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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

More questions by Matt McGann '00

Today is Registration Day at MIT, and tomorrow (Tuesday) is the first day of Spring Term!

I’m a little behind on the questions, so here goes… though, due to my time restrictions during application season and the number of questions, my answers must be brief (sorry for the brevity).

Will asks, “Does anyone know if CPW is restricted to students who are accepted, or is it open to anyone who wants to go?” Also, midwest mom asks, “Can you please comment about the Campus Preview Weekend? My son is planning to attend, and I wonder if parents are welcome as well? Will there be any programs for parents, or is this weekend geared to convincing prospective students of the obvious merits of MIT?”

Campus Preview Weekend (CPW) is a four day event which is only for admitted students and their parents each April. Currently, admitted students have information about the weekend on their MIT portal; in fewer than two weeks, we will send out a brochure of information about CPW to families. There will definitely be programs for parents as well as students; parents are more than welcome at CPW! If we can help you plan for CPW in any way, please call the CPW hotline at (617) 258-6085.

Nbot1 asked, “Since you like Hindi music, I was wondering if you like bhangra? I love bhangra! :)”

Yes! Bhangra is awesome. Bhangra (energetic Punjabi/Indian folk dance) is pretty big at MIT; for more info, check out the MIT Bhangra Club and Bhangra Blast.

A.M.C. asks, “In that case, may I submit a few pieces of artwork (they are in .BMP format) as part of my supplemental material package?”

We are happy to take submissions of art, music, etc, but it is starting to get a little late in the process to have these things evaluated by our faculty before we go to committee. We will continue to accept any important update to your file until we mail decision letters. And, applicants in US school systems, be sure to get us your Mid-Year Grade Report as soon as possible!

parent asked four questions. “Question 1: How do you look deeper? To what depth? As it is entirely “subjective”, does each reader defines their own understanding of depth? Or is there a standardized procedure that all readers/admission officers at MIT follow to uncover depth? If so what is that procedure?”

Before each reading season, the reading staff goes through training. We read actual files, talk about what would be the elements of a good read for each file, what insights we should have seen from each file. Newer readers are overseen by my seasoned readers, who not only double check files, but also continually offer mentoring and guidance. Experience, reading lots and lots of applications, is the best way to gain insight.

“Question 2: Is there a standardized definition for “best match” to MIT? What is it? Or does each reader/admission officer at MIT have their own understanding of it?”

This is also part of the training. There is no one “best match” to MIT, but rather many flavors of “best match,” many of which I’ve discussed in my previous post.

“Question 3: Does the assessment during “committee process” automatically lead to the magic number of students “best matched with MIT” to equal the “available spaces”?
Question 4: And if there is indeed some comparison because the number of students “best matched with MIT” than number of available spaces, then how is such comparison done? Is there a standardized procedure to make such comparisons, what are the metrics if any for such comparisons? ”

The committee process has many stages. We evaluate each student individually, and if we admit them if they are part of the class we want to build and a good match. Inevitably, after evaluating all of the files, we have admitted more than our target number of admitted students. So, we repeat the process, with more rigor and vigilance.

Jordan asked, “I know a lot of teachers include a comment somewhere in their rec letter(s) regarding contact information if there are any questions. Do you know if the AdComm has ever actually contacted a teacher or other faculty member to ask something before?”

I certainly have. Usually, an application file gives me the information I need, but when it doesn’t, I don’t hesitate to call a teacher or guidance counselor.

Shahab asked, “We all know that you and Ben are two of the people who are doing the application reading. What about the rest? Who else is in your team? How many people are there? Are they professors or students at MIT?”

The bulk of the reading is done by the professional full-time admissions staff, but students and professors do help read applications and select the class. In a future post, I’ll tell you more about my colleagues, the MIT admissions officers.

Jeremie L. asked, “I’m curious as to how you became an Ass. Director of Admissions.”

Well, Jeremie, if you have to abbreviate it I prefer “Asst. Director of Admissions”… but anyway, I’ll talk a little more about this in the future, and in the meantime you can read my introductory post.

Recruited Athlete asked, “I have a question, how much does getting recruited help you in the admissions process, if at all?”

Athletic talent, like music, art, theater, etc. talent, is a talent that you bring to the admissions process. For music, we have our music faculty evaluate applicants’ talents; for athletes, we have our varsity coaches help us with evaluation. We are proud of having one of the largest athletics programs in the nation (I believe that only Harvard, a Division I school, has a larger number of varsity sports teams). MIT is a Division III athletics school, though, so athletics aren’t something that will get you in the backdoor. As Marilee says, there’s only one way to get into MIT, and it’s the hard way.

expatmom asked, “I’m curious about the process used to evaluate international/non-U.S. school system applicants. Do you use the same “numerical index” for ranking the applicant’s academic preparation? Are international/non-U.S. school system applications read geographically?”

Yes, the numerical index is one guide for our process for both domestic and international applicants. We do not read domestic (US citizens and permanent residents) applicants by region. I assure you, though, that we are very familiar with international schools, and evaluate applicants from international schools in the proper context. Like I’ve written, school and geography are important parts of context, and context is very important in our process.

expatmom also asks, “Will the status of the Mid-Year Grade Report on the application tracking site eventually indicate that this report is “waived” for non-U.S. school system applicants, or will it continue to indicate that the report has not been processed?”

I don’t know the answer to this question, but watch the comments thread for this post, where hopefully Ben and/or Quinton will answer the question.

Thanks for all your questions and comments! Keep commenting =)

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