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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

So much to do, so little time by Matt McGann '00

There's always something exciting going on at MIT.

So, my wife just popped by my office; it turns out she and a friend are on campus to see a lecture upstairs by Nobel Prize winner Ted Hänsch on optical frequency combs, which she describes as “so cool.”

Sadly, I can’t join in, because I really need to be reading applications.

As I write this, there are a whole bunch of really cool things going on at MIT:

Yes, all of this is going on right this very minute. It would be hard for me to choose which to attend, if I didn’t have to be working on applications right now!

(If you’re interested, later tonight on campus events include home games for both the men’s and women’s varsity basketball teams, the Brain & Cognitive Sciences Student-Faculty Holiday Dinner, an architecture lecture entitled “Warm and Cool Architecture: India and the West,” a meditative yoga session, a meeting of the MIT Student Anti-Genocide Coalition (MIT-STAND), a poetry reading by award-winning poet Tyehimba Jess, a workout with MIT Kung Fu…)

[Finally, to answer a couple FAQ: No, we haven’t admitted anyone yet. And no, we have not yet announced a decision date yet. I ask you to please be patient!]

50 responses to “So much to do, so little time”

  1. Snively says:


    At the media lab at the same time, Cary Kornfeld, from ETH Zurich (the MIT of Switzerland) was doing a presentation about a new type of 3D movie that doesn’t make audiences sick and disoriented. I’m still rockin’ the 3D glasses!

  2. Sam says:

    second post yeahhhhhhhh

    Er. I think I just lost several ounces of credibility.

    Anyway. I’m wondering, how many admissions officers read each application?

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s unbelievable that MIT would offer an exchange program to one of the most dangerous regions in the world currently. That must be exciting for MISTI students; I’m so jealous.

  4. job says:

    “So much time, so little to do! Strike that…reverse it” lol wonka

  5. Karen says:

    Take all the time that you want, as long as you admit me!

    Just kidding.

    …kind of.

    Anyway, everything on the MIT campus sounds fascinating and incredible, you guys have such incredible opportunities for learning! I am extraordinarily jealous, but I was very happy to hear that MISTI has a program in France, and my parents will be very happy to hear about the one in Israel. I hope that the application essays are almost as fun as hearing Nobel laureats speak smile

  6. Laura says:

    Also going on tonight are exams in 2.005 and 2.006. That’s what I’ll be doing. =(

    I really want there to be some MISTI programs with South American countries. That’d be awesome. =)

  7. Chris says:

    In complete sincerity Matt, I hope the admission process goes well for you. I personally cannot imagine what that must be like and no matter how great the rewards are I’m sure it also comes with an amount of stress and occasional feelings of overwhelm….ment…overwhelmation? ah well. I won’t say good luck to applicants because (at least I surely hope) luck has nothing to do with admittance. I wish godspeed to finding the right school for you, wherever it is.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Also, the way Spider-man 3 should have ended… =) links/Spiderman3.html

  9. Anonymous says:

    Do the Admissions officers (when they read our apps) compare students/applicants from the same school??

    For example, if twenty people apply from my school, will the Admissions officers say pick the “top 3” (or whatever number) of students among us?? (Assuming our school is very good and all the applicants are MIT-competitive)

  10. Hawkins says:

    In other news, I finally found my way back to the blogosphere. Hello again, all! =) Matt, happy app season!

    @Sam – “Approximately 12 people (give or take) will significantly discuss and debate your application before you’re admitted.” (link)

  11. Jing Jing says:

    WOW. I’m sorry that you have to read apps rather than going to those events… but I hope you’re finding the apps entertaining?

    Also, is there a specific MIT webpage that has a calendar of all the cool events like the ones you’ve listed here?

    If so, are students who do the “overnight” program allowed to attend them?


    I hope you finish with the reading soon so you can go to the events…. =)

  12. @ Jing Jing – The MIT events calendar is at Most events are open to anyone, and if they’re not, it’ll say in the description.

  13. Jing Jing says:

    anonymous ’11: THANK YOU!!! =)

    OH and will someone PLEASE persuade a blogger to blog about the “Explaining Anime’s Global Power” lecture?!?!?


  14. Nur says:

    Live Action Anime was awesome.

  15. A'non Imus says:


    In an info meeting they stated that they do NOT compare you to other students in your school. Obviously they are NOT going to let in all 20… by MIT admission % only 2 or 3 should be admitted but will they be the top 3? Probably not. Our valedictorian has about .2 GPA points higher than anyone else but does nothing but read books. That’s not all they look at. What I’m pretty sure they don’t do is go…ok Blah High School…hmmm top 3….ok good. When they are coming down to the last applicants though and they have to chose one from a non-represented school in the middle of nowhere or a competitive high school they’ve admitted 3 from already they will chose the first student.

    But Im not a admissions officer… Im an applicant so what do I know.


  16. Q says:

    I hope my application and others were entertaining enough to make up for missing these events.

  17. Anonymous says:

    do we know if the release date will be earlier or later than last year’s?

  18. Karen says:

    @Anonymous: Well, I’m not 100% sure, but I can tell you what happened last year when seven kids from my school applied.

    All seven of them were deferred early action.

    The valedictorian of the class was rejected, but he admitted that he would rather go to Notre Dame anyway.

    The second-highest GPA was admitted and now attends MIT.

    I’m not entirely sure how the rest of the rankings played out, but the other guy that got in wasn’t in the top three, I’m pretty sure, but he loved MIT and was kept from attending by financial constraints. The other four boys were rather apathetic when I talked to them later and all found schools that they were extremely happy at.

    I have yet to talk to someone that was rejected from MIT that really, honestly had MIT as their top choice – but then again, I may be talking to the wrong people. Either way, have faith in the admissions process! If you are the best fit for MIT, they will know that, regardless of how many people from your school apply. And, if you aren’t a good fit, then it’s better that you know that so you can find the perfect match for you, right? smile

  19. Alexander says:

    “but I don’t think that everybody who gets in deserves it.”
    I get your point and the way you wanted to put it across but I don’t think that this blog was the best place to put it. A lot of us are going to be rejected by the very nature of the competition at MIT. At the very least we should be able to think that the people who got in in our place are the best for the place.

  20. nishanth says:

    This will be considered as a sacrifice for in coming freshmen students………..if i was in your place i must have surely attended Ted Hansch’s lecture

  21. Rena says:

    I came in last place in a karate competition last year, but I didn’t feel bad at all because I respected and liked my competition so much. I almost feel the same way about my MIT application – I know if I don’t get in, it’s because someone who deserved it got in. I feel like I’m getting to know some of you from reading all of your comments here and I wish we could all be MIT frosh next year…

  22. A'non Imus says:


    ya you can send extra letters of reccomendation to the office of admissions. Put your name and date of birth in a sheet of paper inside the envelope with the letter and send it to the admissions office.


  23. Marie says:

    Aww I agree with Rena smile

  24. Hockey says:

    Don’t forget the women’s hockey tonight, although MIT stands a slimest chance against a super super athletic Holy Cross team. Do you think schools like Holy Cross recruit athletes for D3 programs?

  25. Rebecca says:

    @ Shriphani:

    The form says that a letter of recommendation may be sent with the form as long as the comments address at least what the form asks for. Make sure your teacher checks the boxes on the front and there should be no problem.

    @ everyone:

    I don’t know about everyone who makes MIT deserving it or not, but good luck to the other EA applicants as decision date approaches us rapidly!

  26. Paul says:

    And let’s not forget perhaps the most regular fixture of MIT’s campus – the constant tooling (MIT-speak for very intense studying) of its students, especially as we start buckling down for (*gasp*) finals. Which start in approximately 17 days, 7 hours, and 3 minutes.

    Not that I’m keeping track or anything. wink

  27. milena '11 says:


    I might get a lot of crap for saying this, but I don’t think that everybody who gets in deserves it. I know a lot of people who are just lazy and wasting their time here and getting flagged and not putting any effort into their classes, and I know there’s people out there that would be willing to work hard for something others take for granted. So yeah, everybody who’s here gets in because the admissions people believe they have the potential to do well, but that doesn’t mean they deserve it. People that are willing to work hard are the ones who deserve it, at least in my book.

  28. Reg says:

    You mentioned the live action anime. I’m going in heaven *_*

  29. Snively says:

    Getting closer guys, excited!?

  30. A'non Imus says:

    Well milena kinda killed that inspirational chit chat. good try Rena. But what she says is correct. Many students apply because it is “a good school” not because they want to go there. I think above all else you have to WANT to go to MIT. My 2 cents >.Well milena kinda killed that inspirational chit chat. good try Rena. But what she says is correct. Many students apply because it is “a good school” not because they want to go there. I think above all else you have to WANT to go to MIT. My 2 cents >.<

  31. Paul says:

    @ Milena: Of the people I know who are struggling, for the most part it’s because they’ve had difficulty, for whatever reason, making the transition from high school to MIT. Others are trying to “take advantage” of Pass/No Record and really explore everything MIT has to offer. Neither of those is an excuse for outright failure, of course – but my personal opinion is that, for most people (including myself!), the first semester at MIT is filled with stumbling blocks, and that’s okay.

  32. Travis says:

    While the EA decision date is an important one to consider, it isn’t the only one. (Personally, my big date will be my birthday next month.) I suppose what I’m trying to say is that everything, even happiness/anticipation, has to be taken in moderation.

  33. buhbuhbuh says:

    Hey if my boss offered to write a letter of recommendation for me, can I have that sent in as well?

  34. Shriphani says:

    Hello, I am an RA applicant and my teacher asked me if he could put in some info on a separate sheet of paper and post it with the form to the address at the top of the page. Do I ask him to go on?

  35. Anon says:

    So close, yet so far

  36. Dot says:

    Wow, Live Action Anime sounds hilarious. I hope you get to see it too!
    That’s great that MISTI is still trying to add new programs to it’s already impressive list.
    Happy…application reading?

  37. Anoni Muse says:

    omg!! i’m soo nervous!! all i can think about is getting into MIT… when i imagine college… i imagine myself at MIT… am i setting myself up to be crushed? idk… but that’s life, right?
    …sometimes you fall and sometimes you fly…

  38. I just read in your blog intro that you are learning Chinese. Bravo for cultural outreach!

  39. Anonymous says:

    please please please announce a date! i know ben said definitely not early as the 9th. will you be sticking to a saturday? (so maybe the 15th) or will it be even after that?

    even a time range of a few days will be helpful!!
    thanks a lot.

  40. Anonymous says:

    @milena: Heh, that kinda reminds me of.. me. I’m the type of guy who would laze around, skip 15% of classes (out of the 20% allowed), and go on a 26-hour date 2 days before an exam I haven’t studied for. Oh, and there are those LAN-parties till 5 AM.

    I certainly don’t look like I’m hardworking. And it annoys people like crazy that I get full marks in some tests I didn’t look like I study for. But I guess there are just plenty of guys like me who don’t like to look like they work hard like everyone else. So, don’t judge a book by its cover wink

    Anyway, I’m a bit surprised at how looking at applications of thousands of the brightest students in the world could be boring. Of course, there are cooler things to do, but hey, admissions officers have the power to determine the future of both the applicants and MIT. Sounds like fun! raspberry

  41. CantoGirl says:

    Aww man! You’re married?! dang it :(

  42. An applicant says:

    A quick question to Matt:
    In the 2nd part of the application, there is a COMPLETELY OPTIONAL essay on “something that you have created”. As a 16 year old, I have not CREATED any thing significant yet. How should I write this essay? Can I write a concept or idea I have learnt, instead of “created”?
    I know you will say this essay is “optiaonal” but from all advices I got any thing “optional” is actually not optional and we better write it. Thanks for you thoughts!

  43. Xaq says:

    Gotta agree w/Anonymous on the work ethic lol. Just because it doesn’t always look like we work hard doesn’t mean we don’t work hard.
    And you know, I think looking at apps from the brightest students in the world could get kind of boring, especially if those students aren’t very creative in their essays and such. I know some bright students in our school have no creativity at all. I think the really good essays make up for it hough lol.

  44. Shriphani says:

    Hello, I am an international applicant. My mymit page (I know it sounds awkward) shows that all my scores have been received. Do I still need to give the Collegeboard results to my principal to fill the Secondary school report?

  45. Anonymus says:

    @Xaq: From what I’ve seen, the truly intelligent students are quite interesting. Some of the smartest people I’ve met are not just bright, they have great ideas, thoughts, and can even be a bit too attractive sometimes raspberry. I think that’s what the application essays & recommendations are for, to weed out the truly smart, interested people from the boring nerds out there.

    @applicant: I’m just another applicant, but I’d suggest you write about something you found out yourself. Certainly you’ve discovered/invented/modified something in your life. I think paper airplane designs or recipes or even strategies for sports games count better than something you learnt from someone else. But that’s just my opinion.

  46. Xaq says:

    @Anonymus: Yea, I guess you’re right, my friends and I talk about it, there’s a difference from those who do well and those who do well because they spend their life in a book. Good stuff.
    On another note, hopefully we’ll all be in the know on whether or not we’re in within the next week and a half lol. That puts it at about the 15, which would be nice

  47. Tanarii says:

    I am a sophomore at Kubasaki High School. Is there anything i need to know about admissions? Financial aid? Recommended courses for an astrophysics major? Anything?
    Please email at

    [email protected]
    [email protected]

    Thanks for your help.

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