Skip to content ↓
MIT staff blogger Chris Peterson SM '13

Ask Me Anything by Chris Peterson SM '13

go on

closed! at 10:54 EST. so i can go to bed without worrying about whom I’m not answering. thanks all! 

Today is Sunday. I am at home. After I do a small amount of requisite shopping, I am going to eat an entire apple pie and a whole bunch of delicious bread, then watch twelve hours of football until the insulin pouring out of my eyes from all of the carbs sends Jay Cutler into diabetic shock via the television.

During that time: open thread. Ask me anything. About admissions or anything else. Unless the question is, as Elizabeth would say, “totes inapropes”, I’ll probably answer it.

e: the pie

100 responses to “Ask Me Anything”

  1. Frank says:

    When submitting part 2 of the freshman application, do you prefer students to send their current SAT scores in the self-report section, or do you prefer students to wait for their most recent scores before submitting the application? When is the latest dates students can send SAT and ACT scores? I saw that the tests must be completed by the November test date, but when is the deadline for sending old scores? Also, when sending more than one supplemental recommendation, is it okay to use one envelope instead of two?

  2. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    And I see we go with the admissions route for the first one. Well, Frank: you can put your current scores on the self-report section, and then just send your official scores automatically/electronically. We will auto-update your scores as soon as we receive new ones from the college board.

    Yes, we prefer one envelope. Actually, we prefer faxing, which is no envelopes!!

  3. Did you ever cry reading an app? Or felt jealous? raspberry

  4. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    Absolutely yes to both.

  5. Michael says:

    Hey Chris, I have a weird question my guidance counselors and parents have had a hard time helping me on.

    Last year, I took a college physics course at a local university as part of a dual-credit program and loved it. Now I’m taking a general chemistry course as part of the same program (I’ve taken a regular high school chemistry earlier), but it really isn’t my cup of tea, for reasons like departmental size and actual content.

    From an admissions standpoint, would it hurt my application if I took a higher level physics instead of chem2?

  6. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    No, not as long as you will have taken some chemistry by the time you graduate.

  7. Adarsh Rao says:


    Who runs the Facebook Page?


  8. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    It does.

  9. Albert Orozco says:

    This might be a common question you often hear: how important are the SATs in the application against the application itself (interviews, submitting all your info via mymit)?
    Also, what are the chances for an international student to get a scholarship (or some other kind of financial aid)? I heard that it is actually need-based but some universitites restrict financial aid if you aren’t American.


  10. Adarsh Rao says:


    Here’s another question :

    Do you have any plans on releasing the number of applicants from each int. country?

  11. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    No “plans”, per se. We may or may not do it.

  12. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    Also Albert:

    The SATs are important to demonstrate that you can do the work at MIT. Once we think you can do the work, they diminish rapidly in importance.

    We are full-need for all of our international students too.

  13. Adarsh Rao says:

    Here’s another question :

    Did you ever read the application of a person who has re-applied and think something like “This person has changed a lot.” ?

  14. Ben says:

    Hello Chris,

    For courses taken at a local university, would admissions like a transcript of that course issued from the university (the class is not on my high school transcript)?

    Another question: For short essay C, are there any limitations to what our specific challenge is? Does it really have to be “the” most significant challenge?

    Thanks for your time!

  15. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    @Adarsh –

    I haven’t personally. Others may have.

    @Ben –

    Yes on the transcript, no on the limit to the challenge.

  16. Chris Ong ('16)? says:


    As an extension of Adarsh Rao’s question, are there any statistics on international applicants alone (with regards to SAT score distribution, etc). The ones on the admissions statistics page only show statistics for all applicants


    And yes, who runs the Facebook page raspberry

  17. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    Our international SAT scores are in similar ranges as domestic students.

  18. Adarsh Rao says:

    Here’s another question :

    I was wondering, do you take Xth grade GPA into consideration?

    The reason I’m asking this is I have an exam tomorrow and, the way I write it will pretty much decide what my GPA is going to be. If it’s going to affect my chances at MIT, I’ll pull-off an all nighter if it doesn’t then I’ll probably slack off a bit.

    So, what’s your take on it?

  19. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    We look at everything.

  20. Dimitris says:

    Hi Chris,

    I have two questions.

    The first one is about the activities section. Is it better to write a broader Activity Name and then elaborate in the available space or write specific activities? For example, write “programming” as an activity and list a startup that I have founded as an example, or list the startup as a different-separate activity.

    And the second one is for second time applicants, like me. Is it ok if we write in the additional information area what has changed in this year and why we think we might have a better chance this time.

  21. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    1) I’d write programming

    2) yes, in fact we’ll ask for it.

  22. Shira Nayman says:

    Hi there Matt,


    I have a very dear 11 year old boy whose head is in Einstein’s theories about time paradoxes, and is closely following this new thing going on in CERN about the particles going faster than the speed of light…he can explain things I don’t understand. He does brilliantly on all kinds of tests (IQ, standardized things, school tests–gets 100 percent on every science thing) AND the teachers are exasperated because he’s slow to unpack his backpack and his papers are a mess and he always forgets to bring his music to choir practice. To the point that they want him to leave the elite NYC private school he’s in because “he’s not in lockstep with the other kids.”

    So…I was thinking…would there be a summer program next year for 12 year olds and above to go and think about physics and the philosophical quandaries of the universe where he might be appreciated and not denigrated for being slow at unpacking his backpack? Do you have any suggestions? I love your blog and it did say you’d answer almost any question, and I’m hoping mine will count to be answered. We feel sad that our charming, passionate-about-knowledge-and-learning child is seen as ‘defective’ because he has trouble handling his classroom materials (they get upset that he loses pencils as well….). I thought maybe MIT was used to people like that….? He said to me, when he was 8, out of the blue, while doing the dishes, “Mom, I’ve been thinking about it. Philosophy is science without the answers.”


    Shira Nayman

  23. Adarsh Rao says:

    Aah. You are so diplomatic.

    Anyway, last question(until your next such entry) :

    Do you plan to change the MyMIT website design anytime soon?

    I’ve checked it and it looks so old and I feel that it looks odd when we compare it to the ‘web 2.0’ look of the admissions website.

  24. Adarsh Rao says:


    @Shira Nayaman : He’s Chris not Matt raspberry

  25. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    @Shira –

    Short answer is no I don’t know of any such program.

    @Adarsh –

    Yes, it will be updated soon. It’s all ready, we just have to roll it out. It was supposed to go live with the new site but we wanted to make sure we double checked everything and got it right.

  26. John says:

    Hi Chris,
    I have a question about athletic recruits. What kind of impact is there if a coach offers to support you in admissions (i.e. you’re on the list of people he/she is talking to), but you are not one of the top recruits (i.e. the people he/she writes for and really pushes for)?

    I understand that athletics won’t get anyone in. But, assuming that someone is just as qualified as the next applicant, is there any difference in the way admissions looks at a supported athlete vs. a highly supported athlete?


  27. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    @John –

    Well, a coach’s support doesn’t “get you in”, no matter how highly you are supported, as you say. But it always helps. It’s another thing you might contribute to MIT.

  28. Moe says:

    Hello Chris, I appreciate the initiative.

    I attend a french high-school, so all my transcripts and national exams score reports are in french. Should I attach a translated copy with those, or are you officers accustomed to them (French Brevet, Terminale Scientifique subjects) ?

    Thank you.

  29. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    we know the french grading system well. worry not!

  30. Brandon says:

    Is it possible to request a campus tour on a day when there are no tours scheduled?

  31. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    not unless you’re part of a large group, but we have tours every weekday at 11 AM and 3 PM so it shouldn’t be a problem.

  32. Austin Rovinski says:


    Unfortunately, this is yet another question about admissions :(

    I have been reading the blogs while completing the application online as a domestic first-time applicant, and one of the top things that I keep reading about is “demonstrating passion.” I have a big passion for computers and technology, but unfortunately things like my list of extracurricular activities and my transcript might not reflect that (due to my passion being more of a hobby than an organized activity). I already wrote the essays pertaining to my pleasure activity and desired major about my passion, but is there anything else that I could do so the admissions gets a better idea of this?

  33. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    Not really. Your case is pretty typical, so I wouldn’t feel stressed about it.

  34. Ji Hoon Lee says:


    If I want to submit my Eagle Project as a part of my supplement, should I include everything, or should I summarize it?

  35. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    Well what is “everything.”

    If it’s a website or whatever you can certainly send that, but a summary will be useful.

  36. Jeevan says:

    Hello Chris,
    Does MIT admit a student who has failed in 11th grade’s last semester and 1st semester of 12th grade in Math and Physics “only because” of some intense personal problems (which he may write in his application). The same kid is known in his high school for presenting amazing science projects in the past, having excellent oratory skills and well versed in Calculus, winning awesome prizes in Quiz, scoring above 90 percentile in 10th grade and also works part time as a high school teacher?
    Do you believe in admitting such student who missed some ways in life at a teenage but is now trying really hard to recover “fast” and bring back his real enthusiastic spirit.

    Thank you.

    P.S.: I am an international applicant (Indian).

  37. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    Jeevan, we’d need to be confident that such an applicant would be sufficiently prepared for MIT.

  38. Ji Hoon Lee says:

    “Everything” meaning about 30 pages worth of planning, budgeting, and constructing.

    Thank you for the answer!

  39. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    Probably better to go with the summary.

  40. Jeevan says:

    Thank you Chris. I believe Jesus will make a way for me. I have suffered and woke up in his name and I will keep struggling to make a mark on this world.

    And one more question sir,
    How can an applicant prove that he is actually dedicated towards learning and discovering science through just a written application? Would the SAT scores work as a “confidence booster” for MIT in the applicant?

  41. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    It’s the whole package, Jeevan. SATs, grades, essays, recommendations, interview, everything.

  42. Jeevan says:

    Thank you Sir smile
    I hope, I prepare the best package for MIT smile
    God Bless You smile Have a nice day.

  43. Moe says:

    Thank you for answering that fast smile

    One last concern : should I at least include a translated copy of my trimestrial transcript (which includes very important, invaluable written notes of my teachers) ?

  44. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    That would be helpful.

  45. And what does ‘transcript’ refer to? My grades right since the 9th? I’m Indian btw.

  46. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    Yes Raj.

  47. Abderhman says:

    Hey Mr.chris

    At first , Thank you for paying attention for us, I’m an international student . I got a gorgeous TOEFL score ( 607 ) and I’m doing the sat next month . I have a question about the SAT subject test scores …..
    what are the recommended scores for MIT ?

    Another question , Is the interview gonna be fatful ??
    I’m really worry because there is no Educational counselors from my region ( Gaza Strip )

    Thank you Again ….. smile

  48. Devansh Jaiswal says:

    hey this is Devansh Jaiswal from India….. wht must I do to get into MIT

  49. Johnny says:


    I’m a high school junior. I’m interested in studying either sports medicine or sports science. If I want to study sports medicine, should I major in pre-med in college?

  50. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    @ Abderhman –

    We don’t have “recommended scores”, but I would encourage you to do as well as you can. With your TOEFL you do not need to worry about the verbal as an international student; if you can get into the high 600s/into the 700s, you will see on our statistics page that we take more students from those ranges.

    We can Skype interview to you in Gaza, or if your internet isn’t good, we can just waive it with no negative prejudice to you.

  51. H.E. Rpderp says:

    Has anyone ever been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

  52. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    @Devansh –

    I’d review this:

    @Johnny –

    I think so. It depends on what you mean by “sports medicine.” Do you mean like being a trainer, or Dr James Andrews? Two good, but very different, paths.

  53. Michelle says:

    College Transcripts: Would it be fine if it was a photocopy of an official transcript? Dang those official transcripts are expensive.

    Also, where/how on the application would we include self-studied courses from the OCW?


  54. Johnny says:

    Dr. James Andrews

  55. Gabriela says:

    Hi Chris:
    I have a little doubt about biographical information, I am an international Apllicant and I have two names Ana Gabriela, I should include both names on the First Name space? And what should I write in middle intitial space, thank you so much, I look forward to hearing from you

  56. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    Hi Gaby – I’d pick one name for first and one name for middle. Or, just put whatever name you go by (like Gaby) in the first name field alone.

  57. Daniel Kramnik says:

    Hello Chris-

    My name is Daniel, I am currently a high school junior. Can I apply to MIT this year, and if so, would it significantly diminish my chances of getting in? Also, if I am rejected, then would this decrease my chances of getting in if I reapplied next year? Finally, are the application forms available yet? I tried creating a MyMIT account, but there are no links to anything other than spring 2011 campus visit signups (which are, quite obviously, closed).



  58. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    @Daniel –

    You may apply this year. We do admit juniors sometimes, but there has to be a very compelling reason why. It will not necessarily diminish your chances next year.

    Yes, they are available at

  59. Johnny says:

    So, should I major in pre-med in college if I was talking about Dr. James Andrews?
    Thank you very much!

  60. Ji Hoon Lee says:


    Are we going to have a MIT Admissions Webcast session this year?

  61. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    Yes, we will have webcasts.

    @Johnny –

    It doesn’t really matter what you major in, as long as you are prepared to go to med school. We don’t have a pre-med major, for example, though some schools do I guess.

  62. Johnny says:

    I see. Thank you!

  63. Gaby says:

    Thank you so much :D

  64. Shira nayman says:

    OK, thanks.

  65. Daniel Kramnik says:

    @Chris –

    Where should I be looking on the MyMIT page? I’m logged in, but there doesn’t appear to be any link to the application forms.

  66. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    Daniel –

    What entry year are you in our system? What did you indicate when you signed up?

  67. Daniel Kramnik says:

    @ Chris –

    I indicated that I will graduate in 2013 when I signed up, but I changed that to 2012 and everything started working. Thanks!


  68. Umair Khakoo says:

    Hey Cris,
    I am planning on applying to MIT via Early Decision, however I am now debating whether I should go through with it or wait until the regular application date.
    The reason for this debate, is because I have recently begun a community service project, and also a project for DECA, neither which will probably not have any significant results, or execution until after the deadline for Early Decision. Therefore, am I allowed to update the admissions department with that information later on in the admissions process, or at least before they re-review me in Regular Decision.



  69. Emma Thompson says:

    I just took the ACT with writing, so I haven’t received my score yet. I was wondering if I should submit both my ACT without writing and this ACT, or does super scoring only work if it is the same test (i.e. both with writing)? On a related note, I took the SAT as well. Should I submit that too? And will MIT take into account whichever one is higher (ACT vs. SAT)?

    Thank you so much,

  70. shira nayman says:

    How do I get off the notifications every time someone posts? I’ve already gone back in and unclicked the “notify me” button but I keep getting emails….could you please let me know how to undo this? Thanks.

  71. Anthony L. '15 says:

    Wow, lots of questions.

    I have one or four. Does admissions hire students for anything, and what do they do? How to get a job? Is it competitive?

  72. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    @Umair –

    You might as well wait if you are so inclined. There is no benefit strategically to applying EA.

    @Emma –

    Superscoring should work between the two tests, and also across the SAT.

    @Shira –

    Not sure, sorry :(

    @Anthony –

    We do hire students to work downstairs, but I think we hired everyone for this year. You can email [email protected] though.

  73. MolesPerLiter says:

    If I am submitting an arts supplement, would MIT prefer a CD or a link to a webpage with my resume, videos, and recommendations?

  74. Hollis Stoddard says:

    Hello Chris,
    In your opinion is there an admission benefit to providing exceptional homeschooling for a mathematically gifted child, or to providing extracurricular math camps/courses to boost an education received at a public school?

    …and how much pie is left, if any?


  75. Margaret Pavlovich says:

    I spent 11th grade abroad, mostly because high school is boring and unchallenged. Because of this, there are some funny things on my transcript, such as having straight-A’s all throughout 9th and 10th, and then B’s and C’s for 11th. I also then have no APs, since all but one are only offered to 11th and 12th graders (though I’m taking four AP classes now) and I took the SAT in 10th grade, so my score is good, but not fantastic. How will this affect my application?
    Thanks for all the advice you’ve been giving!

  76. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    @Moles –

    If it’s an official art supplement, follow the instructions on our art supplement page.

    @Hollis –

    I don’t know about full-on homeschooling, but definitely supplemental math is always great. And about half of the pie is left, but I’ve also killed a huge loaf of bread and half a quart of apple cider…

  77. anonymous says:

    When will the MyMIT accounts from last year be deleted, so that someone who applied last year can create a new account and re-apply this year?
    Thank you very much.

  78. Mian Hamza Abbas says:

    Hello Everyone ,
    I am newly registered with MIT .Please guide me a little . I am from Pakistan and i want to get Admission in MIT for Architecture undergraduate Program , what’s the Admission criteria and when should I Apply for it . Actually I need your guidance in this Regard. Please make me a Reply or do email me here’s my ID : [email protected]
    Basic things to know :
    – Marks Obtained at Intermediate Level
    – Fee and Financials
    – Degree’s Worth in market .

    Mian Hamza Abbas

  79. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    @anon –

    Not sure. Probably soon.

    @Margaret –

    You’ll just need to convince us of your academic preparedness, same as any other student.

  80. Emma Thompson says:

    Another question, sorry. How long typically should you wait for an EC to respond to your initial interview request? It’s been a week and I haven’t heard anything and I didn’t know if I should wait longer before sending a followup email.


  81. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    @Emma –

    I’d say wait a few more days. If they have a number in there, you can try to call.

  82. Eugene Z says:

    Hey Christ, could you please clarify
    1. is ‘Mid Year Report’ only applicable to the present high school student applicants?
    2. is TOEFL still required or preferable for International Student who is from a semi-English spoken country, had her lessons taught in English for the last 7 years, and a distinction in GCE O level English Examination?
    3. Is on-line application fee waiver?

  83. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    1) yes

    2) preferred

    3) yes, there is one

  84. Alhassan Abdul-Rashid says:

    Hey Chris, if your interviewer is not from your country or area, can you change who interviews you? If yes, how?

  85. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    How was your interviewer assigned? Probably because they were the closest / most accessible to you.

  86. Eduardo Ruffo says:

    Hello everyone.

    I’m an international student but I have already begun my undergraduate degree at a local university (august 2011), anyways, I want to apply for MIT but I don’t really care if I don’t get any credit for the courses I’m taking right now.
    My question is if I can apply as an international freshman even if I’m coursing my first semester of college or if it is strictly necessary to apply as an international transfer.

  87. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    Hi Eduardo –

    You must apply as a transfer student.

  88. Eduardo Ruffo says:

    Its me again.

    1) if I apply as a transfer student, do I get credit for the courses I’m taking?

    2) does the university I come from has any influence in my admission process?

    Thanks for your response.

  89. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    1) usually

    2) not usually

  90. Cristian Morales says:

    Sorry to bother you on a Sunday and tear you from your all-american apple pie and football, but I need some help. In the MIT Application Guide (the one with the supposedly bad haikus), the guide says that to apply Early Action, you need to be able to complete all testing requirements by the November test date. Does that mean that even though Part 1 and Part 2 are due by Nov. 1, I can still submit the Subject Tests I’m going to take Nov. 5 and I’ll still be able to apply Early Action?

  91. Sara says:


  92. Nikhil Benesch says:

    How much are you willing to read in the additional information box? I have an essay that I’d love to share.

  93. Eugene Z says:

    Thanks for your immediate response. Further clarify,
    1) So you actually mean no application fee is required for an on line application.
    2) How about the Chinese given name normally consists of 2 characters (mostly just treat as a disyllabic word, and the first character is usually just a generation indicating character or word, while mostly the second word is the name called by everybody, unlike the Westerner that first name only is used for addressing) after the Surname, be treated as a First Name when filling the form?

  94. Ryan says:

    A lot of people have been trying to tell me that the best way to handle a college application essay is to write about a story and imply it’s implications about your character; they’ve been criticizing me writing about things directly, saying that for each question I need to “show, not tell” I tell them that there are only 250 words, and it’s the best I can to fit in everything I want to say. The advice on the site here says to right in a true voice, so my main question would be: is it bad to be pretty direct in answering the questions?

  95. Nolan Meghrouni-Brown says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m interested in submitting some music that I’ve recorded, but, as a rock musician, I’m not sure how appropriate it would be to have my recordings evaluated by the music faculty at MIT seeing as music departments tend to focus on classical and jazz. Music is a really huge part of my life, so I’m wondering if it would be possible for my recordings, music teacher recommendation etc. to be considered as a part of my application without it being an “audition” that needs to be evaluated by the faculty.


  96. Zemin says:

    Do you have information session to Atlanta? can you post a link of session information-date, location?

  97. Olurotimi Bolonduro says:

    Hello Mr. Peterson!

    What is your most favorite part about being an admissions officer?

  98. Jake Stevens says:

    Hi Chris!
    I sent this as an email to the admissions about two weeks ago, but I hadn’t heard a response yet so I’m posting it here. I have a question concerning essay length, specifically the most significant challenge. The topic that I had planned to write about was a major event that greatly changed my life. I don’t really feel like I would be able to convey my story properly in the given word limit (200-250). If I would still like to write about this topic, would you recommend that I submit it as part of the optional additional material section or will a longer essay be accepted? Or, do you recommend that I try to cut down the story to fit the limit?

  99. Tipsy says:

    I am participating in Latin club, which is basically like Academic Bowl except the questions are about Latin. I really like this activity, but my parents are convinced that it’s really dumb and it won’t help me on my application because Latin and Roman mythology and history won’t help me anywhere else in life. Do you think I should continue or will admissions officers look down on the activity?
    Also, are my chance of getting in lessened if I haven’t taken a computer science course? Should I take one, even though I don’t like the subject?

  100. Patrick says:

    I’m currently a sophomore in high school and I had a question about extracurriculars. I am in the Language Learning Program at my school and am ttying to decide what else to do. I was thinking about Academic Decathalon but I’m not sure. I guess my question is how important are extracurriculars? Do you have any advice about what colleges look for (especially MIT). I really want to go there so any advice would be appropriated. Thanks!