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MIT student blogger Paul B. '11

It’s All Going To Be Okay by Paul B. '11

I won The Game!

Have you ever heard of The Game? I’ve referenced it several times in my other entries, so hopefully many of you are avid players by now, if you weren’t already. Nonetheless, for those who don’t know, here’s a succinct description (borrowed from the official Lose The Game website):

Rule 1: You are playing The Game.
Rule 2: Whenever you think about The Game, you lose.
Rule 3: Loss must be announced.

Basically, the objective of the game is to forget that it exists. It’s one of the most popular memes in popular culture today, and has been referenced in many, many places. In particular, it was the subject of the newest xkcd comic:

As soon as I saw this comic (which was posted just forty minutes ago – I’m currently in the middle of finishing an 8.022 p-set with some friends, one of whom is about as obsessed with xkcd as I am, so he showed it to me on his laptop), I immediately thought about admissions…in particular, the upcoming release of this year’s admissions decisions.

Decisions are, basically, like The Game. You don’t want to think about it…but you do. I’m not sure if it’s possible to prevent that from happening, but even if it’s not, I do have two quick pieces of advice I would like to share before I get back to my p-set.

First, as the title of this entry suggests – really, it is all going to be okay. Whether the admissions decisions are released March 15, March 22, or any other date, you can rest assured that Ben, Matt, Nance, Stu, and all the other admissions officers are doing their best to select the most perfect class of MIT students they possibly can. That’s why they can’t predict the date in advance. I know it may seem unfair to leave you hanging like that – but in the long run, it’s really better for all the applicants.

Second, remember that you’re second-semester seniors. I know the month of March is an incredibly stressful time (I was in your shoes last year, after all ^_^), but at the same time…the biggest hurdle, the actual application process, is already over. Everything is downhill from here. And…when the decision date finally rolls around, just remember something Ben once said, “I want to remind people that I didn’t go to MIT, and I happen to like my life very much. MIT is an amazing place, but it won’t determine your future success and happiness. How you embrace and dedicate yourself to whatever options life throws your way will.”

In the long run, life is what you make of it. Sometimes, what really matters isn’t whether you win or lose the game – it’s all about how you play it.

63 responses to “It’s All Going To Be Okay”

  1. Yuzhi says:

    Oh noes! You did not have to publicize The Game even more! It’s not like we don’t play it enough already in math club, robotics, science, JETS, and any math contests. The cool student proctors would play the game with us at math contests!hehe

    Some people are getting bored and quiting the game=—–
    AUTHOR: Kisha
    EMAIL: [email protected]
    DATE: 03/03/2008 08:39:50 AM
    That just stresses me a whole lot more. =(

    This wait should just end now!! Too overwhelming…all the way here in Pakistan, its all about the A levels now….can’t even study.

    But then again, its all a game…

  2. Tanmay says:

    Hahaha. I’ve now got used to the waiting; I stopped my countdown timer for ‘MIT Decisions Day’ last week, which had been on the go past 4 months… surely we will get the decisions someday. wink

  3. Shruthi says:

    Maximum wait maybe around a month from now I guess.. The longest month of my life perhaps… smile

  4. MMM says:

    I never heard of the Game before…Guess I’m the odd one out but who’ll be hopefully in and not out when the other ‘Game’ really does end…lols! I want decisions on the 15th! I am sooooooo fed up waiting…

  5. Anonymous says:

    I so hope that we find out on the 15th rather than the 22nd because the first day of my spring break is the 15h. Then I can either spend it recovering from rejection or celebrating.

  6. Shruthi says:

    Thanks Paul! I know that we shouldnt really worry about it, but its kinda hard not to think about them all the way smile

  7. Shruthi says:

    Damn, I just missed an opportunity to say first! :(

  8. bunny says:

    An interesting study in cultural dynamics would be to see how many people played the game versus how many knew about it since inception. I had played the game for a few weeks before I succeeded in forgetting about it over a particularly tumultuous homework load, and since then have only occasionally remembered it through association to this topic. The logistics of such a poll would be, I imagine, entirely impossible, with the best guesses being only estimations among particular demographics.

  9. Reg says:

    For some reason my march is very very.. relaxed. No coursework due, no major test coming up. It feels wrong, I want work! :(

  10. Shruthi says:

    @Reg: I feel the same way. I mean, school has already ended here in India and my final exams have started. Just four more to go, but there is a lot of time in between each exam, so its not like the usual hectic work schedule for me smile

  11. Rebecca says:


    I LOSE. Not cool.

    It’s hard to remember I’m a second-semester senior at 2 AM…but after this week things will be better :D

  12. Andrew L. says:

    Haha, the shirts for my school’s Science Olympiad team say on the front, “You Just Lost the Game.” I can proudly say that I was the one who came up with that slogan.

  13. Jeremy says:

    You’re right, March is going to be REALLY fun!

    *maniacal grin*

  14. AG says:

    Wow, we just explained how to play the game to some of the new ’12ers in the chat we have yesterday.

  15. Rachel'12 says:

    I lost.

    Oh no, now everything XKCD is forever associated with The Game. (That’s a lot)

  16. Nihar says:

    This entry comes at an appropriate time, Paul. I think those words were exactly what I needed to calm down……thanks!

  17. Libin Daniel says:

    I will play the game well enough, I hope.

  18. omar '10 says:

    This is a very nice post, and I hope people read it and understand that it is true.
    Not getting into MIT might feel awful at first, but it’s not the only way you can be happy. Many people aren’t happy at MIT, and won’t be anywhere they are. Others will be happy at MIT or another college.

    Just don’t base your happiness in receiving this one letter. It’s not worth it for ~87% of each year applicants…

  19. omar '10 says:

    oh, and btw. I haven’t even thought about thinking about the game.

  20. Craig says:

    Randall Munroe says I just won the game? But that violates rule 1. But he’s like a god.

    I’m not sure who I am anymore.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I saw the xkcd last night at 12 am EST and I had NO IDEA what it was about! THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE EXPLANATION

    Randall Munroe owns!

  22. Jalpan Dave says:

    Probably the best category of posts. It’s not uncommon that bloggers write entries advising applicants not to worry too much about the decisions but the manner in which the message is portrayed in this entry is in my opinion, the best!!

    I only wish this was posted a year ago before I received my decision. So whilst this is no doubt an excellent entry, I must complain in geek language that it has a phase lag of 2pi radians! Hahaha:):)

  23. Laser says:

    Man, I don’t know about any one else, but my March sucks. Haha, I have 2 orals, my group IV project, multiple IAs, math competitions, etc. etc. etc. (If you are in IB, you would understand that).

    Whatevs. I wish i could lay back like a normal second semester senior, but alas, its just not in me.

  24. Lauren says:

    You’re probably going to get a lot of these… but

    I just lost. Heh. But apparently I also won. I must now quote my analysis professor, in that “a set is not a door – it can be both open and closed.” Well, apparently the game is not… a … game? I just lost and won at the same time grin

  25. dhowdy says:

    Bah! Now I lost! And to top it off, everytime I think about upcoming admissions decisions, not only will I be anxious but I will also lose the game!

  26. Laser says:



  27. worried says:

    can someone plss tell how exactly are we gonna find out abt the decisions??? and all u guys out there, has all ur admissions material reached MIT ? ( i m still missing a few Financial aid docs that i have already sent :can someone plss tell how exactly are we gonna find out abt the decisions??? and all u guys out there, has all ur admissions material reached MIT ? ( i m still missing a few Financial aid docs that i have already sent :< )

  28. Shruthi says:

    So, we meet another Indian applicant smile

    Hi Roshini :D

  29. Kevin '12 says:

    I lost!

    Whoa, this is the fourth time I’ve seen this xkcd comic posted on some sort of blog (or on Facebook).

    Unfortunately, my work isn’t anywhere near done. For some reason my Spanish teacher decided that since we’re now done with college apps, she can start being more difficult. I’m averaging a C in that class right now and I swear it’s not senioritis: I’m still getting A’s in all my other classes. I really hope my admission doesn’t get rescinded.

  30. Lauren says:

    Laser: Yeah! My March is super crazy too. So far, science fair – and I’m going onto regionals in two weeks! Plus math competitions, then piano performances abound, two this weekend if things work out as planned. Then, isn’t AMC at the end of March? Plus scholarship applications! And a big history research paper… and English project… It’s a busy month, I can totally relate! (Though I am not in IB…) Being a true second-semester senior is going to have to wait a month or two grin

  31. FP says:

    Interesting this game was popular last year at our high school. Apparently fads travel west to east across mainland America

  32. Taylor says:

    I unthinkingly taught the game to some band freshman and they are AWFUL at it. I used to be able to go for weeks without losing, but now I lose every day because of them!

  33. Kai Umezawa says:

    Best. Blog. Ever.

    Worrying sucks, but this was a great post. Thanks Paul!

    Maybe thinking about the game will get my mind off admission stuff.

  34. asm says:

    But, as many on the xkcd forums have asked, should we trust The Game, or xkcd? …I think xkcd wins, hands-down.


    Oh God, IB is hell right now. Yep, two oral exams and two IAs are staring at me in the face, to say the least, on top of programming competitions and other extracurriculars. These next two weeks ain’t gonna be fun… *sigh*

    Hmm, our Group IV project got done in November or something. I guess different IB schools coordinate the curriculums differently.


    From what I understand, a special website (usually located at goes up around the time the decisions get released. When decisions are posted (Ben or Matt will announce when they’ll get released sometime soon), you should be able to login on that site with your MyMIT account and then…you get your decision.

    My application and financial aid materials have all been processed. My last few financial aid docs were processed about a week or two ago, but I don’t know how relatively early/late that was in the process. If I could guess, I would say that they’re still processing lots of mail. But I don’t know for sure, since I’m just another applicant.

  35. Anonymous says:

    That’s so weird that you guys are doing Group IV in senior year! I’m so glad that we got that over with last year!

    But we’re so close to being done, guys. And we’ve come this far! I know it helps me sometimes if I close my eyes and pretend it’s June 11th for about 10 minutes.

  36. Paul says:

    Like many of you, my final semester of high school was also very busy. As best I can recall, I spent my time preparing for a couple science fairs and competitions; getting ready to attend the state Quiz Bowl tournament (same weekend as MIT decisions came out); and participating in several student groups I cared very deeply about. Like you, my classes did not get any easier, either. But somehow, despite the level of work, I enjoyed that final semester far more than any of the other seven…and I am hoping you will too.

    @ Kevin: I’m reasonably confident that a ‘C’ in Spanish isn’t serious enough to make MIT withdraw your admission.

    @ worried: asm’s summary of how you find out about admissions decisions is great. Don’t worry about your financial aid papers just yet; they’ll be processed soon.

  37. Cynthia says:

    @ Laser & asm: man i feel your pain, we’re presenting our group IV this week, we’re making last minute tweeks to our world lit papers(which get sent out on Fri, along with TOK and EE), both our spanish and english orals are in the same week, but all of our IA’s were done last semester.

    once april comes around it’ll be easy sailing. jusst weeks of review and free food.

  38. Unfortunately my Spanish Professor’s dad died last week and so we didn’t have class the whole week(sorry professor but it is nice not to have class), but now to make up for the lost time he is cutting out our spring break…:( So even though I won’t have ANY other classes I’ll have to go to school for this one class…AND it is in the morning :( *tear* I guess it will keep my mind off of the admissions though raspberry


    I have a C in Spanish 1010 too :( but I have As in all my other classes so hopefully we’ll be okay!

    Thanks Paul for another awesome post smile

  39. Mike says:

    So, if I didn’t realize that I wasn’t playing ‘the Game’ or is that ‘a Game’, then I win? Nice to know something positive will come of this Admissions experience. Like Anonymous, the admissions process has been grueling – multiple applications to multiple colleges/universitites(basically wanting the same thing packaged in different ways) – then the financial aid process and scholarship finding process (could be a part-time job – albeit an unpaid one). Completion of the process for any one university is a combination of relief, exhaustion, anxiety that the deadlines will be met, doubt that my high school actually DID send in all the forms I needed, last minute wondering if my ‘letters of reference’ from teachers got where they were supposed to get (and what did they really SAY about me???). Was I then a ‘player’ because I was dutifully walking through the requirements of this part of my life and ‘concern’ and ‘conscientiousness’ have been part of life since 9th grade? Once the deadlines are (were) past, it’s a done deal – it’s out of my hands. I have to use the brain cells left to burn through the next eight weeks to graduation. I feel like the guy standing behind the poker table watching what’s going on around the table, knowing that I’m not AT the table and not really interested in playing that game – but fascinated by watching other people play. Whoever wins, wins. Everything that needs to be said was said (if you filled out the forms and followed the directions). It’s not a game, it’s just a work in progress right now. So, I guess I agree with part of the proposition of ‘The Game’ – I’m free. Having said that, I have to thank you for turning me on to xkcd. Gotta get my shoulder back to the boulder of high school.

  40. @worried

    I would assume that the Financial Aid documents have no bearing on your admission, seeing as this is a need-blind institution. Therefore, don’t worry! At the very least you’ll have an admission decision. THEN you can fret over where the dang money will come from.

    (At least I will, haha)

  41. Isshak says:

    Paul, link to the facebook group too !
    I lost…

    By the way : xkcd rocks !

  42. Hyun Jin says:

    @Cynthia, Laser, and asm

    Does anyone have their EE deadlines next week? Or is my school the only one crazy enough to have deadlines for EE, TOK, and World lits all on the same day?
    And Group IV AND IAs ANNNND Orals! o_o

    It’s eating into my precious blog-reading time *tear*

    Oh. I lost xD

  43. Matt says:

    Now whenever I think of MIT admissions I am going to lose the game.
    But if I win the admissions game, I will be ecstatic.

  44. Anonymous says:

    After almost an year in the app process, I dont really care whether i get into MIT or RIT or CIT….. i’ll be fine anywhere I go to.

  45. Collin says:

    guys, theres a lot to take your mind off of MIT decisions in March:

    Movie Theatre Movies, $6-11
    Nintendo Wii + Super Smash Bros. Brawl, $300
    All you can eat Buffet, $4-23

    Doing all of these with your friends during spring break?


  46. Sanja says:

    Hey Paul smile It’s your fault I’m hooked on the game right now smile Help me lose the game and win e-mail challenge smile Drop an e-mail to [email protected]
    Btw, you have just lost :D

  47. Roshini says:

    It’s really nice to see that my fellow applicants are soothing and calming each other..maybe all is not lost yet!!

  48. Davorama says:

    I lost the game. :X

  49. allen says:

    aw, great motivational message. and yes, march = stress / strain. for some reason.

  50. Shruthi says:

    Thanks! smile Do you have a blog too Roshini?

  51. asm says:


    At least your school doesn’t set an insanely early EE deadline of October! Five months in advance, also “just to be safe”! Needless to say, October was not a happy month… I would have applied EA had it not been for that damn extended essay. T_T

    Oh, and I really need to start filling out those CAS forms too…

  52. Roshini says:

    Hi Shruthi…btw I’m a permanent resident of the US so i cant give any Indian applicant any competition…but all the same I would love to know you…read your blog and loved it!

  53. Kevin '12 says:

    @Hyun Jin (And all the other IB kids)

    Ugh, my school is insane with IB. Even though the stuff doesn’t need to be sent in until next week, just to be “safe” guidance required that everything was due a month in advance. Three weeks ago there was this day where History IA, ToK, EE, World Lit Papers (x2), and CAS Documentation was due for me. I’m really glad I’m done with all that though. Now I just need to do one more Math HL portfolio, which I’ve been procrastinating on.

  54. Roshini says:

    All set for the physics exam..huh?

  55. Hawkins says:

    I’m free!!!!!

    I’m looking forward to the decisions as much as anyone. lol! I can’t wait to know who else will be in my class!

  56. Twilight Bob says:

    Why are we looking forward to decisions? Bad news past halfway to April is more likely than anything else.

    Not that I wanted to ruin anyone’s day, or anything.

  57. Anonymous says:

    I’m hyperventilating…it should just end now! It would be better if we new when this doomsday was scheduled for.

  58. Michael O says:

    And that makes three times this comic has made me lost…

    In other news, best of luck to all. I just wish I knew how long until that rejection notice comes around… :-

  59. Anonymous says:

    @ all of you asking about the decision date . . .

    For RA in 2007 (class of 2011) and EA in 2007 (class of 2012), Ben announced via the blogs when decisions would be released the Monday before they came out. Both times, decisions came out on a Saturday at noon. I’m assuming he would do things the same way this year. Good luck to everybody! Maybe we will hear on Monday when decisions will be released!

  60. Anonymous says:


    Would that be high noon? Should wear my cowboy hat and six-shooters?

  61. Anonymous says:

    ooh the game….are you still playing? tell me about the game? did you win? are you winning?