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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

March Questions Omnibus 2 by Matt McGann '00

On to the questions…

Arvind wrote, “‘One more favour please’, can I get a written form of that lecture by Prof. Franc Wilczec, it seems so very interesting.(I have a super slow net connection to download or hear an audible file.”

I don’t know of a transcript of his talk, but there is a transcript of his Nobel lecture in Oslo here (sadly, a PDF file).

Applicant asked, “Does prof. wilzeck read UG applications???”

I’m not aware of his reading applications in the four years I’ve worked in the office.

Sreraman wrote, “can u name a few more from faculty commitee who make ad. decisions…I am not able to believe that a nobel prize man like prof.wolf gang reads UG applications…Mit is cool!!!!
can you name a few more from faculty commitee.I have sent my research papers with my app. will they be read by physics faculty…Will they ever have time to read all that ?????”

Hmm… hard to remember everyone, especially those I haven’t previously listed, but I do remember Profs. John Fernandez and Steve Graves being involved this year.

Dov wrote, “I know this is a little off-thread, but about how many total domestic admits were there this year?” applicant wrote, “i was just wondering if on friday, the day you mail, you could post the final numbers- aka # of applicants, # admitted, # waitlisted. i know id really like to know the stats.”

I’ll post what numbers I can when I can.

Alice McLorec asked, “When is the RSI letter of notification going to be sent this year? On March 14, 2005?” Elliot Lee asked, “Is there anything we could do now that might influence the RSI decision?”
bob, who is off to Duke next year (*tear*) but still stops by the blog anyway, asked, “Is it possible for a junior to be admitted to both MIT & RSI?” Curious wrote, “I am wondering how many people applied to RSI, how many people applied to MITES, and how many applied to WTP. In addition, I wanted to know how many will be accepted for each of the three, and when notifications will be sent.”

Well, I did say, “Because I do not work for the CEE or for MITE2S, I can’t talk too much about the selection process or answer any questions about it.” But I’ll break my rules only slightly to say RSI notification is likely to be sent after 3/14 (the website explicitly says March 31, and I have no reason to think that’s incorrect); sending in a strong application is all you can do to “influence the RSI decision;” I don’t know about bob’s question; I don’t have any application/admit numbers for any of the programs, but usually the admit percentage for each of these programs is less than the overall MIT undergraduate admit percentage.

Eric Schmiedl wrote, “A question about MIT admissions philosophy. One of the things my school’s college counselor said was big this year was “demonstrated interest,” the practice of inundating the admissions office(s) at your school(s) of choice with emails, letters, and phone calls essentially telling them how much you want to go there. How do MIT admissions people weigh the “demonstrated interest” of an applicant in the admissions process?”

I have heard about some schools, often schools more concerned about yield, who emphasize demonstrated interest. For example, have you visited the campus, called the office a lot, etc. MIT does not. Stanford’s admissions website actually has a nice answer that echoes our philosophy, which I’ll quote:

Some students are concerned they must visit campus regularly, attend all our regional information sessions, or keep in close contact with our office in order to show their interest in Stanford. We give no preference in the admission process to those applicants who demonstrate interest through these actions. We believe that the best indication of a student’s ability to thrive at Stanford is through demonstrated excellence during high school and demonstrated effort through our written applications.

I should note that a reasonable amount of demonstrated interest will come into play in the waitlist process in May; more on that in the future.

NoCreativity wrote, “do u consider majors when choosing studnets? like try to balance out the projected majors?”

What you’re thinking of majoring in is one of many things that we consider in the process. We know, though, that approximately half of MIT students will not do the major they wrote on their application, and students are free to choose any major they want when they enroll at MIT, so this will not be a critical part of the decision. We have no quotas of majors.

Chetan wrote, “Does MIT keep a file or an overview for high schools in the U.S.? It seems impossible to establish a context for a student without being familiar with the high school they attended. […] Does MIT realize that it is exceedingly difficult to do research without paying thousands of dollars, and that I don’t have any sort of program to be funneled through when comparing applicants?

We have a pretty wide body of knowledge on high schools, towns, regions, etc. We don’t rate high schools or anything like that, but as admissions professionals, we know a good amount about US and many international high schools. As for research, you might interested in checking out this discussion-provking article in yesterday’s New York Times (free subscription required) about one high school research program.

Chetan also wrote, “Another tangent on context: do you consider the age of an applicant with regards to point in their high school career when they got a driver’s license? Many, many opportunities open up when one gets a driver’s license, especially work experience. (which ties into money, which ties into the research point above)”

I wouldn’t say we think explicitly about drivers licenses much, but we know that many factors come into play when thinking about opportunities, including financial support, parental support, school support, and, yes, transportation.

I sent in a CD with my application, not to be picked apart for musicality and difficulty, but to show my dedication to my punk band. Do admission readers simply forward any CDs or tapes to the music department to be evaluated, or do they listen to it themselves?

We’ll know you sent in a CD. We provide the music CDs to the faculty to evaluate talent. For enthusiasm and dedication, we hope that will come through in the rest of the application.

Philly Kid wrote, “does MIT prefer that a post-calc student continue the math track or take a humanities course? > i.e. Linear Algebra (following the MIT Syllabus) or AP Psychology?”

We hope that, when available, you’ll take a math course and a science course each year of high school. That doesn’t mean you can’t do AP Psych, too, or that if you don’t do a post-Calc math class that you’ll automatically be rejected. But, in general, we prefer people to do math and science when they can.

HSK wrote, “I am frustrated. I have noticed that my Mid-Year Grade Report box has
not been checked off in the MyMit website. I have confirmed with my school that the grade report has
been sent (about a month ago). I hope this doesn’t mean that it has not been received!” K wrote, “Is the admissions office still updating MyMIT? I am certain that my mid-year reports were sent in about two weeks ago, but they haven’t been checked off on the website. My counselor tells me not to worry about this because MIT is probably being flooded with mid-year reports right now and mine is sitting in a pile some where. Anyway, should I be worried?” Kate wrote, “I’m having the same issue. Should I just assume that I’ve been rejected, since decisions have already been made?”

S&Mer helped me out by replying, “If your decision hinged on it, I’m sure the MIT people would ask your school and you for the grades.” That’s right. We don’t always need your midyear grades to make a decision. If you’ve had all As 9th-11th, we’ll probably assume that you’ll get pretty good midyear 12th grades. If we need them to make a decision, we will call your school. We’ve done this many times over the past month. In short, don’t worry.

NIX asked, “Is it true that my chances of getting in is close to 0 if I were an International Asian Male? I read that somewhere that if i were IAM, the chances of me getting into mit is the same as me getting hit by a thunderbolt.” And MITCANADIAN asked, “are internationals only placed in a pool by themselves as a whole? or are the internationals still divided according to races such as Asian American, Afro-America, and etc?”

There is no affirmative action in international admissions (kind of hard, since there are no ” *-Americans ” in the international pool). We will, as always, still consider context. So, if you’re from a disadvantaged minority group in your country, from a lower socioeconomic background, etc., that will definitely be taken into consideration. In short, being an “IAM” doesn’t really affect your chances one way or the other. As an international applicant, it will be hard in any case, with an admit rate of ~5%.

Shashank wrote, “I come to my point : what do you people do the screen OUT an applicant, at first glance at the summary card? SAT scores, grades, the application readers comments, what?” Patrick asked, “Just curious (since it doesn’t apply to me at all) how many of the international applicants actually make it to committee?”

All applications were reviewed individually and holistically, considering all aspects of the application. Ultimately, the selection committee chose a bit over 100 international students from between 300 and 400 applications.

mit_hopefulgirl wrote, “I was just wondering – which of the following criteria is Most important for selecting internationals? Credentials (olympiads, science fairs, research, athletic achievements etc.), personality, teacher recs, essays, exam grades or sat scores?”

The international process evaluates applications in the same way as domestic. I think someone (Nghi?) tricked me into answering a similar question some months ago, and then, I think I said something like everything is important (or else we wouldn’t have asked for it), but when pressed, I would say that grades (marks) are most important, because good marks are a definite prerequisite beyond anything else.

Tara wrote, “My EC said during my interview that when she applied to MIT, Canadians were considered in the Domestic Applicants process. Why did this change?”

I’ve heard this too, Tara, and I don’t know the history. If you’re admitted, be sure to ask Dean Marilee Jones during her IAP Admissions seminar.

amai asked, “How many from the Philippines applied this year?”

I don’t know what international application numbers we normally give out, and I’m not sure I can give out any more (so please don’t ask!), but I believe we normally receive between one and two dozen applications from citizens of the Philippines.

mit_hopefulgirl wrote, “I don’t know if this has been asked before (I’m sorry if I’m repeating a past qn), but for each country (e.g. Singapore), are the number of acceptees each year more or less constant?”

I did a little bit with the Operations Research folks here at MIT, and I find processes somewhat academically interesting. For example, I find it interesting that, for the most part, even with different inputs (applicants) each year, we don’t see too many wild swings in any overall or categorical numbers of outputs (admits) from year to year. This tells me we have a pretty good standard process in place. Sometimes, though, there are medium to big fluctuations within countries or other subcategories. We don’t always know why, but I usually attribute it to a change in inputs (e.g. an especially strong crop of applicants from a country or city). In short, things often stay somewhat constant but sometimes do very widely.

sismo wrote, “I have studied in 2 different education systems in the past 4 years of my High School life. Does the admission committe have members who can truly to a great extent understand the different international education systems. And does MIT consider the fact that I shifted education systems and does it give me the semester that I shifted education system as a hands off or does it give me some beverage as I was shifting education systems and also adjusting to the new and different education system and environment?”

We are very knowledgeable on many types of schools, and your moves will be an important part of your context that will be considered appropriately.

neha wrote, “although i am an indian citizen, i live in singapore and have given my exmas there. will my application be considered with the rest of indian resident students or singaporean resident students. Or there will be no specific country but just as an international applicant?” And viggy asked, “if i am an indian citizen , studying in Singapore. Then, which country will I be considered in while reading admissions.”

You’ll be considered within both contexts.

Jeremie L. wrote, “Matt, please tell me the International Pool only contains non U.-S. Citizens. I am a U.-S. citizen currently living abroad, and I the odds of getting accepted applying as an International are downright depressing. I just realized, with a fright, that I’ve maybe fooled myself all along, thinking where I’d be judged.”

The domestic pool consists of US citizens and permanent residents, regardless of where they reside. The international pool consists of applicants who are not US citizens or permanent residents.

Charles wrote, “So Matt, the mail date can only be pushed back, right? it can’t be… pushed forward if there were any changes?”

Well, as of right now, it really looks like we’ll mail tomorrow (Friday).

user78 wrote, “I’m finally going to get my decision by March 18th. By the way Matt, does that date apply to international students as well because I was wondering, don’t you have to send it by express mail so that the International students can recieve the letters by March 18th.” user 1729 wrote, “y donot u release decisions by email like other schools…what is the reason???” Carlos wrote, “Matt, I have a problem. In Venezuela, mail takes ages to arrive (some forms MIT sent me when I registered for myMIT in september arrived to my house in November!!!). Must I wait for the letter?, or will it be another method to finding out?” viggy wrote, “There is no way we international applicants will get our decision in one week right. So if we call the office after 18th, can we find out about our decisions.”
sreraman wrote, “could u plz send admission decisions by email or in MYMIT. mail takes ages to reach my city(chennai)…I am sure that the decisions would not reach me by march 18th which in case I’ll call MIT….so if majority of intl. applicants are goin to call like that…then, i feel that it’s less tiring for MIT to inform us abt. the decisions by email…..”

I’m sorry; for this year, we will not have any form of online decisions. If you are admitted and live abroad, we will send your decision via DHL. The decision should get to Chennai in about 3 days, according to the DHL website. You may call the office for your decision beginning Friday, March 18.

MITCANADIAN asked, “For DHL delivery to Internatoinal acceptees, are the mails registered with DHL?”

I’m not involved with the DHLing, so I don’t know the logistical aspects of it.

Mariya asked, “So… does MIT keep with the standard practice of thick envelope = accepted, thin envelope = rejected ?”

A large envelope will be for admitted students, though a small (standard) envelope may be used for either waitlisted students or students not admitted.

Anonymous asked, “Don’t our interviewers receive our decision via e-mail the day that decisions are mailed out?”

No. ECs (interviewers) will be able to view decisions about a week after decisions are mailed.

Intl EC wrote, “I have been an EC (Intl) for 3 years, but this is the first year that an assigned student has actually applied. When I look on the EC site, all it shows is FI for codes (both parts of application and interview). Does this mean that none of the recommendations or transcripts have been received by MIT? (seems odd that the student would apply and interview, but not submit recommendations or transcripts) or, is the EC site not updated properly?”

Thanks for reading, and thanks for being an interviewer! In the future, I’d direct these questions to the EC Office, but I can tell you that yes, it does mean that we don’t have recommendations or a transcript for that student. I might guess that they were admitted early to another school.

Derek Hzuo wrote, “Hello. I haven’t applied to MIT yet, but I was thinking about getting arowned to it this weekend. Think theirs a chance?”

Sorry, Derek, the deadline passed a long time ago. [A slightly devious part of me wonders what Strongbad would do with this]

still worried asked, “So is there any chance that you will look at the supplements which didnt make it to the committee room?”

Yes. I even saw some today.

Anonymous asked, “Are there any supplements this year that you’ve found to be particularly weird/interesting/cool/compelling?” And Justin wrote, “I’m just a bit curious, but what were some of the most interesting things you saw for the answer to the optional question, show us something that you made?”

There were definitely some supplements that were quite interesting, but I’m not too good at remembering them unprompted. My friends are always disappointed that I don’t have a list of funny essays on the top of my head…

S wrote, “Hmm, I just did my application like it told me to, following the directions. I didn’t do any uber-creative supplement or try to make it funny. You do still admit some people like me, right?”

Absolutely. I’d say the majority are like you. I know I was.

tim_master_ice wrote, “hi! im a freshman in high school and i want to learn more about how i can get admitted into MIT. can u help me?”

You’re starting early; that’s good, but don’t allow your high school career be overwhelmed by the goal of college admission. I encourage you to keep an open mind (there are many great schools like MIT, and you’ll definitely change some over the next few years). Some advice would be to do well in school, do things you really enjoy and take advantage of opportunities in those areas, and be a good person.

Hopeful Indian wrote, “Hey Matt once u take a decision you don’t change it based on the end of 12th year marks do you? cause u see 28th coincides exactly with the last day of my final exams and I don’t think Ican get a lot of studying done with all the tension.”

We do require final grades/marks from all admitted students. We expect all students to finish their last year strongly.

Halifax asked, “Hey Matt, if i made a C this quarter, would you guys retract your acceptance letter if I get in?”

I’d say that one C in one quarter by itself is very unlikely to get an acceptance revoked. However, you should continue to strive for the best grades you can.

Statistical Analysis wrote, “On a side note, MIT’s wait list is quite generous when compared to those of other schools. You can expect a 15-20% chance of ultimately getting admitted if you are wait-listed.”

This wasn’t a question, but I do need to set the record straight. The waitlist varies from year to year. Some years we have admitted greater than 100 from the waitlist. Other years, such as the past two years, we have been unable to go to the waitlist at all. We always hope to use the waitlist, and we do hope to use it this year.

nghi wrote, “hey matt, can you talk about the different study abroad programs like the MIT-Cambridge Undergraduate Exchange?”

I promise I’ll do an entry on this sometime in the next month… remind me, though, please?

blah wrote, “hey matt, i recently got a call from the admissions office telling me to email some info regarding my travel plans to cpw to oropeva at mit dot edu and they even told me to repeat the email twice to confirm it.”

blah, I think the email you want is oropeza at mit dot edu.

AES wrote, “Do you know how I could find out about the pre-orientation session at MIT? My family making vacation plans, and I’d like more information about it (dates, cost, etc.)”

I think you mean the small programs that occur in August just prior to freshman orientation. If so, direct your questions to the Orientation Office.

Shahab Umer wrote, “Matt, does the phrase “A Gift of God” ring a bell? Yes or no answer only please!”

Yes, it does (I’m not going to follow your instructions…); “gift of God” is apparently the meaning of the name “Matthew.”

T.L. wrote, “Hey sense it seems like u r into music i have a question for u OK.. Do u know by any chance who sings that song “Do u believe in Magic” IDK if that is actually called that BUT u know it goes like “Do u believe in magic in a young girls heart..” u know well if u can Post it back on my BLOG that would be great thanks ans i LUV ur blog cause i LUV music BUH BYE –T.L”

Well, TL, my magic google skills tell me that “Do You Believe in Magic?” was written by John Sebastian. A quick bio snippet from VH1 says,

John Sebastian has had a varied career as a singer, songwriter, and musician. As the leader of the folk-rock band the Lovin’ Spoonful, he was responsible for a string of Top Ten hits in 1965-1967 that included the chart-toppers “Daydream” and “Summer in the City,” and he returned to number one in 1976 as a solo artist with “Welcome Back.” He wrote or co-wrote those hits as well as many others, along with songs used on Broadway and in the movies. And as an instrumentalist, primarily playing harmonica, he has accompanied a wide range of artists including Judy Collins, Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Doors, Bob Dylan, the Everly Brothers, Art Garfunkel, Gordon Lightfoot, Laura Nyro, Graham Parker, Dolly Parton, Peter, Paul & Mary, John Prine, and Bonnie Raitt. […] The Lovin’ Spoonful signed to Kama Sutra Records (an offshoot of MGM Records) and in the summer of 1965 released their first single, “Do You Believe in Magic,” on which he sang lead vocals (as he did on all the group’s singles while he was a member, in addition to writing or co-writing all their hits). It peaked in the Top Ten, and so did its follow-up, “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice,” while a Do You Believe in Magic album, released in the fall, spent eight months in the charts.

That’s it! Tomorrow we mail!

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