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MIT student blogger Mitra L. '07

General Advice by Mitra L. '07

Application advice for HS juniors and sophomores, inspired by a student's question

In my previous entry, Joan Tran from Louisiana asked for some general admissions advice. Hmm….

First, here are some previous entries on specific topics:

Advice on the college interview (Mitra)

Advice on the application essay(Mitra)
Clarification on what exactly a “good match” is (Matt)

But in terms of general advice, let’s see. There are no specific activities or test-prep courses I would suggest or anything like that. I recommend that you pursue things that interest and challenge you. These can be traditionally-thought-of-as-MIT-ish things like science fairs or math competitions, but they also can be things like (but not limited to) athletics, volunteer work, music and theater performance, and religious activities. Furthermore, if your interests don’t align with an organization and you pursue them independently, that’s fine too. (For example, if you love baking (Izzie), riding motorcycles (Cristina), or fly-fishing (Derek), write it down! You probably shouldn’t tell us if you failed the medical boards, though, Alex.) The admissions staff doesn’t have some set list of priority extra-curriculars or achievements it looks for on your application; rather, it looks for attributes that you can demonstrate in just about any activity.

Okay, now you’re challenging yourself in your coursework and activities — make sure you convey that to us. When you describe your extra-curriculars, either in an essay or on the application form, try to make it more than a laundry list. Elucidate what your role and contributions were, what you gained from it, how it has changed you, etc.

Another piece of advice I have is to be confidently relaxed. I hope that you have gone both through high school and through the application process ethically (not lying or cheating, etc.). You haven’t changed yourself for the sake of getting into college, so be proud of who you are and what you have done. No matter what schools admit you, you’ll go on to achieve great things in life.

This is the most general sort of advice I can offer. If you (mostly juniors, but I suppose some sophomores too) have specific questions about parts of the application form or application process, please leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. Joan, I hope this helped.

10 responses to “General Advice”

  1. Joan Tran says:


    Yes, everything you’ve said actually did help. Thank you so much. I think taking interests in the things that I want to learn much more about and to have fun while challenging myself at the same time is the greatest feeling.

    I just hope that I can apply everything (or at least the main points) I’ve learned when I get into college!

    – Joan

  2. That was some great advice. One of the most meaningful blogs specifically on admissions in a while. Thanks for all of the advice and for giving us links to all related blogs.


  3. Chase Wilson says:

    Do you absolutely have to have straight A’s to get in? I got a few B’s in my freshman year, but I’m taking every college level class I can, and more.

  4. Meg says:


    Just wanted to say thanks for the advice, i’m only a sophomore but already wigging out over admissions. Your words are very appreciated. smile

  5. Dave says:

    MIT seems amazing and the experience there would be invaluable, but how realistic is it actually for one to get accepted in, i’ve been doing pretty much all I can to try look good for colleges, but i’m wondering how much do colleges want to see…oohhh, one more thing, would MIT mind accepting a half-retarded kid, i think i’m nearing that stage now-a-days smile

  6. Mitra says:

    You absolutely do not need to have straight As to get into MIT — we like to see a pattern of good grades and an upward trend, but we understand people have bad semesters and aren’t necessarily *perfect*

  7. Jess says:

    <33 Grey’s Anatomy! What’d you think of the last episode? :O

  8. Anonymous says:

    Even though this blog was posted on the 19th, it only showed up on MyMIT on the 23rd for me…is anyone else having this problem? Thanks

  9. Mikey says:

    Mitra –

    I couldn’t have said it better! Can you just do my school visits and central meetings for me? : P

  10. yasin says:

    hi mitra
    i m an indian student, final year at school
    can u plzget in touch with me