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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

March Questions Omnibus 1 by Matt McGann '00

applicant asked, “when r u goin to answer the questions??”

Sorry, things are, as you might imagine, quite busy around here. I’ll do my best to answer them now…

Matt’s Helper asked, “What did you major in, when you were at MIT?”

I spent some time with both Architecture (Course IV) and Math (Course XVIII), but ultimately I graduated with a degree in Management Science (Course XV).

Saad Zaheer wrote, “i was really wondering last night about ur watching bollywood movies; well it implies that u can understand some Hindi and Urdu (pakistani language) is quite similar to Hindi.
even if u watch translated into english ones, i would recommend u try to learn some hindi and of course urdu know how follows itself. its grt to know that becuase u will have a vast eastern culture to discover, and the eastern culture is awesome to discover.”

Well, I’m picking up a bit of Hindi here and there… maybe, if I get some free time, I’ll actually take a Hindi course (though Mandarin is up next for me).

hedwig asked, “i was just wondering, since i had my sister do me a favour by filling out the technical details in the MIT admission form (like my achievements etc.) would they think that one of the essays which i typed was written by her or somebody else (since i also included a completely optional essay–which was naturally in my own handwriting) or would they give me the benefit of doubt and accept that it was indeed I who wrote the essay.”

We generally give people the benefit of the doubt, as I’m sure we did in your case.

hedwig also wrote, “Yeah, i almost forgot; since January i have been trying to contact the admissions office via email to give them some background information about me and my school and that I was chosen to represent India at GYLC(though i won’t be attending due to financial constraints) but i have received no reply; is that normal?? Also since i could not give an interview due to the ongoing school exams(though I never told this either to the EC or anyone else who is associated with the admission process) , I’d like to ask: if somebody does not give an interview does it reduce his chances of getting into MIT?? and if so, then by how much?”

I’m sure your email was filed by the email staff. As for the interview, we do not assume that international applicants can always complete it, but it can definitely help in the cases when it is available.

Aarthi wrote, “I think I’ve made one of the biggest mistakes of my life. While looking over my MIT essays today, I realized an egregious error in one. I really do think it could have made a difference in the outcome of my decision, and so immediately sent an e-mail to the Admissions Office. At this point, will you all ever consider this revision??”

It is highly unlikely that an error in your essay would make the difference in a decision. I wouldn’t worry.

andrew wrote, “Would you say that March 15 is a reasonable estimate [for decision letters]?”

I can’t provide estimates now, but when we mail, you’ll see an update on this blog.

Sloanapplicant wrote, “Would you say that, by the end of the selection process, you are at least minimally familiar with all of the acceptees?”

Well, maybe not all of the acceptees, but during Campus Preview Weekend, I do get to put a lot of faces with their familiar names. It’s nice =)

Carlos wrote, “Matt, just a question I heard somewhere that International Students will be able to check their decision using a special web page when they are released. Is this really true and if it is, where we can find the adress to that website.”

We will mail all decisions on the same day, and we prefer for all applicants to receive their decisions by mail. No decisions will be available online.

A Regular Decision Applicant wrote, “Is there any way to find out an applicant’s decision before mid-March? Someone from my high school found out her decision already, and she said that someone she knows in the admissions office told her.”

At this point, the only people who have been admitted are the 383 EA admits from December. No regular action admission decisions are final until they go out the door of the admissions office on the day we mail. The situation you describe does not sound credible for regular action decisions.

A wrote, “I was wondering if international applicants are also placed in the waiting list, exactly like domestic applicants? If so, how many applicants (international if possible) do you plan to include in that list?”

Yes, we do maintain a waitlist of international students, usually on the order of lower double-digits.

S&Mer wrote, “Just out of curiosity, what percentage of decisions do you estimate are reversed through this last part of the admissions process?”

I don’t know.

hedwig wrote, “I’d also like to know how many Indian students on average get admitted into MIT and approximately how many apply each year?
and another thing, i don’t know whether it’s just my computer that is acting up or is there something wrong with the contact link on your blog? everytime it tells me that there is some problem with the mail server”

Something on the order of hundreds of students solely with Indian citizenship apply each year, and in the past we have admitted on the order of mid-single digits have been admitted. Also, it appears the contact link for all sites on blogs.mit.edu is broken. Sorry.

paul asked, “can a research paper in an international journal gaurentee admission”

The short answer is, no, it does not. For a longer answer, read over my previous blog entries.

mit_hopefulgirl wrote, “Matt – exactly how many internationals applied this year, and exactly how many is MIT intending to admit?”

I believe we received about 2200 applications, and I believe we will admit about 100 students.

Transfer Student wrote, “Matt, would it be possible for you to scan and post a E3 [summary] card for an admitted student and a rejected student (without names of course)?”

Sorry, that’s not something I can do.

sreraman wrote, “I have submitted my research papers along with my application..May I request that it should be kept confidential,since it is not yet published”

We will keep your research papers and other aspects of your application private and confidential.

applicant asked, “how often do u admit people from this category [students who have “both a low NI and PR, but the readers feel that the applicant would thrive at MIT and contribute to the community”]??” sad applicant wrote, “i think that i will not get into mit this year becozz of my low SAT scores(my gpa is excellent)!if you find a sense of ‘resonance’ between an applicant and MIT, but not SAT scores will you ever give a chance to an applicant to write SAT and prove him/herself in may since ur class starts only in sep.” MS wrote, “I know a boy who got into MIT physics dept. inspite of his low GRE scores (1130)owing to his stellar research accomplishments..can v expect things like this to happen in undergraduate selection also???” Anonymous wrote, “So you say that you admit people, not numbers, that MIT is self-selecting and that you’d be hard pressed to remember a single applicant’s numbers.. does that mean that there’s a certain cut-off where you’d be considered ‘competitive’ and that’s it? A 1600 on the SAT is considered no better than a 1500, scorewise?”

See my earlier post on the topic. Generally, test scores beginning with the number 7 (SAT) or 3 (ACT) will put you within the range. Students should try to score above 650 on any individual SAT, though there is no minimum score for any test except the TOEFL.

applicant for 2005 asked, “I read this [description of MIT admissions process] in a college discussion website..is it true???”

There have been some articles published about MIT admissions in various publications over the years, one of which I believe your post was based upon. Most recently, both MIT’s student newspaper and its alumni magazine published articles which were, for the most part, were accurate, though they talk about the process from a journalist’s point of view, and not an admissions officer’s. I’m trying to do what I can to explain the process by writing this blog.

applicant in distress wrote, “I have a serious problem which could be solved only by you….I decide to update my information to MIT and also dartmouth.Hemce,i had 2 seperate cover letters,one for MIT and other for DArtmouth.I gave it to the faxing centre for sending the info.The man in faxing centre sent the cover letter for MIT to dartmouth to MIT and Dartmouth to MIT..
It’s not my fault…….
Can you please help me!!!!!!!!!!!”

This isn’t a problem. We expect that you are applying to other schools (we hope you are!); we don’t imagine that you are only applying to MIT. Don’t worry about it.

Shahab Umer asked, “Is it really that easy to select 100 international applcants from over 2000 in just one or two days? How many people are working with you?”

The international process has been going on for some weeks. When we start international selection, we will choose from several hundred applications after all of them have been reviewed. The usual set of admissions officers will be participating.

Jeremy wrote, “A small question that I’ve been trying not to ask; I live in Europe, but applied as domestic because of my US citizenship. I have tried best I can not to overstate the grading difference … and I wonder if that was stupid?”

We’re pretty experienced with non-US school systems. For example, we know that getting a 20 in the French system is very different from getting an A+ in the US system. I’m sure this was fully considered.

parent wrote, “Could you post a sample or two of the actual deliberations of the admissions committee on applications – minus the names of course? How exactly do you decide – generalizations and glorified principles aside? If you can post two examples of applications that were binned in widely differing cells and explain why they were admitted, and one example of an applicant in cell1 who was not, that should greatly help in understanding the process.”

I’m sorry, that is not something I can do.

parent also wrote, “Do you document your decision of “why” you admitted an applicant, and “why” you rejected another? The standard response from the admissions officers upon inquiring why someone wasn’t admitted, is that they have no idea – and do not know what the committe was thinking at the time! How can this be?”

We do not document the exact “reasons” for our decisions. While we cannot recreate deliberations on each case, all decisions are thoroughly reviewed many times according to our guidelines during the process. Usually, there’s no one reason why someone wasn’t admitted. For the most part, our applicants are very qualified, and unfortunately we can only admit a very small number of them.

Applicant Dudette wrote, “I couldn’t find the answer this anywhere (but could someone direct me to the answer if has been answered? :) ): I know Dartmouth and Yale and some other very competitive colleges send “likely” letters before the official decision deadline. Does MIT do this?”

MIT does not do this. Check out my earlier post on the topic.

geniezclone wrote, “Matt, I have a few quick questions.
I know you’ve mentioned that most accepted international applicants had distinctions either at the international, national, or regional level. Could you tell us just about how many percent did not have any distinctions, but were admitted because of other factors (dazzling standardized test scores, pure passion which shows through essays/ECs, etc.)? Or were they simply considered not stellar enough to be admitted? Also, do you try to keep the male-female ratio of the international acceptees 50:50? ”

I don’t know the answer here, but I assure you, students stand out in many ways besides awards. We do not try for a 50:50 gender ratio. Last year I believe it was closer to 70:30 among the international admits.

kumar asked, “Do you ever read applications on a country basis ie do you read all indian applications together.. if so can u tell me when??”

We will consider all applications from the same country together during the selection committee.

Ian T. asked, “Uh-oh, will being younger hurt me? What if you were born in 1988 and therefore applied when you were still 16, but will be 17 by the beginning of the 2005 fall semester?”

No problem. This was exactly my situation when I was applying to MIT, as well as a number of my MIT friends.

expatmom asked, “Are each of the subcommittees composed of people who are familiar with non-US educational systems?”

Yes. Each subcommittee is headed by an experienced admissions officer who has at least several years experience in international admissions as well.

Sreraman muralidharan had two questions: “1) I have submitted updates on my application through e-mail before a week,But I have not yet recieved a confirmation of it…Can I assume that it has reached my folder..
2) With my application, I have also sent additional letters of recomm. (one from prof.Alladi Ramakrishnan(founder-director of Matscience) and other from Mr.Balasubramnian Ramkumar(Founder-head of theo. physc.gp.)) will they be read by the admissions office..”

1) Yes, you can assume these emails have been filed. 2) Yes, we will read all recommendations in your folder.

^ wrote, “The reading period for intls is on, so thjat means you’re summarising the applicants file’s into that E3 card right??”

Yes, just as for domestic applicants, we will use summary cards for international applications.

NoCreativity wrote, “hey matt, i was wondering.. could u tell us which essays you liked best or thought were most compelling and well written.. after admission letters have been sent out?”

Some admissions officers, mentally or otherwise, compile lists of essays they’ve really liked, but I don’t; I don’t tend to think about applications like that. For me, though, the best essays are those that really give me a sense of who you are.

kendall asked, “in terms of mailing letters, is there any way we can have them mailed to a different address?”

Yes. Please email [email protected] immediately if this is your case.

nghi asked, “there is such thing as the $1000 bill?”

Yes. The Treasury Department wrote, “There are also several denominations of currency notes that are no longer produced. These include the $500 bill with the portrait of William McKinley, the $1,000 bill with a portrait of Grover Cleveland, the $5,000 bill with a portrait of James Madison, the $10,000 bill with a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, and the $100,000 currency note bearing a portrait of Woodrow Wilson.”

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