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MIT staff blogger Chris Peterson SM '13

Emergency Application Extension by Chris Peterson SM '13

for students affected by the storm

The MIT Early Action application deadline has been extended to November 6th, 11:59 PM, for SOME students affected by this weekend’s nor’easter. More information below.

As you may have heard the northeastern United States was hit by a devastating snowstorm this past weekend. The storm, which featured winds and pressures (975 mb) characteristic of a Category 2 hurricane, dumped heavy, wet snow across the region, exceeding two feet in areas of Western Massachusetts. This kind of snow, which is unusually dense, can exceed 10 pounds per square foot in weight. And because of a mild fall, many leaves are still on their trees, increasing the surface area vulnerable to the storm. Heavy snow, catching on leafy trees, freezing to them, and then being subjected to 50+ MPH winds is the landlocked equivalent of the perfect storm which occurred almost exactly twenty years ago.


A tree sags over torn power lines in south-central New Hampshire near my parent’s house


The results have been disastrous. More than three million people lost power by the peak of the storm. Because of comprehensive damage to all levels of the infrastructure, approximately 70% of Connecticut remains entirely without power, as well as approximately 50% of Western Massachusetts, along with wide swaths of Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, and other areas in the region. This storm has caused more damage to the electrical and telecommunications infrastructure than any other in history. In most of these places the power will not be restored for several days; in the worst, a week or more. And the Internet will likely lag behind it.

While snow, in moderation, is a cause for celebration, in excess it can be catastrophic. Millions of people are without heat, light, or the ability to cook food, boil water, and generally care for themselves at this time. And our best thoughts and wishes are with them.

A much less severe, but nonetheless important, implication of this widespread loss of power is that many prospective students to MIT who were affected by the storm will be unable to meet tomorrow’s Early Action deadline for application to MIT. That is OK. There are more important things to worry about, like heat and light, than this.

However, as a result, we are extending our application deadline for for students affected by the storm, i.e. lost power / Internet for 24 hours or more. The new deadline for those students is November 6th, 2011, at 11:59 PM. For all other students, we will still require you to submit the application by the old deadline, which is tomorrow.

Some students have called in to ask about the essay questions, because they haven’t been able to work on them with the power out. While I can’t restore whatever drafts you may have saved to you, here are the essay questions we ask with this year’s application, so that, if nothing else, you may work on them with pencil and paper:

  • We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do for the pleasure of it. (100 words or fewer)
  • Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words or fewer)
  • What attribute of your personality are you most proud of, and how has it impacted your life so far? This could be your creativity, effective leadership, sense of humor, integrity, or anything else you’d like to tell us about. (200-250 words)
  • Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations. (200-250 words)
  • Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (200-250 words)

If you are going to be without power for an extended period of time – beyond the November 6th deadline – I advise you to fill out your application at school. And obviously, anyone without power now will not be able to read this blog post, so I would ask those who can – friends, teachers, guidance counselors, etc – to please forward it on to them and spread the word so that they know.

I would also take this opportunity to reiterate that there is no difference in our application process between Early and Regular Action besides the date by which you must apply. We do not have preferences or different admission rates for students in different cycles. So if you were planning on applying Early Action, but need to dig your house out from under the snow, you may do so with the knowledge that it will not disadvantage your application.

Thank you, everyone, and please, stay safe.

17 responses to “Emergency Application Extension”

  1. James says:

    Does MIT get frequent power outages during weather like this?

  2. Snively says:

    MIT almost never loses power. At least not in the 4 years and ridiculous snowstorms I encountered.

    The real question here is, Chris, did you ever get your pizza?

  3. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    No. We generate our own power, I believe, and have much of our own water system as well. MIT runs so many important experiments that it can’t really afford to have things interrupted. I know that when there was a water main break a few years back that robbed the entire greater Boston area and suburbs of water for several days I just came here to shower and so forth.

    And Snively – finally, yes. Took three pizza guys and two accidents to get it to me though.

  4. Zachary says:

    How do we know if we get the deadline extension ?

  5. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    Well, I’m tempted to type “if you can post a comment on the Internet right now, no, because you have power.”

    Less glibly: if you and/or your school lost power or Internet for 24 hours or more during the snowstorm, this applies to you. But most people for whom it was intended do not have power and still do not.

  6. Ken L. says:

    Good call. smile
    I only lost power for 20 hours, and still had plenty of time to submit my application before the day was over. I know some people in my town, though, who still don’t have power and may stay that way for almost a week.

  7. Darrell Evans says:

    Hi Chris,

    I like reading your posts as I help my son with his application. I do have a question about this statement:

    “I would also take this opportunity to reiterate that there is no difference in our application process between Early and Regular Action besides the date by which you must apply. We do not have preferences or different admission rates for students in different cycles.”

    I went to a small state school, so my statistics evaluation may be a little weak, but according to your stats from last year, a total of 1,004 admitted students came from the group that applied early admission (both early and deferred) and 711 were admitted from regular decision dates. That’s 1,004 out of 6,404, (15.67%) for early decision and 711 out of 11,505 (6.17%) from regular decision. That seems like significantly different admission rates for the two different cycles.

  8. Ian Mertz says:

    Just to confirm, I lost power for about 48 hours and did not have access to internet or a computer. If this qualifies me for the extension, should I send an email to the admissions committee asking them for the extended deadline, or should I just finish the application and assume the admissions committee will accept it? Just checking, because I would like to get it finished for Early Admission, but don’t want to make more work for MIT.

  9. Ishaan says:

    Hi Chris,

    Just checking: I only lost power for a couple hours, so I don’t qualify for the extension. Is the deadline tonight at midnight, or tomorrow at midnight?

  10. Danilo says:

    Chris, please take care while driving/riding, it’s harder to stop/change direction of a vehicle in a snowy road and that driver-disguised assassin may still be out there for you. (I’m referring to this blog post

  11. Ha Hyung Lee says:

    Greetings from Western MA
    haha I wish I knew this sooner!
    Because of the power outage for last couple days,
    i drove out 30 minutes to my grandmother’s in order to finish my application in time.
    But this is still great gesture from MIT.
    Everyone around me are affected so heavily by this storm!
    Stores are closed; traffic lights has stopped working; and restaurants or anywhere to get hot food are nonexistent.
    A lot of people like me had to drive to relatives’ or friends’ where they could get those bare necessities.
    Times like this, I start to understand how inconvenient times before electricity would have been.

  12. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    @ Darrell –

    Good question! I addressed that at length last year here:

    Here are some quick reasons for the disproportion:

    1) We actually admitted over 1,700 students last year. However, of the ~1200 who chose to attend, most happened to have been admitted in Early. So the numbers you’re using there are measuring a different thing.

    2) International students can only apply during RA, and because we have a quota of 100 and many more than that apply, that throws off the raw EA vs RA numbers.

    More instances of

    I say we don’t have a preference to differentiate against schools which, say, add a bump to your application if you apply Early (especially Early Decision), or have a certain quota of students they must take early. We don’t have either. We take who we like to take. Some years that’s more in Early, some years it’s more in Regular.

    @Ian –

    Good question! We know where you live and will automatically extend you. No email necessary.

    @Ishaan –

    Tomorrow at 11:59 PM.

    @Danilo –

    Thanks! I’ve actually got two torn ligaments in my ankle from another injury (forthcoming post!) so I’m not biking anyway. But I do have this sweet boot!

    @Ha Hyung –

    Thanks for making the effort! And please, stay safe.

  13. Mason Williams says:

    @ Darrell
    Correlation does not imply causation.

  14. m_quinn says:

    @Chris P

    Very nice Chris! Say, I was wondering: if this had been a blizzard in South Dakota, would you have been so generous?


  15. Poudel bivek says:

    i am from “nepal” (it’s a south asian country between india and china, i guess you’ve never heard of it before). i have a dream and my dream is to study in MIT. i have done all my efforts to be atleast intellectually capable over the years of my college but i couldn’t get how the admission system works.
    i read couple of your webpages about the application process but i couldnt get anything. i have a very limited acess to the internet but still i managed to find atleast a page where i can write. so i thought it might help. can you please simplify the process of application, required fees, eligiblity etc.
    i may not get to see this page for atleast a week so could you please mail them to me… i’ve given my email id…
    please take it seriously all my efforts and money, my dream and career hang in the reply you send to this notice..

  16. Paul P says:

    Will this impact the decision date in any way?

    Thanks for all the information!

  17. Noé Cortés says:

    maybe my comment is out side, i’m from Mexico, and I’m in the best Institute of research, the IPN,how ever, I really would like get into the MIT, i’m on the first year of my major, but I would like get to be transfer to the MIT, what kind of steps must i follow, please, help me