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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

MIT goes on the road by Matt McGann '00

Over the next month, MIT Admissions Officers will visit dozens of cities across North America.

Beginning Wednesday until the end of October, my Admissions colleagues and I will go forth across this continent to tell you tales of MIT.

This year, the first meetings are in Maine, Connecticut, Ohio, and Rhode Island, followed quickly behind by Virginia and Pennsylvania. For a complete list of sessions, click here.

You might be wondering, what happens at these meetings? What should you expect?

First, the admissions officer and the local Educational Counselors (MIT alumni interviewers, also known as ECs) will greet attendees at the door. Please note that no RSVP is required.

The meeting itself will last no longer than 90 minutes. Each admissions officer’s presentation varies somewhat, but will cover the same information.

We’ll talk about MIT: academics, research, student life, Boston/Cambridge, MIT culture. What makes MIT different from other universities? How might you know whether or not MIT is a good match for you?

We will of course talk about admissions, including the different application components, the deadlines, what makes an applicant “competitive,” how we make decisions on which students to admit. We’ll provide advice and tips wherever we can.

Money and financial aid will be discussed. How do you apply for financial aid? Should you apply for it? What should I expect?

Also, the local ECs will introduce themselves. They’ll talk about what MIT looks for in an interview and give you some advice. This is also a good chance for students to meet their interviewer face-to-face and to set up a time for their interview.

We will always finish with an open Q&A. We’ll take as many questions as we can and do our best to answer every question fully. I’ve found that even students and families who don’t have any questions find it interesting and helpful to hear other people’s questions and the corresponding answer.

This year, my travels will take me to Northern California, Downstate New York, and Toronto, though, for reasons I’ll talk about in a future entry, my first meeting isn’t until the very end of the month.

For those of you who have attended other college “road shows”: what has been most helpful? What hasn’t been helpful at all? And for those of you planning to attend an MIT Central Meeting this year, what are you looking forward to hearing about?

77 responses to “MIT goes on the road”

  1. Aakriti says:

    I am not being able to submit my application online bcoz it again and again says that the credit card number is not valid.I even called the credit card ppl…No one seems to know what is going wrong.I am very upset now.Can anyone help me?

  2. Vytautas says:

    Heh, I have written a comment which stated that you should visit every country in the world. But then I realised that this would increase the applicant pool and nobody wants that. Right? Right. So DON’T visit anybody, just keep blogging, and maybe podcasting smile

  3. Hello,

    I am an international student living in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and was wondering whether it is a disadvantage in the admissions process if you are unable to attend one of these events? Will a video/transcript of one of these events be made available online for all to see? Thanks!

    Also wanted to mention that these blogs are extremely useful/informative, and I really enjoy reading them.

    Mark Stothers,
    Vancouver, BC

  4. Nihar says:

    I agree with Ankit. For those of us who cannot attend the meetings, can you please provide some more insight into what makes an applicant “competitive”?
    But this doesnt hide my disappointment. I live in Jakarta, Indonesia and our school does have presentations from some of the colleges from the US….but never from the college Im dying to know more about!…sniff…sniff..:(….please help Matt.

    Nihar Sharma
    Jakarta, Indonesia

  5. Longhorn says:

    So the recruiting session in Austin is at the Pickle Center?? You’re taking away our beloved bright Texas students from our own campus!!

  6. Hawkins '12 says:

    @Mark – You won’t be at a disadvantage if you haven’t attended an information session. Most of what they’ll be covering can be found by perusing this very web site. Aren’t these blogs great?! I love them dearly.

  7. Yuzhi '12 says:

    I’ll see you on September 30th!!
    Can’t wait!

  8. Wings '11 says:

    @Ronald – Not sure about your first so I’ll let someone else take that. To answer your second question, it’s best to submit part 1 of your application before sending anything else.

    @Romulus/others – Just read the website! This website has pretty much everything they say at the meetings. There’s no magic word to get in, and not every applicant is obsessed with this website (like I was/am), so they have the meetings.

    @Hawkins – I’d keep the 12 because then people know your age. Since ’12 is in the future, most people probably understand its implication of hopefulness. And you’ll probably be a 12 somewhere else if not MIT =P
    @Vytautus – I don’t think it’s necessarily the pool they’re worried about. It would just be very difficult to visit every country in the world. As 90% of the class will be from the US, it’s understandable that they would concentrate there.

    Don’t fret about missing the meetings, guys. You are far from alone, and there’s no secret to MIT (well, admissions anyway).

  9. Hawkins says:

    @Wings – Nonono, this is the confusion I’m trying to prevent. =) I am an MIT ’12 (I was an ’11 like you and I deferred enrollment for a year), and it’s not very telling of my age since I’ve been out of HS for 3 years…

  10. milena '11 says:

    But wait, didn’t Hawkins actually get in but deferred admission until next fall? That’s what I thought had happened lol someone please enlighten me!

    About the EC’s, they’re very helpful people, and you’ll find that usually you can email them with any questions and/or concerns about the admissions process. Remember, they’re EC’s because they want to, MIT doesn’t force them to do this job, so (in theory) they should be more than happy to help you out. However, keep in mind that they probably only know about the MIT admissions process/life/academics/etc, so don’t go asking about other schools because odds are they’ll be clueless.

  11. milena '11 says:

    @ hawkins: hahaha ok glad we cleared that up.

  12. Anonymous says:

    What in my opinion is not worth spending too much time on is financial aid. If a student needs it, the high school counselors have enough information to cover that. Of course, I am not saying you shouldn’t give the basics smile Also, time could be spent on what you do NOT like to hear on student essays and in general, what you do not like to see on student’s applications. What some people also find helpful is listening to sample admitted students’ stories.

  13. Grace '11 says:

    @Ronald, I think the EC is mainly for the interview, but probably most ECs will be happy to answer questions through e-mail; during my interview, my EC said I could e-mail her anytime about anything. Don’t know how much they know about other colleges though.

  14. Hawkins says:

    @Milena – You knew I deferred? =O Mad stalking skills. wink

    @Vytautas – Very sneaky… Good plan. lol

  15. Kate says:

    Anonymous commenters who insult people are so cowardly…the way they cower behind their lack of identity. (That remark won’t make any sense when the comment above this is erased.)

    Anyway, I got my postcard with the “Dates MIT will be in your area” on it and I am so excited! Yay for information sessions!

    I’m really hoping that,as another Anonymous mentioned, the “NOTs” will be mentioned.

  16. Kate says:

    Okay…that was several uses of the word “mentioned”…whoops! And I was referring to tha “NOTs” as in what doesn’t MIT want to see from/in applicants.

  17. HodieCras says:

    Good luck on the road!

    I am, once again, terribly saddened that the ‘show’ will not be stopping in Wyoming. We have a tech community on the range, we do, I promise, and teenagers, too! However, I can see the planning behind it. Anyway, I feel a little whiny, complaining about a day trip, when someone from Botswana was disappointed about no shows in Africa.

    If luck and gas prices hold out, I’ll be seeing the Sandy or Greenwood Village presentations. I wish your visit to the Rockies isn’t as mournful as it was last year. Here’s hoping. In the mean time, any chance of a stop in the Equality State next year?

    B. Ellwood,
    Casper, WY

  18. milena '11 says:

    I went to two info sessions, a short one at my high school and then the big one, and it’s very helpful to go, just to show you’re interested and whatnot. And you also (hopefully) get to meet your interviewer, so you’ll already have an idea of how that person is and how you should prepare.

  19. Hudson A says:

    Hmmmm… I think I’ll just do an overnight in October.

  20. Wings '11 says:

    It’s so WEIRD! I haven’t even started classes yet, and you’re already looking for the Class of 2012. Admissions office, hard at work =) I remember Nance came and spoke to us in California – that session actually convinced me to do the interview. I was too scared to do it before, but it seemed more important than I thought so I went for it.

  21. Aakriti says:

    Are such roads ever going to happen in India(punjab)…i would love to be a part of these..but cannot.

  22. @Mark and other with similar concerns:

    I did not attend any of the information sessions (I found out about them the day before they occurred and I was already busy then) and I seem to have fared fairly well in the admissions process, seeing as I got in. From what I hear, they are very informative, but do not vary very much from what you will find on the website and what you may hear at other colleges’ information sessions, if you go to any of those. In short, go if you can, but if you can’t it’s not the end of the world.

  23. ronald says:

    hey guys..out of topic.. but 2 questions..
    1.Are we supposed to contact our EC for matters other than the interview? I mean can we talk to him/her bout the admission process and take suggestions through e-mail? Can we talk to them about other colleges?

    2.Can we send in the recommendations before submitting any part of the online application?Will they be able to file all my stuff without starting a folder for me?Or have they already opened a folder for me coz i’d sent my SAT scores last december?

    PS-did i say 2 questions??

  24. romulus says:

    so matt..u ppl are gonna talk about…”How might you know whether or not MIT is a good match for you?”

    so for students who can’t attend a meeting…can you tell us what u are going to say bout the match through your blogs?

  25. Are transfer admissions discussed at these meetings?

  26. Snively says:

    Deferred ’12 = ok
    Hopeful ’12 = BAD

    Don’t do it, nobody likes arrogance

  27. Wings '11 says:

    Oh, I see Hawkins. Gotcha =)

  28. Farhad says:

    Hey, yup ECs are great, at least mine is, I had my interview conducted about two weeks ago, it was awesome! We talked a lot about MIT, facilities, classes, teachers, the students, all the other activities you cand o besides academic related stuff, etc… But we also talked about going to college as one of many stages in life, what can I do after I graduate and of course he gave a lot of advices and tips!
    So it was one of the nicest moments I’ve had these past few months!

    Does anoyone know if there are any Fields medallists teaching at MIT?

  29. Farhad says:

    Oh and arrogance is not the same as confidence.

  30. Hawkins says:

    To be responsible, I’m dropping the ’12. It only seems to encourage others to randomly adopt it, and I wouldn’t want to spoil anyone’s excitement when they finally earn the right to bear it. So… if you’re commenting here, it’s assumed you’re a “hopeful ’12” unless you specify otherwise.

  31. Will you also come to Botswana (Southern Africa)…if not then why not??

    For people who will not have the opputunity to be part of these meetings please tell us what makes an applicant “competitive” ?

    Ankit Chandra
    Gaborone, Botswana

  32. Hey Matt can u guys put up the presentations u give online as well for those who cannot attend those meetings? It will really help a lot! Thanks. Also any important or significant questions from the audience and the answers would help help too. Thanks again!

  33. Constantin says:

    I agree that transcripts / recordings of these meetings would be very interesting, especially for international students who can’t attend them. Please make them available if at all possible.

  34. Wings '11 says:

    Again, I think you’re making to big a deal of this – but odd, when did the community decide that numbers mean you MUST have been accepted? I’m perfectly fine with numbers later than the current students being used as a *hope* that they get in.

  35. Anonymous says:

    oops! sorry! didn’t know about the ’12 thing, i probably posted some in the past.
    I thought it was assumed that it’s like “hopeful” and kind of a sign that we are applying this year (there are people applying for future classes that check out blogs)and ’12 doesn’t always mean MIT class of ’12 xP

  36. Hawkins says:

    @Milena – douche-y? hahaha! f’real.

    @Everyone – Sorry for hijacking the comments with this ’12 issue… However, I don’t believe the comments have ever been kept strictly to the topic of the entry. So flame on! =P

  37. I think the best course of action is to use a question mark, (as in Jethro ’12?), or some other sort of punctuation to notate a hopeful. Or better yet, just put “Jethro, Hopeful ’12” or “Jethro, ’08 Applicant.”

    I hate modifiers. wink

    …And just so my question doesn’t get buried: Are transfer admissions a topic of discussion at these meetings?

  38. Yuzhi says:

    Sorry about the using ’12. I thought it was assumed that we are applying to colleges this year if we used ’12. I’m not trying to be “arrogant” or “confident” (since I definitely have no right to be confident about admission to any college, just hoping for the best). Again, sorry for causing a problem.

  39. Nihar says:

    Though I admit to be completely obsessed with perusing every bit of info this wonderful site has to offer, It was actually getting to meet someone who has been a part of the MIT culture that intrigued me.
    Are the people really as cool as they sound like?…The whole face-to-face thing would have been a better chance to get to know the details first hand. Oh well, I guess there’s always my interviewer. (**ahem….No use pretending Im not a bit apprehensive to meet him**)

  40. For all the people stressing over the minuteness of ’12

    Ankit Chandra
    Gaborone, Botswana

  41. Hawkins says:

    @Yuzhi – No worries, friend. Nothing against you personally, just the concept. =)

    Until recently, I’ve never seen anyone commenting these blogs with a number by their name who had not yet been accepted. Of course that doesn’t mean you “MUST” have been accepted to have a number, but that is how things have operated in this community since before I was a part of it. Not a rule, but a tradition exists.

    I don’t want to make a huge deal of such a small issue. I do want all the hopefuls to feel the same excitement the rest of us felt when adding our class number to our names.

  42. Edgar says:

    @ Ankit, your comics are so true… should I say awesome? smile

    @everyone, I think we should just let the people (Hawking) who are certain put the ’12 and everyone else just their name/anonymous. Anyone else agree? Is the ’12 even that essential?

  43. Okay…one more time: questions.

    1. Are transfer admissions discussed at these admissions meetings?

    2. Can transfer applicants be interviewed by an EC?–Note that I didn’t do an interview when I applied for freshman admission.

  44. @ Edgar My point was…who cares!!!

    Ankit Chandra
    Gaborone, Botswana

  45. Wings '11 says:

    I disagree about adding ’12. These people are going to be ’12 – maybe not at MIT – but if they intend to be a ’12 somewhere, let them add the ’12.

    While ’12 isn’t essential, putting your year is useful – in my opinion, anyway.

    I think you guys are making this too big a deal =P

  46. Isshak says:

    Ah, off topic conversations about random things, I love that…
    Anyway ! So everything you will say at the meetings are on the website ? International students don’t have to worry, right ?

  47. Vytautas '20 says:

    Some people may ask why did I put ’20 to my name. Well, because if I don’t get in untill the class of ’20, then I’m gonna rethink if I’ve chosen a right thing to do in my life(a.k.a. get into MIT by any price). And I don’t really like to rethink things wink. I like to think everything about them before dropping the idea.

  48. Vytautas '20 says:

    Oh, and some other(or maybe the same) people may question the purpose of my last and this post. Well, they’re both here because I got a little bit tired of SAT preparation smile

  49. Could you please send me the MIT catelog for spring 2008 curriculum schedule ? Thanks alot.

  50. madmatt says:

    @Matt, PSU ’11: At the meetings, we only discuss freshman admissions, since 99% of attendees are prospective freshman applicants. Since freshman and transfer admissions are mostly similar, you might still learn something, but it is not focused on the transfer process. Also, EC interviews are not a part of the transfer process.

    @Henry: You can view the catalog yourself at

    I hope this helps!
    — Matt

  51. ronald says:

    exactly as wings said!..or as ron said in HP7- “overkill, mate”!
    anyway..i havent got complete answers..that’s y i’m proding a bit more…
    1. is it unpardonable if we talk to our EC about other colleges?

    2.what happens if we send in an application fee waiver request?how/when will the my mit account be updated so that i can send in our part 1 without the application fee?

  52. Naresh says:

    Is there anything like you must have done research in this field or you must have atleast done something new on your own in order to get into mit?I just wanna know.Sorry for the out of post topic.

  53. Edgar says:

    @Hawkins, sorry, =P but I was reading his book and it popped up without me noticing! I apologize! Hey, even great people make mistakes! =)

  54. Hawkins says:

    @ronald – No one will take away your birthday if you ask your EC about other colleges. Worst case scenario: he/she will say something like, “I don’t know anything about other schools; please stick to MIT-related questions.” Your second question is best answered by an admissions officer.

    @Everyone – Here’s the deal. No one is going to tell you what you can and cannot put beside your name. It doesn’t matter what you call yourself. I’d just like to offer two facts that will hopefully provide some perspective:

    1. In this community, a number after a name represents the year that person will graduate from MIT (not another school, unless that school’s name is also included).

    2. You can’t be sure you’ll graduate from MIT unless you’ve actually been accepted there. To be arrogant (or “confident”) about this is absurd.

    So, in light of these facts, use whatever name you like. But know that you’re representing yourself to the MIT community and that some of us don’t think too highly of superfluous class numbers.

    ZOMG, did someone just call me Hawking? Honored, but uh… No.

  55. milena '11 says:

    Oh, you can NEVER be confident about MIT. Seriously, no one do the ’12 thing(except, of course, for Hawkins–he already got in). It’s going to come across as wannabe, cocky and douche-y. And annoying.

  56. Wings '11 says:

    Anthony, could you write about the early college challenges you faced? Just wondering =)

  57. Shruthi says:

    Hey…. Sorry about the off topic post, but do you come to other countries too? It would be nice to have a feel of what you will talk about even if you dont reside in US…

    Shruthi(’12??) :D

  58. Hawkins says:

    @Anthony – Good point! I wasn’t even thinking about that. Yes, I second Wings’ request for a post (or comment) on early college challenges. =)

  59. Anthony says:

    Wings and Hawkins – actually, go search through my archives from 2005… you should find several posts about just that smile

  60. JJS says:

    Sorry about getting off the topic….
    I would like to know if MIT would come to India anytime in the near future….
    btw is there any age limit for the UG course at MIT……


  61. Kristin '09 says:

    I attended one of these traveling admissions shows back in fall of 2003 (man, that seems SO long ago now) and it was what first got me interested in MIT. The presenter was professional, but still excited and obviously was very happy to talk about MIT.

    I attended a few other local information sessions, including one at my local library that was for a shall-not-be-named Ivy but was not the one down the street. The presenters, mostly recent alumni, were not well prepared, and the questions that were asked were along the lines of legacy and how to get a lock on admission. I was completely turned off from the school and refused to visit or apply following it.

    I think the best thing is to show a bit of culture along with all the standard information – it was what really got me excited about the idea of MIT. Information sessions by some other Ivies that mostly talked about the actual admissions process that is done by the admissions counselors, and how difficult it was to get in, came off as presumptuous and elitist, at least to me.

  62. Wings '11 says:

    Thanks, Anthony! I actually went on a reading spree before EA results came out, and looking at your blogs, I remember them now. I particularly like this one:

  63. k s says:

    Is it worth 2 hours of driving to go to this meeting, or can I find everything I need from the website?

    k. s.

  64. Anonymous says:

    ay baby ,,, I am in da club Holla !

  65. Anthony says:

    @Hawkins: I noticed you wrote “2. You can’t be sure you’ll graduate from MIT unless you’ve actually been accepted there.”

    I think if you ask any upperclassman at MIT, you’ll find that the real statement is “You can’t be sure you’ll graduate from MIT unless you’ve got a diploma in your hand!” A quote I once saw was “It’s hard to get in, and it’s also hard to stay in.” Yes, if you’re admitted, you’re intellectually capable of doing the work. But it’s not all about intellect. MIT is simply giving you the tool box (i.e., the opportunity to attend MIT) – it’s up to you to use it productively. Hey, at least MIT guarantees you can graduate within four years (if you choose a major by end of first year, stick with that major, complete prerequisites by the end of your first year and complete everything in your major program on time). A lot of public universities will require certain courses for your degree, yet not offer them when you can take them, year after year, causing someone to graduate in 5 or even 6 years, despite their best intentions and performance.

    It’s hard to get into MIT, but it’s not like the mere act of being accepted guarantees your graduation. Some folks transfer out, some folks take time off and come back later, and some folks just leave university life altogether. MIT has an extremely high graduation rate when compared to most American colleges – I think the state universities back home had something like a 40% six-year grad rate, compared with MIT’s 90-something% rate – but really, when people say they work harder than they ever have before, and when people say that every MIT degree is well earned, they mean it! grin

    I like to think that while getting into MIT is only the first challenge you will surmount, each subsequent challenge is more rewarding than the last. I am happier than I’ve ever been as I enter my third year, and I look back on the early challenges I faced in college as things that made me even stronger. That’s not to say that I want to go through the college application process ever again… LOL!

  66. Shruthi says:

    That sounds nice…. But is there any chance of these guys coming to India?

    @JJS – I dont think there is an age limit…. Did you mean a minimum age or an upper limit?

  67. Snively says:

    @ Nihar

    Yes, it’s true, almost everybody I’ve met here is pretty cool and definitely interesting. Some examples?

    While watching “The Terminal” we realized that some random freshman watching it with us knew Russian so he was able to translate all the cool parts.

    After hanging out with a girl for a week I discovered that she did USAMO for 4 years, I had no idea.

    I met a kid who was friends with the Eepy Birds before their Diet Coke and Mentos breakout.

    Everybody here loves math and programming jokes (the old combo to a lock here was 2^12) (people get caught saying “Score ++!”) and everybody knows what is.

    You can talk about almost anything math/technical and people will understand and laugh with you about it/help you with it.

    People are SO friendly, I’ve been introduced to countless people so far, everybody wants to be your friend (especially upperclassmen).

    There’s a whole cool culture depending on who you end up spending time with. Maybe it’s FAP (freshmen arts program), Jacks, or random people you meet in the green lounge off the infinite in an attempt to get some hw done during the day. Groups and inside jokes and neat traditions spawn constantly.

    MIT is extremely cool and very inviting, ignore anything you’ve heard to the contrary. Honestly, nobody is hostile or angry, everybody wants to help everybody. Definitely apply here, you won’t regret it, and definitely come here if you get accepted.

  68. Hawkins says:

    @Shruthi & JJS – I haven’t heard of an age limit or minimum age requirement… I’ll be 22 as a freshman, if that helps.

    The info sessions are definitely not traveling to India this year. Perhaps in future years, who knows?

  69. Shruthi says:

    Thats a pity :( Will we be able to get a transcript or a video of it though?

  70. tokenadult says:

    I encourage students who attend MIT fall recruiting sessions this year to post visit reports in the MIT Forum on College Confidential, so the students who can’t attend can at least get some of the information.

    I’ll miss this year’s, for my younger son’s soccer match, but my wife and oldest should be attending the MIT session in my town.

  71. JJS says:

    @shruti….Thanks…. i meant an upper age limit…

  72. JJS says:


  73. Amelia says:

    Next year the Seattle info session really needs to be in downtown/central Seattle-I am unable to go to this year’s (it’s really south of downtown) because I live so far north.

    Disappointing, but hey, what can I do?

  74. Aakriti says:

    My scores are in percentage form..Can you plz tell me how to convert it to a 4.0 gpa scale?Various websites give various answers!

  75. Mahima says:

    wow, I am so thrilled that MIT is coming to the Chicagoland area. I missed the information session last year and have felt horribly ever since. Just wondering, is there a limit to the number of guests I can bring seeing as both my parents want to attend..just curious. See you in october and good luck on the road!

  76. I wanted information about admission to MIT.
    I am an India Citizen, leaving in India.

    Is there any admission office anywhere in India?
    Whom should i contact before comming to US?

  77. Anonymous says:

    I hope its still okay to ask questions here…

    I’m wondering if its possible to have taken IB tests by junior year but not have to report the scores because honestly I didn’t do too hot on the chem one (not that many did, judging by the national average) but I am taking IB Computer Science this year to replace the Chemistry one and make that my “extra.” So is it ok to not report it and request that my counselors not report it?