Sinus pressure and general malaise have prevented me from typing up this post as eloquently as it could be, but the story below has been bouncing around my head for about a week nonetheless.
In the summer before my senior year of high school, I went to meet with the IB coordinator (basically a guidance counselor) to review my college application strategy. I presented her with my list of colleges, mostly state schools with a few oddball private schools thrown in there. Nothing on the level of Mass Tech made my list. I actually hadn’t even thought about applying to MIT until the coordinator suggested it. I thought she was joking, and then I didn’t give it any more thought until around Thanksgiving of that year. By that point I had filled out the core part of my Common App and was bored with the application process. The thought of all the supplemental essays was gross, since I figured I was just going to go to a state school anyway (scholarships, man). For some reason, I went to mitadmissions.org.
A series of clicks led to me opening a MyMIT account and filling out biographical information. I’m not being paid to say this, but I thought the MIT app was a lot friendlier than a lot of what Common App asked for.
Then I realized that I had to schedule an interview.
It takes me a bit of time to build up enough courage to send important emails. I just feel like I come across as weird and childish when corresponding with Smart, Important, Successful Adults. For the next few days I considered scrapping the application just because I was scared of screwing up the interview. I didn’t make first contact with my assigned EC (the interviewer) until December 5, which was just five days before the deadline to schedule an interview. Technically early but also a lot later than seemed comfortable at the time. After all, MIT is one of those schools that you strategize to get into—you don’t just suddenly decide to apply (right?).
Funny enough I didn’t hear back from my EC until the eighth, at which point I had almost given up on making the deadline and was certain that I had said something cringeworthy in the email that caused her to redflag me. She forwarded the email to someone else since she was too busy to interview me (as one might be during the holiday season), and I was assigned a new EC. It was relatively painless in retrospect but I was a little stressed about it. On the ninth, I contacted the new EC and we set an interview date for the sixteenth.
I went into the interview comfortable, mostly because I had convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough anyway, so really there was no way for the interview to mess up my application (you’re right I have been self-deprecating since before it was cool). Looking back, that’s kind of a bad attitude to have, but it ended up working. I had a nice conversation with my EC that didn’t feel forced, even though it was a little awkward in the beginning because I didn’t know what he looked like so I couldn’t find him (he was wearing an MIT sweatshirt). I got to ask him questions about MIT, which was useful since I’d never even travelled anywhere on the East Coast. If anything, even if I hadn’t gotten into MIT, I think that interview gave me a little boost of confidence that helped me write the pile of essays requested by other schools as supplements (shoutout to MIT’s mini-essays). I went home a little more confident that MIT might want me, ate some brownies, and didn’t finish the MIT application until 12/31 around noon.
This brings me to the real point of this post. I’m talking to the procrastinators in the audience. Those people who wait until the last minute to finish anything up just because that’s the way they are. I didn’t plan on applying whatsoever until I did. Everything was ever-so-slightly last minute and I still got in. (Note: This isn’t me bragging about myself being tHaT gOoD of an applicant. If you Google me, you won’t find articles about me doing Big Things; in fact, you probably won’t find anything about me at all.) I procrastinate because I find difficulty getting motivated until I feel a surge of nervousness and adrenaline brought on by a quickly approaching deadline. I’ve heard other people say that they produce their best work at the last minute. Or maybe you’re just not really sure if you want to do this whole application thing or not, so you’re waiting for deadlines to pass so that you can just choose not to choose. Either way, here’s why I think you should apply.
1. Applying to MIT is how you get into MIT. How else would you?
2. Worst case scenario—you don’t get in. Odds are, if you’re applying here you’re definitely a good fit for the academic world at large (you gotta be a nerd to want to go to nerd school). Not getting into one school out of all the schools in the world isn’t really anything to complain about. And if a rejection causes you to establish a grudge against the Institvte, by all means direct that passion into doing something with your life that will show Admissions that they were wrong about you. After all, it’s the students that make the school great, not the other way around—you have it in you already (I wrote this with sincerity, don’t cringe).
3. More applications means a larger applicant pool means more work for MIT Admissions. Don’t get me wrong, I love the people who work there, but I also love that they’re getting crushed under the weight of thousands of applications right now. It makes for a better freshman class and stuff.
4. You’d really like it here.
5. Financial aid is pretty generous compared to other schools. It was actually cheaper for me to go to MIT than to go to a public tech school in a state adjacent to my home state (not naming any names). Don’t miss out on a potentially more economical option!
With that in mind, I hope you’re doing well today/tonight/whenever you’re reading this. Take care of yourself and try not to let the stress eat you alive as it can tend to do this time of year. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone if you need help (important end-of-2017 lesson).
A special shoutout to the people who emailed me happy birthday yesterday—gotta love random acts of kindness from strangers :,-).