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MIT student blogger Snively '11

Keep in mind by Snively '11

I try to be helpful sometimes.

I’ve been involved, in some form or fashion, with MIT Admissions for 4 years now. I’ll be honest, I used to know a whole lot more about it, back when I was in the thick of it. Now, my role as a blogger, is to explain what MIT is like, not so much to explain what admissions is like.

However, over the years, I’ve heard a lot of advice and have even given some of my own. A lot of it is standard stuff, stuff that you’ll hear all the time and see printed in a bunch of books, but there are two bits of advice that really resonate with me. They’ve also probably been published in books, but having gone through this whole process and watched thousands of others do it as well, I believe these two bits of advice will do you the most good.

Interpretations of each can be found on a page of MIT’s information guide, as shown below (click to enlarge).

The first is by yours truly,

Advice: “If at the end of the application process you feel relieved instead of enriched, then you missed an excellent opportunity to learn about yourself.”

Students sometimes get so wrapped up in paperwork, forms, essays, and deadlines that applying to college becomes an awful chore that they’re glad to be done with. Unfortunately, this can ruin a large chunk of your senior year of high school. Instead of trying to slam through 15 applications (TOO MANY!), spend a lot of time on one or two, at least at first, and spend a long time just thinking. When you fill out college applications, you’re telling a college who you are, which requires you to know who you are. What do you share? What’s most important about the things you do? Which activities mean the most to you? What character traits do you most value? Not everything fits on the application, and it’ll be up to you to decide what goes on there.

If at the end you feel relieved that you finished all of your applications, and not enriched, knowing you better understand yourself, then you missed out.


My second piece of advice, which I came up with at the info session a few days ago, expands upon Karen’s quote in that same info pamphlet. My quote,

Advice: “MIT has your best interests at heart. If you are completely honest about yourself in your application, you are sure to be happy with the result. If you are accepted to MIT, rest assured that you belong there and will thrive. If you are not accepted, be comfortable knowing that MIT wants you to be happy and knows you won’t be as happy at MIT as you may be at another school.”

MIT Admissions knows which types of students do well and enjoy MIT. Their goal is to admit a class that will be happy, thrive, and enjoy their time at MIT. Some of the most brilliant minds would be miserable at MIT, because it’s not all about intelligence. For somebody who doesn’t live on campus, like you prefrosh, it’s very difficult to understand what MIT is like. That’s why these blogs exist, but until you live here you just can’t know.

Be completely honest in your application, even if you think you can get in if you stretch some things. Why? Let’s suppose . . .

It’s freshmen year. You’ve struggled through first semester, failing a class or two, and are struggling to finish second semester without failing additional classes. You know that you embellished on your application because you really wanted to attend MIT, but now you’re doubting it. What if you can’t handle it? What if MIT let you in, thinking you were capable things you lied about? Maybe you were never meant to be there?

You don’t need to be doubting yourself as you enter finals or a difficult test, you need confidence. If you are completely honest and true in your application, it’s much easier to approach every test, knowing MIT has full faith in you and let you in for the right reasons.

Be completely honest in your application. Not only will you learn a lot about yourself, but no matter the outcome when decisions come out, it will be for the best. If accepted, congratulations, if not, you are going to be happy elsewhere and MIT is saving you from an experience you are not likely to enjoy.

17 responses to “Keep in mind”

  1. Alex ('14?) says:

    Second! grin

    Thanks for the advice. I really enjoying following your blog. It’s easy to get lost in the whole application process, but I’m trying to take it one day at a time and make it an experience, not a chore.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey ’12…Two word for you: “Get Out”

  3. navin says:

    thanx for your advice and really this was a gr8 post

  4. navin says:

    hey is the application fee waived for international students if they are in need?

  5. VAL says:

    Wonderful post, Snively.

    Now all we have to do is wait excitedly for the MIT application to debut…

  6. '12 says:

    And what if you didn’t lie at all, made it in, went, and started realizing that awesome as it is, really hard is sometimes too hard…I’m not 100% sure I like the person MIT is making me into.
    Thoughts on that?

  7. Divyansh says:

    gr8 post and thanx for d piece of advice.

  8. Hannah says:

    @ Michael Snively

    I love Billy Mays.


  9. Kimberly '13 says:

    So true !!!! Great post.Excellent advice.

  10. Liz says:

    To the first one – are we allowed to feel both?

    Because truly, it’s a daunting prospect.

  11. Sam says:

    @Anonymous who replied to ’12: stuff it – don’t be an ass.

    @’12: Man, you’re definitely not alone. All during this first year, I’ve had moments almost every week when I wondered if I should have gone somewhere else for college.

    I don’t know, look at some of the ’09s and find the ones you respect – I mean, if they turned out like that after four years at MIT, you definitely can too.

    Yeah, but still, who knows? This place is good for a lot of people, but it’s not the right place for everyone. Maybe another school is a better fit for you? But I guess if you’re here, might as well try to make whatever sucks about MIT better.

  12. Shaharayar says:

    I am in intermediate(12th grade) with subjects Physics, Maths, Computer Sciences, English, Urdu, And Pakistan Studies. I want to ask can I get admission in Aeronautical Eng. By taking SAT….

  13. navin says:

    can you answer my question that i previously posted?

  14. hannan says:

    I am a student who has currently appeared in the Olevel exams during the July 2009 session. I have always wanted to join MIT University due to its high prestige and it being Number1 University in the world. I have recently acquired valuable information that i should start applying for university as soon as my Olevel results have arrived and not wait until my Alevel are over. As i have told that i wanted to join MIT, i wanted to as you that what is the procedure i should follow to send my Olevel result through email. Also what other files should i send with the Olevel result? Please can you help and advise me or can you send me the email of the person who can advise me now as i am bemused and confused. I also want to know that previously i had appeared for 6Olevel subjects in which English language was included. I have known that students who want to study abroad in USA,UK or CANADA need to give certain tests like TOEFL,SAT,IELTS etc. I had gotten an A in the English language exam in November 2008 session, so can you inform me which tests would i have to give even after the A that i had gotten? Also do I have to sign up on the MIT admissions site so as to send my result online? I will be very pleased that you answer my request and i am sorry for any spelling mistake that might have occurred. Thank You.

  15. AS says:

    realy thanks a lot snively,u always help me.i still remembered your post in which u suggested to spend time and energy on solving rediculous physics problems instead of waisting that time and energy in firing each other with words here. u r really wonderful.

  16. I am a chinese and go to MIT is my dream.Keeping your dream is so hard for me as the tuition is beyond the ability of my family.
    now i try to finish my master degree in China ,i will think someways to go to USA .