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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Order of Operations by Matt McGann '00

In what order should your application be submitted?

Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of questions like, “Can I do my interview before I submit my Part I?” and “What happens if my teacher recommendation gets to MIT before anything else?” I’d like to answer all questions of this sort.

You can do all of the parts of the MIT application in parallel. That is to say, order doesn’t matter. (All of this assumes you have registered for MyMIT, which, if you haven’t yet, you should do as soon as possible)

So, you can do you interview before submitting your Part I. If your teacher is on the ball and sends in your recommendation in September, we’ll hold on to it until the rest of your application comes in. The same goes for anything you might mail in (like a fee waiver request or supplemental recommendation). Mix and match as you see fit.

Also, if there are things that you’d like to include in your application, but that don’t fit in the online application (like photos of inventions/creations, extra pieces with formatted text, etc.), what you should do is submit the online application, and also send, via snail mail, the extra piece(s) to the Admissions Office. Be sure to include your name and date of birth. These can also come in either order.

One related question is, what if I plan to take standardized tests, such as the SAT Subject Tests, after the application deadline? What should I write on my application under test scores?

This is actually quite a common problem. We do ask you to write in your standardized test scores in the Part II, but note that we ask for “Date taken (or to be taken).” So it’s quite alright to write in a future date without a score, as long as that date is acceptable for the application deadline for which you’re applying (November tests or earlier for Early Action; December/January tests or earlier for Regular Action). I assure you we will receive these scores in plenty of time for consideration in selection committee.

Don’t worry too much about how you write in your test scores in the Part II. It is very helpful to us to have you write in your scores in a way that best reflects what you’ve done, but we’ll be focusing on your official scores sent to us by the testing agencies.

Please be sure to have the testing agencies send us your scores directly (don’t rush them): our SAT/TOEFL code is 3514, and our ACT code is 1858. Please use the same name on your standardized test registration and on your application, or we may have trouble matching the scores to the application.

All that being said, it’s a good idea to actually click that “Submit” button for the Part I. It will relieve a bit of stress for you, and will formally start your application folder. Congratulations on starting your college applications!

58 responses to “Order of Operations”

  1. Anon says:

    In the summer activities portion, do you want activities from this past summer or from other summers too?

  2. Star says:

    Thanks Matt,

    What about submitting those teacher recs though; can teachers fax them in, or must they be snail-mailed?

    Also, if I switched schools for senior year, should I get the school report filled out for my old school as well as my current one, or is my current one enough?

  3. Paul says:

    When I was filling out Part 1, the part I struggled with the most was question #12 – “What field of study appeals to you the most right now?” If that question also scares you, don’t worry. Ultimately, I realized that the most important part isn’t what you write down, per se – the key is to be honest about your interests right now. You’re a senior in high school – MIT doesn’t expect you to know 100% what you want to do with the rest of your life. If you have a general idea of what you’re interested in, and have pursued extracurriculars, classes, or other opportunities that support your ambition, that’s more than enough.

    Also, if you honestly don’t know what you want to major in, don’t be scared of saying “Undecided.” Just today I was talking to an ’11 who put down undecided; and if she got in, why not you? Finally, don’t buy in to the myth that putting down a weird major you’re not really interested in will somehow increase your chances of being admitted – MIT doesn’t work like that. smile

  4. Paul says:

    @ Anon: All summers of your high school career. Unless you somehow did six really cool things this last summer. ^_^

  5. Sam says:

    Concerning the “What field of study appeals to you?” question:

    Right now, linguistics fascinates me intensely (Morphology! Syntax! Semantics!), but I really don’t intend to pursue a linguistics major at all. I do have some interest in other courses… like 18 or 9, but at the moment, I really find Course 24 interesting.

    Basically, is it dangerous to declare my current infatuation with linguistics and philosophy?

  6. Farhad says:

    I’ve a question… The teacher recommendations… do they have to send them? or they should give them to me and I’ll send them on my own?

  7. Drew says:

    If I’m taking an online math class, should I put that down under courses? When should I request a transcript be sent for that, now or after the course is completed?

  8. Hunter '11 says:

    Just to add on to Paul – there’s a reason that MIT doesn’t have you pick your major until the end of freshman year. They just want to see your interests – not fulfill any quotas. Just put what you do have an interest in – rare or not.

    And just a note in general – try your best to fill out the application accurately, but don’t flip out too much on what things should be called, etc etc.

  9. Paul says:

    Hey Bridget, either kind of envelope will be fine. As I recall, I folded my teacher recommendations in thirds and sent them in regular-sized envelopes. I sent my transcript, counselor’s recommendation, and school report all together in a big orange envelope.

    Go with whatever works for you. As long as you get the papers to MIT, the admissions office will sort it out. smile

  10. Aakriti says:

    Its been more than 3.5 weeks since my Secondary School report was submitted and my MYMIT account shows that MIT has not recieved it.What should I do now ?

  11. Anonymous says:

    If I get bad score in SAT(specially verbal) but do well in Toefl,should I retake the SAT? I am an international applicant.

  12. Bridget says:

    Do the transcripts/recommendations/school reports have to be sent in the orange 9″x12″ clasp envelopes or can they be sent in a regular letter-sized envelope?

  13. Joy says:

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks for informing.

    A sudden discovery — in the picture above, you are sitting in the lobby of building 10 and on the right side if looking from outside, looking at the Killian Court.

  14. Kevin says:

    Hey, I have a question:
    Should we send official AP/IB score reports or will you take our word for it?

  15. Anonymous says:

    If we send our application through the mail, will our MyMit account show when it’s been recieved?

  16. Keshav P says:

    @ Anonymous
    Nerds don’t need male enhancement pills.

    @ Anonymous 2
    Yes. You can go to the site through my name for further info.

  17. Farhad says:

    Describe the world you come from, for example your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations?
    We have to talk about all those things? Or can we choose only one?
    Say for example, I’m the president of some chess club… then should I talk about my role there and what have I learned from doing that?

  18. Paul says:

    @ Farhad: Pick whatever you feel best represents you. If you feel you can write an interesting, revealing essay about your experiences in the chess club, by all means go for it. Although Ben has already given some great advice on the essay, I’d like to add that what writing an admissions essay is much like writing a short story. As they say in the writing business, “showing” is usually more interesting than just telling. Ultimately, always remember to go with what feels right to you. smile

  19. Sid says:

    Hey Matt, I am an applicant from Australia. I have my end of year exams in the november-december duration and the testing venue for Melbourne in those months is about 300km away. I am hesitant about doing my SATs in those months as it adds extra pressure and workload to my exam preparation. Therefore, i was wondering if I can do the SATs in January.
    If, so can you please send me a confirmation at: [email protected]

  20. Applications, essays, teacher forms, CSS Profile, tax forms…………

    *keels over and dies*

  21. Paul says:

    @ Sam: You raise a great point. What you put down in Question #12 is up to you – but if you really have a strong interest in linguistics, I would encourage you to consider at least mentioning that in short essay #2 (on Part 2). Like I said before, just be honest. smile

    @ Farhad: That depends on the teacher’s preference – but no, the teacher does not have to send it personally. However, teachers really like it when you give them pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelopes for each school you’re applying to. It makes both of your lives much easier.

    @ Drew: You should certainly put that down as a course! As for when you send the transcript, I wouldn’t worry about it too much, but hopefully Matt will be able to provide you with a final answer.

  22. Amy Zook says:

    I had my school send in the Secondary School Report and Transcript two weeks ago, and it still hasn’t registered on the MyMIT website. What should I do?

  23. Paul says:

    @ aakriti & Amy: I completely understand your concern, but for now, patience is the best policy. The deadline for EA is still about a week and a half away, and the admissions office is processing a lot of papers right now. Keep checking – if it doesn’t pop up as received by Friday or Monday, then you may want to give the office a call.

    @ JH: Yes. Feel free, however, to mention that you will be taking the SATs again at a later date. (The last acceptable testing date is November for early applicants, or December/January for the regular cycle.)

  24. Keshav P says:

    I guess I have a few questions of my own:
    1. Is a résumé recommended or even considered if we decide to send one?
    2. My response for the “(Completely Optional) No admission application can meet the needs of every individual. If you think additional information or material will give us a more thorough impression of you, please respond below.” question requires special formatting. Is it okay if I send just that portion in via snail-mail?

  25. aakriti says:

    Its been more than 3.5 weeks since my Secondary School report was submitted and my MYMIT account shows that MIT has not recieved it.What should I do now ?

  26. JH says:

    What if we expect to score higher in the upcoming SAt tests.. should we still fill in the score section using our previous SATs??

  27. JH says:

    @Paul: What if I don’t feel like putting in the lesser scores? Can I just indicate that I’ll be taking the SAT at a later date? Thanks!

  28. Amy says:

    If we’ve taken classes at a community college, do we need to send in an official transcript from the college too?

  29. Sarah says:

    So, if we’ve done a couple of really cool activities over spring break, should we include that in the “Summer Activities” section, or just put it in additional information?

  30. camster says:

    I’m an international student who’s currently living outside of the U.S. but who did freshman and sophomore year of high school inside the country. As a result of moving across continents, my grades have sufferend slightly and my participation in extracurriculars has been sporadic, seeing as I’ve focused more on adapting to the country, getting comfortable in the language, and adjusting to a completely new school system. Will something like that be taken into consideration in the admissions process?

  31. Paul says:

    @ JH: I empathize with your predicament – but keep in mind that MIT is going to see all your scores anyway, sooner or later, from the official College Board record. I feel the more mature thing to do is to “own up” to all your scores by listing all of them, even the ones you’re perhaps not as proud as of, and indicate later in the application that you are working on bringing those scores up.

    Remember, as I and many other people have said before, scores are not everything. They do matter, but they are still just one piece of your application

    @ Keshav #1: It’s not necessary to send in a resume – everything MIT believes is most important to know is already on the application. However, you are free to send one in if you so choose; it will be considered like any other piece of supplemental material. Just make sure you still fill out the extracurriculars portion on the actual application (Part 2, Question 5), and don’t just refer them to your resume. (Matt has previously made some comments that may help you out.)

    @ Keshav #2: That should be fine. Where you would normally put your essay in the online app, just write a note indicating your situation. Send in your essay following the usual guidelines for supplemental information (such as, make sure you include your name and date of birth on the essay).

    @ Sarah: Interesting question…you should probably check with the actual admissions office to be sure, but that sounds like it would probably be fine, assuming you can get everything to fit. ^_^

    @ Amy: I could not find any indication that an extra transcript from the college would be required for MIT, although other schools might. Nonetheless, it would probably behoove you to obtain a transcript if you can. (I did this for some of the college summer courses I took; it’s usually a pretty easy, straightforward process.) Either way, make sure you list the college course appropriately on the Self-Reported Course Work form.

    @ Camster: MIT’s admissions process is very holistic, which means that everything on your application is taken in context. As long as you explain clearly your particular situation and the challenges you have had to overcome, MIT will keep that information in mind. (Good places to do this are your essays, the additional information, and/or your recommendations.)

  32. Disha says:

    Hey, I am an Indian student and have completed my high school this year. A field on the secondary school report asks for the ‘School you currently attend’. Should I mention there that I have completed high school or write the name of my last school or just leave it blank? Also could anybody tell me what are these school ACT or CEEB codes cause I can’t find one for my school.

  33. JH says:

    @Paul: Thanks a lot. Sorry for asking so much but how can I indicate later in the application that I am working on bringing those scores up? Thanks again.

  34. Keshav P says:

    First of all, thanks to Paul for clearing the resume thing up; I was getting mixed inputs before.

    @ Disha: you can go to [url=”” rel=”nofollow”]
    The college board site[/url] or alternatively [url=”” rel=”nofollow”]
    the act site [/url] to try to find your school. If it’s not listed, I believe you leave it blank. As for your other question, I believe you write that you have completed high school (also writing its name) and explain your situation, i.e. what you are doing now, etc. But don’t trust me, necessarily, ask the international recruitment GOD (Matt).

  35. David says:

    When you mean don’t rush your scores, does that mean you shouldn’t use the rush report service through collegeboard? I accidentally forgot about sending SAT scores and now it’s about a week away from the EA deadline. So, I decided to do that to make sure they got there on time. Is that a problem?

  36. Disha says:

    @Keshav P: Thanks. I checked on the links you mentioned. There are only about thirty or so Indian Schools which appear on the list for CEEB/ACT codes, most of which are international schools and my school is not one of them. If I am not wrong, these codes are assigned to certain schools the world over by College board, right? So as my school doesn’t have the code, I guess I should just leave the field blank.

  37. Disha says:

    @Matt/Paul: I have doubts regarding the filling of certain fields in the application and other forms. I’ll be extremely grateful if you could provide answers to following queries of mine, as it would enable me to fill the forms precisely.
    I am Indian student and have completed high school this year from the CBSE board.

    * I do not currently hold any visa. So, should I leave empty the field marked-Visa type?

    *My school doesn’t have CEEB/ACT code. It only has a code number assigned to schools here in India which are affiliated to CBSE. Can I leave the places empty which ask for my school CEEB/ACT code?

    *A field on the secondary school report asks for the ‘School you currently attend’. Should I mention there that I have completed high school or write the name of my last school or just leave it blank?

    *As far as I have read the instructions for the application, I guess MIT requires two short essays and one long essay.But application part two has only one essay question. Do we have to write the other two essays on our choice of topic? If so, what is the word limit for them and do we have to send them by post with other forms?

    *The secondary school report requires a transcript to be attached with it. I completed my 9th and 10th grades from one school and 11th&12th; grades from another. So, do I ask for separate transcripts from the schools giving the details of the respective grades? Also, does the transcript have to be a copy of the final report cards of the different grades or just a single paper on which the school councelor would mention the subjects taken, grades obtained etc by me in the four grades of high school?

    Sorry for asking so much all together, but I really do need some genuine help. You could also answer me on my ID- [email protected]

    Thanks again.

  38. Carolyn says:

    Does MIT have a preference as to how we mail the teacher evaluations and the secondary school report (i.e. FedEx or UPS…)? Or, does it not matter so long as all the necessary forms arrive?


  39. PSmith says:

    I have a few questions concerning the secondary school report. My school officially seals the counselor recommendation and the transcript separately. I trusted my school to label all of the forms correctly, so mine were tossed into the mail separately. Would it be wise to recollect these items and send them together, assuring correct labeling? The double copy wouldn’t create confusion, would it?

    Thanks so much.

  40. microsoft says:

    My life’s been basically boring. Such is life. Nothing exciting going on worth mentioning.

  41. score says:

    My life’s been basically boring recently. I’ve basically been doing nothing to speak of. That’s how it is. I just don’t have much to say recently. Oh well.

  42. Paul says:

    Hey Disha,

    No problem about having so many questions, I’ll do my best to try and answer them.

    * If you don’t hold a US visa, leaving that field blank (or writing none) is fine.

    * It’s not your fault that your school doesn’t have a College Board code. Since I believe CBSE codes are 5 digits, try entering that instead of a College Board code. If that doesn’t work, leaving it blank should be fine.

    * For the secondary school report, you should probably just write the name of the school from which you graduated, though you may want to add the phrase (Graduated) after the name if you have space.

    * The two “short essays” are the questions given above the “long essay” question. (They are identified as 3a and 3b on Part 2 of the application.)

    * I believe that sending two transcripts, one from each school, would be ideal in your situation. I am not entirely sure how Indian schools distribute grades, but preferably you want to send in “official transcripts” (which basically look like extra-long report cards).

    If you have any more questions, or if I didn’t answer anything adequately, I would highly encourage you to email or call the admissions office – their contact info is at the bottom of this page. They’re really quite helpful, and they can give you much more definitive answers than I can. smile Best of luck!

  43. Paul says:

    @ Carolyn: Nope! Regular postal service works too. wink As long as everything is postmarked by the proper deadline, you’ll be just fine.

    @ PSmith: I’m not sure I quite understand your problem…but if you’re worried that MIT is going to receive an envelope labeled “counselor report” and find a transcript inside, that should not be a problem as long as all the proper materials do arrive. Sending a second copy would probably cause more trouble than it is worth. Just keep checking the tracking feature on MyMIT to ensure that everything arrives.

  44. AnQi says:

    I have already submitted my Application Part 1, and I just found that I got my school code wrong, but all other information about my school was right including my school name and address. How do I change my school code? I am so worried.
    By the way, your presentation in Toronto was awesome! Thank you Matt!

  45. Disha says:

    @Paul: Thanks a trillion. You have cleared most of my doubts. Just wanted to clear whether you are referring to these questions(requiring 100 words answers each) on application part2 as the short essays-
    a)”We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do for the pleasure of it.”
    b)”Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why?”

    *There is a part on the application asking the activities we participated in and requires mentioning hrs/week & weeks/yr. Suppose I took part in a particular school competition/activity twice in some grade, how do I go about mentioning weeks/yr and all that? What if I have taken part in an activity in just a month not the whole year round, which usually is the case? Is it absolutely necessary to mention these details.

    *Can I use the space in the application which says “No admission application can meet the needs of every individual. If you think additional information or material will give us a more thorough impression of you, please respond below. (Please limit your answer to 500 words or fewer.)” to include a kind of essay explaining an accident which infuenced my life to a great extent?

  46. Paul says:

    No problem!

    * Yep, those are the “essays” I was referring to.

    * When it comes to hours/week, and weeks/year, just use your best guess. Be honest, but if you’re in doubt, it’s probably better to underestimate than overestimate. I know it seems like a pain, but I think putting down actual numbers is very valuable. (And as you know, people here at MIT love numbers…)

    * Definitely! The “additional information” essay would be a great place to mention that sort of detail about your life.

  47. HY says:

    Hello everyone

    I am a Canadian student considering MIT. Because my school ordered SAT information earlier this month, I wasn’t aware of the October or the November SAT test dates. If I write my SAT I in December, can I write my SAT II in January?

  48. M Shiakh says:

    Hey guys i see everyone of you are worried about admission,,, guys chilax… If MIT like you, You will step on the stairs of MIT but if it doesnt there is no other way to get in. So its simple either you gonna be selected or you wont.. So there is going to be only one out of two decssn either admit or reject…. So chill enjoy looking at other people being worried……

  49. Jaya says:

    I have a question… Is it ok to apply Early Decision to UPenn as well as Early Action to MIT, since it is non-binding?

  50. Vani says:

    Hi everyone!
    I study in Chennai, India, and am planning on applying under EA to MIT.
    I wanted to know, would it be possible for me to do a course in the Sloan School of Management as well as science courses?

  51. Anonymous says:

    I mailed my Part 1 of the application to the office on paper 2-3 weeks ago, but my MyMIT account still doesn’t register it as being received/processed. When I mail out my Part 2 in a few days, should I just re-fill out the Part 1 and submit another payment?

  52. Vani says:

    Hey Matt or Paul…
    Thanks for the great posts! smile
    I wanted to know, how do I make it clear that I am interested mainly in the Sloan School through my application, other than the short essay question on majors? Would that make any difference to the application?
    I would love to integrate both business and science in my studies – would that be possible at MIT?
    Also, are both programs equally hard to get into? I know that majors are not chosen until sophomore year, but I confess, though I do love math and chemistry, I am not a very “techie” person – will that affect me in a bad way?

  53. anonymous says:

    what if I missed the application deadline by less than an hour? am I not considered for early action?

  54. media says:

    I’ve just been letting everything pass me by , but so it goes. I just don’t have much to say these days. Pfft. I can’t be bothered with anything. More or less nothing seems worth doing. I haven’t gotten much done recently, but oh well.

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