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MIT staff blogger Mikey Yang '05

Bleary-eyed by Mikey Yang '05

Some thoughts and reflections on this year's admission cycle - particularly for those not admitted.

Probably one of the most linked-to/referred-to posts on this site is Ben Jones’ famous “It’s More Than A Job” post from March 2006. I’ve read and re-read it so many times, and it rings true to me every single time (except the statistics in there, of course, have gotten even crazier – e.g., the admit rate is now 9.6% instead of 13%). This post will not be as eloquent as Ben’s, but is certainly in the same vein – and is every bit as heartfelt.

A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany of sorts. I finally experienced, in true form, what the term “bleary-eyed” really means. Mind you, I was the type of student that had pulled several all-nighters in high school, and even more at MIT as an undergrad (many for studying/academic reasons, but many more because I was having fun staying up late and just hanging out with friends). When mixing and producing albums for my a cappella group, we pulled week-long mixing sessions where I rotated on 4-5 hours of sleep every 30 hours or so for a week. In other words, I’ve had my fair share of sleep deprivation and utter exhaustion – but never had I actually experienced, first-hand, being truly “bleary-eyed”.

This year marked the first year we went fully “online” in our admissions reading process; that is, nearly all application components were either scanned, downloaded, or somehow transmogrified into electronic PDF format. On the plus side, this meant no more having to lug buckets/backpacks/tote bags/suitcases (yes, suitcases) full of paper folders back and forth from the office to read them. My legs and back have been supremely thankful for that. On the minus side, this meant that in addition to the ~12 hours a day I already spend looking at a computer, I’d be spending even more trying to read tiny essays (I’m lookin at you, word-limit violators!), handwritten recommendations, upside-down transcripts, and more. My eyes have not been thankful for that.

Seventeen-thousand, nine-hundred and nine applications. At least five (often six or seven) rounds of committee review before final admissions decisions are set. Nineteen staff readers.

For many students (admitted or not), that PDF application gets seen by many, many eyes, from the time it gets its first review until the last committee deliberation. We read about your family life and your upbringing. We learn about your proudest moments and how you overcame your downfalls. We talk about what it must be like for you to live your everyday life, and how much your teachers and guidance counselors (and interviewers, for those that had them) love you and can’t stop raving about you. And sometimes – as hard as we often try not to, because we know the reality that less than 1 out of every 10 will be admitted – we get attached.

We make that leap from reading words on a page and seeing cold numbers on a screen to getting attached to you as a person. We start giving you nicknames, imagining you on campus, and hypothesizing where you’ll live and who you’ll hang out with. (We sometimes even consider matchmaking, and then decide that’s way too creepy.)

But anyways, back to the original point of this story. It was on this day, just a couple weeks ago, after having been in committee for 4 days straight, with another 7 days of committee ahead (no – no breaks for weekends) that I got home, laid down in bed, and tears just started to flow.

They weren’t tears of sadness, or happiness (at first). My eyes were just exhausted. I was exhausted. My eyes burned, cried out in pain. As I closed them, I thought back upon the months of January and February, and how I’d spent nearly every single day staring at a computer screen, reading or discussing one applicant or another. Hundreds upon thousands of lives and stories…

The tears then turned to sadness – sadness that many of my favorites would not get admitted, and for all the work and effort that was put into the admissions process, we’d be able to say “yes” to so few. Sleep was no relief – I tossed and turned all night, as vivid dreams of applicants and admissions decisions continued to flow through my head as my subconscious recounted the days passed and worried about the days to come. “Did we admit that kid? What happened to that other person? Did he make it through committee? I hope there’s room for her…”

The next morning, I woke up, and rubbed my encrusted eyes. Put on my glasses, and – blink, blink – the world was still blurry. I could hardly see straight, and my eyes were still sore. Several more blinks, and my vision wouldn’t come into focus. I then realized, truly, what being bleary-eyed meant. I washed my face, let my eyes wake up, and still tired, headed off to work for another day, another week of committee. Rinse and repeat, so went the days – wake up, committee, dinner, email, (attempted) sleep.

I knew there would be joy for some, but for many more, there would be heartache. There would be times I’d take a step back, and just reflect upon how everything seemed so utterly ridiculous. For so many of the students we weren’t admitting, was there anything wrong with them? Could they have done anything better or differently? No. That was the cold, hard truth. But there simply wasn’t enough room in the class. They were all amazing in their own ways, but we had to make unbelievably tough choices.

I tell this story not out of angst or in hopes of pity; I tell it to share my personal feelings, and to let you know that the decisions we make are never easy nor flippant; saying “no” is never fun. That said, this doesn’t change the news you received. I can’t (and don’t) expect any of this to change how you feel about it. But I do hope it gives you some insight into what it’s like for us on the other side.

Whether you were admitted or not, or still on the waitlist, I just want to say thank you. You’ve allowed us to read about you, care about you, and get to know you – almost as if I’ve been able to sit with you in your home and hear a snapshot of your life story. Many times, my friends, family (and even I myself) ask why I do this job – the long hours, the nonstop reading, the endless heartache – and I tell them that in the end, it’s worth it and I love it. I love getting to read every story, learn about every person, and feel as though I’ve traveled around the world without having left the comfort of my own home.

So many of you have poured so much of yourselves, your time, and your energy into the application and the process, and I want you to know that regardless of the outcome, none of that goes to waste. We are all better for having read and heard your stories. So again, I thank you and applaud you all.

With love,

77 responses to “Bleary-eyed”

  1. silly says:

    wow. great post

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just one word: Thanks!

  3. Quynh says:

    Thank you for your heart.

  4. Marco'15 says:

    The admissions people are awesome! You guys work so hard.

  5. ANDRES says:

    Can somebody say why a person can not know to which level his or her application reached.
    There is probably a good reason but can someone explain.

    But about other things
    Got rejected which was really heartbreaking but as much as I would want to curse the admissions commitee I just can not. Having to choose between an excellent and an excellent applicant which you probably had to do many many times would be in itself very difficult for any person and for that I give credit to you. Plus from the schools I sent emails to yours has the best admission help which for an international student without any organisation advising means a lot. So keep up the good work.

    All the best from the summer capital of Estonia

  6. Elyud says:

    Thank you for putting this much effort Mikey. We can never have enough words of appreciation, can we? It is difficult enough to go through all those applications, but to form personal connections really means a lot. Thank you so much.

  7. James says:

    I think it’s funny. I applied for MIT last spring and didn’t make it in. I was devastated, heart-broken, but I got through it.

    I now go to another university that I absolutely love and am studying what I’ve always dreamed to study. I could have done it at MIT as well, but even though I didn’t make it in, I’m satisfied where I am in life.

    But look at me, I’m going to be a sophomore in university, and I’m still reading this blog.

    Reading this entry was something I needed to hear. That even though I didn’t make it in, my story was still of some worth to the people that read it. Thank you for spending all the time and dedication you guys pour into your jobs for people to get to follow their dreams.

  8. Billy says:

    Reading this post made me feel much better. Thank you for sharing with us!

  9. Vic '15 says:


    That’s exactly how I feel. I still don’t know why, or how I made it through. And every day, I remind myself that the admission officers saw something in me. Thank you Mikey!

  10. Alberto '17 says:

    I know this is what you expected, but you’re right, it didn’t really change my mind. I’m not resentful, I already have a pretty good idea of the mistakes I made while applying to MIT, and I know which of the things that were out of my control worked against me. Still, I’m not any less disappointed, and it’s not something I’m going to get over easily. What I wanted from MIT was a challenge, access to opportunities I’ve never had, and a chance to grow. I’ve been stunted all my life by my circumstances, and the rejection didn’t help that in the least.

    But, I’m glad I’m not getting over it. I’ve memorized the letter and I’m going to keep it for a while. By rejecting me, MIT has given me the thing I’ve wanted all along, a challenge, determination, and something to work for. I belonged there, but I failed at showing that to the Admissions Committee. I won’t make the same mistake again.

    I guarantee you’ll be seeing me in four years. I just hope your Master’s programs are as good as your Bachelor’s. Since I don’t have to visit this site anymore, this feels like a goodbye. I know it isn’t.

    I’ll see you later, and thank you all for everything.

  11. Miren '15 says:

    This is so great! It’s heartwarming to see people so dedicated to their work when it involves so much emotion on everyone’s part.

  12. Eric says:

    You people at MIT go above and beyond what is expected of you and put so much effort into something as simple as an application process that it is no wonder MIT has been rated the best engineering school in the country all the time. I didn’t get in, but I am now inspired to keep on trying until I do get in

  13. Bhaskar says:

    @Mikey Thanks a lot.Awesome post.You guidance was worth before the decisions too.Keep posting.

    @Petey Respond to me soon.What else,ya could you do some sort of webcast for CPW for us(if possible] otherwise,see you in May (most probably].

    @Eric That’s the spirit.Keep it up

  14. Micah says:

    This was truly a touching post. I–we–really appreciate all of the effort the admissions staff put in when reviewing our applications.
    I used to imagine the admissions process as cold and straight to the point when it comes to “yes” or “no” (I don’t know why I thought that, but that was my image of the whole thing). But now, I realize that (for MIT, at least), it’s a completely different story–this entry shows all of the warmth and thoughtfulness of each person on the admissions committee, and I’m glad I got to read this. Thank you for this insightful and warm post.
    I also hope your eyes feel better!

  15. Emily says:

    Awww thanks mikey!

  16. mikey,thanks a ton.before checking the result i saw that there were around 18,000 applicants and braced myself for a disappointment.i reread ben’s post and kim’s and anna’s and then when i did see that i wasn’t there,it didn’t feel all that was only after a few hours that i felt so sad because i had,over the entire application process imagined so much:that i would take brain and cognitive sciences,stay at mccormick hall,make a lot of amazing friends blah would have been easier had i not imagined all of that.
    but i feel so much better after reading your is heart warming to know that someone who doesn’t even know-know you felt sad about you not making the cut.i hope someone like you or ben read my application.i will try again and again till i get in.

  17. Dallas mom says:

    My son was a freshman in MIT last year, but still my eyes were filled with tears and my heart was full of grateful when I read your post. Your post let me know this is how MIT admits students every year, thank you for the hard work of all admission staff. There is lubricant eye drops (Tears Naturale by Alcon, you can buy it in drug store) which will relieve burning and irritation of the eyes. I use it when my eyes were bleary due to looking at computer screen for too long.

  18. Masha '13 says:

    Awwwww smile Mikey, thanks so much for putting this in words! I knew you guys read applications days and nights and days and nights and weekends, but I never imagined the level of involvement was this deep. This post is amazing!

  19. Dear Mike,

    Your words are so comforting to me and my son (John Benedict). From the moment my son applied for MIT, it become a part of our lives, in everyday discussions, we started planning as if he already got admission, my son started dreaming about it day-in and day-out. News of not being admitted is a shock to us. I lost words to comfort my son. Ever since he came to learnt your decision of not being admitted he was not in cheerful mood. Any way we still love this great Institution, it is my prayer that God bless MIT and people associated with it.

    Thank you,

    Venkateswarlu B

  20. Daniel '15 says:


    I applied to MIT because I heard of how human the admissions process is, so I am very grateful for what you guys do.

  21. Lucas '15 says:

    Thank you so much, Mikey! I’m honored to know my application was read and reviewed by such a dedicated and passionate person. I really admire your work and can’t wait to thank you in person!
    All the best,

  22. I realize day after day that MIT people are really nice people. I am really happy I will be spending my following four years at MIT! Thank you admissions officers. You really are pretty cool!

  23. Anonymous says:

    mikey, this post is amazing! maybe now, this will be the most sought after blog wink
    but, i really BEG you to clearly declare that international students, please do not relate to this! all this does not apply to us. i am not criticizing anyone and understand that it is perhaps harder for u than it is for me, but please not so smart people like me start relating with these blogs and are pretty much disillusioned only once the decisions come……once my friend asked me if it is true that most indians who get selected to mit have smething to do with IIT and i rebuffed him; ben’s post was going thru my mind while i was boasting abt MIT, how great it is, how it just does not look at people’s marks only and how it is not prejudiced in evaluating each application and blah blah blah!!!
    unfortunately, MIT failed me! not because i didnt get in, but because one of my friend didn’t. he is awesome and a perfect match for mit in every way, but he doesn’t have us citizenship…, he read the same letter as not so special people like me did!! i am not sayin that this is someone’s fault, but please u can save thousand’s of future heart brakes by at least mentally preparing them, by telling them that internarionl students, PLEASE DO NOT RELATE WITH OUR POSTS!
    (otherwise, I love MIT)

  24. steddy says:

    Do you ever look up some of the kids you felt a connection with and tell them why you chose them? I still wonder why I made it, when there seem to be so many other kids with great qualifications.

  25. Hisham7 says:

    THANK YOU, Mikey!!!
    and Thanks for the admissions office for their great effort!
    It was a tough time for sure, but we knew that our applications are between the best hands wink

  26. hard reality says:


    yes,its a great blog BUT we have heard all this in lots of previous blogs for many years.but in the end,all we get is a broken heart.if mit truly cares,they must bare the reality and not sugarcoat it,to keep the applicants prepared well in advance of applying.

    p.s:you folks must answer some questions raised in the last blog entry.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I was just reading this because one of my close friends at MIT posted it on her facebook page.

    Two years ago, I was crushed when I didn’t get into MIT. Now I go to a school (somewhere in the midwest, which shall remain nameless), which I absolutely love. I don’t even know why I applied to any other schools!

    So, class of 2015 (holy moly! I feel so old…) try to remember that wherever you end up, if you applied to schools which you felt were good matches, that you will be happy, you will make friends, and you will get a great education!!!

  28. Mikey says:

    @Nishan – Not really. As I mentioned in my post, for most cases, it’s not that there was anything missing or lacking, there just wasn’t enough space. If you haven’t already done so, check out Matt’s Q&A post on the waitlist:

    @Dallas mom – thanks for the tip! smile I’ll definitely have to check out those eye drops for future use.

    And thanks to many of you for the kind words – keep the comments coming! As Ben put it, it really is more than a job. [insert “heart” here…HTML never likes my less-than-3 signs.]

  29. I was on the “admissions” committee for WTP, so I can empathize to some degree – but I’m sure you guys have it much harder!


  30. Gaurav says:

    @Admitted Indian ’15 : Hey dude, nice to know that you’re one of those who got admitted(?)! Well I’m too one of them!
    It would be great if we know ourselves well before getting together(or alternate!) at MIT!
    Do share as to how can we contact each other.

    Cheers for class of 2015!

  31. Victor '15 says:

    Less than can be typed with:

    Cheers for strange html quirks!

    Less than can be typed with:

    Cheers for strange html quirks!


  32. Victor '15 says:

    Oops, looks like MIT coders have disabled the feature in the post but not preview. :(

  33. I remember the moment many years ago when I landed a fancy post-college job, as did a college pal, and we talked on the phone between cities, each from our swanko offices, and both marveled at the truth: NO ONE is behind the Wizard’s curtain but other people like you, just older, who feel your hopes, dreams, and pain, and … the perceived power of the Wicked Witch’s broomstick, in the end, is in your hands, students, accepted at MIT or not.

  34. Sadia says:

    Mikey, thank you. Seriously, a real thank you. =)

    When I was rejected, I was relived to know my decision way earlier than other colleges (major thanks for that!) and figured that I would be rejected, so might as well get the rejection asap. I was’t sad or depressed, but just happy that you did your job and attempted to read and care for my application. I understand that I wasn’t among the best fit for the school and will continue my pursuit for dreams at another college.

    Who knows? Maybe I’ll apply to MIT for grad school and get in. BTW I agree with Dallasmom: try something for those eyes as it’s hard to read essays and transcripts when you can’t see.



  35. Luyi says:

    Dear Mikey, thank you so much for this sincere and heartfelt post. It really gave me insight into what it’s like, as you said, on the other side of the curtain – and I’m glad that the people behind the curtain deeply, deeply care. Your final few sentences are so truly heartwarming. Thank you for this letter – it makes me fall even more in love with MIT.

  36. Diane says:

    Thank you. I’m glad that my application next school year will be in such good hands.

  37. Sebastian says:

    although you didn’t expect us to change how we feel about it… it did. i didn’t get in but know reading this makes me feel a bit more relieved.
    thanks for such beautiful words.

  38. @Indian-Anonymous:
    MIT never concealed that it is very much harder to get in as an international applicant than an US citizens. But that does not mean they do not put their heart in their applications or have different policies for them.

    I myself have no connection with IIT (except my elder brother being a student there, which MIT has no way of knowing) and I am sure there are many people with much better grades/SAT scores than me from India who did not get admitted. Yet I got through without a green card. Your previous idea about MIT was correct. It didn’t fail you. Everything in this blog post is also applicable to International Students. You can never judge MIT by looking at who were rejected because places are so limited for international students (a bit more than 100). That is not a secret of the admission committee. Yet they admitted four Indians without green card last year (and at least three this year). We should feel privileged. MIT offers us an opportunity. It is not the right of anyone, however gifted, unlike IIT, which teaches the best students in the country with tax-payers’ money.

    @you and all other Indians not admitted: I wish you all the best for admission to other institutions and very good luck for your future.

  39. @Mikey
    I am a Wait-listed applicant for the Class of 2015… there any way of knowing what my application was lacking…(for it to be waitlisted?)

    Thanks a lot..

  40. Jake says:

    Mikey, how many applications did you read in total? I am completely impressed at the capacity of everyone there to get to know so deeply hundreds of applicants! A truly amazing feat.

  41. Mikey says:

    @Sebastian – thanks, i’m glad it did!

    @Jake – It’s hard to give an actual number, because you can define “reading” an application a number of different ways. As I mentioned, many applications get reviewed 5, 6, 7+ times – some of those reviews are quicker, others are more in depth, and often I end up reading the same application multiple times throughout the process because of all the built-in redundancies. So if you include the overlap/multiple reviews, that number is probably in the “several thousand” range.

  42. Anonymous says:

    @Admitted Indian ’15 – so…. u r sayin that u wont/have never appear(ed) for iit exams and that u dont have us citizenship——- that’s a relief to hear! u must be awesome. congrats! i am more than happy to hold on to my previous views abt MIT. thnx.

  43. Jake says:

    @Mikey Wow… thanks for the info! and thanks for your hard work.

  44. @Admitted Indian ’15: Do let me know the number of students from India admitted, if you find out. Have a great undergrad experience at MIT! Good Luck!

  45. JXC says:

    Thank you so much, Mikey, for sharing your experience on the admissions committee! Admissions is such a hard process for everyone involved, and the sacrifice the admissions officers go through is no exception. I feel assured now that even though I did not get accepted (or rather… I’ve been inducted into the waitlist xD), it was through a careful process.

    I really love reading these blogs, and especially your heartfelt experience. Hopefully, I can still attend MIT someday! (If not this year, then maybe graduate school! :D).

  46. IndyMom says:

    Bless your heart, Mikey. I have to share that your blog “Bleary-eyed” helps me understand and appreciate the process so much more. It also tells me how incredibly fortunate the prospective students are to have admissions counselors with this depth of character and work ethic involved in the process @ MIT. Keep up the great work – your efforts are much appreciated.

  47. Dobby says:

    i love you MIT, and mikey

  48. ThePlaz '13 says:

    I wonder if a Kindle DX would cause less eyestrain?

  49. Mikey says:

    Interesting thought – leave it up to ThePlaz to think of something like that! smile Not sure whether a Kindle DX would be able to do what we needed though…it would have to be able to display PDFs as well as work with our system…

    ThePlaz, build us something that will reduce eyestrain! If you could marry e-ink technology with admissions electronic file reading, you might have an interesting business idea right there…I know some offices are implementing things like iPads and TouchSmarts and whatnot, but I don’t know that that actually makes it any easier on the eyes…

  50. Alexandra P says:

    You guys are amazing. MIT admissions is the best…because it’s real. Just real people, with real emotion… Aagh, loss for words (that never happens, too!).

    While other colleges send you a nice little email or letter announcing your acceptance, MIT sends you it’s heart with posts like these, even if you were rejected. Strange, isn’t it, that my not being accepted to MIT affected me more positively than any other letter of acceptance I received.

    Now, what other college can do that? (again with the rhetorical, which I absolutely despise, but I’ll do it just this once for you, MIT)

    Thank you Mikey and everyone at admissions for being so considerate and so real. In a world full of pretension, imitated emotion, and soulless college acceptance letters, ‘real’ is the ultimate best compliment anyone can receive :D

    Now please :( rest your eyes, everyone. I demand that you sleep 1.5 days in a row.

  51. Chelsi says:

    MIKEY!!! What a capella group were you in!? Why didn’t you ever discuss this with me!!! Jeezzz =D

  52. Sakshi says:

    Oh my God….. I seriously don’t know why tears rolled down my cheeks while reading it…… Nothing hurts more than not being able to get in my dream school….. MIT ….. you are still the one….
    @Mikey… Thank you so being so considerate and kind….. Its mollifying to see that my application was in such good hands…

  53. Shahriar says:

    Mikey, I still say that MIT admissions people are the best, even though I was rejected. I know you work hard, and I guess part of the reason I had to hold back tears from the rejection was realizing yet again how great MIT people are….all my life, circumstances, both financial, societal and health, have held me back in everything. I applied to MIT thinking that perhaps MIT would understand the struggle I had to do to follow my passion for physics. My whole life story just flashed in front of my teary eyes while reading your post, and to think that I couldn’t get in even after you read applications with so much care, just like I always believed, made my heartache much worse. However, it strengthened me, if I look at the positive side, and I do not hate MIT, but I am indignant at the unfairness of life, and I think everyone should be. Thanks Mikey…and writing all this made my eyes teary….I just don’t know why I can’t be happy with the positive sides of rejection…and in Bangladesh, society is such that I am being called a pathetic student just because MIT rejected me…..and I intend to never give up, no matter what people say, in my pursuit of physics….but I still have an intense heartache….it’s not logical, but I still do have one…and I’m just angry at myself for being pathetic because of it..

  54. Chelsi says:

    I also just finished reading your entire blog…you are such a sincere person, and I am so glad we have you and people like you taking care of our stories

  55. Daily says:

    At first, I was disappointed that I didn’t get in, but I started to realize that I wasn’t the only one. There were a lot of people who, just like me, didn’t get in too. Though I didn’t get accepted, I still love MIT. I love reading about MIT and the blogs that the students and alums post. So just now when I read your post Mikey, it made me realize that even more people have been affected by the application process/results. So thank you for sharing this. Thank you for sharing how you felt. You might think this post wont change some peoples minds, and it might not change everyone’s feelings, but it has changed mine, and a lot of peoples out there. Though MIT was my dream school,I haven’t lost my dream, and you made me see how important that is. Thank you again Mikey.

  56. Hello Mikey,

    Thank you so much for this great post. It made me think for more than half an hour, which is a great amount of time to think for 21st Century Schizoid Man.

    I thought a lot about my letter of rejection. I memorized every single word in it. It was an order from the keeper of my dreams to change my dreams ASAP.

    I also have seen other people rejected in forums. They were way better than me. I even felt sorry for stealing time of these dedicated Admission Staff. Please pardon me.

    All I can say is my life has been a collaboration of experiences directing me towards saving things, which ultimately turned to the goal of helping society as a whole. It is a cliche, of course it is, but when you are me it is the only thing making sense. I knew MIT would be the best path towards achieveing this goal but I had to give up that dream.

    This post of you made me change all my mind of giving up my hope about MIT. Now, I will save my dream for MIT. I feel, I belong nowhere else but MIT.

    My question is, what should I do now? Should I take a gap year or study a Post Graduate year in US or go to the other highly reputated Computer Engineering school I got accepted from (actually in hope of transferring after a year or two)?

    I hope you will have time to read my comment and answer my question. Maybe there are (I know there are) other people wondering this. Thank you very much for this post again and for your helps.

  57. Thank you, Mikey, for sharing your feelings. It is very touching, and very saddening, but I hold MIT and you and the other admissions officers in the highest regard because of this. MIT really is a group of amazing people, and I hold no grudge for being rejected. I only hope I can go there some day, maybe transferring, maybe cross-registering, maybe grad school. But, someday, I hope to be there at MIT, not just because it’s such a great school with great classes and a great name and great fun, but because of the great people one finds there. I hope one day I can truly say IHTFP and moreso, ILTFP.

    Again, thank you for your feelings. They, too, do not go to waste. Keep up the good blogging, and keep up the good admitting.

  58. ANDRES says:


    Although it has been probably much harder for you to pursue your dream of studying physics then for me as I live in Eastern Europe (Estonia) I still could relate to your post very deeply.
    As you I also love physics with every cell in my body yet I have not had a good past with it. Because I had an awful primary school science teacher and primary school in itself was something like hell on earth plus I live in a city where there are rather few educational oppourtunities for a student after school and there are also no possibilities to do experiments. So I found physics for myself in the tenth grade and thus by now I have not yet achieved anything in international level. But man do I love it. Sometimes even the need to sleep can not take me away from a textbook. In my view Maxwell equations and General relativity beat Mona Lisa in the competition of ultimate beauty.
    But as you I am also something like a lone wolf as people around just do not understand why I read and study physics so much and why I am not concentrating on grades in school. Even my friends have started to make fun of my grades.
    They just do not see the beauty in hardcore physics.
    But one of the main things I could also relate to was how you wrote what you thought about MIT and how you felt when you got rejected.
    It was like someone had torn my thoughts out of my brain (applies to the entire post) and but them on a paper because as you I also got rejected.
    But I am thankful for your post because it convinced me finally that many awesome students where not admitted and plus it was just amazing to find out that there is a person very very far from me who shares my thoughts in so many cases .

    I hope that in the long run you achieve what you are dreaming about.

    Maybe you want to check this page as there are many materials about physics (small icon on the top of the page). At least it helped me.

  59. SS says:

    @ Andres……It seems as is there are so many loyal lovers of Physics (including me)that it is really hard to realize and accept the rejection where you have always pictured yourself, arduously working in its lab, talking to the professors, and it nothing at all then sitting in a secluded place working on a problem set. My first step towards my dream of establishing a space research center, seemed to have broken on 3.14, but somewhere in my mind I knew that nothing, and by nothing I mean NOTHING, can ever lessen my love and passion and no matter where I go, I will hold that feeling in my heart and move on…. Though I still wonder why was I rejected? and similar to you I find the answers in my grades….. MIT is still Heaven and Physics is my first love and this can be proven by the fact that no matter how much i score in other subjects, I love Physics and although being rejected I can’t help but come and visit and check out its blogs…..
    @Mikey Why is it not possible for the rejected students to find out what went wrong???

  60. Jason Parisi says:

    Dear Mikey and the Admissions Team at MIT,

    Your post touched me in a way I didn’t expect. Thank you. For your time, cogitation and human approach to your work. I am without doubt that you pour your very soul into this process.

    My application was unsuccessful but I am deeply grateful for the opportunity. My goal of industrialising nuclear fusion still stands, perhaps we’ll see one another in a few years time.

    Thank you, and goodbye.

  61. Shahriar says:


    I share the exact same feelings as you do. I too do not have any mentionable international award, and thank you for the link ! We do not have many good books on physics and astronomy in Bangladesh, so I always had to go around stores looking for them. I also find the reason of rejection to be in my grades because I had to work and had other responsibilities as well as to study physics (and mathematics) on my own. It is awesome how you described yourself, because I really thought all this time that I was the only one like that, and that was perhaps also why I thought of MIT as a place to go to : to perhaps find people like me who I might work with on theoretical physics in the future. Only one person from Bangladesh was admitted to MIT, and he had a Bronze medal from the IMO. The same thing happened last year and people who won medals got admitted, even though there were so many other students I know that had great passion in something and talent, as well as grades and SAT scores. Most international students have olympiad medals, so they might reject most on the “deal-breaker” stage just because they won’t be competitive enough….that’s what I heard.

    @SS : I agree with you, the rejection hasn’t stopped me from visiting this site, and I also want to know at which stage of the admission process i was rejected, but they are probably going to say that there wasn’t any specific reason and that they just did not have places, but obviously people who were admitted had “something” which made the adcoms admit them…

    @SS : I agree with you, it just didn’t stop me from visiting this site to see the blogs

  62. shahriar and andres,
    i was all heartbroken too but after reading your responses,i was like these 2 guys really deserved it.most of the applicant pool must have been brilliant,but since my father is from bangladesh and i know what the situation is like over there,i really really respect you guys(even you andres) for having so much passion for a subject inspite of so many difficulties.
    but is there no biology freak here who got rejected(apart from me)?i want to be a doctor but if my medical college decides that i am too reckless to be one,i will definitely become a herpetologist!

  63. Shahriar says:

    @don’t feel so bad now

    You’re father’s from bangladesh ? awesome …so have you been here before ? smile
    Thank you, and you are the first person I know who really likes biology , most people over here don’t like anything at all…
    which medical college did you apply to ?

  64. SS says:

    @Shahriar… which branch of Physics do you like the most. I find astrophysics to be one the most intriguing one and it is extremely unfortunate that is not introduced in the school curriculum, at least in India, the place I come from. What are you planning to do next?
    I know that i will never be able to find out why I was rejected but then although I am disappointed, I am not discouraged. I still have my dreams and I know that sooner or later I will realize them….

  65. Shahriar says:

    @SS :

    I used to like astrophysics all my life, but to be honest, my interests have shifted to theoretical physics more, especially relativity and electromagnetism . I participated at the IOAA, but we don’t have training or anything like that here. So , do you now intend to study at IIT ?

  66. Shahriar says:

    @SS : I plan to go to any university that accepts me and study physics ….I applied to MIT in the US, but now I think I’m going to apply to NUS and NTU in Singapore, they have financial aid for internationals , and exchange programs with MIT and other great universities (such as Harvard, Stanford, Caltech, IIT, ANU , Beijing uni , Tokyo uni and Cambridge) …according to my sources

  67. Reject '15 says:

    Wow. My hearts aches for you guys. It seems harder to feel that wonderful people you loved were rejected than that we weren’t accepted by such a selective school. I think it’s possible that you were more hurt than those whose dreams were crushed. Thank you for sharing. It was very inspiring, and strengthened my confidence that at least I was a worthy applicant. You, the Admissions Committee, and all the people at MIT are the reason I applied anyway. I wish everyone on this journey the best of luck; the talent and perseverance is already had.

  68. @Mike.

    Thank you for this post. I came to this website to read more about my dream-college, hoping to gain an insight into what I should do to prepare myself for the application process. Then I read this article, and I realize how much heart goes into the decisions behind who gets accepted, and who… doesn’t. I am incredibly heartened to know that my future application will be in such thoughtful and caring hands. It is illogical for people to be so involved in the application process, due to the heartbreak, but I expected just as much from MIT. Thank you, Mike. To you and your colleagues, for sacrificing so much of yourself (and your eyesight) into the hopes and dreams of applicants such as myself.

    It almost… no. It ABSOLUTELY makes me feel guilty for even applying in the first place. Because even if I get accepted, that means someone much more deserving than myself would be denied going to such an amazing institution.

    @Those dreamers (such as myself) who will be lining up for their chance at MIT in the future: Good luck! I hope the best for you, snd I also hope to see you in Cambridge within the next 2 years! To the future class of ’16/’17!

  69. Dear Mike,

    MIT admitted Akansha Sarda who won gold medal at International Physics Olympiad. My son John Benedict who was rejected for class 15, thinking to prepare for physics olympiad sitting at home, so that he can gain admission to MIT. What will be your advise to him?

    Venkateswarlu, B

  70. Ella says:

    This just made me feel 1000000 times better….
    Thank you for caring! And letting us know admission officers are sympathetic human beings too =]

  71. @shahriar
    no,never been to bangladesh.i live in india and we have pretty good medical colleges like aiims and jipmer and they are all doing a great job:treating people for free or for a very nominal sum.i love physics too,but the solid state,mechanics and thermodynamics know,i think all of us should get in touch because if all goes well we will do our postgrad together at mit!
    omg,i am so bad at captcha;can anyone empathise?

  72. SS says:

    No…. I am to planning to go to IIT… I am not going to take any Indian Engineering Entrance Exam. I always wanted to be at MIT so badly that all I thought about was the SATs…. Anyways, I might end up in the US for I have been accepted by University of Illinois Urabana campus for Engineering Physics… Thats 5th in the US following MIT, Stanford,UCB and Caltech….. Just waiting for the Ivy day to hear some good news…. Well .. same here I had no guidance for the SATs and no coaching for any subject….. Literally all my eggs in the same basket… just hoping to get the best out of what is about to come…..
    Yeah Relativity is mind blowing….. I love it so much…Have you read the Brief History of Time by Dr. hawking….. And watch all his shows on the Discovery channel…. Totally mind blowing….All the best for NUS….

  73. Shahriar says:

    @SS :

    That’s wonderful news, I hope great things await you in the future smile
    Congratulations on being accepted by a great university, and yes , I watched all of Prof. Hawking’s shows , and read his book wink
    Thank you , I hope you succeed in your plans