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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Some people call me the space cowgirl by Matt McGann '00

More reading going on here tonight, after a yummy Super Burrito and horchata (yummy Mexican drink).

I wanted to tell you a little about the last file I read. Yes, she had a sub-1400 SAT score, but you should have seen the strong case I made for her. Why? Partially because she reminded me a lot of a student who used to work in our office, who we’ll call “Pink.” You may have seen Pink if you came for an on campus information session. When she gave information sessions, she would tell people her SAT score, which would make some in the audience gasp (“She got into MIT with those scores?”). But there was no mistake in admitting her. She rocked one of MIT’s more rigorous majors, Aero/Astro, and now works for NASA. Goes to show that SAT scores can’t account for all kinds of intelligence. The student whose application I just read was like Pink in many ways. She came from a community where academics were not what was valued. She was passionate about Aero/Astro. And, while she didn’t have big SAT scores, she was clearly a top-notch student who had all the qualifications to succeed at MIT.

So that things don’t get skewed too much, I should probably also report that the three folders I read before that had scores that were right around MIT’s average scores, and some I made a strong case for, and others I just presented to the committee as objectively as possible. I had to actually grab the folders to look at the scores, since that wasn’t the part of the case that was important for me to remember.

Also, Jordan (from Monica’s high school) “dared” me to talk about “how many real fluke admissions [I] have seen in [my] time, both as a student and as an admissions officer? That is, someone admitted on a very tipped scale towards nonstandard criteria – not gpa, etc.?” To borrow a line from my Dean, Marilee Jones:

There’s only one way to get into MIT, and it’s the hard way.

What do we mean by this? Everyone here was admitted based on the same criteria, everyone here is an excellent student. A lower bar isn’t set for athletes, or legacies, or development cases, or anything like that. I’m proud to work for a school where I can honestly say that.

There’s a lot more to be said, but for now I’m going to get back to the reading…

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