Autumn Questions Omnibus by Matt McGann '00
Answers to questions asked in my blog's comments. And there have been a lot of them.
It’s time for another Questions Omnibus, where I answer the questions that you’ve asked in the comments… Thanks, in part, to the transition to the new site, and my travels around the country for the office, I’ve become a bit behind in answering your comments. It’s been nearly two months, I apologize!
You’ve asked many questions, I’ll do my best to answer. Even before I started answering, your questions alone were 4,000 words!
Brendan wrote, “My athletics coach only sends letters of recommendation directly to the admissions office. In this case, the letter of recommendation might be sent before the actual application. Would this cause any problems since it won’t be sent with the admissions application packet?”
That won’t be a problem, no worries. We, of course, have a procedure for that.
Kelly wrote, “Hi. I’m sorry for the off-topic question, but I just found out that I’m moving and have already submitted part 1 of my application. How do I change my address? Thanks!”
Don’t worry! You can either email us ([email protected]), fax us (617-258-8304), or call us (617-253-4791) or mail us (77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 3-108, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA). Be sure to include your full name and date of birth.
Adam wrote, “Sorry for being so terribly off topic, but I was wondering – I had my interview almost a month and a half ago. I sent the “conducted interview form” perhaps 2-3 weeks ago, and MyMIT says that it still has not been received. I was wondering if this is normal, i.e. admissions hasn’t updated the accounts with interview information yet. I’m just a little bit worried because my interview went well. Very interesting, and lasted over an hour and a half!”
I’m not sure what the problem is, but I’ll look into it. If it hasn’t appeared on your MyMIT tracking next week, send an email to [email protected]
Dan wrote, “sry to just jump in as a complete unknown person XD, its just that I am currently a junior studying in an International School in Shanghai China, I really wonder if there is anything I can do right now to help later college application and of course, especially for MIT =D Really hope you can maybe give me some extra tips more than the ones it gives here =p”
P.sri wrote, “my name is P.SRI GANESH I’m from India. my dream is to study Engg and Bussiness Administration in MIT.Please answer to my questions? what r the basic requirements in order to enter into MIT? I WANT TO DO UNDERGRADUATE COURSE IN MIT. WHAT IS SAT,SAT1,SAT2,TOEFL IN DETAIL? IN WHICH OF THESE EXAMS I SHOULD PREFER> WHAT R THE SYLLABUS FOR THESE TESTS? IS THERE ANY INTEGRATED COURSE FOR BOTH M.B.A AND ENGG? PLEASE RESPOND TO MY QUESTIONS AS QUICK AS POSSIBLE !!”
Mike wrote, “hy i’m a student from Romania and i would like to find some information about MIT from an MIT student, so if you are willing to help me please e-mail me…lots of thanks…”
Sandeep wrote, “iam from india . here we dont have much awareness to enter in to the MIT. can i know it please”
Swapna wrote, “I am living in New Zealand and I wish to put my son who is just 9 now in MIT.It is my desire and dream, not sure when he grows up what he decides. But then I want to groom him accordingly without putting any pressure so that if he wishes he can join MIT.Kindly advise when I should apply for admission and how do I prepare him for the same. Also advise if the procedure for foreign students is different.”
Gayathri wrote, “its wonderful to see many mit students going to space.i have a great passion to go to space.i see mit is the best place where i can give shape to my dreams.i am studying at india .please tell what are requirements and exam that i should write to do my graduate course at mit”
Sandesh wrote, “How can i get into MIT”
My best advice to all of you is to read this website and these blogs. They have quite extensive information. Thanks for reading!
Zain wrote, “I am applying to MIT this November and had a question. You mentioned that your were asked about certain things individuals could do to demonstrate their interest and/or abilities in the realm of computer science. There are certain things that I have done that don’t really have a designated space on the MIT application. Would it be acceptable then, to submit a Resume? Are resumes disliked by the admissions office?”
I would recommend describing to us your CS projects in the optional essay. You may also submit a resume in addition to filling out the rest of the application. I would try to fit your accomplishments into the application as best you can as it is, and supplement it as you need with any supplements.
Vihang wrote, “Is there any place where i can get these [ZigZag] videos in a format other than .m4v ? My comp is having trouble playing .m4v, the video lags.”
I don’t know, but I would directly ask the producers via their feedback form.
Sanjay wrote, “I am currently a freshman in high school in Atlanta, but I’ve wanted to attend MIT for a while now. I was wondering how the carrer fair was and how one prepares for it. What exactly do the employers want and—well what do I do?”
The answer to this can be best provided by the MIT Careers Office. Their job is to help MIT students prepare for things like this. Check out their site, and check them out during Career Week if you come to MIT.
Stefan wrote, “QUESTION: Does CIA recruites international students? :)”
I don’t know, I’d guess they wouldn’t for formal jobs, but maybe if you were the son or daughter of an important politician, they might recruit you in another way…
Jeff wrote, “I’m applying to MIT EA, but the November SAT results won’t come out till mid-November. In the application, would I write in my old scores, or leave the boxes blank?”
Either way is fine. We will use the official score reports.
Sylvia wrote, “Aww, I live in Las Vegas. Too bad you didn’t visit here. Would you know of any interviewers available here by any chance?”
Yes, we have about a half dozen interviewers in Clark County, including one of my former dorm mates. To find out who your interviewer is, log on to MyMIT (if you are a senior).
Jennifer wrote, “This is a general question. Do you accept additional letters of recommendation from coaches or project advisors besides the 2 required ones?”
Yes. Coaches and project advisors can make for good supplemental letters of recommendation. I previously wrote about this here; maybe I should post an updated version of that one…
Benjamin wrote, “Could you also give more specific recommendations on how to fill out certain parts of the application [for homeschoolers]? For example, should I have a parent fill out the secondary school report, or should I have the school district’s home school coordinator do that? Also, for home schooled students the line is sometimes blurred between extracurricular activities and coursework. For example, I practice Judo primarily for my own enjoyment, but it’s also counted as PE on my transcript. Should I list it as an extracurricular and mention that it’s also on my transcript as a class?”
For the secondary school report, whoever it makes the most sense to fill it out should fill it out. If is a parent, then the parent should fill it out. As for the judo, I would feel comfortable listing it as an extracurricular in addition to as a PE, if you like.
Anonymous wrote, “any specific thoughts for international homeschoolers?”
No, nothing comes to mind. It should be pretty much the same as for other international applicants, and as for other homeschoolers.
Samra wrote, “Very interesting! Can you comment on what MIT likes to see or *not* see, as far as how many AP courses, community college courses, etc. a student has under his belt already. I understand that with some universities, you cannot be accepted as an undergraduate if you’ve taken “too many” cc classes. Also, some universities transfer cc credits, others count the classes but don’t give the credit, still others make you retake everything. Can you fill me in on some of the specifics of MIT?”
We have never disqualified someone for admission for having too many college or AP courses (though if you are enrolled in a college degree program, you would be considered a transfer applicant). As for transfer credit, you can read all the details here.
Sandy wrote, “My question is whether AP classes are recognized and how many are considered minimum. My son takes electives at the public school and does other subjects at home – is there an advantage as he is partially schooled? Does MIT recognize courses taken by homeschoolers in other universities/community colleges. Do you recommend opencourseware over CTY or EPGY?”
AP courses are recognized, both for admissions and for credit. There is no minimum number of courses (we admit many, many students every year with no AP courses). There is no advantage for being partially schooled, or for being homeschooled, or for being traditionally schooled — we evaluate every applicant in their own context. As I noted above, MIT does recognize university courses. I don’t necessarily recommend OCW over EPGY or CTY; in fact, I suspect for students with the financial resources, guided programs like the EPGY/CTY online courses will be better for more students. OCW is best for those students who are very self-motivated and can lead themselves and teach themselves. I hope this helps!
Also, tokenadult responded, “See MIT admission officer Ben Jones’s blog for a statement about how many APs are enough. http://ben.mitblogs.com/archives/2005/10/many_ways_to_de.html P.S. The answer is, as many (or as few) as are the next logical step for you as you pursue your personal learning plan.”
Catherine wrote, “I’ve also wondered about the AP classes. If a homeschool student takes classes at the university, e.g., all their calculus, diff eq, linear algebra, number theory, that sort of thing, and calculus-based physics, is there any point in that student also taking the equivalent AP classes? Would the college classes serve the same purpose? I’m asking for my daughter, who is homeschooled. She is what they call a Young Scholar at a local university, that is a student in high school or middle school who takes classes at the university (as a part time student). When she graduates, she will have calculus, multivariable calculus, linear algebra, several problem solving seminars, some number theory, and possibly real and/or complex analysis, depending on her schedule. That’s why I’m wondering if she needs to take the AP or other exams to demonstrate her advanced standing. Wouldn’t the university transcript demonstrate that as well?”
If she is taking these university courses, I wouldn’t see a real need to take the AP exam. The exception is that the standardized process for receiving credit at MIT and many other universities is easier with AP/IB scores. You may wish to read the firstyear site for more information.
Jacob wrote, “I am a homeschooler/public schooler. I homeschooled my freshman and sophomore years. I am currently in a public school for my junior and senior years. How would this help if any with my application? Also, how would I put this on my application?”
This would not help or hurt your application; we will evaluate you within this context. When you go to fill out your application, I assure you it will be easy to document your schooling to us in the Part 1.
Oystein wrote, “Will there be any international meetings like this? If not, it would be great if you could publish your powerpoint or maybe even a video of the presentation!” And Euong wrote, “Sorry but does MIT come to Asian Countries?”
I’m sorry, but this year, we are only doing two international meetings: one in Mexico, and one in Canada. Hopefully, the website and blogs are quite helpful! Let us know what more we can tell you via these media.
Harsimran wrote, “1. Do AP exams ensure advantage in the admission process? In India, AP Exams are not part of standard school curriculum–how can a student take these exams in India?
2. Does applying for financial aid hamper our chance of admission in any way?
3. How can I access your answers to queries posted in Feb 2006 ?
4. A special circumstance indigenous to (most) Indian students : Here in India, schools are a formality in Classes 11th and 12th. The IIT-JEE and AIEEE entrance examination syllabi is a lot different from what the CBSE prescribes in the school for Classes 11th and 12th. To prepare for the IIT and AIEEE examinations, most of the students go for private tutorials. The attendance in school is a formality. As a result, the Extra- Curricular chart falls down in Classes 11th and 12th as most of the activities are organized by school. Olympiads etc are an exception as even private participation is allowed. How does your selection committee view this scenario ??
4a. As a personal example, I have loads of extra-curricular activities till class 10… leadership qualities, art(glass painting, shading, natural and still-life), quizzes, debates, rifle shooting etc. But the participation is not so good in Classes 11th and 12th. What do you suggest I should do at this point of time so that my admission is not hampered in any way?”
1. AP exams do not ensure advantage. Don’t worry about APs if this isn’t part of your curriculum.
2. Applying for financial aid does NOT hamper your chance of admission in any way.
3. All of my previous blog entries can be found here.
4. We will review all applicants within their context, while still continuing to look for strong MIT matches. Honestly, we do expect students to still have high levels of achievement and involvement in their communities.
4a. I don’t have any suggestions for you. You need to prioritize your own life and education as is best for you.
I hope this is helpful.
Allison wrote, “I’m applying as a transfer student to MIT. My brother has been invited to a freshman information session near us. Am I allowed and would it benefit me to attend?”
You are welcome to attend. Nearly every information session I do on the road has at least one prospective transfer student. You should know that the focus of these meetings will be on freshman admission, but many of the concepts discussed will be applicable to transfer admission.
Anshuman wrote, “Hey Matt, the only date for a TOEFL test in my city is on Dec 15,2006. Will my application be affected if I give it then because results will not be declared by January 1?”
Your application will not be affected. We will have your TOEFL scores in plenty of time to make a decision.
Benjamin wrote, “I’m a homeschooled student going into my senior year. However, one thing on Part II of the application confuses me: the instructions on the self-reported coursework section clearly state, “To be completed by students in U.S. school systems only.” First, should I complete that? I live in New York and report to the Ithaca City School District, but I’m not sure if that counts as being in a U.S. school system. Second, and purely out of curiosity, why do you have only U.S. students complete that section?”
Yes, you should fill out the self-reported coursework section. The form was designed for applicants in US schools, and often does not fit into other countries’ schooling systems. But don’t worry, we’re professionals and can figure it out; no worries.
Aja wrote a long and heartfelt question in this entry.
Aja, I don’t know what to tell you, but if you think you’d regret it if you didn’t apply, well, you’ll never know unless you try.
Ashley wrote, “I applied in a hurry last year and was rejected. Though disappointed with the outcome of my application, I took it as a blessing in disguise as the gap year was soul-searching. I am more prepared this year and wish to reapply. However, I could not register another MyMIT account to fill in the application for Class of 2011 nor can I change the year of entry in my previous MyMIT account to 2007. Any solution proposed? Thank you in advance.”
I think you should be able to reregister now; if you can’t, please contact our office.
Christos wrote, “My parents gave me the name “Christos Apostolos”; you can imagine that as a “first” name and a “second” name, respectively (though not exactly a “middle” name). A few years ago my school counselor told me that I should use just “Christos” for my collegeboard.com account, international competitions and US applications, and so I did. The problem is that in my passport in the first-name entry it says “CHRISTOS-APOS” (the rest won’t fit). Does this mean that if I apply as just “Christos”, as instructed, to MIT (and other universities) I will have a problem of some sort? (VISA, or anything else) Also (I hope I get to ask 2 questions in one comment), I had taken the (old) SAT 3-4 years ago and that score report does not show up in my collegeboard.com account. I don’t think it really adds much to my application, but then again, I’m not an admissions officer. Is there a chance you’ll receive that score along with the rest of my latest scores?”
Everything should be okay, Visa-wise. Be sure to work closely with our International Students Office if you are admitted. As for the old scores, I wouldn’t worry at all about them, really.
Dan wrote, “My application tracking says there is no EC in my area so my interview’s been waived. Can this change? Is that final? just curious, thanks.”
It could change. If you have a question about interviews, email [email protected]
Someone wrote, “1) About how many female applicants are there each year? 2)Would a recommendation from a Computer Science teacher count as the Math/Science recommendation?”
1) In 2005, 2832 [CDS].
2) Absolutely, a CS teacher is a great choice for Evaluation A.
Kwan wrote, “I’m going to take the ACT without writing in September to get college application fee waivers from my school. Would I be able to include these scores on my application, even though it is specified that I take the ACT with writing? (I already have SAT scores, including writing.)”
Felix wrote, “I have heard of the immense impact RSI makes on admissions committees and the rumor that “RSI means guaranteed admissions to some top school”. This year I applied and was named an RSI alternate obviously, very disappointing. My friend, a rickoid himself, said RSI alternate doesn’t really mean anything and will not help in the admissions process. Is this true? thanks!”
RSI does not mean guaranteed admission to top schools. I would guess that RSI selected students and RSI alternates perform roughly similarly in college admissions.
Leah wrote, “you said that i could apply for mit as a freshman after attending college only if i was a non-degree seeking student. however, in korea you declare your major when you apply for the school and thats usually the major with which you graduate. would being accepted into and taking courses in a specific department be considered degree-seeking? truthfully, i dont know a lot about how colleges work and dont know exactly what “degree-seeking” defines. if you could just clear that up for me thatd be great.
for the recommendations from our highschool teachers, if i were attending college at the time of application, there would be absolutely nothing wrong with getting the recommendations from a college professor, right?
or what if i applied before that, but didnt feel my highschool teachers knew me well enough to give a accurate assessment?(becuase of the hierarchy system ingrained in korean culture, as well as the school system itself, teachers are more figures of authority than people eager to befriend their hundreds of students) am i allowed to get the recommendations from my middle school teachers? highly improbable, i would guess, but is there a possibility? is there anyone else who could do them?
If you are a full-time university student when you apply to MIT, you must apply as a transfer student, unless you are classified as a “non-degree” or “non-enrolled” student. We would like recommendations from educators who have taught you in your high school years (for freshman admission). In some cases, this could be a college professor. College professors or middle school teachers could also write you a supplemental recommendation.
Anonymous wrote, “Awhile back I regiestered for a MyMIT account. That was… oh say, a year and a half ago. Needless to say, I forgot my password, and had it locked down after trying to guess my own password. Now it says, “Your account has been locked. Please contact the MIT Admissions Department.” Contact the admissions office how you say? AND even more important, and infinitely more stupid, I’m a little embarrassed to call random MIT phone #’s and ask around, so I thought somebody here could spare me the humiliation.”
You can call us at 617-253-4791 between 9am-5pm Eastern time Monday-Friday, and we can help. You can also email us at [email protected]
Anshuman wrote, “Will it be a problem if i give my SAT II in November, because the application process deadline’s 1st January and SAT II scores might not come out in time.”
It will not be a problem; we can accept December (and sometimes January) scores for the Regular Action deadline. We can also accept November scores for the Early Action deadline.
Fan wrote, “Totally off topic, Matt, but I truly love ZigZag. When is the next episode coming out? Is there a regular schedule, or is it just whenever you all collect enough stories or events to build one?”
I’m glad you enjoy it! ZigZag, at present, comes out every few weeks. For specific questions/comments, you can directly ask the producers via their feedback form.
Rach wrote, “Hi Matt! I’m considering applying to MIT this year, and I had some questions regarding the application. I spent the last 10 1/2 months(my Junior year) on exchange in Germany. How can I relate my experiences through the application?(through Essays, Activities, etc part 14?) How would MIT like my transcripts from Germany (can I just send a copy or would they like the school I was at to send an original?) How would you regard and consider the grades on the transcripts?”
Rach, I look forward to hearing about your experiences in Germany! It could be through essays, activities list, the interview, supplemental recommendations, whatever suits you best. If your grades from Germany are on your high school transcript, you can just send that; if you have an official transcript from Germany, you can send that (we are familiar with the German school system). We certainly are aware about the lack of grade inflation in Germany (and much of the rest of the non-American world) and will treat your grades accordingly.
SUchi wrote, “off-topic: Can I send Part I of the application in the mail and complete Part II online?”
Dan wrote, “Hellooo Matt. I have a question about the SAT math subject test requirement. well in the applying info, it says math level 1 and 2 scores are weighed equally but which one we take should depend on how much math we’ve taken. well in june after pre-cal I took both thinking the higher one will count. I got 110 points higher on level 1 than on level 2 (I took level 1 in the first hour and level 2 in the 3rd hour and my brain was dead by level 2 time!) SO do you still just look at whichever one is higher (level 1) despite that I’ve taken the math for level 2? so come october should I retake level 2 or stay with a 780 in math level –>ONE<--?"
Please do not retake any SAT Math Subject Test with a 780. You’re all good.
Alex wrote, “Hi, I have a question about the application. If we do an extracurricular that is not obvious from the name (say, Odyssey of the Mind), should we expect you to know what it is or should we write about what it is in our supplemental section or possibly point you to where you can learn more about it?”
First, we definitely know what Odyssey of the Mind is. Secondly, yes, in general, you can feel free to point us to supplemental materials which explain in more depth your activities.
Reg wrote, “I’m planning to get a higher diploma in translation before going to university. In Hong Kong, higher diplomas are just below associate degrees, so would I be able to apply as a freshman? or would I have to transfer to MIT? If I were to apply as a freshman at the end of secondary school then take a gap year, would MIT allow me to use that gap year to get a higher diploma?”
You can apply as a freshman, and you can use your gap year to earn your higher diploma in translation.
Anonymous wrote, “I’ve heard alot of talk about affirmative action (especially complaints). When I first heard about it, I didn’t think much of it, just the that you’re trying to give underrepresented minorities… representation. Well, to come to the question, how much weight is really put into this? I’ve read the generic “qualified underrepresentd minority” students are accepted, but what does that mean? What is qualified; competitive? Give me an example please (though I’m pretty sure you’ll give me an evasive answer to the example request).”
I doubt I’ll be able to give you an answer that will satisfy you, since you already expect my answer to be “evasive.” I cannot, for example, give you an example. We practice holistic, qualitative admissions, so it’s not as easy as providing SAT scores or GPAs. On an applicant-by-applicant basis, we evaluate students, and we do admit well qualified students as in our affirmative action policy. If you’re looking for an interesting read for more background on this subject, I’d recommend The Shape of the River by Bowen & Bok.
Kelly wrote, “Hi, I have a question about the self-reported coursework section of the application. At my school, there are some classes, like anatomy & physiology, that are not called “advanced” — there is no “general anatomy” and “advanced anatomy”, just one anatomy class. But the gpa is weighted like an advanced class (4.5 for an A, 3.5 for a B, etc). Should I list every class with a gpa weighted this way as “honors”, or should I only list classes that are officially labeled “advanced” (like adv chemistry as opposed to general chemistry)? Also, I took some classes for high school credit in the 8th grade, like Latin. Should these be listed?”
And Andrew wrote, “I’d like to second Kelly’s question, in a way. At my school, some courses are “advanced” but are not weighted/have no honors status. For example, Precalculus and Trig/Analytical Geom. cover most of the same material yet Precalc covers more, is for 10th/11th graders as opposed to 12th graders, and is much harder. Is this really worth explaining, because I’d feel like I was just wasting my [and your!] time… Especially because my school doesn’t offer Honors in a lot of classes [Algebra I, Algebra II, Spanish, etc.]. Or should this all be covered by the school summary my school sends… or whatever? Sorry for being so rambly! And thanks a lot!”
If you have a class that is weighted like an honors class, you can feel free to list it as an honors class. You can list high school courses taken in junior high on the form, but if you don’t have room, you can leave them off. As for how to explain trickier distinctions between courses, I would discuss that with your guidance counselor. It may be that it is already explained on your school profile, which we will receive and read.
Samira wrote, “What is the best GPA for an MIT applicant? (for a top International student with best honors and TOEFL mark)”
There is no “best GPA,” though we do expect you to have strong marks. That doesn’t mean you need to have a perfect GPA, but we do hope that you have succeeded in a rigorous curriculum. Everything else being equal, higher marks are obviously better, but most admitted students do have less-than-perfect grades.
Samira wrote, “How do you choose your students with different educational systems and schools from International applicants? for example,Iran has hard educational system and for example GPA 4.5 is very good in Iran and getting a national olympiad medal is very difficult because you must cut some of your classes and read only the Mathematical,Astronomical or … sciences for the competition.”
We work hard to evaluate every applicant within the context of their country, school system, family and community background, and more. We are actually quite familiar with the situations in many countries around the world, and we are able to fairly evaluate students from many backgrounds.
Finally, because some people are confused about this — each year, we admit what we anticipate to be 30% of our enrolling class early. This past year, we admitted 377 students early, anticipating an 80% yield, or 301 of those students to enroll. Ultimately, we saw 299 of them enroll (pretty good guesswork!). This was 29.8% of our enrolling class. We deferred 2370 applicants who we felt could be competitive in the regular action pool, and put them at equal standing with the regular action applicants. Ultimately, 295 deferred students were among the 1106 students we admitted during regular action. Again, we aspire to leave 70% of our class to be filled during regular action, with competitive students deferred from early and applying regular evaluated on equal standing.