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!