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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

March Questions Omnibus 3 by Matt McGann '00

sreraman asked, “matt will u continue blogging (though not frequently) after decisions r mailed out…”

Of course! Here goes, catching up on your questions…

yeah asked, “anyone ever tell you that you look like jason biggs?”

No, that’s the first time I’ve heard that. A few I have heard before include Matthew Broderick, Hugh Grant, and Chris Eigeman.

user78 wrote, “I presume if i got rejected from MIT, I will probably get rejected from the Ivy League on april 1st.”

I wouldn’t presume that at all. I know folks from all of the Ivy League admissions offices, and I can tell you that all of these schools look at admissions somewhat differently. Above all, though, we’re all looking for a good match, and since each of these schools have very different cultures, it only follows that admissions decisions will differ. Don’t lose hope!

bocajrs wrote, “What is the first thing an admissions officer glances at in an application? Do you guys (officers) have anything that automatically bids off an applicant? GPA’s, SAT? or do you see EVERYTHING then make a decision?”

The first thing I glance at is the information in the Part 1 — name, town, school, etc. There are no numbers that automatically rejects an applicant. The only things that automatically trigger an action would be if you don’t meet the criteria to apply as a freshman — e.g. already enrolled at another university (transfer student) or already possessing a bachelor’s degree (graduate student). We see everything before making a decision.

random person, “Hrm, not sure if this is the place to ask, but who do I contact/email about services for kids with LD?”

This is a perfectly reasonable questions. You should be in touch with the Disabilities Services Office. I think (hope!) you’ll find MIT very accommodating.

AES wrote, “At my school, around 12 females were admitted to MIT and only 6 males. This made me wonder about the number of female applicants vs. the number of male applicants to MIT this year, since I know you guys usually shoot for a 1:1 gender ratio. Do you have any stats on this? I’d appreciate it if you could find the time to satisfy my curiosity!” She entitled her post, “Admitted — because I’m a girl?”

This brings to mind an important topic. Sometimes, in one year, in one school, interesting things happen, but one shouldn’t take it as an overall trend or an overall preference by MIT. Sometimes, from one school, all of the admits will be from the same part of the city, or be the same race, or the same gender. We’re not going to balance things in a school just to have balance. So the fact that 12/18 admits at your school were females doesn’t mean we have a preference for women, it’s just that those 12 women in your school, just like the 6 men, are very talented and well matched with MIT.

I remember last year during early action, at one school, we took 5 women and 0 men, and at another school we took something like 10 men and 1 woman. Both drew a bit of surprise, but at both schools, the admitted students were very talented. These were the best students and we weren’t about to admit someone of the other gender just to balance things, or take fewer of the “majority” gender just because of the skew. We don’t have school-based quotas or play games like that.

Similarly, in international admissions, we’re not always going to be able to take students from all different parts of the country, from all different ethnic/religious groups, rich and poor, urban and rural. We’ll try to admit a diverse class, and we’ll always consider context, but above all, we’ll admit students who are best suited for MIT.

To address your other questions, I don’t have any breakdown on application statistics. Also, I wouldn’t say that we “usually shoot for a 1:1 gender ratio,” though women frequently make up forty-something percent of the admitted (and enrolling) class.

kiran asked, “what percent of the deferred applicants were accepted?” gibsnson asked, “do you know what percentage of deferred EA applicants were accepted?”

I don’t know, but I’d presume it’s on the order of hundreds.

gameboyguy13 wrote, “Is there some sort of appeal process? Is there anything someone can do after being rejected?” neha wrote, “is there any kind of appeal process? moreover for international rejects??” Arvind’sDoppleganger wrote, “Is this appeals process only for waitlisters or can rejected people do it, too?” AK wrote, “What is the appeal process?” don’t forget wrote, “you have heard about the appeal process, right?”

I’m sorry, but there is no appeal process. All decisions are final.

alyssa wrote, “I must admit, I’m a little confused by the waitlist letter. It says that ‘we [the admissions committee] can never be sure before mid-May’ and that ‘we will let you know how things look by late May.’ The thing is, the national common reply date is May 1st. What, exactly, does MIT want us to do? If we follow the instructions on the letter, we forfeit our acceptances into all the other colleges. If we sign the admissions contact to another college by May 1st, there doesn’t seem to be much point to staying on the waitlist…” And From NY wrote, “A question occurred to me…for us on the waitlist, what should we do about the May 1 reply/confirmation date for other colleges? What if we confirmed our position in another college, only to find out a few weeks later that MIT could offer us admission?” And someone wrote, “I must admit, I’m a little confused by the waitlist letter. It says that “we [the admissions committee] can never be sure before mid-May” and that “we will let you know how things look by late May.”

The thing is, the national common reply date is May 1st. What, exactly, does MIT want us to do? If we follow the instructions on the letter, we forfeit our acceptances into all the other colleges. If we sign the admissions contact to another college by May 1st, there doesn’t seem to be much point to staying on the waitlist…

Here’s how it works. You should accept the offer of admission from another college before May 1. After May 1, when all students have sent their replies, colleges will determine if they need to go to their waitlist or not, and if so, how many students they need to admit. At this point, colleges will begin admitting students from the waitlist. Students who accept this offer will “unenroll” at the first college and enroll at the second. This shifting can lead to a second round of waitlist admissions. It is a part of the admissions process. We colleges recognize and accept this.

05senior wrote, “What is the maximum number of people being taken this year. For instatnce, if 200 of the accepteds decide not to go to MIT, how many will be taken from the waiting list?” Kiran wrote, “a question matt- how many people got waitlisted?” Sophia wrote, “Oh yeah, does anyone know about how many students were waitlisted?”

Between 400 and 500 students were waitlisted. Not all students will choose to remain on the waitlist. In theory, we could admit everyone off the waitlist, but in practice is is likely to be a smaller number than that. In each of the past two years, we have been unable to go to the waitlist, but the two years before that we admitted 41 and 155 off the waitlist, respectively. We will have no idea how many we are taking this year until mid-May. We hope to enroll a class of 980 students.

Chicken Little wrote, “1) Generally speaking, how many wait listed people are admitted? 2) If we are wait listed, is there anything we can do to… move up the ranks? 3) When will we be notified, if we are wait listed, that we will have a position in MIT’s class of 2009.”

For waitlist stats, see above. The waitlist is unranked, so you can’t really “move up the ranks,” butstudents who are interested in being admitted off the waitlist should stay in touch with our office. After May 1, if you still prefer remaining on the waitlist instead of being happy with the college at which you’ve enrolled, you should send us a letter reaffirming your interest. You do not need to send in new essays or teacher recommendations.

d3ni3d (who was waitlisted) wrote, “Yup, 4000 SAT; 8 AP 5s, a 4 and a 3 (actually most proud of 3 and 4 because both sophomore year w/o full benefit of class); 4.0 UW/highest weighted ever . . . I just wish I knew what went wrong. I guess I could have done better on the essays, they weren’t every personal — but I’m not giving up: does anyone know if we can send in additional information like EA deferees?”

You may absolutely send in additional information, and we encourage you to stay in touch.

MIT Hopeful wrote, “I believe in an earlier post Mr. McGann had said that they wait-listed about 500 applicants. Now, if MIT has never accepted more than 150 applicants, why wait-list 500?”

Not all of the waitlisted students will choose to remain on the waitlist, and we don’t know how many we’ll want to admit from the waitlist. We try to keep the size of the waitlist to a reasonable size, not any larger than we’d possibly need, out of fairness to the students.

Carlos asked, “Hey matt, does MIT have International Waitlist?” Swetko asked, “Do internationals get waitlisted?” A wrote, “Matt,does MIT waitlist any international applicants?If so,how many?”

Yes, we do have an international waitlist; this year, we waitlisted on the order of a few dozen international students.

Swetko wrote, “is there any sense in applying next year (again as freshman) If I am rejected now. Because I have not applied to other american university, and most likely will continue in a local uni.” And applicant 1729, “can u explain for those who got rejected, is it better to wait for next year and applly as a freshman or go to some college and apply as transfer student…???”

If you enroll in another university, you’d have to apply as a transfer student. And I do encourage you to move forward with your education — there are many, many terrific colleges out there.

Mike D wrote, “What are my options as a transfer student? How many people usually apply and how many of those get accepted?” Will wrote, “Matt, is there any way you can post something on transfer admissions? For instance, what you look for from a student that has some college experience under his belt.”

I’m not involved in the transfer process, but you can read more about it on the Admissions website. I don’t know exact statistics but usually we see hundreds of students apply to transfer, and we admit in the lower double digits.

A.M.C. wrote, “May I see a copy of my E3 card? Is there an appeal process at MIT? P.S. Has any student transferred from Harvard to MIT before? (Just kidding)”

I’m sorry, but only students who enroll at MIT may see their E3 card, and even then the comments are removed. As I’ve noted above, there is no appeals process. And yes, students have transferred from MIT to Harvard, and vice versa.

nimota_n wrote, “just wondering… for the # of seniors that graduate from MIT is that the same number you use to admit freshmen?”

While the number of graduating seniors is one of the factors considered, it is not the sole factor that determines the size of the freshman class. Many things are taken into consideration.

1729 asked, “can u tell me what’s the lowest SAT scores among people who r admitted??”

I don’t know the answer to this question, and even if I did, I wouldn’t answer. I wouldn’t want that person to feel awkward, and I don’t like to emphasize scores above all of the factors considered.

kyle wrote, “I am an international applicant. I was wondering if you were familiar with this school and their system: choueifat?”

I’m not going to answer this, not because I don’t want to answer your question, but because I don’t want to be answering questions about every school in the world. I’ll say this: we’re familiar with many, many high schools, and for those we aren’t familiar with, we can use our knowledge from years of doing admissions do deduce things about the school.

Tomek wrote, “i got that adress because i’m going to try to get MIT. and that way i have some questions, one of the MIT’s students told me to write to you,may you help me?
1.what’s the most important to me if i want to make application? to be honest my english isn’t so much points should i get in TOEFL?
2.i’m interesting(yeah, better-i love!) in physics,maths and chemistry, but i’ve heard that i should do something more in social life- what sort of behaviour is requared?
3.could you give me any advices or practical rules?i’m afraid my passion will not be enough to try to get there. ”

Minimum score on TOEFL is 233/577/90 (CBT/PBT/IBT). There is no “required behavior,” but we are looking for good, nice people who want to use an MIT education to improve the world. The best advice I can give you is to continue reading these blogs as well as the MIT admissions website. Hopefully reading all of this will help a bit. Please ask more questions if we can be more helpful!

Jen wrote, “hello matt, how are you? I’m currently a sophomore in high school and I am researching on possible colleges that I might apply to. I’m very interested in MIT; in fact, my goal is to get accepted into MIT. I would like to learn more about the school. It would be great if I can obtain some important information on admissions, tuition ,etc…) Thanks ^_^”

Hi Jen, thanks for looking into MIT! As I recommended to Tomek above, you should definitely read these blogs and the MIT admissions website. If you register for the admissions website, we will send you some information in the mail. And please, ask more questions if we can be helpful!

Arvind wrote, “Matt, If I am rejected do you thinka reson behind it could be that I didn’ mention any sports achievements( although I have numerous medals in long distance running). It just didn’t came in my mind that I should write about SPORTS. I had no guidance counsellor, I hadn’t applied to any othe american university and Indian universities require only an academic entrance exm. please, please please answer my question although I still don’t know if I have been rejected or accepted.”

Rarely is there a single reason why someone was not admitted, and sports would never be a reason. For you, remember that hundreds of students from India applied, and most were quite strong applicants, but we were able to admit only a very small number.

Alexandra wrote, “i guess not i will have to stop my addiction of seeing if the blogs are updated everyday when i get home from school, for some tidbit of information regarding decisions. my only questions is if there is any way we can find out why we were denied? if there is a reason other than space…”

As I wrote above, usually there isn’t a “reason” why one wasn’t admitted, though I can understand how it might be easier for everyone if there was just a single reason. Sorry i can’t be more helpful.

Dave wrote, “Matt, I’m very excited about getting in, but I’m just wondering, what now? I know I send in the reply form, but do I need to send in a final transcript or what?” Anon wrote, “Matt, what materials do an acceptee’s school have to send to MIT at the end of the school year? Is it just the student’s transcript? Also, do these play any role in whether MIT will allow the applicant to attend?”

You will be asked to send in your final transcript. If you continue getting good grades, everything will be fine.

mom08 asked, “Matt, do you know how the RSI kids did in the Intel competition?”

Six of the forty finalists were RSI. Of the top 10 winners, RSI took places 3, 4, and 10.

Junior wrote, “Hey matt, I’ve been hearing a lot of rumours to the effect -> “intl ECA’s dont count, coz MIT can’t verify them” Is it true?”

No, it’s not true. Generally, though, an important extracurricular activity will be corroborated elsewhere in the file, e.g. recommendation letter or interview report.

Sigh wrote, “Now for the ultimate question: Caltech or MIT?”

Perhaps I’ll try to help with this question in a future post.

Nick wrote, “What’s your opinion on the new SAT?
I’m assuming you read the NYT editorial today about the new structure:
The economist also had a good article praising the old sat.
It’s from the March 12-18th edition: “In praise of aptitude tests”
(sorry, you have to have a subscription to view it)
Any thoughts?”

This is a great topic which I’ll address after May 1. Thanks for the good questions!

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