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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Selection begins by Matt McGann '00

Picking the Class of 2010.

This afternoon, we began early action selection for the Class of 2010. As is my custom, I wore a tie today, out of respect for the applicants and the difficult decisions we make in selection.

This year, we received 3098 applications, up about 10% from early action last year. This will, undoubtedly, make selection even more difficult this year. I can tell already that this will be a very tough year of MIT admissions. The quality of applicants is astonishing.

Basically, selection works like this. We’ve spent a month reading and crafting great summaries of your applications, and now we take those summaries and work from them. We do selection in subcommittees, usually of three people. Each subcommittee will take each case in random order, read aloud the summary, check out the coursework and grades, and then have a discussion about that applicant. Things are by consensus — we have everyone on the subcommittee agree what the right action (admit, defer, deny) is. Because we have a clear idea of qualities we are looking for in MIT students, we can usually reach consensus after a bit of discussion without needing to resort to a formal “vote.” In the very rare occasion where we can’t reach consensus, we put the application back in the stack for another subcommittee to decide on. Then we take the next case and repeat the above, iterated over all of the different subcommittees, which are intentionally randomized each half day or so.

Selection will continue through the weekend. We’ll mail decisions out in about a week. Sorry, we won’t have decisions available by email, web, or phone.

Tonight, I’ll take a little breather from the tough work of selection to eat some soup dumplings and finally see Harry Potter. The winter is a great time for movie-going!

51 responses to “Selection begins”

  1. Timur Sahin says:

    Best wishes to all involved.

  2. zoogies says:

    This is all like one really long movie, and now the suspense is kicking in. Can you hear the escalating climatic music? Can’t you?

  3. Rose says:

    I…am so…scared…

  4. Victoria says:

    Good luck with readings (to committee) and good luck in committee (to other applicants)… I didn’t apply early, so my moment of truth will not arrive for a couple months yet… *worries*

  5. YBai says:

    Yes…scared, truly.

    Somehow, I hear the Jaws theme in the background…

  6. I’m really… scared!

    Oh well, good luck to all of you who are, like me, applying early action.

    And by the way, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the best movie of Harry Potter so far! Definitely!

  7. Clark Poland says:

    I’m thinking more like Mozart’s Requiem (amazing piece). Heck, even a classic like William’s Imperial March would be appropriate.

    Jaws and Psycho are too cliche for my choice in terrifying music.

    Oh, and can I give you advice for making selections? Please eat your favourite meal or listen to your favourite song or something beforehand. Everyone who you look over in subcommittee will appreciate it smile

  8. zoogies says:

    Here are some suggestions, all recorded by the Auburn High School Honor’s Band (not my school, but they have nice recordings of a lot of music):

    Finale from Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony:,_Finale_-_Shostakovich.ram

    (never could a timpani be so scary)

    The Lost World:

    Black Granite:

    They’re not ALL scary, but climatic. I played Black Granite once, it’s awesome ^__^

  9. Justin says:

    Im just looking forward to receiving an admissions decision regardless of what it is (obviously I want an accepted but a deferred or denied is better than waiting … well maybe not deferred because the waiting continues) and the next Omnibus which is going to be big.

  10. Phil says:

    I was selfishly hoping the # of applicants didn’t increase too much. raspberry

    I’m hearing the “Phantom of the Opera” theme in the background…

  11. s says:

    Good luck to all EA applicants!


    I agree. **Worries** I can’t even seem to get my essay right and this is going to be a tough admission year!!!!

  12. Mike W says:

    All of our effort, all of our dedication, and all of our waiting are coming down to this one moment. Good luck to everyone…I’m sure all of us have a mutual feeling of suspense and anxiety.

    Also, thanks Matt for finding time for this blog through this busy application process.

  13. Emi says:

    I’ve got butterflies in my stomach…I’m one of those 3098…oh God.

    Well, good look to everyone!

    P.S. I liked Harry Potter, but I had to see it in Spanish (I live in Ecuador) and the translation really did disasters for the film’s tone and emotion…but it was still great!

  14. Julia Yoo says:

    Wow. From 13 days from today, I will discover my fate of whether I got into my #1 school since I was 13.

  15. Aki says:

    Hi Matt. I watched Harry Potter tonight also. It was actually very fast paced but it was very intese at the same time. I hop you enjoyed watching Harry Potter also!

  16. Julia Yoo says:

    Hello my fellow MIT applicants!

    Reading this blog initially made me very anxious, but then I realized that we all just need to calm down. Although MIT is my #1 school, and probably for many of you as well, getting admitted is not a life-death situation. Also, it is so easy for us to get caught up on merely focusing on the final result, but we must not forget about the process, or the hard work it took for us to get this far.

    Also, for Mike W’s comment, I understand exactly how you feel. However, I do not believe that “all of our hard work and dedication” in life was for this one moment of discovering if we got accepted. Regardless of the results, I am proud of my hard work, passion, and dedication, which I will continue for the rest of my life.

    Best wishes to everyone! (and don’t get too anxious!)



    P.S. to Mike W: I apologize if I misunderstood your comment, but please do not take it personally! smile

  17. Sam says:

    Well said Julia, but I still wanna get into MIT. I’m just wondering what you guys would do if you actually made it?

  18. DJ says:

    I’m not that uptight about the results that’ll come out. Is this so if you think MIT’s a reach for you? I’m excited for it though.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Getting in will definitely make me VERY happy, not getting won’t make me too sad.

    (joy_of_admission) > -(sadness_of_rejection)

  20. Rafael says:

    Good luck to all you EA applicants!! I got really nervous just by reading the intro of Matt and for I applied RA, I will probably be nervous the next couple of months, waiting definitely is the hardest part smile

    Regards from bittercold Switzerland

  21. Arturo says:

    Hey everyone! EA applicants: You’ve heard this maybe too many times before, but I guess sometimes words fall a bit short from what we want to express… so, expecting the unavoidable, here it goes: Good luck and, for what it’s worth, you know you have more than enough abilities to be in the MIT, regardless of the outcome of your application. For everyone else, I guess good luck as well… but first, send out your applications!!! That is, of course, if you, like me, haven’t yet quite finished.

    And now, to the actual purpose of this, my first post… being myself a movie junkie, I was excited to come across the following Matt’s post from a couple of months ago (07/10/2005):

    For all of you who are interested in such post, you might wanna check out:

    if you haven’t already done so. I found it illustrating. Well, take care, enjoy the winter (for the unlucky bunch of us who don’t get postive double-digit Celsius temperatures), and watch a lot of movies (Mexican movies). Movies rock.

  22. Merudh says:

    hey hey,

    now the real suspense begins! have readings =) that’s all I can say for now lol

    oh by the way, HP4 is great…not as great as the book, but movies rarely ever are (just my opinion). Anyway, have fun movie-going.

  23. Merudh says:

    have = happy*

    sorry don’t like leaving mistakes uncorrected lol

  24. CFang says:

    Wow. So this is it. Incredible. Truly incredible. Good luck everyone.

  25. Semyon says:

    What happens if you end up accepting too many? Or do you keep a limit in mind while selecting? How does that work, if you do? (i.e., do you ever think, “wait, we just accepted two people in a row… let’s wait a little while before accepting someone else?”)

  26. Zack Yang says:

    Good luck to all my fellow applicants! I would be ecstatic if MIT accepted me early.

    By the way, having talked to other early applicants of other schools, it seems that MIT has by far the best online application. Apparently, other online applications are very flaky and bug-ridden.

    So, a word of thanks to MIT for having made the application process relatively more pain-free.

  27. Rose says:

    Ha…I already have an MIT sweatshirt. It’s orange. Yay! I’m just a fan of the school in general, but I’ve been tentative to wear it lately…Too scared…

  28. Anonymous says:

    i am really afraid for any exams to be conducted.see….i am shivering

  29. Gee…. It’s been a long, long, long time since I last posted here. Hmm… And I’ve not much time now either. Going back to packing… for Canada…

  30. Kamran says:

    I have been keeping tabs on your blog, so I am excited to here this! Good luck to everyone, we each have about this

    —| |—

    —-^ Much chance of getting in, so we need luck!

    Anyway, I sent along a documentary I created so I hope someone watches it and spreads it around. tongue laugh That would be quite funny.

    Good luck everyone!

    By the way, the best advice McGann had, “Plan for the worst, hope for the best.”

    If I end up getting into MIT, I’ll be ecstatic since it really is the only place that really matches my character and my aspirations (of course, everyone says that, right?). If I do get in, the first thing I am doing is ordering a MIT tee so I can wear it around and go “Neener!” (No, I’m not that mean…).

  31. Sam says:

    I was gonna wear an MIT hoody if I got in. I thought I was being so orginal(lol).

    I’m getting so anxious, I just wanna know if I got in already!

  32. Shikhar says:

    when is the next omnibus out Matt.

  33. Clark Poland says:

    “the first thing I am doing is ordering a MIT tee”

    I intend on annoucing whether I get accepted or not by buying and wearing an MIT hoody. Until I get the decision (and hopefully get to buy the sweatshirt), I’ll hold it into myself.

  34. Minh says:

    Gosh I’m not EA but feel so thrilled thanks to Matt’s and Anthony’s posts.

    3098 EA to be selected in 7 days? Wow… that means 450 apps to be read in 1 day. Oops..

    Btw I have 2 questions about the reading process. With the amount of work you have, how many subcommittees are there in total? And, are applicants evaluated more than once to ensure consistency across all the subcommittees?

    Anyway, happy reading to the adcoms and good luck to everyone doing EA.

  35. Edward says:

    I just sent in my apllication online.

    I must say applying online to MIT is so much easier than applying to other colleges at – keep it up you guys at MIT & thanx 4 making my application experience a little less tiring and easier.

    Now that my future is out of my hand, I guess the nail biting begins.

    I kinda envy the early action apllicants-their torture will soon be over.

    Well, good luck to everyone, but I guess it really isn’t about luck.

  36. Sandy says:

    “I was gonna wear an MIT hoody if I got in. I thought I was being so orginal(lol).”

    I was gonna do that…and I thought I was being original too.

  37. Anonymous says:

    !! up 10%!!

    I guess that means 282 more rejections

  38. I have been reading everyone’s blogs about their anxiety of getting accepted to MIT. I like that there is this opportunity to share and know that there are others out there that are just as worried. I thank Matt for humanizing the selection process by explaining what the admissions subcommittees go through. It can’t be easy to know that you have to reject someone who has dreamt about going to MIT. My son has been keeping himself very busy and tries not to think about what will happen. But being the mom with a little too much time on my hands, I worry enough for both of us!! Although it will cost more for him to go here than to his other choices, I am really hoping he will get in. I wish everyone luck and Oh yeah, I bought him an MIT hoody for positive Karma! Buona Fortuna everyone!

  39. Colin says:

    This is the most nerve-wracking week of my life. I’ve heard that those who get deferred receive their letters later than the Chosen Few. I hope that isn’t the case, as I am dying to find out whether or not I’ve been deemed worthy of MIT. I’m beginning to think that even being deferred would be better than this horrible sense of desperation and anxiey.

    I made the stupid mistake of looking at more in-depth statistics for MIT’s acceptance rates, and now I’m feeling more downtrodden than ever. My credentials are solid, but of those who applied to a school of this caliber (especially the EA candidates), whose AREN’T? And whose are just a little bit MORE solid than mine?

    I’d like to think that even if I’m not acccepted (early or otherwise), I’ll manage to press on. I applied to a great deal of other schools, some of which are the best [a hell of a lot of] money can buy. Here’s the problem: I don’t REALLY want to go to any of those other schools. At MIT I felt as though I were at home. I stayed with a friend in French House and I couldn’t get enough of the whole environment. I saw videos of Professor Sadoway and yearned to be in his class. I walked through Killian Court and lay down on the grass and I knew that this was where I wanted to be.

    But before I rewrite my application essay, I’ll stop waxing poetic. Once I begin ranting, it’s difficult for me to stop. Anyway, good luck to everyone who applied! I wish that so many of us wouldn’t have to be rejected, but MIT wouldn’t be MIT without its beyond-rigorous standards.

  40. AndersoN says:

    …suddenly they all felt that the apparent calmness evaporated and that life reached a point of a radical turn. Tranquility – merely a dream they felt could cease the anguish of waiting; but why dream it when you can dream of succes and happiness? Why end the anxiety that was so comfortable, the waiting that let them imagine… and hope. As much as they wanted to find out the answer, they knew that doing it would cut the fate, would kill the dreams and press them to the cold wall of reality, a reality that could regrettably be defined as simple as True or False, 1 or 0, Yes or No, Admitted or…

  41. Whatever your decision about me is, I just want to say that going to MIT and being part of this wonderful experience would be a dream come true to me. I wish everyone good luck, and I hope that i get to be extremely happy when i hear about the decision!!! Take care!

  42. April says:

    i’m shaking..literally..i can hardly type…

  43. Melis says:

    Woah! I never knew the selection process, thanks for sheding light on it all! To everyone waiting to get that “special” letter, I know how it feels. I hope for your sake that there’s no freak blizzard like there was in December 2003 (decisions were sent a week later = another week of waiting!) Good luck, Matt =)

  44. Sophia Elie says:

    Wow, “Melis” that makes us feel a whole lot better. I can stop freaking out now. Reading this blog has been an emotional rollercoaster. I was calm after reading the process Matt described, then I started reading everyone else replies and my “terror” increased a level with each reply. I should stop thinking about it but that’s just impossible. Ah well. I’m guess I’ll be shakin till I see the familiar MIT heading on MIT paper.

    P.S. Shout out to Julia! How are you girl? MITES 05!

  45. Zaira says:

    I’m a junior right now, but I just can’t imagine what I will be doing in a year. It is so nerve-cracking. In about a year and two weeks I will know if I’m attending MIT (Si Dios quiere). By the way, I also want to buy an MIT shirt, but I rather wait.

    Matt, when do you send the admissiin/rejection/referred letters? I thought they were supposed to arrive by mid-December?

  46. Anonymous says:

    wow people. chill. CHILL. it’s not life or death. (we’ll maybe it is.. for some of you). if you don’t get in, harvard, yale, or stanford probably is destined to accept you in regular decision.

  47. Julia Yoo says:

    I hope everyone is keeping themselves busy and not worrying too much about whether they will recieve the fat vs. thin letter. After all, we should be thankful that there is even an early action route that allows us to know four months earlier than the rest. Take care everyone, and relax…! SmiLe grin

    P.S. Shout out back to Sophia! Hope all is going well for you! I miss MIT and my MITES family so much!

  48. Elliot says:

    oh hah!! i was waiting for a more specific date we’d get our letter (ok so it’s not that much more specific than “mid-december but still). man… i can’t wait… i’ve set my expectations on “deferred” but i’m still kinda excited nonetheless. whatevs. pretty sure that mit is the greatest place on earth… it’s sure better than harvard or stanford! (that’d be the other two good schools i’ve visited)