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I just returned from seeing an LSC free sneak preview of I Heart Huckabees with a pretty enthusistic MIT crowd. LSC has these sneak previews fairly regularly. In my years at MIT, I’ve seen sneaks of such films as 8 Mile and Grosse Pointe Blank, and missed sneaks of School of Rock and Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, among others.

I was planning to use today’s entry to talk a little bit about school visits, so I won’t let a movie derail me from that. I was thinking about how no colleges ever visited my high school, not even the state/local colleges. I do remember that military recruiters would sometimes stop by. So when I visit the small number of high schools that I do each year, I’ll often feel a little guilty. There are more than 15,000 high schools in the United States, and our office might visit 50 or so of them in a year. I know from talking to students and fellow admissions officers that this is a relatively very small number of schools, and that some colleges spend most of the fall (and sometimes a good chunk of the spring) visiting half a dozen high schools a day.

Before you get upset because your high school is among the tens of thousands of schools we didn’t visit, let me tell you what we are doing with our time in the fall. Our small admissions office (~12 admissions officers) does travel across the country, to about 75 cities, as I’ve previously discussed. Our priority in these cities is the central meeting we conduct, where we invite the entire area. It’s very egalitarian in that way. We really want to do our best for the students and parents who attend these meetings, to really make them worthwile. For example, a father and daughter drove from rural Idaho to see my meeting in Portland, OR. This was a very, very long drive each way. While we definitely don’t encourage this, it’s certainly understandable with all the college anxiety, and also the lack of opportunities and counseling resources in some areas. So, whether the student has driven 8 hours or 8 minutes to the meeting, we want to have the energy and stamina to provide the best of information to everyone.

And yes, sometimes we do visit schools. Mostly, these are the schools that have 15 or more applicants to MIT (wow, that’s a lot!) and/or those that are members of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Math, Science, and Technology, or NCSSSMST, of which MIT is an affiliate member. It’s nice to visit high schools, but for every one that I visit, there are 100 others I wish I had the time to visit.

Not being constantly out of the office also allows us to put serious time and energy into bringing you our snazzy new website, to answer your phone calls, respond to your emails, set up your overnight on-campus visits, etc. Not to mention writing this blog and going to movies.

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