Regular Action Deadline Q & A by Matt McGann '00
Have a question about your MIT application? Read on...
Update 01/01/2012 7:00pm
It is now 7:00pm Eastern Standard Time on January 1, making the MIT Regular Action deadline 5 hours away. For those of you who have procrastinated and have not yet submitted your application, here are a few tips, notes, and words of wisdom:
- Submit your Part 1 now, if you haven't already. There are no essays in there or anything that is likely to need changes or edits. No need to wait until the last minute. If you have technical problems with the Part 1, let us know ASAP.
- Be sure to validate your Part 2 (on page 10) well in advance of the deadline. Most people's problems at the deadline are related to not validating early enough. Also, don't forget to view the preview PDF.
- There may be some small grace period for people submitting the application after midnight. If this happens to you, don't worry.
- Do not worry about your recommendations, transcripts, and test scores if they are not yet showing up in MyMIT tracking yet. They do not need to be in by midnight. We are processing thousands of documents right now, so there's a good chance we have received it but not processed it yet. You will be fine.
- Finally: we're nice, understanding people here at MIT Admissions. If you're panicking right now, odds are that you don't need to be and that we will be understanding of your circumstances.
The Office of Admissions is currently closed for the holidays, and is not accepting emails or answering phone calls (and I am on vacation!). The office will reopen on Tuesday, January 3rd.
However, with the RA deadline fast approaching, I'd like to use this entry to answer some of the common deadline-time questions. There are many answers already here on the site — for example, about standardized test requirements or statistics. And below, I've provided answers to some additional FAQs:
- The deadline is January 1, meaning you can click "submit" on your application any time on January 1 or before. However, I strongly discourage waiting until the last minute. I know that, for example, many students have had validation errors with their essays, taking more than a couple of minutes to fix. If you're submitting at 11:57pm, you're playing with fire.
- It is perfectly fine if, through no fault of your own, your school forms (e.g. teacher recommendations, secondary school report, transcript) come in after the January 1 deadline. We are much more understanding of and flexible with late documents from schools than with late documents from the applicant.
- January is the last testing date that can be seen by the Admissions Committee (February will not be seen). If you will be taking the January test, you obviously don't have the scores yet to write down in your application. This is okay. Just be sure that when you take the test, you designate MIT to receive the scores; other than this, you do not need to do anything special. Please do not rush report your scores. We require either SAT Reasoning Test OR ACT Plus Writing (or TOEFL) AND 2 SAT Subject Tests (one in math, one in science). We we only use the scores that make you look best, and we do abide by Score Choice.
- The deadline to request an interview was December 10th, and has now passed. While highly recommended, the interview is not a required part of the application (and students whose interviews have been waived are at no disadvantage). You are welcome to request an interview from your Educational Counselor (EC) after the deadline, but do not expect that your request will be granted. If you have already interviewed with your EC, or have scheduled your interview for the near future, you are all set. Do not worry if your interview report has not yet appeared on your MyMIT Tracking; the deadline for ECs to submit their reports has not yet arrived. If you wish, you may now fill out the conducted interview form and we will be sure to get the interview report.
Submitting & Tracking Documents
- The MyMIT Tracking is up-to-date (while the Admissions Office is closed, the Records Office is working hard), but please recognize that processing can take 2 weeks. You do not need to worry at this time about documents that are not showing on MyMIT; we currently have a backlog of materials in our processing center, and expect to have that backlog into January. Do not send a second copy of any document at this time. Also, you do not need to call MIT Admissions at this time to check on any such documents (there is a time for this later). Do not worry about materials that have not yet shown up on MyMIT Tracking.
- Please note that you do not need to express mail or overnight any part of your application.
- Any application materials being mailed, including recommendation letters, should be sent to: MIT Office of Admissions; 77 Massachusetts Avenue; Room 10-100; Cambridge, MA 02139; USA. Be sure to include the appropriate cover sheet. It need not have any special code on the envelope.
- Any application materials being faxed, including recommendation letters, should be sent to 617-687-9184. Be sure to include the appropriate cover sheet.
- Please include the appropriate cover sheet from MyMIT for any document you send, as it helps with filing (but documents without the cover sheet will be fine, too, as long as there is enough information for us to match the document with your file).
- Please include the MIT Supplemental Document Cover Sheet from MyMIT for any additional documents you send. It helps with filing. (Documents without the cover sheet will be fine, too, as long as there is enough information for us to match the document with your file.)
- For teacher recommendations and secondary school reports, we prefer our form, but will accept your school's forms, the NACAC forms, or the Common App forms.
- If you are having credit card problems, please email applicationpart1 at mit dot edu. If problems delay your application past January 1, we will extend the deadline for you due to any problems on our end.
- We are happy to accept fee waivers for any student (foreign or domestic) who needs one. Using a fee waiver will not negatively impact your admission. You may use the SAT Fee Waiver, the NACAC Fee Waiver, or a letter from a school official detailing your situation. We will accept other fee waiver forms as well. Generally speaking, if you are in tough financial shape and make a good faith effort to inform us of your circumstances, we will waive your fee.
- If you need to update your application after you submit it, the best — and recommended — mechanism is the Midyear Report, an online form which will be available next month. On this form, you will also provide updated/semester/midyear grades and any changes in your coursework. You will also be able to provide information about any new awards or anything else you want us to know about.
- On the last section of both Parts One and Two, there is a link that will allow you to preview your application as a PDF. This PDF is exactly how the admissions committee will see your application. You should always preview your application before submitting it. Two common problems that are often not caught without previewing are listed above: pasting special characters from Microsoft Word and a too-lengthy Additional Information section.
- Application tracking is available on MyMIT after you submit your Part 1. For this reason, I recommend submitting your Part 1 sooner rather than later, so that you can track your documents.
- Regular action results will be released in mid-March.
Essays & Other Application Components
- The word count on the essays is pretty strictly enforced. Perhaps a little overly strictly — you may find that you can only fit, say, 247 words for a 250-word prompt. My advice would be to not sweat the small stuff. Everything will work out. These short-answer essays are only one small part of the application, and the word limit will in no way influence an applicant's admissibility.
- If you copy and paste from a program like Microsoft Word into the application, you may lose some formatting. Be particularly careful of characters like apostrophes, em dashes, and quotation marks. If you type directly into the text box on MyMIT, everything should be fine.
- In Part Two, Section Nine ("Additional Information"), we are aware that the font shrinks and is not traditionally formatted; this affects everyone equally. Also, if you put too much text into the box, the bottom will be cut off and the admissions committee will not be able to see it.
- Listing awards that you have received is sufficient. You do not need to mail us certificates. Do not lie or be deceitful, though.
- There are often many questions about the self-reported grades form. We ask that applicants in US school systems do their best to accurately and completely fill this out. Be sure to include your current year courses. Be sure that your self-reported grades match what is on your transcript. If you have taken college, online, or summer courses, you should include these classes and grades as well. If you do not attend an American-style school, you do not need to fill out the self-reported grades form.
I hope this is helpful. Best wishes as you finish and submit the application! And happy holidays!