It has been almost two weeks since we released our admissions decisions, and I wanted to take a moment to offer a few thoughts, and to thank you for being engaged with MIT and our admissions process.
This year has certainly been different from any we’ve seen before. The economic crisis has affected many, here at home and around the world. I know that many of you — students and parents — are concerned about the future: about jobs, about your ability to pay for college, and more generally about the economic, social, and environmental stability of the world.
For those who will come here to study, despite the difficult times — indeed, because of the difficult times — I hope you will come here with the realization that MIT offers the type of education that the leaders of our world need today, and the determination to take full advantage of it.
Through our commitment to a science and technology centered education integrated with a strong humanities program that offers appropriate context, you will leave MIT with the background that is essential for any leader who will influence and solve the problems that the world faces today. In fact, you don’t have to wait to graduate. As an undergraduate student, you can work with faculty on any number of important projects, such as the MIT Energy Initiative, the Center for Integrative Cancer Research, the Poverty Action Lab, D-lab, or the Laboratory for Financial Engineering. The analytic and human skills you will learn-by-doing here at MIT are the exact ones that will be central to solving the world’s most pressing problems.
Of course, along with the excitement of the opportunity of an MIT education, there remains the anxiety over how to pay for it. I know that for many families, it will be a stretch. To help, this year we have increased our financial aid budget by more than 10%, adding resources to help families across the economic spectrum. If circumstances change in your family at any time during your four years here, be assured that we will be flexible and responsive. If you have any questions about financial aid, I urge you to contact your financial aid officer.
At a press conference at the White House on Monday, MIT President Susan Hockfield joined President Barack Obama in calling for increased funding for clean energy research. In her speech, President Hockfield cited a report that showed that “every government dollar invested in energy R&D returns 40-fold to the economy — in energy efficiency, energy savings and in new technologies — a 40-to-1 return on investment.”
In the same way that President Hockfield argues that funding energy research is a smart investment, I think of an MIT education as a smart investment. Certainly our students do very well in the job market when they graduate, and will continue to do well even in this economy. The skills learned at MIT will continue to be valuable — in fact, will be of core value to the economy that will reward innovation. And, of course, the investment will continue to pay off not only for our students and graduates, but for society as well.
To those who will come to MIT to study, I look forward to seeing many of you at CPW in a few weeks. To those who will not come to MIT to study, I hope that you pursue an analytic, science-based education, which is so needed now, and I wish you well. I have no doubt that you will be among those who are the global leaders in the near future.
One thing that I am certain of is that no matter where you wind up, you and your classmates have an enormous opportunity to bring about significant change in our future. Science and technology will drive this transformation, and we need our future leaders to have a deep understanding of science and technology in order to remake this world.