Viji wrote, “Hello, How do I RSVP for the info session? Your links takes me to the school and Yahoo maps. Interested in attending the Sept. 18th, Mira Loma, Sacramento session.”
Aha, oops. You can RSVP at http://www.mit-admissions.org/7075/newusr.asp (you need a new additional login beyond your MyMIT login). You can review the list of meetings at http://mit-admissions.org/rsvp/session_link.asp. At the Sacramento meeting, say hi to Stu for me!
Vivek asked, “is a freshman assigned a particular discipline he is to major in or it is decided in later years?”
When you apply to MIT, you are not applying to a specific major or a specific school/college within MIT. Students who are admitted to MIT are admitted to the entire university and may choose any department they like without an additional application process. All freshmen enter MIT “undeclared,” and, at the conclusion of the freshman year, choose their major from among all of MIT’s majors. Later, you can add another major or a minor or two. You can also change majors (as I did in my junior year, from math to management) at any time. In short, you are not assigned to a major, you choose it. You can learn more about this at the Choice of Major website.
Sara wrote, “For the next Omnibus:
– Is it ok to write HMMT? (not enough room to write it out)
– What about emo? uhhh maybe MIT rejects people for listening to such whiny crap…
– Is it ok if our summer activities are off by a few weeks, don’t fall on the right days, etc., as long as the duration is correct?”
For HMMT, I might try something like “Hvd/MIT Math Tnmt,” since it’s not guaranteed everyone will immediately recognize it. As for emo, I’m not sure under what context it would come up, but we won’t count it negatively against you. Besides, the admissions staff here actually has some fairly eclectic tastes in music. As for the dates of summer activities section, we’re just trying to get a sense of order and length; dates need not be 100% accurate.
Diana wrote, “I really appreciated your presentation in Winter Park, driving to the other side of Orlando was worth it. Thanks for all the information, your honesty and enthusiasm. I now want to go to MIT more than ever, and even though that is awesome, I am going to be sooo disapointed if I am rejected and it’s all your fault. =o) How certain were you about MIT when you applyed? Any interview tips?”
I was actually not certain at all about MIT when I applied. At the time I was applying, MIT was not my first choice, and it was only after I was admitted and began to fully explore MIT that it emerged as my top choice. As I’ve often talked about, I was initially concerned at that MIT would not have enough humanities for me, not have enough gender diversity, and not be a good place to be a college student with a social/non-academic life. But when I finally visited with open eyes, I realized that MIT had more than enough resources in the humanities, that MIT had both many men and many women, and that MIT would indeed be a fun place to attend college.
As for the interview, I’ll have more to say, but my best advice is to come in relaxed and open to talking about yourself. The interview isn’t a quiz or a grilling session, it is a chance for the admissions office to get to know you better.
Susan wrote, “I have a question regarding the application. I understand the importance of showing passion, especially through the essays and extracurricular involvement. However, there are subjects such as psychology and philosophy that I ABSOLUTELY love but it’s rather hard to actively pursue them in a HS setting. How would you recommend that I display these sort of passions?”
There are several ways you could have your love of psychology and philosophy come out. You could talk about it in your interview. You could mention your philosophical/psychological readings/discussions in an essay. Maybe there’s a teacher with whom you’ve had such discussions with, and they could mention it in their recommendation. Those are a few ways that come to mind.
mike wrote, “Could you visit us in Southwest Florida someday? I’m going up to the Tampa session on the 16th, but that’s a four hour one way drive for me, which means I won’t be home until about two in the morning. West Palm and Miami aren’t any closer. I also have a question about admissions essays. You give us so little space (<250 words) to write an essay, but want to have personality come through. How can we accomplish that? From personal experience, writing these short essays have resulted in "dry", emotionless essays. Maybe I'm just a poor writer."
Mike, I’m really sorry that we can’t visit all parts of the country. We do our best to get close to everyone — in your case, as you note, Tampa, Miami, and West Palm Beach — but unfortunately we only have so much time. We do the Central Meetings to try to help, but I don’t want to trouble you and your family with so much driving! Let me know how I can help in other ways, and if you still do decide to make the long drive, hopefully I’ll be able to give you at least a little individual time in Tampa.
Hmmm… as for the essays, again I’ll have more to say later, but here are a few tips. First, the longer essay is recommended to be 500 words. Those short answer questions should be shorter, and we recognize the constraints of a shorter response; you your best to just answer those questions directly. In the longer essay, try to eliminate lots of description (“It was a crisp December morning, with skies as blue as sapphires and clouds like cotton balls…”) and focus on talking about yourself and what is important to you. Also, do talk to others — English teachers, parents, etc. — for their advice on your essays. Hope that helps somewhat.
Pash wrote, “I am a prospective Junior, who is very intent on coming to MIT. I was merely wondering if you could facilitate some advice which would help me with acceptance into MIT. I am aware of the demand for a rigorous course schedule, however, many are, hence I was looking for distinguishing things, I as an individual could do, which would make it more compelling for admissions officers, such as yourself, to accept me. Also, is it integral that I take an English course every year, or should my emphasis be on the sciences and mathematics?”
Pash, my advice to you is to think about those things that most excite you, and then think about how you can best pursue those interests. Also, while it is true that an MIT education emphasizes analytical skills often used in science and math, we do also hope that you’ll have some academic balance in your life, including in English language studies. We do not require 4 years of English, but we do recommend it.
Sara wrote, “Another question: Today my college counselor said that an MIT rep comes up to Exeter to interview all early applicants. But I’m a day student, so it’s no problem for me to meet my EC. Which would be better? And if it’s better for me to interview at Exeter, should I let my EC know?”
On your MyMIT portal, it should have the name and contact information of your EC. You should contact your EC and set up with him or her whatever best fits both of your constraints.
Leon wrote, “I’m currently taking AP Calculus BC as a senior at my high school. Last year I have taken Calc AB and got a 5 on the AP test. If I get a 5 on the AP Calc BC test (which I am very confident that I will), do u think I will be able to take multivariable calculus in my freshman year at MIT if I will be accepted? I ask this because some people told me that no matter how well I do on some APs MIT would still make me retake the classes.”
If you have a 5 on the BC Calculus AP test, you will get credit and placement for 18.01 single variable calculus, and will indeed start with 18.02 multivariable calculus. I’ll have an entry quite soon with more information about AP/IB credit.
Shikhar wrote, “Matt, I have noticed in the past few years that from India at least the students who get selected to MIT are one each from the North,South, East and West zone. Is it true that MIT considers all applicants of one geographic region of a country and takes one from each. Also don’t you think Indians should get a little more representation at MIT since they make like 30% of all International applicants but still only four get selected. I mean is the application process based countrywise or are all international applicants considered in a same pool.”
It is not true that we will always try to take one applicant from each region of a country. However, we do consider various forms of diversity, including geographic diversity. Also, you should know that your numbers (30% and 4) are not necessarily accurate. It is true that in the international process, we admit by country, but we admit without quotas by country or region.
Michael wrote, “In the application my fathers highest level of education is requested. My father went to trade-school, instead of high school, and whilst in apprentice-ship, he took an evening course over 4 years to become a state authorised ‘real estate dealer'(not sure about the expression). How would you write that up, as it does not come either in the undergrad. or the grad. category?”
Since there’s no correct answer, I would choose “High school diploma” and then in the name of university and degree section, write in “High school = trade school” and “authorised real estate dealer,” or something like that. Do your best to convey the information given the limited space.
Richard wrote, “I’ll be seeing you again in Orlando on Thursday night, and I’m wondering what’ll be different from the info session at Arizona ISEF. And what should we be dressed in? (At Phoenix, we had dress shirts etc., so I think this might be different) Thanks again, and I will see you soon!”
It was good to see you! You can wear what you like. In West Palm Beach, one student chose to wear a suit, and another wore a t-shirt and flip flops. I’d probably go somewhere in between. For the record, you were dressed quite fine =)
Shikhar wrote, “Matt answer this on your omnibus. Don’t you think its high time an MIT student does one of those unbelievable hacks like in the past I think the hacking community at MIT is lying low for sometime?”
You’re asking this on the wrong blog… go over here ;)
Michael wrote (re: this entry), “The alumni who’s a ‘Senior Associate, McKinsey & Co’ wouldn’t happen to live in Oslo, Norway, would he? And if that is the case, is his name Joachim?”
No, the alumna I’m thinking of works in Turkey. As you’re beginning to see, many MIT alums work for McKinsey, among other management consulting companies. (I did find a 2001 MIT Ph.D. named Joachim working for McKinsey in Europe in the alumni directory, though).
Matthew wrote, “In MyMIT account, I’ve been assigned an Educational Counselor in Kuwait, but I live in the UAE. Could there be a problem, or do you guys expect us to fly to Kuwait for interviews? Do you suggest emailing the EC and ask for a phone interview instead?”
Hmm… this may be a mistake. I think we do have an EC in Dubai. You should email [email protected] and explain your situation to them.
Shabin wrote, “[Matt wrote in a previous entry,] ‘We know that most countries do not put the same emphasis on extracurricular activities as the United States does. This is okay, and we will consider this as part of your context.’ But dear Mr. McGann, some of the students from some of the schools in most of the countries get more opportunity than the remaining ones. While comparing two people from the same country but coming from different ambience, and with different set of opportunities, how will the Admission Officers be able to properly understand, judge, evaluate and put into context “the context”?”
Your context includes many things, including your country, city, school, family situation, and more. All of these things comprise your context, and your context will be an important part of your application.
Kamran wrote, “My next question: How many staff members do you know who play video games?”
Actually, I’ve never had a conversation with my colleagues about video games =)
ant06 wrote, “thanks for answerin that last ques. i’ve another one.. where do non-native English speakers fill in their third SAT subject test scores in the application form? The third subject score space seems reserved for native English speakers only!!”
You have two options as a non-native English speaker. In one, you take the SAT I or ACT along with 3 SAT IIs. In the other, you take the TOEFL and 2 SAT IIs. So, if you’ve taken the TOEFL, you don’t need a third line for a third SAT II. You should know, though, that what we’ll do is consider only the submitted scores that make you look best, regardless of which scores you write on the application.
Kishor wrote, “is it true that international applicants don’t have to take the sat reasoning test.”
Applicants whose first language is not English (international or not) have two options: the SAT I or ACT along with 3 SAT IIs; or the TOEFL and 2 SAT IIs. We have no preference between these, and you should do whichever option will be best for you.
Matthew wrote, “i’m matthew from india .i would like to join the mit as freshman next year . and i got the application form .as u give a lot of importance to extra curricular activities ,can i attach a cd or a document containing my certificates and distinctions along with the app. form . if yes i would be really happy . hoping to hear from you soon .”
Many international applicants send in a large book with copies of certificates. This is not necessary. If you wish to send in some certificates, please only choose the most important few. You may also submit a brief “resume” (please do not make this lengthy) describing your activities and awards, but be sure to completely fill out the actual application spaces for activities and awards, as we will use this as the primary document.
Harish wrote, “i am a mystery to my teachers. I seem to be very good student in class, do extremely well in oral-quizzes and ask intelligent doubts. yet, in exams, I (sorry for the nasty language, but there’s no other term that fits as well) screw up. Will this work for or against my favour at admissions and should I mention it in my application. I think my teachers will anyway. Another thing, do the teachers who give you give you a recommendation have to be employed because my humanities teacher recommendation happens to come from my English teacher who retired this year. but she has almost three decades of experience and I’m quite sure she’ll give a good recommendation. Another one, I’ve changed schools 5 times in my life due to father’s job. Will that have any consequence on my image. One more, my current school takes part in verrryyyyy few Extra-Curricular events. I represent us in all Literary events such as Quizzing,(which,sadly, is not given as an option in your list of events) Essay-writing, Journalism and Debating. Whenever we do go, though, i generally do very well(when I say we do very well I mean we win). So, will quantity dictate or quality. […]”
Here goes the answers: Your teachers and/or counselor should be the one to mention any problems you have with taking exams. We are happy to accept recommendations from teachers who have retired or who now teach at other schools, and this will have no adverse effect on your “image.” We will consider your activities in the context of the opportunities you have.
Laura wrote, “More questions seem to occur to me all the time. Could you please help me with these too?
Firstly, can I apply online for Part I of the application and send in paper forms for Part II?
Secondly,how does MIT confirm citizenship status? Do they require your passport, citizenship papers, etc.?
Lastly, I have a question about my transcript. If my transcript begins in eighth grade, and the online application only begins in ninth, should I list my eighth grade classes too? Complicating this is the fact that I took biology in eighth grade, but cannot find a way to list it as such, especially on the online application. Should I submit the paper application instead? What do you suggest?
Oh, and one more thing, like Harish, one of the teachers that I have thought about giving a recommendation form to has retired. Should I ask another teacher to fill out the form, or is it okay if she fills it out, although she is no longer employed at the school?”
Yes, you can “mix and match” pieces of the online and paper application. I believe we look at citizenship documents at enrollment, though we need to see a copy of green cards during the admissions process. Also, you may list high school classes taken in middle school. On the paper application, write in “8” for grade level; on the online application, write “Biology (taken in 8th grade)” under “Course Title.” And, yes, as I told Harish, we’re happy to accept recommendations from teachers who have retired or who now teach at other schools.
Dan wrote, “My school offers only 2 AP courses for juniors, chemistry and US history…US history is not for me and instead of AP chemistry taking up 2 blocks I chose honors chemistry and a full year music theory course. If they see that AP chemistry was offered and I didn’t take it, will they not like that, or see that I’m following my passions more, and it not affect me? I ask also because when I apply I will not have taken any AP tests to put on the application.”
Well, that’s 1 more AP course than my school offered for junior year. You should ask your counselor to note your scheduling decision on his/her recommendation, and you may want to mention this in your interview too. Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about it too much, especially if you have some challenging courses in your senior year.
Yuri wrote, “Hello! I was recently accepted for the All-State Orchestra (NY), but there is a rule that requires candidates to be in the corresponding music class (orchestra). For me, orchestra conflicts with Calc BC and there is no other way around the problem, so my question is: is it worth it for my guidance counselor to mention that although I was accepted, I couldn’t go due to scheduling conflicts?
Sure, it’s worth mentioning it, it’s a nice honor!
Mushal wrote, “I’m an international applicant from Pakistan. I’ve been told on MyMIT that there isn’t an EC in my hometown, so my interview has been waived, but i know there is one in a neighbouring city. I would really like to give an interview…is it possible to schedule up an interview with the EC from the other city?…how?”
It may be possible. You can inquire further at [email protected].
Shannon wrote, “As a freshman, I took Spanish 3 and now as a sophmore am taking Spanish 5 (and plan on taking the AP test in May… oh boy! Got to love testing). Anyways, I was really wondering how many credits or “years” of the language I should count that as. In middle school I essentially taught myself the language, and then I got ridiculously bored last year and went ahead into the Spanish 4 book. Can I count this as 5 years, or just 2 since I haven’t actually been learning it for 5, per se? Just curious.”
Well, we don’t ask for you to account for a number of years or credits taken. We’ll look at your transcript and self-reported grades form to see the individual classes and individual grades, and we will definitely recognize the fact that you’ve advanced to Spanish V.
Vivek wrote, “i am in indian school system will it be fine if i get my recommendation filled up from someone who taught me in 10th then in 12th because he knows me better?”
Absolutely! This sounds like a great person to write your recommendation.
Ian wrote, “I’m currently a senior student (form 5) in Malaysia and will be taking my final exams, SPM, in November 2005. I am very interested to apply for MIT’s Fall 2006 intake. I’ve taken SAT I and TOEFL last year, scoring 620 verbal, 740 maths and 273 CBT. A few complications arise as I view the deadline of the application, January 1st. I do intend to take the new SAT I and SAT II physics, chemistry and maths 2. However, my final exams would only end in November, 30. The only available testing date according to college board that is after my exams and before the deadline is December 3rd. According to collegeboard.com, they do not allow a candidate to take up SATI and SATII papers on the same testing date, thus, the next available testing date is on January, 28, which is after the deadline for the applications. How do I overcome this problem? I’ve viewed the earlier tests dates but I would be unable to take them because I would have to take a plane to Kuala Lumpur ( I am in Kuching ) and on those dates, my school has trail SPM exams. I do realize the competition for admission to MIT is really high, especially for the international students as only a few are admitted. I do know that I am a bright student and a fast learner, but my school doesnt have the AP system like the US schools. thus, I would like to take the AP tests in May 2006, all by self study. This again, is after the application deadline. Would MIT accept these scores? Official SPM results would only be out in March 2006. Could I use my forecast results to apply? What else should I place in my application to be one of the competitive applicants and prove my brilliance? Are there any EC’s in Kuching or Malaysia?
In form 4 (junior year in US standards I suppose), I missed out a mid year exam, causing me to be unranked at the end of the year. This is because I am a member of the school band, and we represented our country to Italy last year. However, I topped my form in the First term exam and also the Final exams. I am worried that this might affect my application. What should I do? I am from a low income family, yet I intend to enter a prestigious and expensive school such as MIT. What are the chances of one getting in? How good must one be?”
Ian, since you have taken the TOEFL (and done quite well), we will not require you to take the SAT I. All we will ask you to do is 2 SAT IIs (though taking the three is fine). So, I would take the SAT II on December 3, and not worry about the SAT I. MIT would accept your AP testing results in 2006 for credit and placement, but those scores would not be considered for this year’s admissions process. Also, yes, we will consider your forecast SPM results. I believe we have several ECs in peninsular Malaysia in the KL area; please email [email protected] for more information. As far as your special circumstance, either explain it yourself or have your counselor explain the situation. We will understand. Your income will not affect your admission to MIT (though at some schools it might). The odds for any international student to be admitted are unfortunately quite low, but I recommend you request a Fee Waiver from our office, apply, and see what happens. Most of our Malaysian applicants are from the peninsula so I’ll be interested in hearing about life in Sarawak. Living in Sarawak and coming from a low income family are a big part of your context, so be sure to talk about that among all of your accomplishments and honors. Good luck!
Lorraine wrote, “I have a small question. Iam an international applicant or soon will be, and Iam still not sure about the subject tests. Before this year it was two subject tests one in math and one in science and one in writing,but now with the writing test no more, is it okay if I do two science tests,and one in math so that I still have a total of 3 subject tests or is there something else,because i can’t do the language tests-I happen to know english only-and the History is really alien to me, but I really want to do the SATI and the subject tests.”
We require the SAT I or ACT and 3 SAT IIs: one in math, one in science, and a third in any subject of your choosing, which could be an additional math or science test. So, yes, you can do two science tests and a math test.
Mike wrote, “I recently did my interview with MIT and it was not good. It took me by total surprise. Normally, they ask you about yourself, and what you’ve done, but this was more like an IQ test. But then, I guess MITs not very normal. Anyhow, I think I did horribly. How will you guess look at my interview? Can it hurt my chances of getting in?”
The interview should not be like an IQ test. Most interviewers have just a very conversational interview to get to know you better, and this is what we instruct them to do. Please email [email protected] to tell them about your experience so other applicants in your area do not have the same problem. The results of such an interview cannot be held against you.
Victor wrote, “I would like to know if applying early action to say Caltech and MIT would hurt my chances of getting into MIT… I know you don’t really favor early applicants, but I would like to know how much “loving the school” factors into the decision.
Also, the optional “tell us about something you built” essay should be around how long? I know Caltech likes to see a research paper you might’ve written, and the thing I built has to do with a research paper I’ve written. I’m entering this paper into Siemens Westinghouse competition, so it’s like 20 pages… so I’m not sure admissions counselors would like to read something that long. Should I just summarize it?”
We do not know and do not care if you apply to other early action schools in addition to MIT. So, if you apply early action to both MIT and Caltech, it will not impact your application at MIT. We don’t look for MIT “love” as much as we look for a good match and good fit with MIT and its culture. As for your research paper, I do not recommend sending it. What I do recommend is getting an extra recommendation from your research mentor, and talking about it in your interview. Also, for the optional essay, you could tell us a bit about your research project: how you chose the field/topic of research, how you obtained your research opportunity, what challenges you faced during your work, what you learned from the research, how it has influenced your future goals, etc. I’d try to keep it to 500 words.
Yasha wrote, “I registered myself at “MYMIT” about a week ago and visit the site everyday to see if the EC’s name and address/phone no. is posted there.nothing so far.How long does it take? I live near Knoxville,TN.”
Hmm… by now, you should have an EC assignment (probably out by Oak Ridge). If you don’t have an assignment and it’s been a while, you should contact [email protected].
Dan wrote, “Quick question: will legacies have a better chance at admissions than others? Will they be “favored” or does it totally not matter?”
Legacies are not favored, and do not have a better chance in admissions. If you are a legacy and are admitted, you are admitted for being awesome and not for being a legacy.
Richard wrote, “Thanks for all the information and the opportunity to talk to you. I am more interested in going to MIT than ever. I just have one additional question about MIT campus life: How politically involved are MIT students? Thanks for all your insights!”
It’s hard to uniformly characterize MIT students’ political activity. Certainly, there are active chapters of such groups as the College Democrats and Republicans, as well as groups for the Green and Libertarian parties. There’s a cool new political discussion group called the Forum on American progress. Political Science classes are popular. There are also issue-oriented groups on things like the environment, abortion, social justice, and more. In general, I would characterize MIT students as having a more pragmatic (as opposed to a more radical or protest-based) approach to activism, trying to make a tangible difference on specific things rather than having vague protests and petitions (though those things happen, too). Hope that helps a little; you may want to seek out the student bloggers’ opinions as well.
Kat wrote, “I attended your lecture in Miami and yes it was standing room only!!! Well, I am writing to you because your lecture did not include any information for home schoolers (myself). I am early in the process as I am 14 but I find it is never too early. […] How does a homeschooler get an opportunity to participate in the process?”
Homeschooled applicants are treated just as any other applicants are. Of course, being homeschooled is a big part of your context, and that will be a big part of the consideration of your application. There is a reasonable number of formerly homeschooled students at MIT, and they tend to be as successful as traditionally schooled students. I’ve promised an entry with more information about homeschool and I’ll try to get to it soon.
Mike wrote, “I participated in the Lemelson MIT Inventeams program last year (I don’t know if you know about it). How favorably will MIT look at this?”
Yes, we know about Inventeams (hey, is that you in the picture on the homepage?). Many of our staff went to the Inventeams event this past June, and others are involved with the selection process. In short, we know about the program and like it.
Shikhar wrote, “can you tell me one thing. Does MIT give credit to students who are involved in community service. I am heavily involved in the above or so I think (I have been in service for three years which would make it like 2000+hrs dont really know the exact amount). Is this really a distinguishing work or do quite a number of applicants have such good community service.”
I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “credit” — if you mean academic credit, then in general, no, MIT doesn’t give academic credit for “community service.” Most students who are involved with service work do so because it is something they want to do to give back. If you mean do we in admissions consider this a credit to your application, then, yes, the service work will absolutely be considered (and 2000 hours is a lot of service!) and will be a good thing (assuming your service is in keeping with the MIT mission of improving the future of the world). We’re going to want to know much more about that service than just the raw hours — how did you get involved? what was your motivation? was it required of you? what kind of impact did you have? how would this relate to what you would expect to do at MIT? etc.
Relatedly, you may be interested in knowing about an initiative at MIT called Service Learning. The website defines this as:
“Service learning is a teaching method that integrates community service projects into the curriculum of a class. Students in service learning classes apply their learning to real-world needs, providing valuable help to underserved communities and bridging the gap between theory and practice. For example:
- Students in an engineering class learn engineering design by creating an electro-mechanical device to aid a person with a unique disability.
- Students in a writing class hone their communication skills by writing a grant proposal that a community agency then uses to receive funding.
- Students in a Public Service Design Seminar develop and build prototype delivery vehicles that expand the possibilities for vaccine transportation in the developing world.”
Check it out! I’m very excited about the Service Learning initiative.