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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Mini-contest: Your Application Reflections by Matt McGann '00

I'd like to share your application experiences.

I’d like to publish on this blog some of your reflections about applying to college. Not just applying to MIT, but the entire college admissions process. Presumably, there are tens of thousands of students out there who are just like you, going through the same anxiety, the same excitement, the same fears, the same pressures. I’d like to provide an outlet for you to share your thoughts and feelings with a broader audience. My hope is that the students who are reading this will realize they’re not alone.

Some examples of things you could write about:

  • Your experiences applying to college.
  • A funny moment while filling out applications.
  • What it feels like to apply to colleges overseas or out of state.
  • The pressures you feel from your classmates or your family.
  • The support you get from your friends or family.
  • The hardest part of applying to college.
  • The best part about applying to college.
  • What it felt like to submit your last college application.
  • Your worst moment in the application process.
  • Your best moment or breakthrough moment in the application process.

Some ground rules:

  • This will have no impact on your admissions application. Don’t write this just to butter us up; also, don’t fear that writing this will harm your application.
  • I will only publish your first name, last initial, and home state or country.
  • There is no prize for “winning” except that I’ll publish your thoughts here on the blog.
  • There’s no target length, but remember that it will be published on a blog. Vignettes and short stories would be great.
  • I will be choosing which work(s) are published; I’m sure it will be hard to chose.
  • Send your essay to me; my email address is my last name at mit dot edu.
  • Submit it in the next few days; the deadline is this Monday, January 8.

Again, my hope here is to have you share some of your thoughts and feelings with your peers, to show a spirit of togetherness, that at the most basic level, you’re all going through a rite of passage together, for all the good and bad, funny and sad. We’ll see how this turns out, should be interesting!

60 responses to “Mini-contest: Your Application Reflections”

  1. Chris Yaluma says:

    What a terrific idea!!! This is definately a great idea and I am sure sending essays would be great fun too. Lets go applicants!!! One love

  2. Snively says:

    Yep, I’m game. So many stories. . .

  3. Sabina says:

    you’ll, seriously, laugh so hard at my essay, and what i went through during this process.I hope I’ll have enough time to write it though.
    last few days i’s really sad because of different things, but now my spirit is elated because i’m going to get people who will read my experience, if not more then at least you Matt,
    i feel like it would be easy and fun for me to share it.
    good opportunity to spit out every thing that’s troublin’ me. Thanks.

  4. bhushan says:


    i was planning to write but those collegeboard have their stuff on Jan 27 and IIT-JEE on April 8

  5. ACE says:

    I am sorry if my post sound digressing. Will my ACT and TOEFL be accepted if I were to send it to MIT? I will take it on Feb 2007. I registered for both tests very early. Let say I have to appeal (touch wood), then will the two scores be taken into consideration. Could anyone reply me as soon as possible?

  6. Sam Jackson says:

    Can I play too? Or is it not fair since I’ve so many pre-written to draw from…

  7. Danielle says:

    I have yet to apply. The whole thing really scares me though. I think I might just deny that I am applying to MIT just incase I don’t get accepted, and if I do be like “Oh…BTW I got into MIT!”

  8. Anonymous says:

    Haha – this sounds like an awesome idea! I’ll probably send in an essay. smile

    Danielle, you’re not applying RD for the class of 2011, are you? Because in that case, the deadline has passed…

  9. tony says:

    ideas like this make me love MIT even more!

  10. tony says:

    ideas like this make me love MIT even more!

  11. Hooray, another deadline!

  12. Matt, can you move the deadline to Feb 1st? Some schools I apply to have Jan 15th deadline and this week I’m incredibly busy. I really want to write an essay like this, but I simply have no time now.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.

  13. Solomon says:

    The application process for MIT always comes alive with ideas like this from admissions officers.
    Thank you Mr. McGann.

  14. Utkarsh says:

    Wheepeee, I got some more stuff to do related to MIT.I actually can write a book on my experience while applying to MIT.Just can’t wait to receive a letter of invitation to join MIT.

    Any suggestions as to what should I do meanwhile waiting for the results????????????

  15. Play…as the guys in R&B put it!! Nevertheless, all I can say thanks Mr. Mcgann for this opportunity. I am posting again for a request to change these fonts from Georgia to Garamond or to anything. Sorry, but I really feel allergic to fonts typed in Georgia. Sorry again. Now there’s a fear that I again have to see my posting in Georgia. Oops… my teeth arrr… grittt….

  16. Kurt says:

    So, I was about to do this little essay on my “C word” experiance, but then I realized that it would be on how much my friends and I started hating doing essays for the “C word.” HAHA

  17. Dear Matt,
    Writing essays was a real challenge for me. My father and sister helped me to make some improvements in them.
    The toughest part was to tell you about the idea I have developed. It’s about TIME.
    I’m very excited since the idea has flashed in my mind. Although it’s just an idea right now but in future I will try my best to establish that.

    With Best Regards!!!
    Goldie from India

  18. Guyomar says:

    I’ll send an essay if some good ideas come to me.

  19. Matt,
    this post made me feel even more nervous since after seeing so many indians i doubt if i with 700 and 710 as sat scores have any chance.I am from a very remote area as well.what do u guys think,do i hv any chance?
    btw,matt u didnt answer my questions in your december-answers post??
    and pls try to raise the deadlne.

  20. Hi,
    Iam a 11th class student from kerala…I would like to join in mit for aerospace engineering on year 2008…But i don’t know what to do…I decided to clear SAT mathe matics level 1 and SAT physics and TOFEL…But i dont know how to prepare for these exams…Can you please send the topics for these exams and what i have to do after clearing exams for the admission..

  21. jammer says:

    hey bhusan whats up kid???

  22. ABHISHEK says:

    hey whats up guys?
    i forgot to enter my 9th & 10th grade high school name.can any body suggest something??????????
    well i am going to write a offcial letter to them abt it.

  23. Kwame Osei says:

    My grades weren’t good enough and I was wasting my time.

    Realizing I was a well-rounded person that coul bring something different to the school.

  24. Paulo Borges says:

    Aww, I just read this blog, =(
    hmm two days to write an essay, finish my AP history homework, finish reading “The Great Gatsby” in between school, work and teaching myself C++,
    well, Ill give it a shot… if I find time…

    Paulo Borges::Future M.I.T Applicant->2008 or 2009

  25. Wow, for the most part, I stayed on the sidelines reading all of the blogs and when I finally decided to write a post, I ended up writing this huge piece. So I sent in the post as an email instead and here I am.

    I guess everybody that was deferred or in the regular applicant pool will be anxiously waiting for the decisions to come out in a couple months. Good luck to everyone!!!

  26. Carla says:

    Hi Matt!
    well it is done…(actually it was done about a week ago but whatever…) wow that submit button was hard to pres! I thought I was done with the freaking out about MIT things… however I am kind of worrying because in my application tracking it says that you have not received any tests results, however I took the SAT II in June, so the results should have arrived long ago… what can I do about it?? once more thanks for all your answers and your support in the admission process!!!

  27. kanika says:

    hiya matt sir..forst of all thanx for coming back …hope you had a blast of a new year and hope you have an even wonderful year ahead …

    ok …the application process for me has sure been draconian absolutely draconian at times ,,when you are applying to the schools that you have always dreamt of 9in my case since grade 8 ) you ought to get nervous making sure evry bit of it is flawless..i have had sleepless nights sometimes wondering whether my scores from the january SAT would be accepted or not..sometimes editing and re editin my seeays,,mum and dad have started calling me ‘SANEly INSANE’ cause i find ot hard to focus on anything but MIT…i even spent new year eve reading these blogs trying to know every bit of MIT …there are a lot of things still bothering me …but i somehow i dont know where i get it from…but i believe in myself and my dream at MIT …i hope i make it ….i guess thats it
    besties to all fellow bloggers let us all survive the admissions process together!!!!!!!!!!!
    n kudos to MIT for having such a wonderful system ,!!!!!!!!!
    asta la vista

  28. kanika says:

    matt sir there are some questions waiting for you in ‘DEADLINE TIME QUESTION OMNIBUS’
    please help us out
    and sorry for the spelling mistakes again above …just goes out to show how nervous i still am ….

  29. Anonymous says:

    thank God ur back!!!!!
    we’re nervous,curious,sweatin,dying….lots of questions waiting for you…….

    n oh ya…hope you had a great new year’s

  30. anon says:

    My son had lots of trouble (at another college, not MIT) with College Board this year. The score report that CB sent dropped his last year of tests, and he wouldn’t have known, except his Math Level 2 was missing. My suggestion: allow students to self-report their SAT scores, and just require official reports when/if admitted. This would save big bucks, too!

  31. Sabina says:

    Hey anon,
    you know what collegeboard did to my score, they sent it to a different school instead of MIT and don’t even agree that i had changed my score recipient to MIT. At this time of year after thinking that i finished all the application stuff, realizing that my scores have not yet been sent is really , really frustating.
    I was wondering what mistake i did when i was changing the score recipient but now i’m confident that the mistake was not mine.
    I feel a little better.

  32. Josh V says:

    so i’m from seattle, and you might have heard that we had major winter wind/snow storms last december. (it’s funny because i hear all my east coast buddies say they have been having such a mild winter, while we are freezing our toes off–it seriously never gets that windy/rainy/cold/snowy here, EVER)

    anyways, so it was the night of december 14th and i was editing and rewriting all my essays for the stanford app (which was due on the 15th; i know, i should have finished it earlier, but whatev). i was charging my laptop, so i decided i would use our office computer to write them. i was on my last essay when the lights suddenly flickered out for a second. “WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT?!” i thought. the rain was beating on our living room windows like large pine cones and the wind made the trees bend like blades of grass. my dog was frantically barking outside in the momentary darkness. to my shock and horror, my computer had restarted and i had not svaed any of my changes. THANK GOD FOR AUTORECOVERY. so i started my computer back up, but just as i was about to open up my files, the power surged again…however, this time, the power did not come back on. i sat in front of my blackened computer screen in our dark office for 5 minutes waiting for my electricity to come back on, but it never did. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! i was frantic. i did not know what to do. the app was due the next day and i did not have any of my essays saved anywhere else nor did i have internet. luckily i charged my laptop. that night, i stayed up writing my stanford app essays and finished them all just before 3 in the morning. My power was still out and my laptop was running on 19% power. ohh man. time for me to submit this thing! so i ended up taking my laptop and driving all over seattle looking for a wireless signal. i drove up to my school (which was closed due to the storm), connected to the network from the parking lot, and submitted my application with 4% batter life left. I was extremely relieved when i finished it and my power came back on the following night (which was when i saw that stanford had extended its application deadline for those PNW students affected by the storm tothe 18th). it was definitely a roller coaster experience–one that is funny when i look back on it, but also one that was definitely stressful in the present.

  33. Josh V says:

    (since it is more like a long blurb than an essay, i just shared my story here)

  34. Elizabeth says:

    Hey Josh. I live in Seattle area too. Thankfully, I was not working on apps that night (Not to mention we got our power back on after ONLY A DAY AND A HALF! Woot! We rock. Anyway, I was pretty much done with my apps. All turned in! Oh, and my school had finished that Thursday anyway, so we didn’t miss any school. But hey, It’s supposed to snow Wednesday, so cross your fingers! Maybe Josh and I can have a little Party if we have no school. J/K!

  35. Josh V says:

    yes there is a possibility of snow on wed! hahah. but with the way things are going, since my school is on a block schedule, we’ve missed like 4 bc classes due to weather…and that is 4 starbucks sessions sessions that we are going to have, which is fun and all, but i am really hoping to not have to make up any more calc class. plus, i have an integrals test on wed and we can’t miss that now, can we? haha. no.

    elizabeth, where do you go to school? and if we get in to MIT–no, when we get in lol, we are definitely going to have to go out for starbucks together! and i’m completely serious. (and ok, so maybe not everyone in seattle likes starbucks as much as i make it seem in my posts, but i sure do. so if you’re from seattle and don’t like it, tough nuggets)

  36. kanika says:

    i sent in my essay to u matt sir…wen will u b over wid selectin from all that came???
    n wer will da essays be published ??? right here …???

  37. Vishaque says:

    WARNING Suitable for 45+— Applicants for Fall 07 DO NOT READ this entry. Read at your own responsibility.

    WOW! OWW!! Here’s the bus’s jamming packed…; (Nice phrase, isn’t it?) so I am posting for the IIIrd time. Looks like we are in same compartment and this is beginning to look like IIT(AEEEEE!!!EEEE!!!) JEE; now as far as I know IIT’s haven’t done anything except securing a job of P.M. Rs.30,000/- as a Team Leader in Commwell, Somwell, Honeywell, Well & Well and Well & Sons. 2 Cool. So please, even though I don’t have any/the idea of Admission Policy at MIT but I earnestly request (though its -273.16 or .15 *C unfair to say so), to all of you to back off who want to flaunt the tag of MIT after getting admitted(?). Please.
    Alright, it is very late for this advice, I know; but I can’t help it. I am a REBEL in my DNA.
    No matter, to all those kids and their parents too: Who want to desperately get admitted (hey, me too) or their kids to be admitted (my mother cannot differentiate between Russian Cryogenic and VASIMR); and who don’t have/had/never tried to have/had any idea, of what their kids’ nature is, respectively. I mean what their blood (ever heard of?) demanded for to become?
    Otherwise we have to step aside, for the MIT’s very own Kavya Vishwanathan.
    Mr. Mcgann, please choose anyone.
    (I am on the list too. EEE!! GEORGIA again. I know… EEE!!)

    P.S. — It’s a frusrtated guy’s venom/posting(IIIrd). Please ignore it. And carry on for your Exams. I am sorry if I had hurt anybody’s feelings. Really. I am sorry, again.

  38. Elizabeth says:

    SOOOO no school. smile This all would have been useful if our times of no school had occurred when we were working on apps. But you know, that’s ok. But no Starbucks for me now:(

  39. Vishaque says:

    I am feeling very sorry, for this all. For the generation, for which O. Paine aspired may things and where we are? Ahh!! Even I, didn’t have the guts to look at. What they say in psychology dept.: Cross Examination.
    Never did.
    Never defined, what the words meant?
    Never knew, what is a URGE?
    Always… always, finding a way to carry on.
    Never experimented, you know.
    Thought it was too risky.
    Hell man… it is very risky.
    Just to get born, live and die or in one word:
    mens et manus…

  40. Elizabeth says:

    Josh: I love Starbucks! Our latin class is actually going first block tomorrow. Hmmmm… peppermint mocha, perhaps? and a WARM cinnamon roll. Yummm.
    Of course we are going to get in. And you know, I went to Starbucks with some friends who graduated last year and they said that they feel lonely wishing for Starbucks at school cuz noone else drinks Starbucks there. So sad. And my gift card is almost used up too.
    I go to Overlake, btw. And right now, I am enjoying a beautiful sunset. At 4:30. Why does it have to get dark so early? (That is not a cue for someone to explain the tilt of the earth, it’s a general…sort of complaint)

    And to everyone else: I love recognizing bloggers: I know Sarab and Kanika have posted a lot. Anyone know what happened to Dan Beard? He applied early too, (made the binary count-down clock I loved). He get in?

  41. blahness says:

    Mark Rechtin | | Automotive News / January 8, 2007 – 1:00 am

    “Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. has quietly settled a class-action lawsuit that covers about 3.5 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles that may have been damaged by engine oil sludge.”

    “This settlement breathes life into claims that have been dead for years,” said Gary Gambel, a lawyer for plaintiffs who sued Toyota.

    “Toyotas at risk:

    About 3.3 million Toyota vehicles are susceptible to oil sludge, which can cause thousands of dollars in damage and require replacement of the engine. Here are the vehicles included in the settlement.


    Camry 4 cyl. 1997-2001
    Camry 6 cyl. 1997-2002
    Camry Solara 4 cyl. 1999-2001
    Camry Solara 6 cyl. 1999-2002
    Sienna 6 cyl. 1998-2002
    Avalon 6 cyl. 1997-2002
    Celica 4 cyl. 1997-1999
    Highlander 6 cyl. 2001-2002
    Lexus ES 300 1997-2002
    Lexus RX 300 1999-2002″

    It’s about time perceptions change in this country….

    <a>BF Goodrich</a>

  42. Vishaque says:

    Hello Kanika, I am really very sorry that I hurt your feelings and like minded people. Also I apologize for not making sense (but hey, thats different theme); nonetheless sorry again. I sincerely hope and wish all of you guys will forgive me.

  43. anon says:

    Vishaque- What exactly WERE you writing then? I mean, it sounds like a really deep poem, except it’s completely undecipherable (from my stance at least). Poems tend to work if they evoke some sort of image or feeling in the recipient-confusion doesn’t necessarily count unless that is really all you’re going for. I’m just kinda’ curious as to what you meant…?

  44. kanika says:

    may be i am dumb or may be you are a genius ..i understand little of what you are trying to say above…but from what i have understood i just want to reply with this…nobody wants to get into MIT just to flaunt the tag after getting admitted …it is just to have a more fulfilling career ..not for money(not even the slightset hint of it) ..and to keep the hope of making a difference in this world alive …i hope i am not sounding like some 50+ ..

  45. Josh V says:

    Hey Elizabeth

    No school for me today either!

  46. Vishaque says:

    Alright, alright, enough of verbiage jugglery, undecipherable or readily comprehensible, that doesn’t matter. I said I am sorry, guys. Now then let’s bury this, and continue. I sincerely wish that. But Anon, your comment includes a question. That is: What exactly you WERE writing then?
    1. See the third posting’s PS.
    2. Try to have a Newsletter from JPL NASA and see what stuff they will send you, if you do not have subscription then I’d like to tell you that they will send you numerous photographs of Mars, Venus, …. et al.
    3. Then, as you might be already aware of the full form of JPL. Just try to compare what the name says, I mean the full form of JPL and the stuff in your Inbox; then if anything new happens in your neuron-circuits, I mean if there’s something you find “itchy”, “disturbing” or any synonyms of previous ones. Then … what… should I say ” you have deciphered it my brother” or “sorry”.
    I am choosing Sorry.
    *Mens et Manus*

  47. kanika says:

    heya vishaque….
    ’tis okay brother…everybody has the right to voice their notions…no ned to say sorry for it all….ciao

  48. Vishaque- I actually wasn’t talking about your post with the warning on top- I meant the one after, that’s in like poem format. Sorry for the misunderstanding, I really was just curious about what the poem meant. I think it came out incredibly biting since I was REALLY pissed off when I wrote it. So sorry! I really just wanted to know what you meant. And there is no reason to be sorry, I was just like, ‘what does she mean?’

  49. Elizabeth says:

    no school still. This is the craziest Seattle winter ever, guys. Be lucky you aren’t here now! I’m sure we’ll have to make up these days, but for now I’ll enjoy.
    I’m excited to hear about people’s app experiences once Matt posts them. It’ll be fun!

  50. Vishaque says:

    Hello Kanika(Ladies First) and Anon, after approx. 80 hrs. I got relieved that I hadn’t
    further made things worse. Now, Anon, I was also talking about the one, that is in poem
    format. Now, how… how I will make you to understand. Its something kind of a fire-burn, you can explain what the burn is like, how it feels… blah…blah. Or you can just put your finger in fire to not know but to understand. I am getting metaphysical. Anyway, Anon you are one of those guys because of whom I am here. Need to know me? Need to understand what the poem says?
    Perhaps you may not have, that much time. So…

    … …

    A time-saving, ready-to-serve, Optional Answer {Sprinkle a lil peeper on top, and serve hot}:
    Cross Examination [Never questioned myself for what I am here, on this planet; because of biology or something else, 2nd line confirms that]
    Never did.
    Never defined, what the words meant? [Just taking everything as it has been served, whether it has been textbooks, facts, ideologies, dogma, beliefs et cetera… et cetera. Never tried to see it for myself, never in my life I had the “words” which had the meaning given by someone else: Expert Opinion]
    Never knew, what is a URGE? [And thus brother, I do not know how a new idea get in one’s brain, never-dreamed/thought before idea, like “Gravitation”, “Relativity” or “Internal-Combustion Engine” or … … ]
    Always… always, finding a way to carry on. [As from birth, it has never been my consideration or never in my domain of thoughts, to question/fight/strive. I am just a plain jane 9-5 guy = Replacable with any likewise guy. ]
    Never experimented, you know. [At one point, probably in my boyhood, I tried to live my dream]
    Thought it was too risky. [But you know family pressure, Christ, my parents were praying/crying/weeping for me]
    Hell man… it is very risky. [Now? What about now? Hey, can’t think about it man, I have a wife and two kids and moreover this is not the age for such pranks and trivialities]
    Just to get born, live and die or in one word:
    SURVIVE [Love it or hate it; but that’s what my whole life belonged to…]
    mens et manus…

  51. Vishaque says:

    IInd Paragrapgh- 8th Line- Replace “Never” from “Always”. And yes, Sorry for Inconvenience.

  52. kanika says:

    do you really ‘av a wife and two kids lolzz….and that explanaton of your words is really captivatin i must say..i liked it infact i loved it…one or the other way everybody is that way….but we neva shun the familiarity thats the reason why we cant think like a genius…right bro???

  53. Stephen B says:

    Well, I was applying to UPenn, and it was the Jan1, so this was the last day. My cousin was in Albuquerque from Ohio and convinced me to go see James Bond’s Casino Royale in the evening. When I got back, I only had 10 minutes to complete the app!! So, I glanced over the essays and submitted some good ones that I’d already tailored to fit UPenn, when I still had another 300 word essay to write in 3 minutes. The question was asking about which professor I’d like to research with So…this is what I wrote ”I’ve not thoroughly thought with who I should research my ideas because I must confess that MIT is my first choice. If I were to go to UPenn, I would probably drop out due to boredom. Please do not let this essay negatively affect your admissions decision. one minute till the deadline. Yeah MIT…Go Engineers! “

    Was it rash? Yes, but I had just seen James Bond, the theme song was running through my head, and I was feeling rather suave at the moment. So, this is how I “defied the Ivy League” favor of MIT.

  54. Vishaque says:

    Ahh! At last, I am finding myself lucky enough to settle this thing. Well…well; so no more self-explanation, and answers of “What did he meant?” or “Are ya CRAZYY?” or “You are totally out of mind”. Guessing Anon’s quite busy, so he hadn’t read it. But anyway, if he still finds something offensive (God forbid), then here’s my apologies to him in advance, with this statement: These thing are my and only my thoughts. There’s no condition/probability/force to abide/make/swallow them as Universal. I hope that the point has been taken. Ladies and gentlemen, my warm regards for your co-operation and creative criticism.

    And… I am not married.

  55. Vishaque says:

    may be i am dumb or may be you are a genius ..i understand little of what you are trying to say above…
    Vishaque- What exactly WERE you writing then? I mean, it sounds like a really deep poem, except it’s completely undecipherable (from my stance at least).
    heya vishaque….
    ’tis okay brother…everybody has the right to voice their notions…
    Vishaque- I actually wasn’t talking about your post with the warning on top- I meant the one after, that’s in like poem format….
    do you really ‘av a wife and two kids lolzz….

    Bye guys,

  56. kanika says:

    i scrounged around da blogs searching for u vishaque and i finally got u ….i was waiting for an explanation …sorry a reply..ok im convinced dat u r nt married…but i loved dat poem …i really really did …ive written it down in my diary..preserved forever wid ur name…the address of tis blog n the explanation dat followed …feelin’ gooooooooddd……..adios..hope u read it

  57. Vishaque says:

    Hello and thank-you very much Kanika, its really very humble of you. Here I am just muddling in a load of things, so I am just taking-off, for now. But hey, thanks again.

  58. Anonymous says:

    Vishaque, you are the most peevish, bullish, shitish, damnish and confused idiot i ever saw!

    Kanika, not this fact in yer diary!

  59. OK, now Anonymous from directly above is just mean. At least I tried to say I was sorry. And thanks Vishaque for clarifying everything! i especially like the review of everything coming off your post, lol.