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MIT staff blogger Ben Jones

It’s More Than A Job by Ben Jones

Thoughts On The Eve Of RA Decisions

In response to an earlier entry of mine, this post appeared on College Confidential:

You know, I get sick of college admissions officers saying how they couldn’t accept so many wonderful people. While it’s supposed to be comforting, obviously, I just find it really insincere. I mean, either you’re accepted or you’re not. There is no grey area… so they shouldn’t try to sugarcoat the harsh reality.

I’m thankful to whomever posted this, because it really made me think. It’s certainly a fair post, and I imagine a lot of our applicants share these sentiments. A million years ago when I was applying to college, perhaps I would have felt the same way.

I’ve written before about how the class is selected, but I’m too tired to dig up the post so I’ll give a quick recap. First you apply. Your application is read by a senior staff member who will look for deal-breakers (like a bunch of D’s, for example). Assuming you’re competitive, your application is then read by a primary reader who will summarize it at length for the committee. Then a second reader (and sometimes a third) will read and write their own summaries. Then it will go to selection committee, where multiple groups of different admissions staff and faculty members will weigh in on it. Assuming you’ve made it that far, the senior staff will then review it again. Approximately 12 people (give or take) will significantly discuss and debate your application before you’re admitted. This is all very intentional; committee decisions ensure that every decision is correct in the context of the overall applicant pool, and that no one individual’s bias or preferences or familiarity with a given case has any chance of swaying a decision unfairly.

With that in mind, let me tell you a little bit about what my job is like from November through March. Three days a week, I take a random bunch of applications to the public library, find a quiet corner, and immerse myself in your lives.

I read about your triumphs, I read about your dreams, I read about the tragedies that define you. I read about your passions, your inventions, your obsession with video games, dance, Mozart, Monet. I read about the person close to you who died. I read about your small towns, your big cities, the week you spent abroad that changed your life. I read about your parents getting divorced, your house burning down, your girlfriend cheating on you. I read about the car you rebuilt with your dad, the championship debate you lost, the team you led to failure, the performance you aced. I read about the people you’ve helped and the people you’ve hurt. I read about how you’ve stood tall in the face of racism, homophobia, poverty, injustice.

Then I read about the lives you’ve changed – a math or science teacher, a humanities teacher, a counselor. I read the things that they probably don’t say to your face for fear of inflating your ego: that you’re the best in their careers, that kids like you are the reason they chose to be a teacher in the first place, that they’re better people for having known you.

If you’ve had an interview, I get to read about how you come across in person to someone you’ve just met – how your face lights up at the mention of cell biology, how you were five minutes late because you had an audition, how your smile can fill a room, how you simply shine.

(Your grades and scores are clearly competitive or your application wouldn’t be on my pile in the first place.)

By now I’m fully invested in you so I write a gazillion nice things about you in your summary and I’m smiling the whole time. I talk about your depth, all the ways you’re a great match to MIT, all the things I know you’ll contribute to campus. I conclude with phrases like “clear admit” and “perfect choice.” In my head I imagine bumping into you on the Infinite Corridor, asking you how your UROP is going, seeing your a cappella group perform.

I come home each night and tell my wife over dinner how lucky I am, because I never seem to pick boring applications out of the pile. In fact, I tell her, I’m inspired enough by the stories I read to think that the world might actually turn out to be okay after all.

In March I go into committee with my colleagues, having narrowed down my top picks to a few hundred people. My colleagues have all done the same. Then the numbers come in: this year’s admit rate will be 13%. For every student you admit, you need to let go of seven others.

What? But I have so many who… But…

And then the committee does its work, however brutal. It’s not pretty, but at least it’s fair. (And by fair I mean fair in the context of the applicant pool; of course it’s not fair that there are so few spots for so many qualified applicants.)

When it’s all over, about 13% of my top picks are offered admission. I beg, I plead, I make ridiculous promises (just ask the senior staff) but at the end of the day, a committee decision is a committee decision.

Of my many favorites this year, there were a few who really got to me, and when they didn’t get in, the tears came. Some would call me foolish for getting this wrapped up in the job, but honestly, I couldn’t do this job if I disconnected myself from the human component of it. It’s my job to present you to the committee; if your dream of being at MIT didn’t become my dream on some small level, then really, why am I doing this at all? Others would disagree, but then, others aren’t me.

To the 87% of you who have shared your lives with us and trusted us with your stories over the last four months, please know that they meant something to me, and I won’t forget you. When I say that I share the pain of these decisions with you, I’m not lying. I’m really not lying.

To the person up there who said “while it’s supposed to be comforting, obviously, I just find it really insincere” – you have it backwards. I don’t expect it (or anything else) to be comforting at this moment. But insincere? No. Not that.

Just got confirmation that the USPS picked up the mail (for real), so it’s on the way. I’ll be thinking about all of you.

100 responses to “It’s More Than A Job”

  1. Gunda says:

    4 hours left !!!!

  2. Fahmil says:

    Do you remember mine ever being in that group that got debated?

    cuz i know that I won’t get in, but I wonder if I got dropped in the first cut >_>

  3. Mahul Patel says:

    Doesn’t the first cut remove those who have bad grades, transcripts, scores, etc? The second cuts are where actual readers read the whole application, and take their best 100 or so, and then its the 13% thing with the debate?

    Hopefully I made it through all of these, but I doubt I even made it through the first stage with my SAT I score though my grades in the UK are top.

    3 hours and 36 minutes until D-time.

  4. David Kratz says:

    You, sir, are a good man. Thank you for all the effort you’ve put in during the past months in hopes of admitting the best class to date.

    Although there are less than 4 hours left until decisions arrive online, I think I’ve finally come to terms with any of the possibile things which might happen (admit, deny, waitlist). Regardless, please know that the rest of us who didn’t write posts like the one on CC, although the thoughts cross our mind, can’t help but think highly of you after a blog entry like this.

    Thank you, Mr. Jones.

  5. nurlan says:

    thaks for everything…

  6. Ben, Thank you so much for everything you have done so far for us. I really apreciate it!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow, that was a really good post, thanks

  8. AR says:

    Thank you Ben for this entry. This is exactly the reason MIT is for me. Everyone is extremely passionate about their work. The compassion you showed through this entry is amazing. I’ve meet many college reps some who just rattle off statistics and tell you what your chances are of getting into a certain school. They don’t tell you the work they put into making these crucial decision and how it impacts the admission them.Just to see that you actually care about every applicant dedication is tremendously satisfying.

  9. tam says:

    I really feel sympathy to you. Even if I’m not admitted, I will still feel good as my application have been treated so thoroughly

  10. Okay everyone, I know it’s cliched but “THIS IS IT”…The past admissions year I’ve spent with everyone on these blogs…all the fellow applicants has truly been AMAZING for me!!! I mean it!! All of you are such inspiring people, have such inspiring personalities and are overall a motivation for me to excel in life!

    To the admissions staff, I would really like to give you a heartfelt thank you…Nobody has made me LOVE MIT other than you guys. Really, truly, the finest admissions team in the entire world. The admissions process can now be remembered by MIT applicants as not just some wall you talk to without getting replies. The admissions officers are friendly people who are the best of the best at what they do. Matt, Ben, Nance, everyone else…Thank you…really thank you!!!!

    To all the fellow applicants…also a BIG thank you…for making this year special to us all smile Whether we are accepted or not, I know that we will all go on with our lives (eventually :/ )…Please remember what an amazing group of applicants you were competing against when you get your decisions. 13% Admissions rate for domestic students…4% for internationals…Ridiculously low…so please don’t think you are useless or stupid or anything like that…You were JUST as good as those who got in…but their was a certain little thing that gave them that extra push, and at another university they might look at it the other way and you’d get the “push”…

    We are all lucky to even have the grades and academic capability to allow us to apply to MIT…It’s been an experience I will cherish and never forget…

    Now I was the one who started the first countdown to admissions decisions…so I will stay here until it is 1 Minute to 8 pm (12 EST)…Then I will go pray for the best and I might or might not return to these blogs…but thank you everyone for everything you’ve done…It’s been great!!!! Really!!!

    And with only 1 Hour 16 Minutes to go I think I’m a nervous wreck!!!

    Yours truly from Kuwait,

    Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar

    PS: Sorry for the long post :/

  11. Since a long time i have fanatically read multiple entries by admission officers and wondered what their job is….. how they do stuff and what they do.. having read many entries before , i was yet to find one as touching as this.. I havent applied to MIT.. but that’s for some other weird reasons.. I would always not look on to MIT stuff until i found it really interesting coz i felt after all it wont do me any gud.. among the few i read was this entry .. and i couldn’t help being awed by the sheer honesty and heartfelt words that went deep to it..

    I know plenty are rejected and this rejected list wont be consoled by any simple article or letter.. but i know that well maybe there were some 13% of them who were equally gud and maybe provided greater match for MIT…Its a part of the big game of life to always have majority rejected and minority accepted or to generalize. fail at majority to succeed once.. knowing this fully well i never expect the process to change at MIT too…

    Well more than the sheer no. of apps rejected i see those 13% accepted and cant help wonder how gud they are.. well the one thing i have always loved about MIT admissions is they just dont care about big numbers on any single test ( this has been proved time and again).. I really laugh off at some colleges when they say admissions are not all numbers and then during decisions go on to follow the contrary…

    Well I loved this article for this provided to us THE TRUTH.. however harsh or bad it maybe …

    Thank You Ben . .. i never applied to MIT but applied to many others .. but would have loved to get my application reviewed by the committee ( i know no other coll that has 11 reading for 1 applicant) .. coz i feel subjectivity gets long way beyond stats..


  12. Mike's Mom says:


    I have so enjoyed reading this blog from time to time as my son went through this whole ‘admissions process’ Your most recent post reminded me of Marilee’s post after the EA mailing snafu while she was recovering from bronchitis. I got weepy over that one too! It’s obvious you are all caring and dedicated people. If you weren’t, this blog would probably not exist. I’m glad it does though, because it gives MIT a human face. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I wanted my son to attend MIT. I thought is was a huge, cold ‘institute’,where he would possibly feel lost. But that’s not MIT at all. I think it would be wonderful if he was chosen (and if he chooses MIT!!)

    I’ve also gotten to ‘know’ some of the bloggers. Like April (deferred) and Christina, Mahul and leftcoastmom!! April…I REALLY hope you get admitted!! I’ve been rooting for you since EA!

    Anyways…this whole process will be over soon, and I probably won’t be visiting this site anymore (compulsively!) My wish for all of you is to find your place in this world and fill it with happiness.(You can do that anywhere fate may land you.) Thanks for making me laugh and cry.

    Mike’s Mom

  13. Shehrbano says:

    Hey! There are exactly 16 minutes and 2 hours left until my best friend finds out if she got into MIT or not- and so she showed me this, while we’re passing time till 10 o clock. She’s eating popcorn and sulking.. But I just wanted to say that you’re really really sweet smile Anna keeps saying “Maannn I’m not going to get in” and I kept saying “Who cares about MIT – they’re so stupid anyway” but this post really changed my mind. It’s nice to see that you feel even a little bit of what we do (But imagine poor Anna!) The fact that you added a humanizing touch to the brutal process– well, that’s just amazing.

  14. Ben, You have been more than fair in responding twice to joe’s insensitive blog entries. His ramblings are nothing more than an attempt to gage the feelings of everyone on this subject. The more comments he gets about his posting, the more he will gloat over it. So let this be the last posting that addresses the insesitive remarks from joe. Ben, you have clearly done your job in the best and most fair way possible. period. end of discussion.

  15. Anonymous says:

    13%? hey that’s better than then 12% for Early Action! whohooooo!

  16. dyzzy says:

    “Obsession with video games”? That must be me! Oh shi-!

  17. Akhil says:

    Thank you so much Ben!

    It was really nice of you to tell us about your experience..Thanks for all the support and the hard work…

    Well, I guess I will have to wait another couple of hrs for my decision..


  18. Frank says:

    Is anyone bothered that an admission to MIT depends, in part, on how well one can write essays that tug at the heartstrings of administrators?

  19. LooL Frank, it is sometimes that way…but at MIT you have around 12 people looking at your application at different times…so it’s very difficult to write something that “tugs” at ALL of their hearts…I don’t really think any of my essays tugged anything =D I just wrote what I thought suitable as a reply, and there are infinitely many interpretations smile As long as you did your best, Frank, you can leave saying you did so, which at least gives you the pride of knowing you did your best and there was nothing more you could do…the competition is what it is and we have to deal with it some way of the other smile Hope that cleared up a few things smile

    1 Hours 46 Minutes…

    Good Luck…No, really, GOOD LUCK!!

    Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar

  20. anon king says:

    Hey guys… I was doing some calculating to pass the time. (Nerd alert)

    So I came up with this:

    8346 domestic applicants for consideration

    841 spots (assuming international gets 10% and early applicants got 30%)

    which leaves 7505 in the “screwed” category. and now I realize that if I’m rejected, I’m probably in good company.

  21. Anonymous says:

    That was very heartfelt Ben. Thanks for sharing with us the human side of admissions. 13%? That’s brutal. I hope I’m one of them. Good luck all!

  22. Chris Harris says:

    Thanks for allowing us to see part of your life through what has got to be the most well-written MIT blog entry of the year. I had to take a deep breath as I read it. In my heart I sensed that in no way could my app have risen to the top of your admiration. I am left with the hope that I was at least among those apps that you were forced to reluctantly put back in the non-admit pile.

    Good luck Masha, Nina, Chris, chris and every one else. This is Chris H signing off.

  23. rorosen says:

    this is simply a beautiful piece of writing. A clear admit to humanity,..

  24. Oakland mom says:

    Thank you for this post. It brought tears to my eyes. It helped me to understand why my son was one of the lucky ones to be admitted early. There are so many talented kids out there, hoping and dreaming. IТƒфm looking forward to meeting you & all the admissions staff to thank you all for your hard work, understanding and commitment to the students, both those who receive the fat envelope and those that donТƒфt.

  25. LooL…actually just a little less in the “screwed” category, because internationals will never get 10%…they only accept around 100-110 of us out of the 2500 internationals that apply…that’s a 4% acceptance rate for just internationals…while u lucky domestics get 13% =) Figuratively speaking, though, because you have to compete with much more people than we do :D

    So yeah…in 1 hour and 26 Minutes I’m probably gonna be “screwed” smile

    Good Luck…we need it!

    Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar

  26. salik says:

    I think your comments were a bit out of line, just because someone HAS to do something doesn’t mean they enjoy it. Ben is just trying to share with us how hard it is rejecting people like us hahahahha … and I doubt its for sympathy, its probably to make the applicants feel better! why would an adcom want sympathy from a bunch of high-schoolers?

  27. Anonymous says:

    and i love this usage of adcomms on every place which shows the typical CC lingo.. not at all officially recognised..

  28. Ben, I am proud to know you and proud that you, and people like you, have our children in your hands througout the admissions process. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything you do, and for the very human person you are.

  29. Phil says:

    This post really warmed me inside out. =]

    You may not know, but knowing that someone like you spends much time reading and glimpsing the sparkes of our lives actually comforts me a lot.

    Time flies.

  30. sachit says:


    Thanks a lot for this entry.

  31. I didn’t apply to MIT (I’m more into theatre than math, imagine that) but one of my close friends is, and suggested that I read the post. I only hope (yes, sometimes even pray a bit) that the admissions officers at my schools put in the sort of emotional commitment that you do. Thank you. Jake

  32. Rosa says:

    Thanks you for all the effort on the entire admission process.I was touched beyond words, for every post of yours gave me a new inspiration and thought of life, which I couldn’t gain simply from going to school every day! No matter what kind of decision will come up to me tomorrow, this journey has been wonderful and priceless.^_^

  33. Jason Wong says:

    I didn’t apply to MIT, but thank you Ben, for your clever, humane, and heartwarming posts. They reflect well on college admissions officers everywhere, and are very encouraging to students like me! Institutions seem cruel, heartless, and decisive, but they are run by human beings, and thank you for bringing that across.

  34. Anonymous says:

    ar… in 55 min

  35. Mahul Patel says:

    Have any int’ls heard anything from DHL?

  36. Anonymous says:

    I expect there are a lot of other kids who will want something to do with their nervous energy for the next 45 minutes. I suggest people meet up in an AIM chat room. Join “Crunch Time”, or paste the following into your browser:


    Good luck all, and terrific post.

  37. Hey Mahul Patel…Nope nothing from DHL here…but I wasn’t even expecting’ll take at LEAST 3 days to get to Kuwait (Middle East region) and sometimes up to 5..and the problem is sometimes the DHL sorting center isn’t efficient…so better to check online and hope for the best….

    Oh well, there’s only 41 Minutes Left =/

    Good Luck to all!!

    Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar

  38. Christine says:

    =) Thanks for being thoughtful to the end.

  39. Mahul Patel says:

    Thanks Abdulaziz. I’m in the UK, and guess what, I’m not expecting anything either. But you’re right, lets just hope for the best. Its 16.21 here in the UK. at 17.00 GMT, decisions are out…my fingers are crossed.

  40. Rodrigo says:

    Thank you very much :”)

  41. Colin says:

    Beautifully written. *applause*

  42. Timur Sahin says:

    There’s that familiar combination of fear and hope… part of you wants to get your hopes up because that’s what hopes are for, right? And yet another part tells you the higher you raise them the harder they’ll crash if they fall. It’s the part of me that says “the glass is half full,” right before the other part chimes in with, “but it’s a shotglass, and there are eight of you, and you’re in the desert.” While I await your decision, I’m struggling with my own. The war I fight now is with myself, with all of thirteen hours until we know whether I made the right decision. My hopes are up, and that’s dangerous, but it empowers me. I’m sure others have taken a different road, and I hope that works well for them regardless of their decision. I know I’ve prepared myself whatever comes, but I just can’t help that tiny bit of myself that escapes the cage of hopeful realism I’ve built.

    I would venture to say that most everyone who applies has the same dream. Through your occupation, it becomes your dream. What becomes of our dreams? I don’t know. Some fade when you wake.

    But some… some you sieze, and make real.

    Here’s to our dreams… some shattered, some fulfilled… let’s not forget we have more than one, and if this one crumbles, others will come to pass.

    It’s been a pleasure dreaming with you, Ben, Nancester, Marilee, regardless of how my dream ends.

  43. Rupa says:

    About 30 mins left……..

    Good luck and have the power to accept the truth!!!!!!!!

  44. Alice says:

    Ben, you are the best admissions officer I ever meet before. I will not regret tomorrow if MIT rejects me. Your entry tells everything.

  45. --- says:

    That was absolutley amazing. You make this process worthwhile.

  46. jgao says:

    Thank you.

  47. Okay so what I’m going to do is count off every 10 Minutes…and then when it gets to 10 I’ll count off every minute…!!

    28 Minutes left…that’s LESS than half an hour!! :/

    Good Luck to all!!!

    Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar

  48. Phil says:

    “My hopes are up, and that’s dangerous, but it empowers me.”

    Well put, Timur. :] it does feel like we’re ending part of a journey and starting another…

  49. Dapo says:

    Heartfelt post.God Bless You.

  50. Mushal says:

    20 minutes left…i wonder if i’ll be able to type in my password at the time:)

  51. Mahul Patel says:

    lol…same here Mushal. I’m trembling all over. Part of me wants to do it, the other doesn’t.

    Good luck everyone.

  52. Aditya says:


    The post is awesome, we know what kind of agony you go through and we also appreciate the hard work you guys put in . keep up the good work.

  53. Anthony says:

    So many people are waiting!

  54. Arr ye be makin’ landlubbers proud Ben. Ye’ll a’ways be a saltydog in meh book. smile

  55. Anonymous says:

    posted, check!


    Mahul Patel and Mushal…same here smile I’m kind of wondering how I’ll be able to type the password !! ;P

    Good Luck to all!!

    Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar

  57. Mahul Patel says:


  58. joe says:

    Sounds very fair and sad, however it is false. You knew before the entire process started that some limited % would be accepted. It could have been as little as 10% or as high as 17% – but based on past years and the volume of applications, you knew when you assembled your folders that over 80% were going to be rejected.

    It is a part of the reality of your job, saying how sad you are and how unfair it is that only 13% were admitted and how it pained you when it was always going to be that way and you knew that and know that.

    Frankly, if you want sympathy or a friend, do what Harry Truman said if you want a friend in Washington “get a dog”.

    Seeking sympathy because you are part of a process that mandates that over 80% of the ‘qualified’ applicants will be disappointed is bogus and you should look in the mirror and recognize that those few that you say “really got to you” – well they did not get in because you and the committee rated others ahead of them.

    You placed them below 13% of your stack, you let them become ‘rejected’. Saying you felt their pain while you were judging them to be less than the 13% that were admitted is just so much hogwash and weepy-willy BS.

    Look in the mirror and admit it to yourself, your job requires you to reject many ‘qualified’ persons. You did this year, past years and you will do it next year if you stay in this job.

    I do not have any children or friends in this applicant pool that MIT is/has reviewed. I just have little patience or sympathy for your false agony and self pity.

  59. Anthony says:

    Joe, look at it this way. Applicants pay the $65 and apply to MIT knowing full well the odds.

  60. martin says:

    your words make me feel unworthy yet graceful…

  61. Ben says:

    Joe, did you even read the entry?

    Sure I know the odds at the beginning of each year. How does that change anything? Am I supposed to just decide not to care because I know most of my favorite kids aren’t going to make it past committee?

    And where do I ask for sympathy?

    I think I just talk about my experience in doing my job. You, however, don’t talk about much of anything beyond your own unfounded bile. Say something constructive or be gone, troll.

  62. Christina says:

    So if the last post…of you and Nance smiling with envelopes in your teeth…made me cry…you can only imagine the tears right now!

    Thank you so much for your intense dedication.

  63. Nowhere does Ben ask for or seek “sympathy or a friend” in his post. He is describing his feelings, and how his own humanity entwines with the job he knows he has to do, and does with compassion. Sometimes writing about a process that affects us personally, in an honest and self-examining way, is a means to living an even better life. Ben, most of your readers here understand that, and thank you for your comments.

    Your criticism is far off the mark and isn’t likely to win any friends or influence any people here, joe. I hope your life is filled with happiness, and not the bitterness you seem to show here.

  64. dan jang says:

    Quite interesting, because I read that post on CC right after it was posted.

    I kinda glossed over it, thinking *well, someone’s not in the mood today*

    Thank you for your heartfelt reply and for clarifying your job.

  65. Christina says:

    Dear Joe,

    It might be important to consider this:

    Ben has a soul! You don’t!

  66. anon king says:

    ehhh be easy on joe, he’s probably just insanely stressed or something of the sort.

    Mr. Ben

    – I really cried after I read that.

  67. Christina says:

    Anon king is right. I’m sorry, Joe. Stress does weird things to people.

    Goodnight and good luck, everyone.

  68. Laura says:

    Joe: I’m going to ignore your bitterness for a minute here and just say this: your comments don’t make any sense!

    Of course MIT will need to reject a large number of the applicants. That is a sad fact. Do you suggest that they accept them all? How is that remotely feasible? You criticize Ben for “judging” people, but the class won’t select itself. Again, if you know of a way to let every single student in the world attend the college of his/her dreams, please share it!

    You criticze “the system,” you criticize admissions officers for selecting a class, you come within half a breath of criticizing them for ADMITTING students!

    What exactly would you like them to do?! I have a solution- we should just admit no one at all. That would be fair. We’ll just get rid of college altogether. That would solve this whole problem rather nicely, don’t you think?

    I’d be happy to listen to any alternate solutions you might have.

  69. Olga says:

    Thank you for that entry. No matter what the outcome tomorrow, I will be pleased that my application even got attention from someone like you.

    You’ve really helped relieve the stress in this process.


  70. Laila says:

    Way to go Olga.. that’s the attitude we need to keep, I know how it feels to get rejected from colleges, and I know it really sucks.. but honestly, you gotta keep the faith no matter what.. smile

  71. C Minh says:

    Thank you a lot for all those feelings and those tears that you give to us, so wonder ful. Thank you.

  72. Yep. You can tell that all that came straight from the heart.

    To put it nicely… Shut up Joe! You weren’t making any sense at all.

    “Say something constructive or be gone, troll.”. Nice retort, Ben!

    Good luck to all again. This post really made me feel that rejection is completely ok, and not shameful at all. Thanks, Ben.


  73. Arturo says:

    Wow… thank you for sharing this with us. The guy in that entry you mentioned does sort of have a point that after a while of hearing it, it just starts to lose its sense, you feel like admissions officers don’t really mean what they’re saying.

    Then I read your entry… and the whole applying to the MIT thing (even taking the odds into acount) made sense, because you guys really try to match the passion that all (or at least, I’d hope, most) of us put into our applications.

    Once again, wow, and thank you for treating us all the same way without looking at the odds and knowing that most of us won’t be admitted anyway. That sort of attitude would actually make the process unfair.

    Thank you for your passion and for taking this as more as a mere job.

  74. Rajeev says:

    Ben, with practically everyone asking about college news and the pressure of people knowing this coming decision, I truly appreciate your honesty and kind-heartedness. Thank you for everything.

  75. Anonymous says:

    Hi Ben,

    I must thank you for writing this blog, as it clearly shows the consideration, seriousness and the level of personal feelings that are inserted.

    However, my question to you is: Sir, why do you need to justify or defend anything? I thing the job you have is perhaps one of the most difficult jobs that anyone can have in the world. If others can’t understand the level of difficulty, responsibility it contains, those individuals are better off to go away as they don’t deserve to be part of this whole process.

    I really admire your comments and how personal you make them. Hats of to you sir. Regardless of my admittance, I will always have a memory of applying to MIT. smile (GOODLUCK TO ALL APPLICANTS smile )

  76. Minh says:

    @ Joe: I’m very frustrated by your inflammatory comments. Sure, Ben and other admission officers at MIT have a ‘mandate’, if you will, to reject 87% of qualified applicants every year, for so many apply for a limited number of places; and yes, it’s harsh for us applicants, and it’s also harsh for them. But your qualifying their jobs with a cynical attitude and their feelings as hypocritical really makes me hope that you should never be(come) an admission officer. I imagine you’d treat our applications, to which we put much thoughts and energy, as another stack of paper which you have to mechanically sift through.

    Finally, I’m curious why you’re reading this blog after all, if your children are not going through MIT’s application process. However, if they do apply to college, you should sincerely hope that there will be admission officers at those schools who are willing to devote as much feelings and empathy to individual applications as MIT’s.

  77. JT says:

    13%? Oh snap.

  78. Anon says:

    Arguments over an admissions officer’s blog. Serious business.

  79. Well said, Minh. Think you echoed my sentiments.

    You’re right… what’s Joe doing in this blog anyway.

    Joe’s under a lot of fire now, isn’t he? He deserves to be, with no disrespect intended.


  80. Anonymous says:

    7 hrs 15 min…

  81. Nina says:

    Ben, I’ve never said “thank you”. And… your post sounded as a farewell and… I just wanted to say thank you for being with during the past months. I wanted to say “thank you” for answering our questions, for making us not so worried and trynig to find out something interesting and new, so that we stop just for a while thinking about the addmission. Just..Thank you

  82. Si Shen says:

    It’s so moving.

    Thank you.

    Thank you very much, Ben.

    Just try to cheer up and the new students are coming. You’re proud of them, aren’t you?

  83. I have never commented on Ben’s blog, but I have been religiously reading up on these to ease my stress.

    I just came across a piece of news that broke my heart.

    Right now, a child is dying

    A taxi ran over a 13 year old girl and her 7 year old sister. The sister died on the spot. The 13 year old is currently in surgery for the upteenth time, trying her damnest to survive.

    Surgery after surgery later, she wakes up…only to find that her already impoverished parents sold everything worth anything to cover the medical fee. The surgery has already cost them 170 K Yuan and will probably cost another 200 K.

    She knows it is better to die, thus leaving a will. Let me translate it.

    Dearest Mommy and Daddy, I woke up today to your crumbled and defeated faces, despairing over the lost of our dear sister. I can barely swallow my tears, wondering when I will ever have the chance to make you smile again.

    My biggest wish is to bring my sister to the bookstore everyday, but she went before me. I am not faring much better; I have long lost hope.

    Dear mom, dear dad, we have no more money. Please don’t worry about me anymore. Let me go! Please don’t cry, sister went alone, and I am sure she will be terribly bored up in Heaven. I promise to take care of her.

    After I died, please grant me two wishes. I would like to be buried next to my sister and would like to die in that lovely dress Mommy and I saw the other day…you know, the yellow one with the beautiful feathers…..

    Your daugther, 2006 March 5th


    You may wonder why the son of a gun (cabbie)didn’t pay. Oh he did. A merger 60 K yuan before he disappeared amongst the chaos.

    Here I am fretting over a piece of decision, knowing full well that if i didn’t get in, I’ll still survive, while on the other side of the world, we’ll never know when the child will perish.

    I’ve never been so ashamed of myself.

    So when I am rejected, I’ll have my miserable moment, but I assure you that I will be back on track within 30 mins, tackling that Calc problem.

    And whatever happens, I’ll thank god that I am at least luckier than that poor little girl…

  84. Mushal says:

    God Bless you Ben! You probably won’t have enough room for all the blessings and thanks coming your way. Thanks for this post at the beginning of the end-or the end of the beginning…whichever way it comes out to be. You made me feel like a million dollars…I can keep my head high…whatever the decision. So can all of us. Thank You!

  85. Ben, I can only say thank you for all you’ve done. It has truly been a great year for me applying to MIT, and I can’t thank you enough for these heartlfelt comments!

    Good Luck to all applicants!!

    6 Hours, 12 Minutes!!

    Abdulaziz (Aziz) Albahar

  86. Ben, I believe you meant what you said. And the overwhelming positive responses support that.

    Don’t let what a few frustrated souls say deter you from continuing your good deed.

    What you did is being compassionate and is certainly commendable.


  87. Mahul Patel says:

    Its been an experience applying, Ben, and whether I get in or not, I shall always remember MIT as the only university that has such a personalised, caring and thorough evaluation process.

    COmpetitive and difficult to get in as it may be (especially for int’ls) I rest assured in the knowlegde that there are people on the other side of the process who take the utmost care in their jobs in order to choose the best applicants there are.

    Sure, I’ll be upset if I don’t get in, but hey, thats life and I know that I need to work with whatever I’ve still got in life in order to succeed.

    Good luck to all.

    6 hours 1 minute

  88. Thank you, Ben, for everything!

    Good luck to all applicants!

  89. Amit says:

    Thank you Ben for doing such a wonderful job for us! smile

  90. Rupa says:

    Hi Ben,

    I want to say thank you from the core of my heart.

    What you wrote was really comforting during these anxious moments.

    You have said that you make our dreams, yours.

    What more can be expected from an admission officer ?

    There are very few people in this world who strive to make others dreams come true. I think I am lucky that I applied to MIT, whether I am accepted or not. Otherwise I won’t have got a chance to know that there are such people at MIT.

    I would surely love to meet you all.

    Applying to MIT has really been an adventure to me and I have learnt some lessons too.

    Now I know that its worth pouring out my mind in my application. Because you understand.

    No matter whether I am accepted or not, I would always love and respect MIT.

    Thank you so much.

  91. Nina says:

    To Joanna Lin:

    There are many sad and unfair things in this world. There are hundreds of children starving and dying. There are hundreds of young people, just at our age, who can’t even stand on their feet because they are too exausted from the diseases and the starvation. There are many others which are now gone and deserve to live. But all I believe in is that God does his work well. And as it is said in my country : “God takes his angels first”. And sometimes I am ashamed of being so selfish. And whenever I am sad or worried, I try to find something little and beautiful to smile on. There was a book : “Polyanna”. And I’m not going to tell you what it is about because it is too good to be retold in few words. Just read it and I’m sure you’ll find something very special in it.

  92. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. You guys are amazing and I feel extremely lucky and grateful that you put your hearts into the process and that you truly care about your applicants. Whatever the decision is for me, I’ll remember you and your support and dedication. Thank you for everything!

  93. Jean Atkin says:

    The sympathy overflowing this blog is just overwhelming, and I would like to add to it. Sympathy for those who will not admitted (which will, most probably, include me). Sympathy for those at the brunt end of the admissions system. Sympathy for the sympathetic.

    Thank you, Ben, for being there when we needed you the most. You remind me of the Rembrandts song:

    “I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to fall.

    I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before.

    I’ll be there for you, because you’re there for me too. Ooo.”


  94. Bij-Na says:

    Thank you very much for your comforting words!

    I only hope that all university admissions tutors are as devoted and motivated as you.

    Just under 6 hours left! Getting accepted by MIT will definitely mean a lot to me. Otherwise I will take the whole application process (spending some time reflecting back to these past years, traveling to Madrid for the interview, conveying my enthusiasms and dreams on paper, etc.) as a positive experience, because there was nothing to loose by having a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. But still, fingers crossed!

  95. fugue says:

    The sentiment is best described in tears. I can’t believe I’m crying even before the decision’s out. ;__;