I’ve been working on this one for weeks, but you guys know what the past few weeks have been like, so some of these answers are super late. Apologies.
Aziz wrote: “If i’m living in Kuwait, is there any possibility of receiving the Admissions decision either by courier mail or online? This is because the problem comes not from the international mail’s speed, but due to the very poor mail system here in Kuwait. It is vital for me to receive my admissions decision before the May 1st deadline.”
No worries – we will mail in mid-march, a good 6+ weeks before May 1. I cannot promise at this juncture that decisions will be made available online for RA ’06, but we are working on it.
Merudh wrote: “I was wondering if you watch House, M.D. next to LOST?”
Totally! I love that show. :-) House is the MAN.
Dan wrote: “I think creative writing and contemporary literature (1/2 year counted as regular CP) for 4th year english is truly more beneficial than BRITISH LITERATURE (honors), but it’s not as challenging and that shows, so I’m iffy about choosing not so demanding english senior year. (I’ll be in AP calculus, AP physics, AP biology, AP US government and spanish 4 honors.) What do you think?”
I think you should take what you want to take, especially when it comes to English. (As an English major I can totally relate to what it feels like to suffer through an English class that doesn’t connect with you.) This will not affect your chances at MIT. Whenever possible, you should try to take the highest level math and science classes though.
Andrew wrote: “I was wondering whether phone interviews are accepted, since my nearest EC lives 1000km away?”
I just asked the Educational Council office, and they responded: “We usually try not to conduct any telephone interviews, however, if the nearest EC to the applicant is very far away (as in this case) and the applicant really does want an interview, we will make an exception to the rule.”
Shikhar wrote: “Should I put down that I have been member for four years of my school’s programming and quiz team at certain competitions called MODEM, COFAS (and explain about them in the explanation sheet) or is participation not that worthy to put down?”
I’d put these down and explain them, as you’ve noted.
Shikhar wrote: “I have served my local community service center (a mix of old age home and underpriviliged children and mentally impaired people) for a very long time. I cant exactly remember the number of hours as the’d go in 1000’s I suppose. However, what I want to ask is that do you want proof of my work there in the form of a letter of reference or is my noting this fact in the application good enough for the admission commitee? (The letter is not any form of recommendation but just something which the Chief officer wrote for my appreciation and sort of just explains what all I have done there… which is quite a lot.) As I do not intend to write an essay about this, I was wondering whether that letter will be of help as that will explain my activities at the centre without me having to write about it.”
We don’t need “proof” but it does sound like that letter would be very beneficial to helping the committee understand your experience and involvement there. I would include it.
Sam wrote: “How do you guys decide if someone gets admitted? Are there a bunch of cuts or is it a one time yes or no decision?”
After your application is read by multiple people, it goes to committee where it will be seen by up to 10 different people. Finally, the Dean herself reviews every admitted student’s folder. There are no simple one-time “yes or no” decisions unless the folder contains very serious negatives (terrible grades, expulsion for malicious behavior, etc.)
Cheng wrote: “My guidance counselor tells me that she can’t send out the Mid-Year Grade Report until the middle of February and at the same time I’m applying via Early Action. Will this affect my chances of getting in?”
No – we will evaluate your folder using the grades that we have. If your application is deferred, we will want to see your mid-year grades. Your school yould sent them to us as soon as possible, as we begin committee in February.
Justin wrote: “As of November 1st, none of my grades this year have been calculated. I have, however, in the past 2 weeks received my quarter grades but not my semester grades since the semester does not end until the end of January. Will these quarter grades count as pseudo-semester grades or will you be waiting until the end of January to see my grades?”
Please see my response to Cheng, above.
Dhrubo wrote: “I am an international student (from Bangladesh)… I am worried about my essays. Aren’t they the most important part of the app? I’ve been through some really tough courses (3 science subjects and 2 Maths in A Level) for the past two years, so I had little scope for EC activities, society or friends on which I can write on in my essays. I would be so grateful if you could say a few words of wisdom and guidance (or even a little encouragement) about the essay.”
The essay is your voice in the application. It is not a writing test. There are no real requirements, other than to use your voice and talk to us – connect with us. Tell us who you are, tell us about your world. Do not fear the essay – it is your friend. :-)
Merudh wrote: “If you do listen to [Paul McCartney] and if you have heard the new album… what is your take on the song English Tea?”
I like Paul (although admittedly I’m a much bigger fan of the Beatles than I am of Paul’s solo work) but I haven’t heard that song – should I check it out?
Danish wrote: “I want to improve my scores by retaking the tests but I have to take the SAT I on DEC 3rd and this is the last month I can take any standardized test as I applied through Regular Action. I could do much better if I could retake the test. That was my first attempt. Please tell what should I do. I know they are much below the MIT requirement. Secondly, I am an applicant from Pakistan… Will you people evaluate me in context with the Pakistani students or the American students?”
We will accept January scores as well. Also remember that international students can take the TOEFL in lieu of the SATI (but must still submit 2 SATII’s). We are familiar with all international school systems. You will be evaluated in the context of your specific school system.
Merudh wrote: “I was wondering if the fact that we never came for a visit will be held against us in the admissions process.”
Not at all. Many folks are not able to visit MIT until after they’ve been admitted.
Mamat wrote: “Although I finished Advanced Calculus at 8th grade and participated International Mathematical Olympiad, because of my English I couldn’t get full at SAT1 and SAT2 on MATH… Is it possible to achieve the highest levels at MIT with bad knowledge of English?”
Yes, there are many students here for whom English is not the first language, and they are highly successful. We have a very supportive International Students office.
Utsav wrote: “I got a score of 670 in Maths, 570 in writing and 560 in verbal. I am a student from India. Are my scores too bad for MIT? I secured 89 in English in my CBSE XII exams. I will be taking the ACT in Dec. My SAT II scores in Maths2/Physics/Chem are 800/760/770. Please suggest.”
Your SATII scores are excellent – I would advise you to take the TOEFL, on which you will probably score better than you did on the SATI. If you take the TOEFL, we will use that instead of the SATI.
Shizzlast wrote: “I’m an international student (Canada) and since the admission rate is so low for international students is it possible for students to get in without AP classes etc. My school does not offer AP courses and i am the first person from my school to ever take the SAT!”
If your school does not offer AP classes, you won’t be penalized for not having taken any. Our reading process is very context-based.
Zoogies wrote: “I’m going to cite a comment that either you or someone else on the admissions staff once made on perfect SAT scores… the jist of it was that perfect scores are sometimes seen as signifying a lack in other involvements, i.e, that the student spent all their time studying on SATs. Well… I’ve been slacking my poor behind off in the SAT I Prep dept, and somehow managed to get a 2400… so… um… this won’t be seen as, say, scoremongering or anything?”
Not at all. :-)
Olga wrote: “Do you need to send a mid-year grade report for EA? I figured it was just for RD applicants, since we haven’t reached the mid-year yet.”
Sorry I’m late in answering this, but for future years… we’d like whatever is available, but you won’t be penalized if something is not available. EA admits are not required to send in a mid-year school report, but are required to send in a final school report.
Sam wrote: “I submitted the (paper) application EA. For the optional section (#13) I attached a copy of my final composition project for the music theory course I took junior year. I’ve kind of been wondering… is this the kind of thing you guys like to see for those questions?”
Yes, this is a great use of #13.
Irina wrote: “I saw a big OPTIONAL written there under my writing score on the SAT Reasoning Test. Does this score count in the admission process? Well.. my Critical Reading score wasn’t fabulous (690) and I got 780 in Math, but I am very proud of my 800 in writing. Why is that score ‘optional’?!”
To quote the December 7 issue of the Wall Street Journal:
“Marilee Jones, dean of admissions at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., said she has concerns because the new test “did not come from the grass roots…” Ms. Jones says she isn’t confident in the grading system, which instructs graders to disregard factual errors in almost all circumstances. Instead, the emphasis is on rating language usage, structure and logical flow. Ms. Jones also says she worries deeply that the focus on writing could hurt students from poorer backgrounds, or whose parents didn’t go to college, or from families where English isn’t spoken at home. ‘Those kids have a tendency to get left out,’ she says. They ‘are going to get clobbered on the SAT – worse than before.'”
Carlos wrote: “I am international student from Guatemala. My SAT I is of 650 (math) and 620 (verbal and writing). Someone in this board feels rejected with a 700. I would die for a 700! My SAT’s aren’t that high. I still have to take my SAT IIs but obviously my grades aren’t at MIT’s level. All of this combines with the fact that Guatemala is not the place where extracurriculars are huge. I still have a bunch of them, however. Am I the for-sure-reject that someone posted here earlier? If I am, how can I push my application? My TOEFL, however, is very high (270 out of 300). Does it help?”
Your TOEFL is fine, and will be counted instead of your SATI. Do well on your SATII’s and you’ll be competitive from a scores standpoint.
Prashant wrote: “I have given my english and maths teacher their respective evaluation sheets, but I also want to send in my Physics teacher’s eval, because I think he can also write a holistic review of me. Can I give him a science teacher evaluation sheet as well, and get the evaluation sent like any other normal evaluation?”
Yes, just copy the Eval A (or he can simply write a letter, if that’s easier).
Michael wrote: “I have just tried to contact my EC here in Oslo, Norway, but recieved an email saying that my email could not be delivered to my EC’s address, as his username was unknown. I then contacted to company in which he is ’employed’, only to find that the receptionist does not even know of my EC. Therefore, I would like to ask you what you think my next course of action should be?”
Contact [email protected] asap and request a new EC.
Anonymous wrote: “1) In the first optional essay what do you really consider as an invention? for example if once I happened to notice a geometric progression in chemistry and then used simple mathematics to produce some basic but new (in that I never saw these equations in my chem text books) equations is this suitable content for optional essay 13? 2) Is it okay to answer optional essay 14 with an essay which tells of my interests and excitements about space exploration? My application so far has not spoken about my scientific passions specifically.”
All of our essay prompts are designed simply to help you tell your story and discuss your passions and interests and goals. So there is no right or wrong answer, nor is there a right or wrong use of the space. If you’re being true to yourself and your story, you’ve made good use of the essays.
Merudh wrote: “Any idea how I can talk with Akash?”
You can find anyone here: http://web.mit.edu/people.html
Anonymous wrote: “Do you think that more people choose A or B for their essays? Just wondering…”
Based on my experience, it’s an even split.
Rafael wrote: “Is it necessary to give a specific title to the essay or is it ok to just begin writing with the instructions as so called title?”
No title necessary! Some folks use ’em, some folks don’t. We don’t have a preference.
Shikhar posted a question posed by someone over at CC: “I am applying to MIT for the second time now. I wonder what does MIT do with our (for those reapplying) old application folders. Do they open them again? And if yes, what impact do they have on the new admission process?”
If you applied last year and didn’t get in, and have reapplied this year, we will see both applications. I’ve seen a couple of these cases so far this year.
I look at last year’s summaries to see how the readers and selection committee arrived at their conclusions / decisions last year. Then I read your new app from scratch to see where you are now in contrast, in particular what you’ve done in the last year.
As this year’s applicant pool is shaping up to be equally competitive (if not moreso) than last year’s, folks who reapply without having done anything since HS will likely not be accepted, as they will essentially be submitting the same app into an equally competitive pool.
On the other hand, those who have taken the year as an opportunity to pursue some great experiences and grow as students/people may have a good chance of finding success the second time around. It all depends on the individual case.
I should note that there is no advantage to having applied to MIT in a previous year.
Stephen wrote: “I am interested in attending MIT and I have heard the sleep pattern is very different, and that many people get very little sleep. I was wondering how these students manage that, and how I could build up a solid sleeping pattern that only has about 5 hours. I have tried in the past, but I always end up becoming too tired to continue throughout the day. What should I do?”
You should pose this question in some of the student blogs for a variety of perspectives – some of them sleep a lot; others hardly ever. I guess the overall answer is that you’ll be able to work it out and do what you need to do. :-)
Wisteria wrote a long and heartfelt response about recommendation letters. I won’t post the whole thing here, but I just wanted to say thanks! And I’ll look into the online evaluation service you mentioned.
Merudh wrote: “What are the chances that you will be reading my application or what are the chances that you already have?”
Alas, I wasn’t one of your readers Merudh. But I do remember you from my travels!
Inquisitor wrote: “I hope that this question does not come out the wrong way, but I wanted to ask what the qualifications are of each member of the admissions staff who vote on whether to accept or reject an applicant. Are you all MIT alums? If not, do you all have science/engineering backgrounds? If neither of the above, what would qualify a non-alum to gauge ability of an applicant to “fit” within MIT’s academic and social culture? If you yourself never went through the MIT undergraduate experience, how can you possibly judge an applicant’s ability to ‘fit in?'”
Stu, Matt, Alia, and Mike are all MIT alums. The other 20+ people in our office are not. Fortunately, PhD programs in Admissions Science are fairly uniform, so we’re all equally well trained. ;-)
Zack wrote: “Has there ever been something close to a ‘Twelve Angry Men’ scenario (in reference to a great classic movie) where one officer convinces everyone who had previously voted ‘deny’ to vote ‘yes’?”
Not that I can think of – we spend a long time callibrating ourselves for reading and selection before we embark on either. So there’s not a ton of disagreement by the time we get to committee.
Dheeraj wrote: “Can i take the SAT in jan 2006? Will its scores be considered?”
Yes, and yes.
Charles wrote: “I will assume that if I am denied my account will be terminated; but, will it be terminated at the start of next year or the start of next year’s admissions process?”
All accounts are terminated over the summer. So whether you are admitted, deferred, denied, or waitlisted, you’ll have your account until late summer 2006.
Anonymous wrote: “If we get defered, are we allowed to edit our application? Can we change our essays and update ECs?”
Rizo wrote “would you mind telling us about what supplemental material we may send, or what we can change in our applications?”
You can’t change your application in any way, but you are always welcome to add to it. Additional essays and recommendations are welcome (as long as they provide additional context and do not simply repeat what is already there), and we want to know about any new awards and accomplishments.
Many different folks wrote in to ask what the official EA numbers were.
377 admitted, 2371 deferred, 216 rejected, 133 incomplete.
Raindrop wrote: “I checked [my son’s] application, and found he didn’t put his VP position on his Math team in his EA application. Is leadership really important?”
First of all raindrop, thank you for your other post. It was wonderful. Your son is lucky to have you.
Leadership is important, yes. And generally a leadership position would be a good thing to mention. But to all parents: you should discuss these things with your children – ultimately the choice of what to include must be theirs.
Mike H wrote: “Do you remember applications? I’m sure you read through hundreds, but for instance, if I told you my name, what my essays were like, etc, would you be like oh, that kid? I’m curious to hear your thoughts/why I was admitted if it’s a yes.”
I do remember all of the EA apps I read this year, and many of the applications that I read last year (yes, even the ones who were not admitted). But no, I couldn’t tell you specifics on why you were admitted, other than to say “because you belong here.”
Many people have asked: “if you know of EA people who will get in RA, why not take them EA?”
Because we only take 30% of the class EA. Someone described this as “unaccountably low.” Accountable to whom?!? This is how MIT does things, and that’s been a very public fact for years.
In black and white, no one deferred in EA is guaranteed a spot in RA. They’ll all go back to the table with the RA applicants. What I said was a personal observation, not an official committee practice. But I stand by what I said, and one glance at previous years’ numbers shows it to be true: we take a LOT of EA people in RA.
Sam wrote: “What is the address for the admissions office? I need to know where i should send my supplemental stuff.”
MIT Office Of Admissions
77 Mass Ave #3-108
Cambridge, MA 02139
Don’t forget to include your name & birthdate on everything you send in.
M.D. wrote: “Is there anything in particular you could suggest (unofficially, of course) that us deferrees might add to our applications?”
Check out Matt’s great post here:
I’d personally just advise you to write to us from time to time, keep in touch, and let us know what you’ve been up to.
SoCal wrote: “My MyMIT account was locked. Why did this happen?”
Likely because someone else tried to log in – it will lock if you input the wrong password 3 times in a row.
And about that supplemental material deadline???
Anytime in January is fine. Just make sure we receive it in January (not just postmarked in January).