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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Best of the Ben Blogs by Matt McGann '00

Looking back at Ben's four years on the blogs.

On today, Ben Jones’s last day at MIT (no!), let’s take a look back at some of some of the blogging highlights of Ben’s 4 years (and 194 posts!) here…

The first post: August 6, 2004

This is the one that started it all. Back when there were just a few bloggers, including Ben, myself, and the ever-awesome Mitra.

“All About The Author”

Hi folks,

My name is Ben Jones and I work in the MIT admissions office. My job, among other things, is to manage this site. I write stuff, I edit stuff, I design stuff, I format stuff, I code stuff. I try to keep my finger on the MIT pulse and chase people around campus to get stories and tips.

My team is a force. We sleep outside offices and dorm rooms when people try to hide from us and our pursuit of content. And we promise to serve you well in your quest to learn more about MIT.

[read more]

Ben’s First Sentimental Post: December 16, 2004

In what would become his trademark, this is Ben’s first post of emotional truth. If more people in admissions could open their hearts the way Ben does, the world would be a much better place.

“There Is No Formula”

Trying to define admissions with a formula is like trying to define life with a formula. It’s like trying to explain poetry using calculus. It would take the human component out of it, which is perhaps the most important part.

Reading through [a blog and discussion about test scores] doesn’t make me think of SAT scores or grades. It makes me think of the guy who fell in love with trains as a kid and worked so hard to include the world in that passion that Amtrak noticed and gave him a job before he could even drive. It makes me think of the girl who chose to commute an hour each way to attend a certain school, and the amazing friendship she developed with the bus driver that reinforced her dream of becoming a teacher. It makes me think of one girl’s amazing photograph of a swing and how that image says more about the world than any test ever could.

Of course you need good scores and good grades to get into MIT. But most people who apply to MIT have good grades and scores. Having bad grades or scores will certainly hurt you, but I’m sorry to say that having great grades and scores doesn’t really help you – it just means that you’re competitive with most of the rest of our applicants. MIT is very self-selecting in that regard.

It’s who you are that really matters. It’s how you embrace life. It’s how you treat other people. It’s passion. And yes, that stuff really does drip off the page in the best of our applications. It’s not anything I can explain – you just know when you read an application and a “perfect match” is there.

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The Beard Period: January 28 – March 11, 2005

Ben vows not to shave until Regular Action decisions are released.

“The Beard, The Name, The Response, and EC”

The Beard. As you’ve probably noticed in the picture above, I’m getting kindof hairy, much to the chagrin of my wife. There’s a story behind this: I challenged the other admissions officers to a “no-shave” reading period, culminating with a ceremonious shave on mailing day in March. Only one other has embraced this pact with me: the fantastic and wonderful Juan Salvador Acosta. (You guys should write to Matt and tell him to join us!) I’ll post some “beard progress” pictures over the next month. But when you see that picture at the top change to clean-shaven Ben, you’ll know that the decisions have been mailed.

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“And Then There Was One”

Folks, it is a sad, sad day in the MIT Admissions Office.

Juan Salvador Acosta has broken the pact and succumbed to the mighty razor. His face is as smooth as a baby’s, as they say.

Which leaves yours truly as the only remaining wookie.

I must go now and weep gently. May my beard catch the tears that would otherwise run with the ink of your applications.

[read more]

“Stu Saves The Pact”

Just when I thought I couldn’t make it through another minute of the agony of yesterday’s events, I walked into our weekly staff meeting to discover that Stu is HAIRY!

Yes, friends, Stu Schmill ’86, Admissions Officer and Director of the Educational Council, has become my new bearded hero.

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“In The Mail”

Well folks, the time has come. Note that the pic up top has changed to reflect the clean-shaven face, as promised…

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Ben Announces Huge News on the Blog: February 24, 2005

Clearly, the biggest news until May 15, 2008.

“Very, Very Important News”

Seth and Summer are back together! Seth and Summer are back together! Seth and Summer are back together! Seth and Summer are back together! Seth and Summer are back together!

[read more] [what Ben was talking about]

Ben’s First Bad Haiku on the Blogs

Bad haiku will be Ben’s legacy (wait ’til the fall…).

“Bad Haiku”

McGann’s new toy, it
accelerates particles
Too… fast… black hole… oooooops.

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The First CPW ‘Meet The Bloggers’: April 9, 2005

The beginning of a tradition!

“CPW Day 3”

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Ben, the Rockstar (Part 1): July 29 / August 2, 2005

Ben was well-known not just for admissions, but also for rocking out…

“I’m A Famous Rockstar”

That title is misleading – I’m famous, and I’m a rockstar, but I’m not famous for being a rockstar. :-)

First, the “rockstar” bit. We had our CD Release show last week @ Harpers Ferry, which we somehow managed to fill with people. It was AWESOME. A great way to start my mini-vacation (which is where I’ve been hiding). So I’ve got CD’s now; stop by 3-107 if you want to grab one.

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“Want To Play Music @ MIT?”

When I got my first guitar at age 3, I immediately began dreaming of playing with (and for) other people. This dream took many forms when I got to college – I played solo in coffeehouses, as half of an acoustic duo in auditoriums, as part of a band in various bars & clubs….

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The Vision Realized (Part 1): August 10, 2005

The MIT Admissions homepage wasn’t always as awesome as it is now; it took a series of visions from Ben to have it become what it is now.

“Where We’ve Been And Where We’re Going”

…within a few months, those little blogs, buried at the bottom of the page, were getting all of the traffic.

For months I brainstormed on how to take that energy and translate it to the rest of MyMIT, as it had been designed. It couldn’t be done. Meanwhile, the blogs just seemed to get more and more popular…

I’m a big believer in finding something that works and going with it, regardless of the details. MyMIT was never designed to be dominated by the blogs, but let’s face it – the blogs are what give the site its power.

So this year, the blogs aren’t tucked away in a hidden corner. Come September, we’ll have twelve student blogs and five staff blogs – seventeen in all – and MyMIT has never been stronger. With tens of thousands of hits each week and requests to speak at national admissions conferences so that other schools can start similar programs – I’d say we’re on the right path. After a year of trying to find that path, I can’t tell you what a relief it is to be where we are.

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Ben takes on College Confidential: October 05, 2005

One of the most linked-to writings Ben has done. It was beautiful.

“Many Ways To Define “The Best””

Some parents wrote to me and asked me to contribute my opinions to a College Confidential thread about the pressure to load up on AP classes. Obviously my response is directed to parents, but I thought it was important enough to post it here as well:

…Make sure your kids are choosing their schools for the right reasons. Name, status, “brand” – these are not the right reasons. Let your kids be kids. Let them follow their hearts. Encourage them to have a present, not just a future. Don’t let them define themselves by which colleges accept them – and don’t let them define themselves by doing things only to get into certain colleges.

The machine is fed from all sides. USNWR, the media in general, the GC’s, the parents, the colleges and universities, the high-priced independent counselors, the test prep people…

My kids are still many years away from college, and I’m no expert on the parent side of this process. But I do know one thing: I will fight to protect them from all of this, to help them with perspective and clarity. Because if I don’t, who will?

Because if we don’t, who will?

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The First Big Blogger Outing: December 19, 2005

After the big expansion of the blog program, this was our first big all-blogger outing. You’ll recognize these folks.

“Happy Holidays!”

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The Evie Contest: February 27, 2006

Ben is (in)famous in the office for his Photoshop skills…

“Fun With Photoshop”

Things are still pretty crazy around here, so until I get a chance to post, I’ll keep you entertained with the following.

As you know if you follow Matt’s blog, my colleague Joanne’s dog Evie is somewhat of an office mascot. What you may not know is that Joanne is, like me, a die-hard Lost fan. Not only does she love the riveting storylines and character development, she also thinks Sawyer is cute.

So last week, I combined her two loves into a desktop for her computer:

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Ben’s Most Famous Entry, Ever

Good luck topping this one, Oberlin Vice President of Communications. (I’ll repost this one in its entirety)

“It’s More Than A Job”

In response to an earlier entry of mine, this post appeared on College Confidential:

You know, I get sick of college admissions officers saying how they couldn’t accept so many wonderful people. While it’s supposed to be comforting, obviously, I just find it really insincere. I mean, either you’re accepted or you’re not. There is no grey area… so they shouldn’t try to sugarcoat the harsh reality.

I’m thankful to whomever posted this, because it really made me think. It’s certainly a fair post, and I imagine a lot of our applicants share these sentiments. A million years ago when I was applying to college, perhaps I would have felt the same way.

I’ve written before about how the class is selected, but I’m too tired to dig up the post so I’ll give a quick recap. First you apply. Your application is read by a senior staff member who will look for deal-breakers (like a bunch of D’s, for example). Assuming you’re competitive, your application is then read by a primary reader who will summarize it at length for the committee. Then a second reader (and sometimes a third) will read and write their own summaries. Then it will go to selection committee, where multiple groups of different admissions staff and faculty members will weigh in on it. Assuming you’ve made it that far, the senior staff will then review it again. Approximately 12 people (give or take) will significantly discuss and debate your application before you’re admitted. This is all very intentional; committee decisions ensure that every decision is correct in the context of the overall applicant pool, and that no one individual’s bias or preferences or familiarity with a given case has any chance of swaying a decision unfairly.

With that in mind, let me tell you a little bit about what my job is like from November through March. Three days a week, I take a random bunch of applications to the public library, find a quiet corner, and immerse myself in your lives.

I read about your triumphs, I read about your dreams, I read about the tragedies that define you. I read about your passions, your inventions, your obsession with video games, dance, Mozart, Monet. I read about the person close to you who died. I read about your small towns, your big cities, the week you spent abroad that changed your life. I read about your parents getting divorced, your house burning down, your girlfriend cheating on you. I read about the car you rebuilt with your dad, the championship debate you lost, the team you led to failure, the performance you aced. I read about the people you’ve helped and the people you’ve hurt. I read about how you’ve stood tall in the face of racism, homophobia, poverty, injustice.

Then I read about the lives you’ve changed – a math or science teacher, a humanities teacher, a counselor. I read the things that they probably don’t say to your face for fear of inflating your ego: that you’re the best in their careers, that kids like you are the reason they chose to be a teacher in the first place, that they’re better people for having known you.

If you’ve had an interview, I get to read about how you come across in person to someone you’ve just met – how your face lights up at the mention of cell biology, how you were five minutes late because you had an audition, how your smile can fill a room, how you simply shine.

(Your grades and scores are clearly competitive or your application wouldn’t be on my pile in the first place.)

By now I’m fully invested in you so I write a gazillion nice things about you in your summary and I’m smiling the whole time. I talk about your depth, all the ways you’re a great match to MIT, all the things I know you’ll contribute to campus. I conclude with phrases like “clear admit” and “perfect choice.” In my head I imagine bumping into you on the Infinite Corridor, asking you how your UROP is going, seeing your a cappella group perform.

I come home each night and tell my wife over dinner how lucky I am, because I never seem to pick boring applications out of the pile. In fact, I tell her, I’m inspired enough by the stories I read to think that the world might actually turn out to be okay after all.

In March I go into committee with my colleagues, having narrowed down my top picks to a few hundred people. My colleagues have all done the same. Then the numbers come in: this year’s admit rate will be 13%. For every student you admit, you need to let go of seven others.

What? But I have so many who… But…

And then the committee does its work, however brutal. It’s not pretty, but at least it’s fair. (And by fair I mean fair in the context of the applicant pool; of course it’s not fair that there are so few spots for so many qualified applicants.)

When it’s all over, about 13% of my top picks are offered admission. I beg, I plead, I make ridiculous promises (just ask the senior staff) but at the end of the day, a committee decision is a committee decision.

Of my many favorites this year, there were a few who really got to me, and when they didn’t get in, the tears came. Some would call me foolish for getting this wrapped up in the job, but honestly, I couldn’t do this job if I disconnected myself from the human component of it. It’s my job to present you to the committee; if your dream of being at MIT didn’t become my dream on some small level, then really, why am I doing this at all? Others would disagree, but then, others aren’t me.

To the 87% of you who have shared your lives with us and trusted us with your stories over the last four months, please know that they meant something to me, and I won’t forget you. When I say that I share the pain of these decisions with you, I’m not lying. I’m really not lying.

To the person up there who said “while it’s supposed to be comforting, obviously, I just find it really insincere” – you have it backwards. I don’t expect it (or anything else) to be comforting at this moment. But insincere? No. Not that.

Just got confirmation that the USPS picked up the mail (for real), so it’s on the way. I’ll be thinking about all of you.

Ben, the Rockstar (Part 2): | May 04, 2006

During CPW 2006, Ben did the first of two Battle of the Bands performances. Easily the highlight of the year.

“The Night I Shared A Stage With Marilee”

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One of my favorite t-shirts: May 26, 2006

…designed by Ben, of course.

“Varsity Blogging”

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The First Blogger Application: July 12, 2006

People are always shocked that we actually have this whole application process to become a blogger. But the funniest reaction came when we had an “early action” and “regular action” for the blog appliation process…

“So You Wanna Be A Blogger?”

To be considered in the EA round, you should email me (benjones at you-know-the-rest) by July 31st, 2006 and:

  • Provide a link to your “portfolio” – in other words, your current blog.
  • If you post regularly on any admissions forums such as College Confidential, please provide URL’s and username/screenname/etc.
  • Tell me what you submitted for your housing choices (in order of preference), what you’re considering for a major (list all possibilities), and what activities you hope to become involved with at MIT.
  • Write a short essay (100 words or so) responding to this prompt: “At 4:42 PM EST, an aardvark sprang from its burrow and headed southwest. Assuming a trajectory of 42.6 degrees for said aardvark, where is the banana and why is that man chartreuse?”

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The Vision Realized (Part 2): August 17, 2006

The MIT Admissions homepage you’ve come to know and love is prepared.

“A Preview Of My Summer Project”

So here’s a sneak peek at what I’ve been working on all summer… the new admissions site. I can’t wait for this baby to launch!

IMAGE #1: the new homepage. It will provide you with the latest 10 blog entries, regardless of author. You will no longer have to check each blogger’s box to see if he/she has posted recently. You’ll also get streamlined admissions bulletins, deadlines, and faq’s. New top navigation will take the guesswork out of what’s in each section by providing drop down menus with entire subnav – one click from the homepage will take you to any other section of the site.

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The List: August 23, 2006

This is another one I’ll reprint in its entirety.

“50 Things”

Dear Class of 2010,

This will be my last entry written specifically for you; beginning with the launch of our new site in early September, I’ll begin focusing on the future class of 2011. I hope that you guys won’t be strangers; stay in touch either in person (come visit us!) or online (please drop by the blogs from time to time and say hi).

As you begin your college experience, and I prepare for my 10-year college reunion, I thought I’d leave you with the things that, in retrospect, I think are important as you navigate the next four years. I hope that some of them are helpful.

Here goes…

  1. Your friends will change a lot over the next four years. Let them.
  2. Call someone you love back home a few times a week, even if just for a few minutes.
  3. In college more than ever before, songs will attach themselves to memories. Every month or two, make a mix cd, mp3 folder, whatever – just make sure you keep copies of these songs. Ten years out, they’ll be as effective as a journal in taking you back to your favorite moments.
  4. Take naps in the middle of the afternoon with reckless abandon.
  5. Adjust your schedule around when you are most productive and creative. If you’re nocturnal and do your best work late at night, embrace that. It may be the only time in your life when you can.
  6. If you write your best papers the night before they are due, don’t let people tell you that you “should be more organized” or that you “should plan better.” Different things work for different people. Personally, I worked best under pressure – so I always procrastinated… and always kicked ass (which annoyed my friends to no end). ;-) Use the freedom that comes with not having grades first semester to experiment and see what works best for you.
  7. At least a few times in your college career, do something fun and irresponsible when you should be studying. The night before my freshman year psych final, my roommate somehow scored front row seats to the Indigo Girls at a venue 2 hours away. I didn’t do so well on the final, but I haven’t thought about psych since 1993. I’ve thought about the experience of going to that show (with the guy who is now my son’s godfather) at least once a month ever since.
  8. Become friends with your favorite professors. Recognize that they can learn from you too – in fact, that’s part of the reason they chose to be professors.
  9. Carve out an hour every single day to be alone. (Sleeping doesn’t count.)
  10. Go on dates. Don’t feel like every date has to turn into a relationship.
  11. Don’t date someone your roommate has been in a relationship with.
  12. When your friends’ parents visit, include them. You’ll get free food, etc., and you’ll help them to feel like they’re cool, hangin’ with the hip college kids.
  13. In the first month of college, send a hand-written letter to someone who made college possible for you and describe your adventures thus far. It will mean a lot to him/her now, and it will mean a lot to you in ten years when he/she shows it to you.
  14. Embrace the differences between you and your classmates. Always be asking yourself, “what can I learn from this person?” More of your education will come from this than from any classroom.
  15. All-nighters are entirely overrated.
  16. For those of you who have come to college in a long-distance relationship with someone from high school: despite what many will tell you, it can work. The key is to not let your relationship interfere with your college experience. If you don’t want to date anyone else, that’s totally fine! What’s not fine, however, is missing out on a lot of defining experiences because you’re on the phone with your boyfriend/girlfriend for three hours every day.
  17. Working things out between friends is best done in person, not over email. (IM does not count as “in person.”) Often someone’s facial expressions will tell you more than his/her words.
  18. Take risks.
  19. Don’t be afraid of (or excited by) the co-ed bathrooms. The thrill is over in about 2 seconds.
  20. Wednesday is the middle of the week; therefore on wednesday night the week is more than half over. You should celebrate accordingly. (It makes thursday and friday a lot more fun.)
  21. Welcome failure into your lives. It’s how we grow. What matters is not that you failed, but that you recovered.
  22. Take some classes that have nothing to do with your major(s), purely for the fun of it.
  23. It’s important to think about the future, but it’s more important to be present in the now. You won’t get the most out of college if you think of it as a stepping stone.
  24. When you’re living on a college campus with 400 things going on every second of every day, watching TV is pretty much a waste of your time and a waste of your parents’ money. If you’re going to watch, watch with friends so at least you can call it a “valuable social experience.”
  25. Don’t be afraid to fall in love. When it happens, don’t take it for granted. Celebrate it, but don’t let it define your college experience.
  26. Much of the time you once had for pleasure reading is going to disappear. Keep a list of the books you would have read had you had the time, so that you can start reading them when you graduate.
  27. Things that seem like the end of the world really do become funny with a little time and distance. Knowing this, forget the embarassment and skip to the good part.
  28. Every once in awhile, there will come an especially powerful moment when you can actually feel that an experience has changed who you are. Embrace these, even if they are painful.
  29. No matter what your political or religious beliefs, be open-minded. You’re going to be challenged over the next four years in ways you can’t imagine, across all fronts. You can’t learn if you’re closed off.
  30. If you need to get a job, find something that you actually enjoy. Just because it’s work doesn’t mean it has to suck.
  31. Don’t always lead. It’s good to follow sometimes.
  32. Take a lot of pictures. One of my major regrets in life is that I didn’t take more pictures in college. My excuse was the cost of film and processing. Digital cameras are cheap and you have plenty of hard drive space, so you have no excuse.
  33. Your health and safety are more important than anything.
  34. Ask for help. Often.
  35. Half of you will be in the bottom half of your class at any given moment. Way more than half of you will be in the bottom half of your class at some point in the next four years. Get used to it.
  36. In ten years very few of you will look as good as you do right now, so secretly revel in how hot you are before it’s too late.
  37. In the long run, where you go to college doesn’t matter as much as what you do with the opportunities you’re given there. The MIT name on your resume won’t mean much if that’s the only thing on your resume. As a student here, you will have access to a variety of unique opportunities that no one else will ever have – don’t waste them.
  38. On the flip side, don’t try to do everything. Balance = well-being.
  39. Make perspective a priority. If you’re too close to something to have good perspective, rely on your friends to help you.
  40. Eat badly sometimes. It’s the last time in your life when you can do this without feeling guilty about it.
  41. Make a complete ass of yourself at least once, preferably more. It builds character.
  42. Wash your sheets more than once a year. Trust me on this one.
  43. If you are in a relationship and none of your friends want to hang out with you and your significant other, pay attention. They usually know better than you do.
  44. Don’t be afraid of the weird pizza topping combinations that your new friend from across the country loves. Some of the truly awful ones actually taste pretty good. Expand your horizons.
  45. Explore the campus thoroughly. Don’t get caught.
  46. Life is too short to stick with a course of study that you’re no longer excited about. Switch, even if it complicates things.
  47. Tattoos are permanent. Be very certain.
  48. Don’t make fun of prefrosh. That was you like 2 hours ago.
  49. Enjoy every second of the next four years. It is impossible to describe how quickly they pass.
  50. This is the only time in your lives when your only real responsibility is to learn. Try to remember how lucky you are every day.

Be yourself. Create. Inspire, and be inspired. Grow. Laugh. Learn. Love.

Welcome to some of the best years of your lives.


I Think I’d Want To Be Randy. Or Maybe Simon: February 22, 2007

Really, we probably talk about American Idol too much.

“MIT Idol”

I’d also add Simon, Paula, and Randy to our selection committee, and I’d also have each applicant apply in person. Because then we could have scenes like this:

Randy: Dog, it was just okay for me. You want me to keep it real, right? Alright, it just didn’t work. The curriculum was just too big for you. You should have picked classes that you could have actually passed.

Paula: You know what? You’re a star. Your handwriting is beautiful, you look great, and I really like you. I’m not sure MIT is the place for you, but you’re really going to go far in life and have gorgeous kids and save the world.

Simon: When you do math in public, how do people generally react? Is this an application to MIT or to pre-school? You are absolutely forgettable. I could go into any middle school and find 6th graders I’d rather admit.

Paula: Oh stop, it really wasn’t that bad. You shine, you know fractions really well. You’re beautiful.

Ryan: Would you like to respond to Simon?

Applicant: Um, uh, I thought it was okay…

Simon: You haven’t taken any math since ninth grade, you failed bio, chem, and physics, and you have a 220 on your math SAT. You know when you’re at a wedding and someone has a little too much wine and gets up on stage and tries to integrate? That was you tonight.

Crowd: Booooooooo.

Simon: It’s true.

Ryan: If you’d like to vote for this applicant, call 888-MIT-IDOL or text MIT on your Cingular phone which is now AT&T which was formerly AT&T which was formerly Cingular which might be Cingular again in a few months.


Dog Pound: Woot!


And on that note, my friends, selection committee beckons.

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‘Your Personal Mikey’: March 28, 2007

This one still makes me laugh when I think of it.

“Brain Dump”

Your Personal Mikey

So the lovely and talented Mari sent the following email to the staff yesterday:

As you are probably aware, we have an unprecedented number of CPW events happening this year. I’m concerned that the events won’t fit into the booklet considering its current size and saddle-stitch binding. Which of these options would you prefer?

1) Print the academic class schedule separately from the general program schedule

2) Use a spiral-bound booklet instead of a saddle-stitch booklet

3) Increase the size of the booklet to 8.5 x 11


The resulting email thread quickly descended into chaos, with each member of the staff weighing the pros and cons of each option and arriving at different conclusions.

With no resolution in sight, I sent the following at the end of the day:

I think we should clone Mikey 1000 times after he’s memorized the whole booklet. Then each prefrosh can have a personal Mikey and, at any given time, the prefrosh can say “yo Mikey what’s going on right now” and his or her personal Mikey will be like “there are actually 29847596 things going on right now, but personally I’d recommend…” (and the recommendation would be based on the prefrosh’s preferences, which would be established with his or her personal Mikey early on. Perhaps we could even frontload the Mikeys prior to CPW with each prefrosh’s preferences?

Oh, and also each Mikey would sing its prefrosh to sleep at night with his or her favorite song (Mikey was a Log).

This option is clearly superior to #’s 1-3.

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The Second Blogger Application: June 26, 2007

The short answers get even better this time.

“Call For Bloggers”

  • Short answer #2 (required for ’11s, optional for upperclassmen – please choose one of the following). Option A: Who is more addicted to Facebook, you or Jess Kim? Prove your theory in 100 words or less. Bonus points if you can present Jess with a question that she can’t answer using Facebook. Option B: Once, during a slow week, Laura bit through her own lip so that she’d have something to blog about. Do you think you can compete with her dedication to the program?

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I Can Has Internet Meme?: November 27, 2007

I wish I had thought of this first.


Have you guys all seen this silly thing? Yeah, I thought so. It already has its own Wikipedia page.

I made you one. It will describe my life over the last few weeks better than any blog entry could. :-)

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The Awesomeness Formula: March 26, 2008

I think my job is at least 65.27% awesome.

“Updates And Shannon’s Formula”

In this post I mentioned that Shannon ’12 had created a job-awesomeness formula for me. To understand it, you must first read the email conversation that we had on the day decisions were released:

Shannon: Times like this make me convinced you have the best job in the world. And then I [think about the admit rate], and I think your job sucks. Just fyi.

Ben: My job is 11.6% best-job-in-the-world (this year’s admit rate) and 88.4% this-job-sucks. Except… while in the first few post-decision weeks the sadness for rejected students outweighs the joy for admitted ones, that ratio soon reverses and becomes a landslide win for the joy, which sticks with you through the years (because you see the students you admitted every day, and they remind you). So you have to adjust the 11.6% and 88.4% accordingly. I’ll leave it to you to put all of this into some sort of algorithm or formula to determine whether the job nets joy or sadness as a function of time.

A few hours later…

Shannon: While I had to assume 100% happiness when not making decisions and make up a few arbitrary dates and vacation times and take away your weekends, a rough estimate says your job is ~65.27% awesome. Work is attached.

Yep, this pretty much made my day.

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Ben’s Last ‘Meet The Bloggers’: April 14, 2008

Compare the group shot versus the first MTB photo — look how it has grown!

“MTB Party Pic & TechTV CPW Coverage”

A big thanks to Chris Merrill ’12 for sending me the group photo from our Meet The Bloggers party. If I shrink it down to fit here, you won’t be able to identify anyone, so I’ll just link to the big version:

MTB Party Group Photo

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The Announcement: May 15, 2008

Even bigger than Seth & Summer getting back together.

“Big News”

I’ve been putting off writing this entry for a week, because I simply don’t really know how to write it. There are so many things I want to say, and yet so many of them don’t attach well to words – only to strong feelings and emotions, the way certain songs bring back the intangible moments of one’s childhood.

I think I’ll just start with the facts and save the long, introspective part for a later entry, once I’ve had a chance to really process all of this.

In a nutshell: after four incredible years here, I’m going to be leaving MIT in July. I’ll also be leaving Boston, which has been my home for more than a decade, and which will always be the city I love more than any other. It’s a lot to digest, and it’s going to take some time.

I guess you probably want to know the details. I’m heading back to Oberlin, my alma mater, where I’ve just been appointed Vice President for Communications – I’ll be overseeing communications strategy for the whole college. Those of you with whom I’ve spoken about Oberlin know how deeply I love the place, and at this critical moment in its history, it needs me – in many of the same ways that MIT did four years ago – to help it tell its story to the world. It’s a tremendous professional opportunity, but to me it feels more like a calling than a job.

Nothing can lighten the sadness of leaving MIT. I may not be an alum, but I did spend four very intense years here. I may not have taken 8.02, but I also didn’t get summers off the way you slackers do… so let’s just call it even. ;-) As Nance says, I may have been born into the Oberlin family and married into the MIT family, but one is no less significant than the other.

So while I may be leaving MIT physically, I’ll never leave MIT – it’s too much a part of me. I’ll just be more like an alum than a current student.

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So, those are some of the highlights. Do you have a favorite Ben entry, or favorite Ben moment?

14 responses to “Best of the Ben Blogs”

  1. Matt F says:

    reading these old posts, esp the 50 things list and the ones directed at our parents, brought tears to my eyes.

    Thank you, Ben. I wish I could have met you in person but when I come down in August you’ll already be gone. I seldom post anything on this site I usually just read, but you need to know how much you’ve touched the lives of people like me, whom you’ve never met and probably never will

  2. You’re the best, Ben.

    I really like the “50 Things” and “It’s More Than A Job” post. I’m definitely sending links to a few of his blog entries to some prospectives.

  3. Laura says:

    Matt, thanks so much for this entry! It was awesome, I absolutely loved it.

    Reading through this entry made me all sentimental. Ben- I’m so glad you harassed me to be a blogger the first time I met you. I’m proud that I got to live through all of the above with you guys in the admissions office. You guys are truly awesome. =D

    Ben, we’re going to miss you!

  4. Hey Ben,

    Thanks for all your help with the questions I’ve sent to you over the past couple of years. I always knew that they would be answered in a timely and well-thought-out fashion.

    And like Albert, I have totally sent your blog posts to friends. The “It’s More than a Job” post convinced my mom that I would be a great match for MIT. Bam. Couldn’t have done it without you.

    (and you still look totally like my friend Matt)

  5. Aditya says:

    My favorite entry: It’s More Than A Job. And I know many would agree with me. It was very, very well written.

  6. Sondy '07 G says:

    Matt, you never cease to crack me up. Good luck Ben!

  7. MIT '12 says:

    Even though I have only met Ben once, his presence on this website and the MIT campus is certainly all-encompassing. Thanks, Ben, for everything, and I am saddened that you will not be at MIT as I enter, but I am sure that you have great things in store for you and your family into the future!

    I love the “50 Things” entry, and will definitely take Ben’s sage advice!

  8. Piper says:

    Ah, so many blogs! I’ve read most of the ones above – and now I think I’ll go for a reread.

    Ben: Famous Rockstar, Varsity Blogger, Awesome Admissions God.

  9. Paul says:

    All amazing entries…thank you, Matt!

    Personally, I’m a little partial to the “Birthday Boy Ben” entry. wink

  10. Tamara says:

    Ben, your posts are always amazing. You better be planning on guest-blogging once in a while. We’ll all miss you!

  11. Jeremy says:

    Word to that Tamara!

    “It’s More Than a Job” is also my favorite. I’ve already sent links to it to a bunch of my friends who will be applying to college next year, same with “There is no Formula”

    Thanks for everything Ben. For your time and devotion, and every part of you that you shared with us.

  12. Jeremy says:

    And just to let you know Ben, my heart is now bleeding.

  13. Jess says:

    Can’t say I could ever pick just one moment to be my favorite, but I remember reading each and every one of those entries as a prefrosh (except maybe the first one) and how much they affected me.

    Now, going into my third year at MIT, I can’t even begin to believe he won’t be here next year, and that future prefrosh won’t get to experience the awesomeness of a new Ben Jones entry.

    anyway, congrats, ben. you’ll be missed smile

  14. You know…
    It’s weird…
    Today when I put the mouse pointer at the BLOGS (our daily adventures) section, there showed no name of Ben Jones,”the communication guy”…

    …It’s weird…