Reflections by Stu Schmill '86
Some thoughts on the admissions process, both to those who were admitted and those who were not.
I know that it’s been a long year, and now that you’ve had a week to process the decisions, I thought I’d offer some thoughts on the process, both to those who were admitted and those who were not.
From reading your applications, I know how much energy and care you put into them. For the last several months, as you have been waiting to find out your decisions, we have been reading and discussing your applications with the great care and thoroughness that they deserve. On behalf of the entire staff, I want to say thank you for your interest in MIT, and for sharing your stories with us. We have all been truly inspired by them.
Many of your applications brought back some memories for me. When I was in high school more than 25 years ago, I played Ultimate Frisbee and attended the Saturday morning Columbia science program. I took the city bus to my public high school every day and had a job all through my high school years.
Of course, there are many other experiences that I read about that are completely foreign to me. I have never assisted at a calving, had my artwork displayed in a museum, nor led a group of students through a rainy trek up Illimani. This is certainly one of the exciting things about college that you will soon experience: the chance to learn with – and from – students from all over the world with backgrounds both similar and completely different from yours. This opportunity, in fact, may turn out to be the one you most treasure about your college days.
Reading through your applications, I was also reminded of how different things are today. Not so much in terms of your backgrounds or aspirations, but simply in how many more applicants we have. When I applied to MIT, we admitted one out of three applicants; this year we admitted just one out of nine. There are now more students graduating from high school than ever before, and more of them are going on to college. Add to that an increase in the number of students who recognize the value of the type of education that MIT offers, and this year becomes the toughest year in our history.
And so, given that just about all of you are well-qualified for admission, there were simply not enough spaces for the large number of highly qualified applicants, many of whom I would absolutely love to invite to our campus.
The one thing I hope you will keep in mind is that your college experience will be what you make of it. If you maintain the sense of optimism, initiative, creativity, and service that I experienced in your applications, you will thrive wherever you wind up. For those who will come to MIT, I welcome you. For those who will study elsewhere, I wish you the best of luck, and perhaps we will see you again in the future.
I am counting on all of you to help make the world a better place. And I know you can, because I read all about you in your applications. Thanks to you, I have enormous hope for the future.