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MIT staff blogger Kim Hunter '86

My How Times Change… by Kim Hunter '86

...and yet, they are much the same.

In June I’ll be celebrating, along with my MIT classmates, a pretty major reunion and I’ve been spending much of the time recently, when I haven’t been reading your folders, working on plans for the big event. At one point during that weekend I’ll be talking with my old friends about how admissions is different today from when we received admit letters quite a few years ago. Seeing the MITLeaks announcement on Monday reminded me even more about how things have changed over the years. That said, as much as things have changed, the worries are still much the same.

Before the magic of the internet we actually got a real letter announcing our fate, in fact, everyone got a letter and you pretty much knew if you were admitted or not by the size of the envelope…the bigger the envelope, the better the news. My envelope from MIT was very big and contained a red t-shirt. I was very excited and wore the shirt the very next day to school. Even in those days MIT announced their decisions earlier than many other schools but we didn’t have the luxury of knowing what day we would actually find out. I’m told that all the letters were mailed at the same time, so kids in Massachusetts knew several days earlier than I did that they had been admitted. I had to wait until my envelope got all the way to California.

Every day for weeks I was the one who checked the mail at my house, not because of a fondness for the mailman, but because I was waiting to hear from the various schools. I applied to only three schools and in fact when I originally told my guidance counselor I had five on my list, he nearly fainted…that meant he would need to make five copies of any letter he wrote and that was two, too many as far as he was concerned. I ultimately did trim it down to three, completed my applications and then the waiting began. I’m sure I drove my family nuts, would I get in or not, if I did which would I pick, and if I didn’t what would I do with myself the following year…I’m sure there were moments that they could hardly stand being in the same room with me that spring, let alone the same house.

In the end, it all worked out. I got into my safety school…a UC campus which shall remain nameless but didn’t get into another school (it shall remain un-named as well for these purposes). That…gulp…rejection (yes, it was a very difficult word to say even then) was actually probably a good thing because I think that particular school was probably my parents first choice. It was much closer to home than MIT and I was the first child in my family going off to college. I was nervous, I was afraid I would make the wrong choice, and I was mad that I didn’t get into that third school…maybe MIT wasn’t the best place for me to be, I kept thinking to myself. But, in the long run, what turned out to be disappointing, scary, and exciting, all at the same time, turned out tremendously well and I jumped into life at MIT with both feet. I had a great experience here, but I’m also convinced that I could have a great experience at any of three colleges to which I applied.

So…why have I decided to tell you about this now…I’m sure you’ve figured it out. Decisions come out next week and you’ve all applied to lots of great schools, in fact some of you have applied to four times as many schools as I did. Yes, the times have changed…more kids than ever before have applied to more schools than ever before and that means that more “rejections” than ever before will be received by applicants in the next few weeks as all the schools release their decisions. It’s not fair, it’s not fun for the applicants, or for admissions officers, but it sadly is the way things are…and there really isn’t anything that Admissions Offices can do about it.

You’ve poured your hearts, souls and dreams into your applications and I’m thrilled to have had the chance to get know you through what you have shared. You’ve shared with us exactly why MIT would be the perfect place for you, but I know you’ve also done that for all the schools on your list, or you wouldn’t have applied to them. And in truth, you could have a great experience at any of those schools, just like I could have had a great experience at any of the three I applied to.

Your challenge in the weeks ahead is to ultimately select a school from the list of places where you are admitted. Once you hear from all your choices you need to get on with the process of deciding among the schools that have admitted you. That’s where your choices truly are, and you need to concentrate on figuring out which one will be the best one for you and not continue to be frustrated about those that didn’t admit you. Sadly, we are going to turn down many times more applicants than we will admit. We already know that we’re going to turn down lots of you and it’s going to be difficult for us, and even harder for you. Every year my colleagues and I say “goodbye” to applicants that we would love to have admitted to MIT. But spaces are few, and lots of truly amazing and very qualified students will not be joining us on our campus in the fall. Some other school will however be fortunate enough to have them.

If we admit you, I’m going to be so thrilled to welcome you to campus in September. I know you’ll have a great experience here and you can be assured that we believe you belong here. But for the rest…it’s not that we didn’t want you, it’s not that you did something wrong…we just couldn’t admit everyone we wanted. It really is that’s not fair, but it is what it is.

So…no matter what happens, be happy about where you are admitted, embrace your final choice and know that we wish you all the very best. After getting to know each of you so well in these last few months we know you will have an amazing college experience!

37 responses to “My How Times Change…”

  1. orangeCookie says:

    Yea mam… But its just that we want it to be MIT and not any other college…If i dont get admitted into MIT then my entire plans of building new theories like gauging Infinity,creating wireless infinity,teleportation,invisibility,travelling at the speed of light..will go perished cos other colleges wont give as much importance as MIT does and moreover it pains in our heart when students who dont actually deserve MIT and chose it because they could show off with their friends get selected and those who wanted it to be a platform for helping the society get knocked out… i really wish that MIT doesn’t filter out people in the deal breaker and throw their application without reading it completely…cos.. i dont wanna bring out all the great scientist who actually flunked in their school tests… So Mit and its admission officers.. its not your fault but as for me its absolute luck if one gets into MIT…


    PS:Am not blaming those who make it into MIT.. its just that there are many who deserve it and gets turned down…

  2. William says:

    First! I agree very much with your post Ms Hunter! Thank you!

  3. Anonymous says:

    thanks for this very touching note!

    ordinary people with an extraordinary desire to succeed are winners where ever they go.

  4. Nikita says:

    Ms. Hunter, thank you for making this week and the coming ones seem a less daunting! This entry is pretty much what I needed, being as I am in the middle of an emotional roller-coaster with finals going on and decisions coming out, all at the same time.

    I’m looking forward to Pi day. And thanks to MIT, I now know eight digits of pi too! smile

    The entire application process has been tremendously exciting and enriching and I feel great just to have applied!

    Happy planning for the reunion!

  5. Vivek says:

    Hope you have a great silver jubilee reunion, Ms. Hunter.

    And to be honest, I think any applicant who can say with 100% certainty that he/she will be admitted/’not admitted’ (I still prefer to put it that way) would be lying to themselves.

    Anyone who thought he/she could make it to MIT obviously has dreams. Those dreams don’t spring out of nowhere. They’re usually the result of a beautiful collision of actions and beliefs.

    At the same time, every applicant goes in knowing the risks. Whenever I wish to rob the entire process of all emotion, I look at the bare statistics. They help the most. Statistically, your chances of getting in are low. So I tell myself not to get too downbeat about it either. Because its inevitable. Instead, over the past few months, I’ve tried to immerse myself into life at MIT, knowing fully well that there’s a good chance I won’t be attending. This has prepared me for the 14th more than anything else could’ve.

  6. Thank you very much for the easement of the burden the application process has given to all of us. I’m not from a very rich background, I’ve had some rifts with my parents regarding my college applications to the fact that I had to skip a year solely to apply to places like MIT. I believe MIT will be a great fit for me, and I hope Allah answers our prayers for getting in. smile

    Just a curious question Ms. Hunter, since there never used to be websites and “online app” systems in those days, how did you apply back then (its obvious that you applied through a paper app, but still, how did you got those paper apps)?

  7. MIT15? says:

    I am really worried. But I know that everything will be for the best (atleast i hope so…). Good luck to everyone who is receiving decisions.

  8. Andy says:

    All I can say; there’s life. There will still be life.

  9. Shahriar says:

    Thank you Ms. Hunter, your post really helps confirm a few thoughts I’ve always had. But I’m still kinda worried if my entire application will be read or not, seeing as I am an international student, so they might just throw away my app after looking at my high school grades, even though they are not bad, but a lot of health and family situations have influenced them…

    Well, I agree when Ms. Hunter says “it’s not fair” , it isn’t , but then again, life as a whole is quite fair, there are just so many other ways to get to a place…..and if we look at the lives of great scientists, they didn’t just give up after getting rejected by their first choice universities….and Pi Day is also such a scientist’s birthday….Albert Einstein..

    Life’s fair ! We just have to get over our own greed, anger, disappointment and see the paths that lie before us….Thanks Ms. Hunter

  10. Rachit says:

    I’m touched Ma’am. Thank You for sharing your story. Hope I get to see you or other admissions officers someday and partake my appreciation for the great job you people do.

  11. Kim '86 says:

    @Murtaza: I requested an application by sending a postcard, MIT mailed the application to me and I mailed it back grin

    …and then I worried for days that it wouldn’t get there when a huge snowstorm hit the East Coast. There was no online application tracking system then either!!

  12. Bhaskar says:

    I totally agree with what orange said.That’s pretty true.I am passionate about it,and love to create what I think,what could be useful for all of us.You must be having all those documents,projects with you…

    @kim You are very lucky that you are at MIT.It send a current through my body when I think of being there.It’s awesome.Really awesome.I have applied only to one college and that’s the one which is the best fit for me.And Kim your taste is really great-popcorns with a bit extra salt.It’s damn good.

    Loads of love to the whole MIT family and to all the applicants.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Do not be anxious but in everything by prayer and supplication, let your request be made known to God and the peace of God that passes all understanding shall keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. I surrender my application to Him and His will be done. God is good no matter what.

    Thank you for your piece of encouragement, Ms. Hunter.

  14. Raimund says:

    Ms. Hunter,
    Thank you for your supporting and encouraging words and sharing your personal story.

    High school has been a wonderful experience and I sincerely hope that MITs class of 2015 will consist of an extraordinary and taleted mix of people, working together to make the world a better place for everyone. Intelligence should not benefit just one person, just because they have it; it is a wonderful gift that must be used to benefit everyone.

    Maybe the next Einstein will be (re)born into MIT on Pi day, after all, its his birthday!

    Ahead of time, I would like to congratulate everyone that will get accepted for MITs class of 2015, the application process has been a wonderfully enlightening self refection on my life to date.

    Hope the reunion planning goes well,

  15. MechE says:

    Started out with a Bang but Hiss at the end!!

    I mean exciting at the beginning and slowly taking the tone of a polite rejection. It’s great!

  16. FarhanN5 says:

    Well at least for me, I didn’t apply to other university’s because I thought they were perfect for me; I feared the embarrassment of not ending up anywhere.

    Anyways, whatever the decision, I am truly glad that I applied to MIT; I learnt a lot about myself while completing the application.

    – Farhan

  17. Luay Kanaan says:

    Hello All,

    First of all, I would like to begin this comment by wishing each and every applicant to MIT tremendous luck and my deepest wishes go to you all.
    I think you will be flabbergasted by the multitudinousness of my applications. I applied to many schools, however, my sole desire lies not in the image or reputations gained from an admission to MIT, but my deepest desire to expand my innovative realms of thought, and follow my true fate.
    Not to generalize that MIT is ultimately my fate, however, I believe that at MIT, as opposed to all other top schools, innovative thoughts are actually sincerely looked at and transformed into well-constructed theories and creations.
    I wish I receive the admission to MIT, and I wish the best of luck for all you applicants.

    Thank You.

  18. Tim Shub says:

    Dear Ms Hunter,

    All I can really say is thank you for your wonderful words of inspiration, encouragement, and support ofcourse it would be a dream come true to get into MIT but I believe if you have a dream of accomplishing something, MIT would help but if your desire is strong anything is possible no matter what university a person attends. . . I will be waiting in front of my computer with my e-mail client open at 9:26 hoping for the picture of the red t-shirt to pop up, and if it does, I will print it, tape it to another shirt and wear it the next day, just like you did and spread MIT spirit!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Seems to me like Mr. Cookie in the first comment has a very bad and possibly dangerous case of tunnel vision… MIT is an awesome place to learn and get experience to solve problems you’re interested in… but if you REALLY want to solve them, you should try to (and, it seems to me, be able to) no matter where you go to school. To think that you’re only going to be able to make a difference at MIT (awesome as it is!) will only lead you to dejection and pain.

    MIT is great, and we all want to go there; rejection will hurt if it happens, but everyone who applies to MIT can make a difference wherever they go. smile

  20. Chipi says:

    Thank you Ms. Hunter for sharing your story.
    My story is similar to yours and it really cheered me up a bit.

    I am slightly anxious about pi day now.
    But I will try to not stress about it and enjoy my apple pie like any other pi days I’ve celebrated.

    So far, I am glad that I applied for this school, and I hope I would get accepted.

  21. Prasidda says:

    Thank you very much ma’am for sharing these really significant insights. I so wish that even my fate would have been announced by an envelope (Hopefully by a big – “big” one)! smile
    Good Luck everybody!

  22. Reuben T says:

    @Tim Shub
    It would be cool if the online notification came with an image of the same red shirt that Ms. Hunter received! =D

    @Ms. Hunter
    Do you still have the shirt that you received? It would be awesome of you could take a picture of it and post a link on this site so people can print out the picture of the shirt and tape/glue/staple/weld/etc it to their own shirt!

  23. Kim '86 says:

    @All: Thanks for your great comments on this post! I don’t know at this moment where that red t-shirt is but I’m pretty sure that once I got tired of wearing it, my mother packed it away for me so I’d have it when I needed it again. I guess I should ask her when we talk the next time. Maybe it’s time to wear it again grin

  24. The Beaver says:

    Thank you!
    Well, I am sure that such comments provide amazing data for psychologists :D
    (Sorry, I’m just feeling ‘weird’.)

  25. Kyle Wang says:

    I don’t think I will make it for admission, though I still dream I will be lucky. The thing I regret is I have a lot thoughts but lack of action, and I never gave myself enough time to present my abilities and choices in a gentle and accurate manner(when I fill in the application form). I didn’t even arrange a meeting with my EC. The reason I believe I disqualify admission is not because of my grades, is because I know I am capable of making my life better but I didn’t have the courage to take an action.
    If I get admitted, which means things happens in a different way than I expected. I will learn to be humble, because I find out I don’t know “everything”.
    However, if I get rejected, I will apply for transfer next year.I will take a tour to MIT next year as well, because I am really curious about MIT.

  26. Abanti says:

    Applying to MIT was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I had the opportunity to write about my dreams, hopes and desires. They were always there in my mind but it was the first time that I framed them into words and while doing so, I went through a spectrum of emotions. I got the chance to draw a beautiful picture of some of the most important parts of my life.On looking back,I realize that I have never confided in anybody more than in the admissions officers of MIT!!! Thanks for this opportunity because I discovered myself better. Even if I am rejected, I will never regret having applied to this college.
    Best of luck to everyone.

  27. Varun Tiwari says:

    I’ll be happy even if I don’t get admission at MIT smile

  28. Faris says:

    Hope to get in, Must get in, and Will get in. Just can’t wait to see the good news on my screen. Keep it up guys.
    (This is the true spirit) (^_^)

  29. Surya ('15?) says:

    Even though people might not get into MIT, the hope we have that we might get into one of the world’s top technological institutes is what keeps me going. Thank you Ms. Hunter for sharing what it felt like to be an applicant. Sometimes, I forget that most of the admission counselors were MIT applicants as well! smile

  30. Ayesha says:

    Ms. Hunter, your note is simply amazing. It really helped me get ready for the outcome. More I’d like to add is that during this time we actually learn so much! Amidst all this applications frenzy, we have to understand that it’s really not just numbers that matter. We visit colleges, make new friends, learn about each other and maintain contacts over Facebook. We leave the last but strongest impressions on the student-teacher relationships during those college application guidance sessions. We summarize the whole four year high school time in our essays, and smile over the best memories and happily weep over the most memorable ones. I must say that SAT exams taught me the most: they brought me closer to Allah, and they made me tougher and more willing than before to face challenges. I rarely feel my heart drop “a few feet” whenever I realize something is wrong. And oh yeah, I also got to know the people behind the TCS and DHL desks! not to mention their costs lol.

    So guys, whatever the admission decision is, it might make or break but please don’t brood over it if you don’t make it. My religion teaches us to trust in Allah that whatever He does is for our good, so we should see the bright side of even the darkest times and learn from them. If you get in, then be happy cuz you’re lucky! And please follow Ms. Hunter’s advice smile RELAX, PRAY AND WATCH THE SIMPSONS (not the Lisa episodes lol. They might remind you of the college applications.)

  31. BillyN says:

    Ooooh, HTML tags… I wonder if will work . Well, apparently not.
    I wanted to use a “marquee” tag to make the text scroll across the page just like a moving train. (not really a style tag,I know, please don’t judge me :D)
    I picture the MIT admissions decisions as that marquee tag: you might be lucky to hop on the train for an intense and amazing ride or you can miss it but still get a joyful experience in another train.
    I really hope I get admitted but whatever happens, I’m planning on enjoying the experience in any train I board in.
    Btw, you guys seem really really cool! See you in September ;D

  32. Applicants

    Look at the door that Ms. Hunter is standing next to.

    Yes, for those wonderful applicants (and as an Education Council member who interviews applicants, most of you are very talented) who do Not get into MIT as a freshman, there still may be a future for you at MIT.

    Come in several years as a Graduate Student
    Come a few years after that as a Professor.

    It is a wonderful community and we are always welcoming more to that community in a wide variety of roles.

    Best of luck and I know you will do fine in college.

  33. Stan T says:

    Thanks for your letter! I was very pleased to read that you believe you could have had an excellent education at any of the schools to which you applied. The whole college experience helps to create the person that you become; I know I would have become a different person had I attended a college other than MIT (’71). And my alternate colleges were VERY different – Ivy League and small liberal arts, Deep South and California, big city and isolated rural settings. It would be fun to meet the people that I would have become had I gone to those other colleges! As different as they would be, I trust that each life would have been equally rewarding; each one “successful” by his own standards.

    As an EC, I know that many of “my” applicants will not be admitted to MIT. During the interviews, I hear the enthusiasm, I see the sparks. Sometimes my first choice doesn’t get in; my evaluation is “rejected” along with the applicant. Or they are admitted and then decide to go somewhere else. (Did I fail in my advocacy for MIT?) Other applicants are admitted whom I thought were less qualified. But I only see a small part of the application, and only a TINY part of the applicant pool. I’m glad that the final decisions are made by a staff that is better informed and has a broader view.

  34. Jamiee says:

    Oh my gosh! I’m just really excited for tomorrow at 9:26 pm! I don’t know whether or not I’ll get in, but I just want to know! I love MIT and everything about it. This article was very lovely, but it also just made me even more excited about the news i will be receiving in about…..eighteen hours.

  35. Jamiee says:

    Oh my gosh! I’m just really excited for tomorrow at 9:26 pm! I don’t know whether or not I’ll get in, but I just want to know! I love MIT and everything about it. This article was very lovely, but it also just made me even more excited about the news i will be receiving in about…..eighteen hours.

  36. Erin says:

    Wow – thank you for this touching, honest, and relate-able note. Big picture, look at where you are now! Congrats to you.