A real entry is coming soon! I promise!
In the meantime, more answers to more questions…
Andrew Lin wrote: “I recently got my SAT I results back (760 maths 740 reading and 680! writing). I was wondering if it would help my application if I did the test again (I only studied briefly for SAT I), considering that I am an international student (although I do have a good profile, including an int’l olympiad medal).”
Don’t worry about the writing, and your other scores are fine. :-)
Robb Carr wrote: “When reviewing applicants, obviously there is a certain point where it is clear that they are ‘qualified’ and could succeed as far as coursework goes. After this point is it purely ‘match’ or do the previous factors still weigh in?”
We always look at a given applicant’s story as a complete picture – each factor affects each other factor to some extent, so you can’t really divide them up so cleanly. Your above statement is correct in that once you’ve proven yourself to be academically qualified it is “purely match” that gets you in – but keep in mind that the specifics of academic potential are part of of match.
Molly wrote: “If we applied early action (or even regular action) is there any way of knowing what the admission decision is online or through e-mail?”
Not yet. We are discussing this as a possibility for the future, but it won’t be in place until 2006 at the earliest.
“Also I know you stated in a reponse from another question that you can send supplemental materials later if you are deferred, could you also retake some tests and send in new scores?”
Yes, we’ll accept new test scores between EA and RD if you are deferred.
Jonathan wrote: “I could’ve sworn that I’ve seen a photo entry in your blog, Ben, or maybe not. I use an RSS reader, so I apologize if I’ve mistaken you for someone else.”
You are correct! I had posted an entry in which we turned Sam into Tim The Beaver, but have since removed it. Sorry for the inconvenience!
Saatvik wrote: “If I stick to the word limit for the essays, a lot of space is left over in the Preview PDF (I’m applying online). Is it ok for me to write more and and fill this space up? I saw your post about how 50 words over the limit is not a big deal.”
50 words over the limit is fine, but don’t exceed the limit by too much. Don’t feel that you need to fill up white space; word count is the measure, not space. :-)
“I know how MIT likes to see Intenational Olympiads and Science Fairs etc. on the extracurricular list for internationals but what if I didn’t know about any of these till the final year of school? It’s not like I’ve been living under a rock or anything, it’s just that my school is not very active in these areas. For example, I only found out about the Informatics Olympiad in 11th grade (I reached the training camp then). Even though my school already had the participation form, they didn’t tell anybody about it! I had to go and request them to send my name after I saw an ad in the local newspaper. Despite all this, I’ve given my best (and gained recognition) to activities and competitions that I did find out about (again, all through my own initiative). How do I get this across? Should I write about it #14?”
#14 is the perfect place to explain those things. And I’d encourage you to do so – the more context we have, the better.
“I’ve been playing guitar for about 1.5 years now and would really like to send a recording to MIT. Unfortunately, there’s no way it can sound professional. The best I can probably do is record it on my computer using a microphone. Is this all right?”
That is fine – we’ll be listening to your guitar playing, not your recording studio abilities (unless you tell us that’s what we should be listening for!).
Adnan Esmail wrote: “I had a fairly specific question regarding MIT’s consideration for SAT I reasoning scores. Earlier, you mentioned 740 would not really be considered as much different from an 800. You mentioned that the purpose of the standardized test requirement is to gauge whether the student would be able to survive the rigorous academic environment. I was wondering how you would consider high AP scores (5s and 4s) and relatively high SAT II scores (700-800), along with average SAT I scores (650M 640V 670W). While these scores are not high, they do demonstrate proficiency. How are these scores considered? Also, how are GPA and course selection taken into account?”
All of these individual components are just pieces of a larger overall picture. One less-than-stellar component won’t keep you out of MIT. (As Bryan says, think of it as a table with many legs. If you chop off one leg, the table won’t fall over.) In any case, I’d say a high GPA in challenging courses is much more important than standardized test scores.
Shikhar wrote: “Please tell me if you know about any other research programs other than RSI where an international can participate and which are almost if not exactly as enriching and open ended as RSI.”
Check out Matt’s phenomenal entry on this very topic.
Long wrote: “My teachers’ evaluations are “Not Processed” according to my MyMIT account, though I know my teachers sent them already. Should I be worried?”
Not at all. We got a gazillion pieces of mail right on the deadline. It will be weeks before everything gets processed. :-)
Oren Hazi wrote: “…about mid-year grade reporting, if a school has both quarter and semester grades, does MIT want our first quarter grades? First semester grades? Both? Is it different for early/regular action?”
However your grades appear on your report card is how we’d like to see them. So if your school releases quarter grades, yes; if not, no worries.
Saned wrote: “I’m an American living abroad and I don’t attend an “English is the medium of instruction” school. My school offers a very limited number of activities and I’ve started many of those on my own. Moreover, my SATs aren’t stellar (the verbal section cause you know ‘I don’t speak english every moment’). In other words I ended up with a 600. I did my SAT II expecting high 700 in all. Yeah, btw my SAT I math is 700 (the most stupdist mistakes in my life; -0.5-0.5=-0.25!!) Will these scores affect me negatively?”
Remember that scores are just one piece of a big picture. (Sorry to sound like a broken record!)
Jess Kim wrote: “I put in my jobs section that I work as a freelance web designer, but I couldn’t find any place to put my URL. So I wrote it on the inside cover of a DVD I sent in with some of my other work. I’m really starting to regret not putting it in a more noticeable place, but it was somewhat large and written in green pen. What’s the chance that it won’t get noticed? Will you look out for it for me?”
Your readers will likely see it on the DVD. If I happen to be one of your readers, I’ll certainly look out for it for you. But statistically, I’m likely to not be one of your readers… If you’re really worried about it, you can send a letter to admissions (don’t forget to put your full name and birthdate on it) with the URL and an explanation and it will be placed in your file.
Edward wrote: “I wanted to send an additional recommendation by a close pal and I wanted to know if there are any specific forms or can she just write it as letter.”
A letter is fine.
“I probably should not ask you this but… I want to contact a coach and I have not done so for a few days wondering exactly what should I say? Does he/she consider only athletes with proof of substantial achievements like trophies etc.?”
The coach will likely wish to corroborate your athletic success somehow but this certainly does not have to be in the form of a trophy. You should contact the coach – it couldn’t hurt!
“If I’ve been employed by the same employer for the same job since my first year of high school, does it affect my application negatively since I have not sought… er… different experiences… or something like that?”
Not at all. Perhaps it shows that you’re an amazing employee!
Shikhar wrote: “I will be giving the International Olympiad of Informatics this year. Unfortunately the results (obviously if I get selected) will come out after I think the decisions. However I do have certain national olympiads about which I can write in my app and which were in no way less competitive (in fact one was more competitive than IOI heats) so will these olympiads be an equally good indicator of my passion for computer science?”
I would just make sure to explain the levels at which you participated. Sometimes people just write “olympiad” and as we all know, this could mean 50 different things. :-)
Adnan wrote: “How are the optional essays evaluated. In a previous message, you stated that the optional essays are good if they better “tell our story.” What if both the optional essays we wrote further the reader’s perception of our passion and interest in a field (ie. research)? Is it fine if the essays don’t introduce a different dimension? Is portraying a different aspect of one expected if we include an optional essay? Also, can these essays hurt us? Suppose we don’t write the most compelling or fluent essays, can the optional essays disadvantage our application?”
I doubt that an optional essay could ever hurt an application. They’re really just there to help you tell your story. You should use them however you see fit. :-) I honestly see them used in many different ways, and one is not necesarily better than the other.
“I was told that I should NEVER use any technical terminology in any of my essays. Is this true? If so, what about the optional essay in which you ask about a design? Writing about a design typically entails some sort of technical description. Is this ok?”
Absolutely. The “T” in “MIT” is “technology”, after all. :-)
Laura Yue Bai wrote: “We should estimate our financial aid materials right, if we don’t have the 2005 forms. So we should send in the 2005 forms if we don’t have the 2006 forms. Also, when we do have the forms, we should refill out the applications and send them again? As soon as possible after getting the correct estimates? After we know we’re admitted?”
I honestly don’t know, as I’m far from an expert in financial aid matters. You’ll want to ask the guru, Mr. Daniel Barkowitz.
Bernard wrote: “I am having my interview on thursday. Any suggestions or final notes?”
Quite simply, be yourself. Don’t say things you think we’ll want to hear – just speak from the heart. Though it’s called an “interview,” it’s really supposed to be more of a casual conversation, so most of all – enjoy it!
Ann wrote: “My son’s application makes no mention of my having multiple sclerosis which was/is extremely difficult, in many ways and on many levels, for him to deal with his whole life. His growth, compassion and perseverence have fallen through the cracks of the online application process. Would this be information admissions officers would like to know in their attempt at getting to know the whole student?”
Absolutely. The more context we have in which to evaluate an applicant, the better. If there are issues that a student is uncomfortable mentioning in his/her application, the parent can always ask the guidance counselor to include it in the school report.