballerinas, inventors, artists, software developers, photographers, cancer researchers, basketball players, Halo players, oboe players, DDR players…

Yes, students at MIT are excited about science and technology, about the possibilities for research to improve society, make the world a better place. And we hope that you share in that excitement. But at age 17, we don’t expect that you’ve discovered a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, nor do we expect that math and science are the only thing you’re excited about.

While I was in California in early October, I started to read an old MIT brochure from the 1980s I discovered at a school I visited in Silicon Valley. The brochure had the following quote (from memory, this is a paraphrase):


"MIT is not a good place to be if you don't like math and science. But
MIT is also not a good place to be if you only like math and science."


This definitely hits home for me. At MIT, nearly all of my friends had a duality of passions: Chemical Engineering and Music, Biology and History, Computer Science and German, City Planning and Media Studies, Economics and Spanish, etc. And then there were people like me who were all over the map: math, architecture, education, literature, theater, and more. In addition, everyone I know at MIT has at least one non-academic thing that they’re involved with and excited about, whether it be Anime, Bharatha Natyam, Christianity, Debate, Entrepreneurship, Fencing, Gilbert & Sullivan, Hillel, (okay, this is getting ridiculous. You get the point)

The best candidates to MIT bring much more to the table than a slate of straight As in math and science and a big SAT I Math score. MIT students are three-dimensional, are good people in addition to good students, have interests in academic and non-academic endeavors.

In short, Shahab, yes, we will value your poetry. I look forward to hearing about it in your application. And for the rest of you poets, dancers, artists, writers, actors, athletes, debators, and everyone else out there, I look forward to reading about your passions, too.

Finally, with a month or so until early action decisions come out, how is your anxiety level? What’s the environment like around your school? What about your parents?

I ask because even I’m a bit anxious… two straight nights with dreams about reading applications. So, yeah, let me know how you are doing, in the comments section.

Not the same few colleges: Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. I visited here for the first time this summer, and I thought it was pretty cool — not in the temperature sense. I saw one of those signs on the side of a bank that tells you the time and temperature, and it read “115,” which confused me since it was already 3:30pm, and 1:15pm was 135 minutes in the past. Little did I realize… Anyway, ASU also has the flagship store of Cereality, profiled today in a New York Times article (login required).

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