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MIT staff blogger Chris Peterson SM '13

Early Action Updates 2013 by Chris Peterson SM '13

things that are happening

*Correction as of 2015: Early action is available to both domestic and international students.


It’s mid-October in Cambridge, which means the days are growing shorter, the leaves are changing color, and several thousand people are in the process of applying to MIT. The latter of these changes is always accompanied by questions, so I wanted to take a moment to answer some of the more frequent ones we’ve seen arriving in our inboxes recently.

How should my teachers prepare and submit their letters of recommendation?

First, you should review our detailed guide to submitting letters of recommendations, as it answers most of the questions that students have.

The upshot is that we require three letters: one from a math/science teacher, one from a humanities/social studies teacher, and one from a guidance counselor. Find the teachers who will be able to advocate most compellingly on your behalf and have them send letters to us. It’s pretty simple.

We accept letters through the following submission methods:

  1. Docufide/Naviance
  2. Fax, to 617.687.9184
  3. Mail, to MIT Admissions; Room 10-100; 77 Massachusetts Avenue; Cambridge, MA 02139.

Your recommenders may use any one of these systems. Emphasis on one: please do not have them send us duplicates of the same letter through different systems, unless you want me to look like this: (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ

while I open all of the extra mail and faxes. And if your teachers do use fax or mail, remember their letters must be on school letterhead and signed by them to be accepted.

One question we sometimes get is about cover sheets for letters of recommendation. You can download the MIT Admissions cover sheets from your account in MyMIT. These cover sheets are strongly recommended but not required. If your teachers want to use the Common App cover sheets, that’s fine. If they submit through Naviance/Docufide and don’t have cover sheets, that’s fine. Our MIT cover sheets are nice to have because they expedite the processing of your documents, but not worth causing any additional stress for you or your advocates.

How can I check that you have the application components I’ve submitted?

If you submit your Part 1, you will have access to MyMIT’s application component tracking system, which keeps track of everything we have from you in the admissions process.

If you’ve submitted something, and it isn’t showing up, don’t worry: it takes time to process tens of thousands of documents! You should allow at least two weeks after submission before contacting our office to inquire after the status of submitted supplemental materials.

I can’t type endless text into my essays what’s happening PLEASE HALP

As the essay prompts suggest, there is a word count limit (well technically, a character count limit with an estimated average character per word, but we’ll just go with word count). You may find that MyMIT and your text editor disagree sometimes on how many words there are in a given text, and if this happens, well, trust MyMIT. You can always check how your essays look in the PDF preview, which is more or less exactly how the PDFs are generated for us.

A note on text editors: if you use Microsoft Word (or any other rich text editor) to draft your essays you may find that that your PDF preview becomes HAUNTED by spooky formatting ghosts. I recommend drafting your posts in a free plain text editor, like Notepad in Windows, TextWrangler on Mac, or nano/emacs/vi/whatever in *nix. As a rule of thumb: if it saves by default in .txt, it’s safe to use.

I applied to MIT before, so why can’t I make a MyMIT account now to apply again?

Every year a very, very small number of students decide to reapply to MIT for freshman admission. As a matter of policy we consider these applications anew. In order to do that, we need to archive and delete the old applications from our database first.

Because of some improvements we made to our application database, that archiving process is going a bit slower than expected this year (ironic, I know). As a result, we’ve not yet deleted the old applications from our database, and so people who applied last year can’t reapply again yet.

If you’re a reapplicant applying to MIT for Early Action, don’t worry. We’ll extend your Early Action application date until November 7th. In the meantime, you can draft your essays using the prompts I posted a few weeks ago, which are taken directly from our application this year.

We’ll announce once we have safely archived our database. At that point, you will be able to recreate a MyMIT account and begin filling out your application. You should also contact your EC, let them know that you are a reapplicant (and thus have had delayed access to MyMIT), and they should be able to accommodate your request for an interview.

Fixed! Go ahead!

Good? Good. Remember to review the dates and deadlines, let me know if you have any questions in the comments below, and, in the meantime, enjoy a Halloween Pusheen.