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Please note:

MIT and the admissions office will be closed November 24–25 for Thanksgiving break, and will open on November 28.

First Post by mitblogs

A little about myself.

Hi there,

I’m Jenny Rifken and I am the new Director of Recruitment and Associate Director of Admissions at MIT. I’m so glad you’re joining us on this blog. Marilee, Stu, I, and the other guests hope to each write once a month or so to tell you what we’re thinking about, working on, and hear your thoughts on this whole admissions process. I look forward to getting to know you.

To tell you a little about myself, I’ve had the privilege to be an admissions officer for nearly ten years at three terrific universities (including MIT). I never aspired to have a career in admissions. To tell the truth, I didn’t know one could have a career in admissions. Until there is a really popular TV show depicting a college admissions office (what an idea, by the way), high school students probably won’t think about admissions as a job opportunity. Just think, it could be the ER or Ally McBeal of admissions. But I digress…

I fell into admissions by being a tour guide at my alma mater. I loved college and all of the opportunities it offered and loved being able to talk to students and their families about going to college. When I graduated, I knew I’d go to graduate school, but wanted some real world experiences first. Being an admissions officer gave me wonderful professional opportunities and I could continue to talk to families about college. Plus, I really like living near a college or university. The lectures, concerts, interesting conversations, and amazing discoveries that take place on campuses are inspiring. I couldn’t imagine a more exciting place to call home. I liked my job and the environment so much, in fact, that I decided to earn my master’s degree in higher education administration.

What I have liked the best, though, is meeting the students. It’s easy to feel optimistic about the world when you meet (either in person or through their applications) the bright, engaged, motivated, and exciting young people who are applying to places like MIT.

Because I’m new to this place, I’ll be learning about MIT just as you are. I’m excited to share with you all that I’m finding out and I hope you’ll tell me of the things you discover as you go through your college exploration process. Universities are never-ending places to learn — in and out of the classroom — and there will always be something new to talk about.

One thing that I hope you’ll do (and I’ll be doing as well as I learn MIT) is to challenge the stereotypes of every school to which you’re thinking about applying. While its good to listen to the advice of others, you have to find out for yourself if a school is the right fit for you. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when I came to MIT. I knew the students would be smart and I knew how much I liked the people in the admissions office, but I had heard all sorts of rumors about how intense the place was, how competitive and unsocial it is. I’ve only been here a few weeks and I have found all of those negative claims to be false. Everyone I have met so far, in human resources, freshman advising, athletics, academic summer programs, the coffee houses, and, of course, the students, have been wonderful. And they all tell me how much they like MIT. Actually, they tell me that they love it.

When I ask them what they like, they say they like that it is collaborative and that they constantly get to explore new aspects of their work or their jobs. They say they like the people and how friendly they are. They like the playful spirit and sense of humor of the campus. I have found the people here to be incredibly giving and helpful and I’m really enjoying my new home at MIT.

I know I have only scratched the surface of this place, but thankfully, I have a lot of time to explore. I hope you’ll join me on this journey and tell me what you find interesting and exciting.

It’s nice to meet you and I look forward to our travels together!


8 responses to “First Post”

  1. Timur Sahin says:

    It’s stuff such as this that make MIT really exciting for me. I have so many friends that go there, and they all revel in the duality of “IHTFP.” Yes, you work hard, get no sleep some nights, and encounter incredibly difficult problems, but in the end, you love it because you come out such a better person for it.

    – Timur S.

  2. ajit says:

    i really love this place.i dreaming of telling a story like this to the prospective students when i kiss the MIT soil.



  3. Omar says:

    Hi Jennifer, I’m glad to see that you are going to be posting some messages too! I could notice how much you enjoy meeting the students and talking about MIT in the information session you gave at Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. It was really nice to meet you there and I’m looking foward to read some more messages!

    Thanks a lot!


    PD: Thanks for replying my e-mail grin

  4. Hi Jenny! I am from Peru. I am finishing school next year, on December but I am very interested in being a MIT student. How can I say?, in some words, my most important dream is to be there, my most important aspiration is to be there and share all my knowledge with all the MIT students. Knowledge of Peru

  5. Emi says:

    Hello! My name is Emilia Mendieta, I am a senior and live in Quito, Ecuador. I was wondering if MIT had an international admissions officer or recuiter I could get in touch with. I find that it helps a lot during the application process!

  6. Greg Strabel says:

    Even though I’m not an MIT student yet, I’ve had the same experience as Jenny. As I was preparing for my summer college tours, I heard that MIT was too intense and inpersonal. When I actually visited MIT, I didn’t find that to be the case at all. I also didn’t get that feeling from the local information session held in Rochester. I’m looking forward to studying economics and history with not only the best brains in the world, but great people, too. I think that will happen at MIT.

  7. Shenglong says:

    I spent a month of my summer with a group of people that represented Canada’s (and some other parts of the world’s) “best and brightest”. I went there thinking that I could come back to Halifax, and brag to my friends that I had “become a real nerd”. What a dissapointment!

    I guess, much akin to the folks at MIT as you’ve described, Jenny, were people there. For the most part, I’ve found that intelligent people are nicer and much more sociable than they’re made out to be. No one sat around and read all day; everyone could hold their own in a conversation. Even more, I found there the widest variety of skill, talent and philosophy to date.

    I’m really hoping MIT will offer, in addition to actual challenges, this type of envrioment and more. In all honesty, from what I’ve seen and heard, I do believe it will!

  8. Hi Jenny,

    I am from Cameroon and I just received a letter from the mit admission office. Well, I had already sent in part 2 of my application before receiving the letter, but then I have tried to track down my application as the letter says with no success. I was wondering if you could help me on this. Thanks for your keen attention.