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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

October Questions Omnibus 2 by Matt McGann '00

Wow, lots of questions to be answered...

It’s time for another Questions Omnibus…

Mike wrote (re: MIT flexibility), “Wow, that’s really cool that MIT shows some leniency toward victims of natural disasters. I myself am from Naples Florida and just got power back from Wilma.” And Justin wrote, “I am from New Orleans and my biggest concern right now is hot to get my recommendations to MIT in time for Early Action because the post office is messed up currently. I can get the materials postmarked for November first but I am not sure if they will ever reach MIT nonetheless reach MIT in a reasonable amount of time. How long should I wait to receive confirmation that my recommendations got through before sending them again and will MIT realize that if I have to send them again they will be postmarked past the deadline?”

Remember that as I recently wrote, we are very willing to be flexible for students who have been adversely affected by recent events. To all of you affected by one of the hurricanes or by the earthquake in south Asia, I wish you the best. Let us know what we can do for you. Justin, in general, we recommend allowing approximately 2 weeks from postage date for processing. After that time, it is appropriate to send any documents again, by fax or my mail. In that case, you should attach a brief note explaining your circumstances.

“wilma” wrote, “Hi Matt, what should I do if my teacher’s rec is late? She can’t mail it out because of Wilma. Also, if I used paper application, can I still check its status on MyMIT?”

We are completely understanding that some pieces of your application may be late. Please let us know what kind of flexibility you may need. Also, yes, all applicants, paper or electronic, can (and should!) track their application online. After you send in your Part I you will receive more information about the tracking. Best of luck to you and all who were affected by Wilma.

Sendie wrote, “Hi Matt, I am a permanent resident but my parents don’t live or work here in the United States. Am I still eligible for financial aid? If so do I apply as domestic or international student?”

Every student who is admitted to MIT is eligible for financial aid, regardless of citizenship or residency. As a permanent resident, you should apply as a domestic student.

Victor wrote, “I know you can include pictures in your essays… but other than the first 500 word essay, you can’t upload a file. This means I can’t put pictures in for the other ones. I would like to submit pictures with my other essays… is it ok if I put in a web link in the essay to refer to the picture?”

If you wish to include pictures, it would be better if you sent in the documents via US Mail rather than online. We do not always read applications with a web connection nearby.

Ronty wrote, “I am a student from India and have passed my 12th from CBSE board this year.
I had an All India Rank of around 6000 in Manipal Medical Entrance Exam (MAHE UGET), in my First attempt, in which I guess around 100,000 students appeared. Many candidates who wrote that exam were ‘repeaters’, who had passed their 12th exam earlier than 2005. So, will my MAHE UGET rank be considered as a good one or just an average achievement? P.S.- Manipal was ranked 3rd in Medical College Rankings done by India Today Group in 2004.” And Shikhar wrote, “ the resume I explained about to someone earlier is exactly what MIT wants. So basically MIT does not want a list of activities but an explanation to the activities listed on the apps is fine. Thanks a lot as there is a strong need for explanation of certain competitions and awards held in foreign countries which are not easily interpretable otherwise. So I should not hesitate to send in explanation should I matt??”

Ronty and Shikhar, you should definitely send in explanations and contexts of parts of your application that would not be clear to us. It is the best way for us to be able to evaluate you fairly.

Yoonju wrote, “I’m currently taking classes through EPGY, but they will not be listed on my high school transcript. Should I go ahead and list them on the Self-reported course work section?”

Yes, you should list your EPGY on the Self-reported Courses form, along with any other non-high school college courses.

Robb wrote, “MIT Recommends having four english courses, I skipped english II because there was a hybrid English III American History Course available and it seemed much more intresting. This leaves me with English I, II, and IV at the end of my junior year (For anyone who might read this that is not familiar, I am applying at the end of said year) is it neccesary to take a fourth english course? It really would not be much of an issue to take an additional english course second semester however I would much rather add another math or science course.”

We do recommend (not require) 4 English courses, though in your situation it seems more than reasonable to not take the fourth English course.

Clark wrote, “1. In the first question you recommend that the person write an essay instead of submitting the report itself. In my circumstance, I conducted research in physics at Washington University through a program that judges the papers of everyone in the project. My paper was chosen for the award and consequentially I was given six bound copies of my research paper with the intent that they were to be sent to colleges. Yet, in the context of the first question, should I submit the full 40 page paper, write an essay about the process and whatnot, or both?
2. For the extracurricular activities, would it be prudent to lump together such things as jazz band, musicals (pit orchestra), and musical ensembles into one lump group labelled music, or to leave it as each individual item? I’m guessing the latter, but would appreciate confirmation.
3. Would it be acceptable to list volunteer work under jobs provided I mark it as such, or should I list it solely under extracurriculars?
4. Finally, I intend on submitting a small portfolio of photographs I’ve taken. Should I submit an additional essay/explanation with them?”

1. You may submit the bound copy of the paper if you wish. Your best opportunity to tell us about your experience, though, is still through an essay or letter from your mentor/supervisor.
2. Sometimes, it does make sense to lump similar activities into a meta-category such as “music.” Either option is fine; do what you feel best presents you to us.
3. You can list it either place, though if you do list it under jobs, be sure to clearly mark it as volunteer work.
4. You need not submit an explanation of your portfolio, though you may if you wish to do so.

Tracy wrote, “If I’m going to write about my research in the optional area of the essay, should it be more technical or more why I’m interested…and what if those two things kind of meld together? It’s difficult to write about research without using specific terminology, which, I assume, should be accompanied by brief explanations. Ooh, and one more thing: Are the supplements also due on November 1st if we’re applying early action? My research mentor is probably going to send in a recommendation; should I tell him to postmark it by Nov.1, or can he send it in earlier? Thanks a ton!” And Rushil wrote, “I am working on a Geometry project on an interesting problem(with great applications) and its equally interesting solution I have found! However, it is not complete, and I doubt it will be in time for the application submission to MIT! However, I have an interesting story behind how I got interested in this and what I have been doing regarding the problem. I was thinking of writing a breif synopsis of the problem and what all I have done and working on AND to write something about how I was motivated to solve this! Do you think that will be worth including in the Optional section? ( I hope you would rate it better than just an 8-page report!)
Also, I live in India where resources like books, journals and even teachers willing to help a high schooler go beyond his syllabus are very hard to come by!!! Can you recommend some MIT Math Professor who will be willing to see my work and help/guide me in solving some problems I have come up working on the above project and other problems in Math??? I’d be grateful and excited if some MIT Prof. / grad student etc. would help me!!!!!”

We’re an admissions office, not a scientific journal. Often, the story of your research involvement is much more interesting to us than the results themselves. This is what we will be most interested in. Rushil, as for a mentor, I can’t help you there; I might recommend checking out the forums on The Art of Problem Solving. Tracy, it is best to have anything you wish to be considered to us by the deadline or as close as possible to it. If it is submitted later, it will be reviewed, but may not be reviewed with the same thoroughness.

Phil wrote, “To better prepare myself for my future major in engineering, I conducted a research on China’s first Energy Efficient Building at Tsinghua University under the professor who’s in charge of the project. My intended major is eletrical engineering, yet I was unable to find any research opportunity for EE. I couldn’t fit my research summary in the appliation, but I’m wondering whether you think my research summary would help you guys making a decision.” And Alvin wrote, “Hi Matt, regarding research, you’ve answered part of my question before. But let’s say the research that I’ve done isn’t original because I didn’t think of it, but was assigned to a research doing it, can I still talk about it? Plus, I didn’t really make any *HUGE* discovery or anything, just adding small amounts to this huge body of knowledge.”

As I wrote above, it is the story of your research involvement we’re most interested in, though the results can be a part of that story. We’ll be interested in hearing about your experiences.

zoogies wrote, “A few questions, although I do realize everyone and their rubber duck is pelting them at you by the hundreds.
First, I want someone to write a third interview, but that someone is neither a math/science or humanities teacher; not a teacher at all in the normal sense. What would I do in this case?
Second, my interview scheduling is not quite working out. I contacted my EC just before october, I believe, but the first scheduled date was cancelled due to an emergency. I was hoping to schedule it Saturday, but my EC hasn’t gotten back to me all week. Just supposing it doesn’t happen, how does that affect me?
Finally, I notice a lot of people are writing their second optional essay about research they’ve conducted in big university engineering labs, or such. This scares me a bit, because I’ve written mine about whistling. It was a paramount accomplishment for me roughly five years ago to learn to whistle and I’m still proud of having finally pulled it off after several years of angst, but I’m worried that it will seem to trivial to these recountings of great scientific research. Better to leave it blank?”

1. Extra/third recommendations are often in the form of letters. Have your extra recommender send us a letter about you.
2. If you have contacted your EC and attempted to have an interview but were unable to complete the interview, please let us know through the application tracking system on the website. You’ll be treated in the same way as those students who had an interview or who had their interview waived.
3. It’s your call whether or not to send in the essay. But I can say don’t be intimidated by the folks who you hear about having done research in high school; I didn’t do any, and I got in; the majority of MIT admits have not done any research in high school (though, of course, almost everyone will do research at MIT).

y2kit wrote, “Hi Matt, I have just finished my optional essay�Ķ but I was just wondering something�Ķ Everyone seems keen to write about his or her research experience for the optional essay. I guess majority of the applicants will have about the same experience, moral of the story, content (anything under sun!) as mine. Don���t you think it is very difficult to differentiate the good ones from thousands of similar essays? It makes those who have the real passion and talent difficult to stand out from the crowd. But I think you are very experienced in picking talent! What SPECIAL factors do you look out for in these research essays? Can you share with us some examples of research essays that are uniquely different and stand out from the crowd?”

Again, it may seem like everyone is writing about research, but in reality that’s not the case. Even with those who do write about research, it is important to realize that successful results must not be the only indicator of meaningful experiences. We’ll want to know how you obtained your research opportunity, why you chose it, what you learned, how it has inspired you, how it has changed your outlook, and so on.

tan wrote, “Hi Matt, I wonder if I could send a journal which documents my daily research observations and conclusions instead of the research paper I have written? Firstly, the journal (something similar to a diary) is shorter than the research paper and secondly I feel that the admissions committee can get a feel of my passion after reading the journal. However, to get the whole complete picture, one has to finish reading the journal (it is about 6 pages long; and it’s reader-friendly). I am afraid that the admissions committee will not have enough time to finish reading it. What do you suggest then?”

tan, you are right in fearing that we won’t necessarily be able to fully read and evaluate a 6 page journal. If you can condense things to a page or so, that might be more helpful. I recognize that it’s hard to summarize so much work in a page, and that it may seem to trivialize it, but it is an important life skill to be able to summarize things of great importance.

Eric wrote, “Matt, what kind of a resume are you referring to in this case? I remembered that we don’t need to attach one if we filled up sections 7-10 properly.”

You are right, we neither require or expect any kind of resume or “brag sheet.” In most cases, a well filled out Part II helps us more than any resume.

Edward wrote, “1.I intend to apply to MIT this year but I graduated from High school a year ago-I missed last year’s application deadline. Will this affect my chances of admission in any way?
2. I took part in a secondary schools’ science fair and made it to the finals of that competiton. I want to send in my project report along with my application to MIT-under which section of the application should I include it?
3. Is there a limit to the numbers of essays you can submit as part of the application to MIT?
Thanks for the help.”

1. We will be interested in how you spent your year after high school, be sure to discuss that in your application. Otherwise, your admission should not be greatly affected.
2. There is no specific section for a project report, and we will not necessarily evaluate it, but you may send it to us and it will be a part of your admissions folder.
3. In theory, there is no absolute limit to the number of essays you may send, but most students can express themselves adequately within the bounds of the application as it exists. We do not have unlimited time in this process. Learn to express yourself as succinctly as you can.

Shikhar wrote, “Also regarding my speech..Although I do think it is one of the most prestigious thing I ever did I just cannot discuss it in my compulsory essay.I really want to discuss something else there. What do you say should I write my experience in another essay or actually just give a description in my resume.”

Shikhar, I don’t know what would be best — make the best call you can. I’m sure it will be fine.

Mahsa wrote, “I sent you a question about this ,”in my country SAT and ACT exams have not taken what should I do?” You answered me :”We require that all applicants take either the SAT, or the ACT, or the TOEFL, and also take SAT IIs. Please let us know if that poses a hardship for you in your country.” How to tell you this?from email?? in MyMIT or??”

You can send me an email (you can look up my email address on the MIT homepage) or you can send an email to [email protected]

Ian wrote, “Hello matt :D I have a few personal questions I would like to ask you. Would it be possible for me to email you?”

Yes, you can send me an email; you can look up my email address on the MIT homepage.

Samira wrote, “I want to ask a question: What is your program for International olympiad
of informatics(IOI) or Iranian olympiad of informatics?? If I’m an olympiad medalist ,should I take
SAT exams,ACT or …?? I’m from iran.”

Congratulations on your IOI medal. All MIT applicants must take either the SAT I, the ACT, or the TOEFL, and also SAT IIs. I am aware that there are issues with standardized testing in Iran, so if you have problems, please let us know.

murasame wrote, “I’m an international applicant from India. I dropped a year to pursue my interests and I’m applying again this year to MIT. I have a few questions…
1) I sat for the SAT II Writing Test in 2004.Now this test is no longer available. Will MIT accept the SAT II Writing test of 2004 as a valid third optional SAT II subject in addition to Physics and Math IIc, provided that I also sat for my SAT I last year which had no writing component? or should i take an emergency SAT II subject currently available?
2)I’ve already had my grade XII final examinations (board examinations), so should I use my board exam results for my mid-year report or should I use my grade 12 mid-year report, (as my board results were much better).
3)For the math/ science teacher evaluation can I get the evaluation done by my Computer Science teacher or does “science” specifically mean Physics/Chemistry/Biology? I would love to send a recommendation from my computer science teacher though because she knows how much importance i place on logic in programming and not on memory work…”

1. We will accept the Writing SAT II as a third SAT II. You do not need to take an “emergency” SAT II.
2. Use the midyear report to report to us any new grades/marks since the application deadline. Before the deadline, you should send along all of the marks you have received to date, and if your school system produces any new marks for you after you submit the application, then you should send those along on the Midyear Report.
3. Yes, a Computer Science teacher may fill out Evaluation A (the “math or science” teacher).

raghavendra wrote, “I am an undergraduate applicant from india . i have a huge question to ask you. i took my SAT II recently(oct) and i think i will get an ‘ideal’ MIT score. however, my name as in the system is [redacted], whereas my name in the MIT online application is [redacted_sub_2]. (it’s actually a change in the order of the name, this is quite common in ‘indian english’,people tend to mix up first names with last names) however I am confused. considering th thousands of applications you guys deal with, is there a chance of losing my score, or will it be assigned to my name? this name mix up is killing me.” And Alvin wrote, “The name I registered with Collegeboard for SAT isn’t exactly the same as the one I used for MIT because Collegeboard didn’t give me enough space. Will that be a problem?”

Send an email to [email protected], and in the body of the email, say that the information is for the attention of the Records Office, and fully explain your naming situation. Our Records Office folks deal with dozens of cases like this each year with little problem.

tan wrote, “I feel that I could convey more about my personal character and passions in the optional essay. Which do you think is more important, the main essay (the one with choice A or B) or the optional essay? Finally, is it possible to submit part 2 of my application first without the SAT 2 scores? I may be unable to make it during Dec.”

We’ll consider everything that you send us. I’m not sure that either essay is uniformly “more important.” And yes, many students submit their application without a full complement of test scores in yet; don’t worry. The scores we will use when evaluating your application are the official score reports we receive, not what is written on the application.

Leon wrote, “I just have a quick question. From reading your previoius posts I learned that I can submit my highest scores on each section of the SAT I. But as I was completign part two of the application, the direction reads, “If you took the SAT or ACT more than once, please list the test date for your highest combined/composite score or your highest math score.” So does that mean that I can only submit my highest combined score from one SAT I, or I can still submit my highest scores in each section, though I only put one date that I had the highest combined total?”

You can write down your best single sitting scores, but when we actually evaluate your application, we will be using only the official score reports from the testing agencies. In short, don’t worry too much about what you write for this section of the application, as long as you are accurate and truthful, and have taken your required tests.

Shikhar wrote, “Tell me one thing if I do retake that SAT II Math (or any other subject for that matter) is only the best score taken into consideration. I mean does the previous and presumably lower score act as a harmful factor or is it completely ignored.”

Yes, your new higher score would replace your old lower score.

Clark wrote, “As a question about that, my SAT was not good. My ACT was far better. Should I submit both or just the ACT? Is openness (and one bad test) better than showing myself in a better light?”

Please have all of your test scores sent to us. We will focus on those scores that make you look best, in your case the ACT instead of the SAT I.

Emi wrote, “Hi! I have a question regarding SAT I and SAT II scores. How much do they count towards acceptance? Because I just got my SAT II scores back today, and my college councellor says that they’re okay, but I have a feeling that they might be a bit on the low side compared to the scores I’ve heard MIT students normally have so I’m a bit worried about that.”

Test scores are a considered part of the process, but do not make or break an application. I’ve written pretty frequently about test scores, so read the archives for more information.

Sam wrote, “Do you guy take AP scores into account as well as SAT scores? I got a 5 in BC Cal but my SAT II score is 710. Will the 710 hurt my chance or willl the 5 on the AP even it out?”

We will consider many things in the application process, including SATs and APs. Remember that one bad score will not by itself disqualify you, but nor will one good score “save” you. Your application is evaluated holistically and in context.

Shikhar wrote, “I have been struck with disaster too. My SAT MATH II score is 660,it came out today. NO idea how I could have got so low. I have good grades in school in Math but do I still have a chance at MIT being an international (that too from India). Or is it bye-bye MIT for me. and my chem score is 730.”

It is unlikely that one bad test score will be responsible for not being admitted. Test scores are but one of many aspects considered in the admissions process.

Sanjay wrote, “Sir, I am a student from India.I have just got my SAT I Score. My scores are Maths-670,CR-560,Writing-570 (10 in essay). Will my bad SAT score affect my application a lot, even with a SAT II score of 750+ in Maths2C, Physics and Chem each? I got 89 in English in my 12th CBSE exams. Most probably I will write the ACT in December. Please Comment.”

Sanjay, the SAT II scores certainly help you, though the SAT I scores don’t help you much. I would recommend sitting for the TOEFL instead of the ACT; the TOEFL will then take the place of your SAT I.

y2kit wrote, “Hi Matt! Just one more question… Can i submit part 2 without the SAT2 results first? Im taking it on Dec. But Im early to submit my application!”

Yes, you can, and you should. If you are missing some test results, but everything else is complete, you should submit the application. Be certain to designate MIT as a recipient for your scores and all will be good.

Shikhar wrote, “Is there any chance MIt can get the Jan test score of the SAT’s.”

Yes, we can take January scores on a case-by-case basis. Email [email protected] to make a request in your case.

Neha wrote, “random question: do you have any pet peeves when it comes to reading apps (ex: excessive use of ! marks, mispelled words, colloquial acronyms, cliches, common grammar errors)?”

My biggest pet peeve is when people don’t follow directions on the application, such as submitting an essay that does not actually address the question being asked, or sending in a resume instead of completing the Part II, or not filling out the Self-reported Grades form properly.

“Someone” wrote, “Hi Matt, I have a question about the Sloan school. On U.S New and World Report, this school is ranked as number 2 for undergraduate business. Can you provide me with some more info? such as how does it compare to Wharton School of Business? or can I acquire the same business education in colleges that do not offer business as an undergraduate study (such as Harvard, where students take econ classes instead)? Thank you so much. Sorry, in addition to my previous comment on Sloan, do you by any chance have any cross-study of Wharton and Sloan? and how’s Sloan as a graduate school? Hey Matt, after looking at Sloan school website, I don’t quite understand the admission process. Do freshmen declare that they want to be in Sloan as if they were declaring their majors after freshmen year? And how hard is it to be placed into the school after declaring it (is there a quota for number of students)? Or that any students who want to be in Sloan will get in?”

I can’t really compare Sloan and Wharton, as I’ve only been a student at one but not the other. Both provide a great education; if you are excited by both educations, I would apply to both and see what happens. If you are admitted to both, choose the school that is the best fit and match for you, as Penn and MIT are very different schools. Also, remember that to be a businessman, you do not need to major in business; many of my friends who work on Wall Street majored in physics or electrical engineering or math as undergraduates. There is no cross-registration between MIT and Penn, though we do have cross-registration with Wellesley, Harvard, the Massachusetts College of Art, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Sloan is an excellent place for both an undergraduate and graduate education. You do not apply directly to Sloan as a freshman but rather apply to the whole of MIT; freshmen are all undeclared, and choose whatever major they like at the end of the freshman year. There is no quota for Sloan; any students who wishes to major in Management Science may do so.

Anna wrote, “[Matt said] ‘send in slides (CD/DVD files, such as Powerpoint, preferred) of your work’ It means .jpg or Powerpoint files on CD or actual slides in standart plastic sheets?”

nurlan wrote, “i wanna send one supplementery rec paper butthe problem is that must it contain the same question as in the main rec papers.”
Laura wrote, “I sent my supplementary recommendation in the same format (humanities teacher – evaluation form) as my main form. One is English, the other is art – both are on form B. Form A is physics, but it doesn’t pertain to my problem. What do you suggest I do?”

Sukrit wrote, “Can my mentor send in his recommendation via email? If so, to which address?”
Evelyn wrote, “May I send a music tape instead of a CD? I used my piano teacher’s recording equipment to record my piano playing, but his equipment only allowed me to record on cassettes.”

I wrote as a comment to answer the above five questions, “Quick answers: Anna, either electronic or digital files are okay (see my edited text). Shikhar, send it in, no worries. Nurlan, the extra rec need not answer the same questions as those in the application, though often they are a good guide. Laura, don’t worry about the two form Bs — this is fine, no worries. Someone, you don’t apply to a specific school/major, you apply to MIT; all freshmen come in undeclared and declare any major they choose at the end of the freshman year with no additional admissions requirements. Sukrit, I believe under certain special circumstances we can accept emailed recommendations; email [email protected] for more info. Evelyn, yes, you may send in a tape (see edit above). More in depth answers in a forthcoming Omnibus.” As I reread my answers, I think they may be sufficient… let me know if I can elaborate.

“Anonymous ” wrote, “Hi Matt, You probably don’t remember me, but I met you a at one of the MIT informational sessions in California awhile back. I’m the guy who finally asked about the social life/parties at MIT ;P I’ve been browsing through your blogs for awhile, but this is my first time posting. Anyway, I’m applying EA to MIT this year and I’ve got a question about a supplemental letter of rec. It’s just an idea that popped into my head-I was thinking of having one of my close friends write about me. Yes, I know, it’s probably not considered the most objective of recs. :P haha. The reason it occured to me was that there are some personal/family issues that I’d like to get across, and while I’m planning on writing about it in the essay, I was thinking maybe an outside perspective might help since she knows much of what I’ve gone through. Also, she can attest to my person in ways that teachers might not be able to, such as my willingness to forego sleep in order to make sure my friends, or those who need my help, are alright (be it ready for a test or a need to talk about personal issues). Basically, I feel that she can show a more personal side of me that might be unknown to teachers. Of course, I know how it sounds. Having one of your best friends write you a rec letter, right? haha. But this is why I ask. What are your thoughts? (BTW, when I say close friend that is what I mean, she’s not my girlfriend :P)Again, I’m definately planning to write my essay on some of this (question B seems perfect), but I thought this might be something to reinforce or introduce information that might not be present in a 500 word essay. So tell me Mr. McGann, in or out? :P Thanks for your help.”

Anon, that sounds very interesting, and well thought out — I look forward to reading her letter.

Edward wrote, “Hi Matt. I hope you’re doing great Thanks for all the usefull information I was wondering, could an athlete contact more than one coach(different sports) in hope of being recruited by all of them?”

There are a number of multi-sport athletes at MIT, and if you aspire to be one of these, you may certainly contact the multiple associated coaches.

Anna wrote, One more little question about art supplement. How many works I can include in my portfolio (on CD, in .jpg format)?”

You may provide as many art pieces as you like, but you will probably want to choose a select number to focus on, probably no more than, say, 20 (ballpark guesstimate).

Kyle wrote, “I’m curious if we can submit a computer application and source code to show evidence of programming talent. What are the rules for things like that? If you do examine code, and if it’s a large program, I could point out several sections that I think are examples of my ability.”

You may submit some code with your application, but unfortunately we cannot guarantee that we will be able to evaluate it. If you do submit code, be sure that your code is well commented.

Josh wrote, “I read on your previous posts that there is no auto-word counter on the online application essays. But today when I was saving my optional essay about my research(which was 800 words) it displayed: Your answer exceeds the allowed length. Please edit your response. (in red, at the top). I cut my essay down to 600 words and it still displays this, and I found it stopped displaying this at exactly 530 words. There is also a box that says: Check here to ignore errors and save data anyway. What happens if I check this and submit it? Will my extra words be cutt off?”

I don’t know the exact details of the online application, but I do know that what you see when you preview your application is the same as what we’ll see when we read your application. If what you preview is different from what you want us to see, I recommend sending the version you prefer via snailmail.

Faiqah wrote, “Hi, I tried to contact my EC through his e mail and contact no. but got no response, so I e mailed MIT about the situation, but still I have no idea what should I be doing. I am for “regular decision” by the way.” And Casey wrote, “I am having trouble contacting my interviewer. The e-mail address in the orange box is no longer in service, and the e-mails I send keep coming back to me. When I called the number given, I was told it was the wrong number. I e-mailed admissions, but they have not responded. I know the interview is “optional,” but I still want to do it. Any suggestions?”

If you are a regular decision applicant, and have emailed [email protected] about your situation, be patient for a week or two; I assure you that you will receive a response. As you can imagine, the EC Office is quite swamped right now. We will do our best to respond to you as quickly as we can.

“anonymous” wrote, “Since we’re kind of on the topic, how does MIT evaluate academic growth? For example, going from a B- to an A, and maintaining an A in that subject. Is the growth enough to balance out the intial low grade?”

I don’t know quite how to answer your question, since I don’t have any context, but in general an upward trend is better than a downward trend. Also, remember that we’re not looking for perfection — having some Bs on your transcript is not a “kiss of death.”

zoogies wrote, “The Green Card copy, which we sent in over a week ago (I live in MA) hasn’t registered, and neither has the Oct 8th SAT scores, for which I designated MIT as a recipient. Should I wait, or call? Are either of these cause for concern?”

We will receive your October test scores, do not worry. (We will also receive November test scores in plenty of time for early action consideration; again, don’t worry). Also, as I wrote above, we recommend allowing approximately 2 weeks from postage date for processing. After that time, it is appropriate to send any documents again, by fax or my mail. In that case, you should attach a brief note explaining your circumstances.

Georg wrote, “By the way, why is everyone talking about the admission of the 2010 class. Do I have to apply 5 years before I enter?”

In the US, when we talk of the ‘Class of 20XY,’ we mean the class that will graduate in that year, and who would enter in the year 20XY-4.

Victoria wrote, “Hi Mr. McGann! I’m Victoria, that girl that offered to help at the San Diego information session… the one that goes to Torrey Pines. I just wanted to let you know that I popped into the counseling office on an errand today and all of the MIT stuff is gone! I assure you there is no lack of student interest.”

Hi Victoria, thanks! It’s good to hear from you, and good to hear that people are interested in the MIT materials =)

Ruth wrote, “how does one sign up to talk to admitted students back home? Is there a party bus of some sort we get to paint and tour around the country?”

Swing by my office sometime, I’ll tell you all about various programs =)

Zack wrote, “Recently, I’ve been reading a book that was referenced in some economics models I was studying. The title of the referenced book: Simple Algebra. Does MIT have any hilariously understated math courses?”

You can check out the titles and the descriptions of all the courses at MIT in the Online Course Catalog. Let me know what you find…

Sara wrote, “Please accept Seth Cohen when baseball is over and he can complete the college process. Look at him taking AP physics as a sophomore!!”

I’ll see what I can do ;)

29 responses to “October Questions Omnibus 2”

  1. Sam says:

    I have a question similar to Victoria’s. I go to Midwood High School in Brooklyn, New York. An MIT rep was supposed to visit Midwood earlier this month but the rep canceled. I know atleast 3 people who are intested in applying to MIT at Midwood. I hope you guys didn’t cancel because you thought that was a lack of intrest. Anyways, is MIT planning on sending a representative to Midwood in the near future?

  2. Robb Carr says:

    Thanks Matt! I appreciate the answer.

    …Mmmm…Rushil I can relate there, as I am currently working on…four (On a fun note, I came up with the original idea for one of them during a MIT Admissions Seminar [Scrabbled on one of the fold out cards]) mathematical “problems” (Though honestly two of them are more for the experience of working on them rather than significant hope in solving them…) anyway, I understand the situation you are in…and, again as Matt said the art of problem solving forums are good (If you do not like the interface you could also try, same forum different skin; or lack thereof depending on how you choose to look at it. If you are looking for more in the way of mathematics education has an entire year of linear algebra lectures, eh its something to look at…not an overly challenging course but something different. You could also look at :

    this has some interesting material, and also some not so great stuff…but its definetly something to look at! I can not really help in the way of a mentor (something I am kind of going through myself…), but eh maybe some of the various texts will help even if just to keep a mathematical mind stimulated. Also if you are not aware already, , is a nice resource…and the mathematical areas still need ALOT of work

    and of course various things that need cleaning up, I find it an enjoyable experience at times (Though I do feel a bit dwarfed by the other members of WikiProject: Mathematics, as a large portion are at least doctoral students) Wish I could help more, and best of luck.

  3. Zack Yang says:

    Here are some “understated” math courses, from the Online Course Catalog.

    Analysis I

    Analysis II

    Geometric Analysis

    Theory of Probability

    And my personal favorite:

    Review of Mathematics

    It’s a good thing there’s a description under every course.

  4. Alvin says:

    Hi Matt. I want to thank you for taking the time to answer all of our questions in this very LONG Omnibus. You’ve been a great help.

  5. Hey Mr. McGann,

    Thanks for remembering me grin

    Just one more question: I found a tidbit of information about the MIT/Harvard combined premed program… it just said that it exists. I went to the preprofessional advising site, but I can’t find information on it there. This is a program I’d like to write about for the second short essay: can you tell me (at least three days before regular decision apps must be in- preferably longer, but I know you are in the middle of early apps) where I can find more information? My book is a bit outdated…

    Also, I have two possible responses for the world we live in essay. Is it okay if I put one in the completely optional section?

    Thanks again.


  6. Alissa says:

    ^same. So, how are you? I heard it snowed the other day. Could you say something for us sunny Southern California people about how to convince our parents that snow is not the end of the world?

  7. Alissa says:

    Sorry, but I mean to say “^same as Alvin” smile

  8. Mollie says:

    (Not to hijack Matt’s question-answering, but-)

    Victoria, you don’t by chance mean the Harvard/MIT HST program, do you? It’s a joint Harvard and MIT program for medical education… but unfortunately, only *graduate* medical education.

  9. y2kit says:

    Hi McGann! Thanks for all these things, I can imagine how long it would take for you to answer these questions. I was just wondering another thing… Are test scores from other examination boards (like GCSE O or A Levels that I am taking) considered? If yes, how would you evaluate them? The grading scheme is different from those in the US school systems.

  10. Faiqah says:

    Thanks for the reply, but there’s another question; the comment area next to my application status in APPLICATION TRACKING says “Our records indicate that you applied REGULAR Action.” What does this mean? Do they want anything else from me, or is anything missing from the info.?

  11. This month we had our October SAT (on 8th) and it was cancelled in Islamabad due to unknown reasons (we students believe it was because of the earthquake of 7.6 that occured on the same day and caused largescale destruction in Northern areas of Pakistan, but I am sure that was not the reason). Then an ETS official e mailed all of us that our SAT will be on Ocotber 29, and yet AGAIN it was cancelled. Now the biggest problem is, I am registered for SAT II on November and December’s date has passed! What if I and many others from Islamabad are not able to give our SAT I (or II), what are we supposed to do? Register for January SAT?? Please reply as soon as possible, coz time is running out!!

  12. Rushil Goel says:

    Thanks, Robb. I’m already at for a long time. Its really good and I have found a person who is working on the same problem – although a different aspect of it. I’ll surely check out the links! Regarding the mentor, I did contact some IISc Professors I met during a summer camp. But the response is quite feeble! Please tell me if you have some recommendations!

    Matt: Does it matter that my research is not fully completed??

  13. Rushil Goel says:

    By the way, I’m trying to find a purely geometric solution to he well known General Fermat Problem in Geometry.. It is related to finding a point given n points such that the sum of the distances from the n points is minimum… If you are aware of some work on this, please post! What are you working on, Robb?

  14. Shikhar says:

    after looking at the length of this omnibus…I gotta say Hats off to you Matt!!

  15. nina toleva says:


    Well, I decided ti apply to MIT but I have really big problem. I had great difficulties trying to save money for the SAT and TOEFL exams. At last, I have the required sum, but there are no free dates for TOEFL till early January. What should I do and how should I proceed? Please, help me!

  16. anonymous says:

    Thank you Matt for answering all the questions.

  17. Hey Matt,

    Regarding the teacher evaluation, I’ve rarely had the same teacher for more than 2 years due to me having to shift schools on many occasions. I also have had MAJOR syllabi changes(going from ICSE to CBSE in the middle of high school). Will the admissions office look at things like that? As for independent research. I’m a physics buff and over the last four years, I diligently worked on many “theories” of my own. Problem, they are all, well, silly. on hindsight. I tried things like disproving Heisenberg’s Uncertainity Principle and even have a few ideas relating to the String Theory. It’s mostly rubbish, but heartfelt and pasionate. Will this work for or against me?

  18. Syed Raza says:

    Hey Matt… I hope you remember me..i am a student from Pakistan and i met you in the RSI program over this summer…i am already submitting my RSI paper as a part of my MIT application….is it helpful to send a possible design of a perpetual motion machine (which may be flawed) that I have worked on, just to show my passion for science?

  19. tami says:

    Hi Matt!

    May I know what do you consider to b a good SAT Reasoning Test score? Is a score slightly above 600 hurtful? Or do you prefer >700? How to distinguish between good TOEFL and SAT scores?


  20. Edward says:

    Hi Matt.

    Thanks for answering my questions.

    Have a nice day!

  21. Leon says:

    Thank you very much Matt for spending time to answer all these questions. This long post has clarified a lot of things for me =)

  22. Thanks again for your long, long set of questions. Really helpful! =)

  23. Hi Mollie! Thanks for answering my question: it was indeed that which I was looking for. The book I looked at was unclear. I’ll ask more about that on your blog: it will be easier for you to find, at least.

  24. Oliver says:

    Hey Matt,

    Do siblings of current MIT students get discounts off their tutition. Although we do not qualify for finanical aid, having three children going to MIT (two certain, one pending wink ) will be very taxing for my parents.

    Also, how do we know if a supplemental recommendation letter has been received by MIT yet?



  25. mahsa says:

    Hi matt,

    Thanks for your answers,

    I have one question :

    Do you know Sharif university in iran?

    is it good?


  26. Shikhar says:

    “Do you know Sharif university in iran?”

    ver awkward question to ask…I mean thats what I think so I posted this.

  27. nina toleva says:

    hi, matt!

    I’ve posted a question, but haven’t received an answer. I know that you are very busy, but.. I don’t know what to do and how to proceed and the time is running out. My question concernes TOEFL. I had great difficulties trying to save money for the SAT and TOEFL exams. At last, I have the required sum, but there are no free dates for TOEFL till early January. Is there something wrong with it? And should I explain it in the applicationj forms, or write a letter to the admission office? PLEASE, HELP!!!

  28. Tracy says:

    Hello Matt!

    More questions…I just submitted part ii of the application, and I noticed that the format was sort of messed up. Like, there are no indents in all the places where I meant to have indents. Before submitting my essay, I made sure that the format of the essay was correct, but it still shows up weirdly in the pdf. Now, I understand that I’m being completely obsessive-compulsive, but will the lack of indents at the beginning of paragraphs hurt us in the admissions process?

  29. Kadhambari says:

    hi Matt

    I am Kadhambari from India

    I gave my SAT I on October 8th

    and got 1870

    critical reading-550

    Math -680

    Writing- 640

    Do you suggest that I apply to MIT with this or write it again

    I have very good academic credentials and also won accolades in science fairs across many cities in India

    recently my project was selected the best from 100 entries all over India and awarded the best project.

    don’t the credentials compensate for my low SAT score??

    please reply soon