With a difficult day and a half of selection behind me, I’m looking forward to watching “The Incredibles” tonight and not thinking about Admissions (and taking off the tie that I wore today!).
In a nutshell, here’s how selection works. 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 — I’ve been lucky enough to work so far with Stu, Quinton, Salvador (the admissions officer formerly known as Juan), and Amy, making for great subcommittee dynamics. 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 what we are looking for in MIT students (if you’ve come to an information session or read MyMIT, you know what I mean), 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.
We will definitely continue working tomorrow and probably Monday, too, though it’s too early to tell. After we finish with selection, there’s still a lot of administrative stuff to do before we can put the decision letters in the mail. We mail all of the letters together in the same batch; we hope to mail by Saturday, though, again, it’s too early to know exactly when we’ll be done and ready to mail. And again, you will have to wait to get your letter in the mail to find out your decision, as it will not be online, in email, or available on the phone.
I’m happy to report that this year’s early applicants are excellent, and it’s been very difficult choosing which students to admit since everyone is so talented. Thank you for your hard work on your applications; I promise you we’re responding in kind with hard work on the selection process.