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MIT student blogger Snively '11

Stay Tuned by Snively '11

Liveblog, coming your way

Hey hey! Welcome to the liveblog! At this very moment I’m sitting in a hotel in Portland Oregon absolutely surrounded by prefrosh. Why am I absolutely surrounded by prefrosh? Because I’m sitting at the Brown Yale MIT information session, waiting to here all about two schools I’ve never been to and one school with which I’m intimately familiar. I’ll be live blogging Mikey’s (the MIT speaker, and recent graduate) information but, as this is not a Brown or Yale admissions blog, I probably won’t be blogging about their info. Instead, I will make random observations about the random people I see around me.


It all brings back some pretty awesome memories. I don’t know about you guys, but I attend a freaking ton of these info sessions. Not just MIT, but Cornell, Columbia, Stanford, etc etc. It always involved hour drives to Portland, free pitchers of water, free pens and pamphlets, and lots and lots of info. It’s been several years since I’ve attended, I guess because I’m no longer exploring schools, but it’s been a long time since I’ve gone through the admissions process so I figured I should brush up on my statistics and refresh my memory about how admissions actually works. You know, I need to know what they’re telling you guys!


The representative for Brown is starting off the evening. The format for the evening will be each of the representatives to discuss a broad, general aspect of admissions that is relevant to each school. Then, after the general information, each speaker will discuss the individual schools. At the end there will be some Q&A , which I probably won’t be blogging (because I’ll be talking).


Topic one: The college search! The college search is all about research. There are a bunch of ways to do it, visiting, info sessions, websites, etc. She mentions that the average number of schools people are applying to is pushing 15, which they believe is TOO MUCH! What do they suggest? Aim for 7-9, and round them well. Some reaches, some target schools, and some safety schools, but make sure you like ALL OF THEM. You don’t want to get into a school you don’t want to attend. It’ll make your April much easier when you have to decide.


Topic two: Admissions! Nick, from Yale, is the speaker. He was a history major and is from Ohio (shout out). Here are some things to think about. EA, ED, or Regular admissions? Should you apply early? Generally, Early Action is non-binding, Early Decision is binding. If you choose to apply early you need to decide if you are ready. The college will not be able to see your senior year, so make sure your Junior year is stellar. Don’t feel compelled or obligated to apply early, only apply if you feel ready and have done a lot of research and know what you’re doing.

Yale, Brown, and MIT are all “highly selective” schools. They accept about 10% or lower of all applicants. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there’s no “checklist” for being a successful candidate. Many different students fit into different types of classes and will compliment each other. From the applicant pools you could construct two or three different classes, but the admissions office has to choose which class they think will do best.


Since it’s not all about test scores, you should aim to be as true to yourself as possible. The college wants to know about you, not about what you think they want. They know what they want, be yourself. The essay is very important. Don’t be analytical, don’t write about a current event or history, write about yourself, show them about yourself. It’s a challenge, it’s difficult, but it’s necessary.

Topic three: Financial Aid. Mikey is going to talk about how financial aid works. A lot of people look at the “sticker price” for the school and are scared away because of it.

Admissions is need-blind, meaning they don’t look at your finances when you apply.

Financial aid is completely need-based, meaning each school will calculate your “demonstrated need” and will pay for that. The rest is up to you.

Your “demonstrated need” is calculated from the FAFSA, the Collegeboard CSS profile, and various tax forms. Using these, they determine what the family should pay, what the student should pay (internships, outside work, scholarships, etc), and then the rest is paid by the school as a grant (not a loan, we’re talking free money). A lot of times the actual payment is much lower than the sticker price.

You will apply for financial aid before you are accepted, this is normal.


Question: How has the economy affected endowments and financial aid? Endowments have been hit, but the money isn’t coming from financial aid, so no worries.

Question: What is the difference between early action and early decision? Early action is completely non-binding. If you apply early and are accepted then you still get to wait to decide. Early action single-choice (Yale) means you can only apply early to one school, but at MIT you can apply early to multiple schools (just, you know, not Yale). Brown is Early Decision, meaning you can only apply to them early, and if you are accepted you MUST attend. ED = binding, EA = non-binding.

Question: International students? Brown is not need blind for international students, MIT is still need blind, so finances won’t come into play. No more than 8% of MIT’s student body can be international. International can only apply regular action, not early. Yale is need blind without a strict cap, but they aim for around 10% of their student body to be international students.

Question: Transfer admissions? At MIT it’s dependent on how many freshmen don’t go onto sophomore year (around 2%). It’s very selective and very difficult, make sure you have a super stellar freshman year at your other college.

Question: High school foreign language requirement? MIT = 1 year! Whoo-hoo! Brown = around 4 years for competitive.

Question: IB diplomas? Colleges are familiar with IB and understand that it’s very difficult. They take it into account.

It’s time for Brown to talk now, and time for me to look around! It’s filled to capacity here, there are people sitting on the floor and standing all along the back of the room. I’m debating standing up and giving somebody my seat, but I’m in the middle of the last row and it’d be all awkward to stand up and have one person sit down.

This is my first info session with multiple schools, it’s weird thinking that not all of the people here are interested in MIT, that some people don’t care at all.

I think if a fire marshal walked in we’d get in trouble. Oh, and this live blog is costing me $10 since I’m not staying in the hotel and MIT isn’t whipping out the magic AmEx to pay for it. Maybe I’ll bug Matt McGann later for a $10 raise on my next paycheck.

Ooh, at Brown they say they don’t like it when people fall asleep in class and they’re all super engaged all the time. At MIT, we stay up until 5 in the morning building things and blowing things up, so by the time we get to lecture we are completely zombified, which is good, because I always feel like I’m accomplishing more at 4 in the morning than at 9 in the morning.

There are little lamps all around the room.

The girl next to me has polka dots on her shoes.

Oh look, Brown builds a race car every year just like MIT! I’ll bet they compete against each other. Shameless plug, if you attend MIT you should join the race car team, especially if you’re MechE. They want you, trust me, they are always looking for help.

“At Brown you can study abroad anywhere that you’re allowed to travel as an American. You can also go to Cuba!” that’s a lol from me.

“Brown’s band is the only band that ice skates at hockey games.” Somebody from the MIT Marching Band please tell me this isn’t true.

I wonder if anybody has ever hacked an info session? I wonder how that would work . . .

MIT Time!!! Go Mikey! He graduated in 2005, course 7. MIT is located on 150 acres of riverfront in Cambridge MA. It’s a 10 minute walk across the bridge to Boston, and many of the dorms are laid out along the river with beautiful views of the city.

MIT is a future-minded school that’s centered around problem solving, looking to solve the world problems and better mankind through technology. There are lots of initiatives at MIT, including the MIT Energy Initiative, the Poverty Action Lab, and the MIT Center for Cancer Research.

Oh look! A picture of MIT’s president, Susan Hockfield, standing there next to Obama. I guess that makes MIT kind of important in terms of the work we’re doing. Another picture is of Tish ’10, a student in the MIT Wheelchair class, a class that designs wheelchairs for countries that don’t necessarily have pavement. This class gives students the opportunity to design for other countries and then travel and help implement their inventions.

MIT’s undergrads, around 4000 of them, are incredibly diverse. Mikey’s rattling off some percentages for races and ethnicity, feel free to look them up. Students come from all over the country, world, and all sorts of financial backgrounds. You’ll meet a lot of people from a lot of different cultures.

MIT has five “schools,” but they aren’t really divided or separated. The first school is the school of engineering, the most popular choice among undergraduates. About half the students are engineering students. Another school is the school of science. About 25% of undergrads are scientists. The third school is the architecture and urban planning school. The fourth school is the school of economics and management, including the Sloan School of Management, which a very very very top tier business school. The fifth school is the humanities school. A lot of people don’t realize MIT has humanities, but there are over 500 humanities courses offered each year.

Obligatory Eric Lander picture (nobel prize winning biologist, teaches freshman bio).

MIT is VERY collaborative. You are rarely all alone, suffering through homework by yourself. HW is often done in groups, people love to help, and you can always count on support from classmates. It’s NOT COMPETITIVE! People want to help you, if not just because in the future you may be able to help them.

There is no class rank at MIT, all students and degrees are treated the same way, no pressure.

P/NR is the magic first semester system at MIT. If you pass your class you just get a “P” on your report card. If you fail, it’s stricken from the report card and it shows that you never took it. You cannot fail a class first semester of freshman year.

Research at MIT is huge, especially because of the UROP program. UROPs let you tag along on a research team with professors and their grad students, doing real research and getting paid or getting credit. Students get published in papers, can submit research, and it looks great on resumes.

MIT has many abroad opportunities. Students can spend their Junior year in Cambridge (the other one) and there’s another program that lets students travel to Spain. Any other study abroad opportunities can be worked out.

The MISTI program lets students work and study abroad during the summer in a variety of countries.

DLAB is a class that lets students travel and work abroad, it develops a technology or device that solves a problem and then travels to a country and helps people use their new technology.

Fun! MIT students love to have fun! Not everybody locks themselves away, people love to join clubs, build stuff, play sports, etc. Of note are underwater hockey and the chocolate lab.

Sports: 33 varsity sports (we lost 8 this last year :( ). MIT is division III (except for crew, that’s Div I). MIT has a PE program that’s mandatory, but there are a bunch of fun classes (pistol juggling, archery, etc).

MIT has a dome. There’s an entire slide devoted to this dome. Oh, this is a lead-in to the hacking speech. “Harmless, anonymous, and sometimes involve the great dome.” Pictures of: R2D2 dome, Harry Potter scar, Fire Truck on the dome, and the classic police car. for more pictures (definitely check out that website, it’s really fun.)

It’s Yale time, I’m going to try to escape it’s like a million degrees in here.

Ok, I’ve escaped to the little outside room, where it’s about 20 degrees cooler. It’s just impossible to have that many people in one room without it getting too hot. My brass rat was about to slide off my finger!

I don’t think the people around me realize that the chair I left is free booty now. It’s just sitting there, empty. Sad times!

I’ve drunk my free glass of water. It was really cold, and quite tasty. I’m very picky about my water, so much so that I can’t drink tap water from my dorm, I need to Brita it first. I can taste differences in water.

This is good water.

Yale is talk talk talking.

Hm, I’m not sure I have anything else to say, I think this is going to be about it. After this they’re breaking into separate areas to talk to prefrosh about the schools, which I’ll be helping with, so I guess this is goodbye! I hope you enjoyed, it was some frantic typing. Now, go watch Harry Potter (or pirate it or w/e, see it somehow), and have a good rest of week.

77 responses to “Stay Tuned”

  1. k4rl05 says:

    first!!!! sounds awesome

  2. navin says:

    cool i am gonna be online!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. MaryClaire says:

    3rd. Sounds cool. What will it be about?

  4. VAL says:

    Awesome! I will be here!

  5. FuLanKe says:

    Nice! I’m at GMT+3.. Gotta get online at 6 AM then :/

  6. Luczek says:

    Yay, fuzzy rodent! Sadly, being closer to the Atlantic, I will be waiting impatiently in a movie theatre at this time. I’m sure it will be awesome, I just wish you had picked a different day!

  7. Shiv says:

    Aw no… I got school and a 13 1/2 hour time difference in between me and your liveblog!!! :(

  8. David says:

    I’m from silverton and I’m going to the MIT meeting up in portland tonight. How long will you be on?

  9. Tom says:

    Yeah, some pretty unfortunate timing, but there are only so many opportunities to enjoy wizarding wonder in the middle of the night. Wish I could be there (virtually)!

  10. Phillip says:

    Cool I with I could participate, and man I remeber being a hopeful pre-frosh. It sucks but however the decision goes it will be ok.

  11. Phillip says:

    How do I access this live blog?

  12. navin says:

    it is 7PM Pacific time and i am first!

  13. VAL says:

    I am so excited! Will you be blogging in the post or the comments?

  14. navin says:

    yeah ofcourse!!!
    i am also excited!
    i am from india..
    u r from?

  15. navin says:

    i will be doin it in the comments

  16. navin says:

    sorry for typin ya name wrong….

  17. Labib ?14 says:

    @Julio ?14:

    I’m pretty sure you can stay over the summer and pay extra because I remember Snively during a summer job with Hasbro. I particularly remember it because he kept complaining about a long commute and the heat.

    @Snively :

    Thanks for all of this. Since I am 5000 miles from the nearest info session, it’s good to be able to see what it’s like.

    BTW, you never really told us what you did on your Hasbro job. The toy race post was awesome though.

  18. VAL says:

    “Ooh, at Brown they say they don’t like it when people fall asleep in class and they’re all super engaged all the time. At MIT, we stay up until 5 in the morning building things and blowing things up, so by the time we get to lecture we are completely zombified…”

    Epic. This is an excellent example of why I have such a deep, molten desire to attend this amazing institvte.

  19. Anon says:

    Yo Snively, why not just film the thing and post the youtube video?

  20. navin says:

    yeah really MIT is gr8 workin upto 5 in the mornin!!!!
    bein nocturnal

  21. Snively says:

    That’s not as fun, or live. And it doesn’t let me summarize or make witty observations. And I hate iMovie.

  22. navin says:

    what snively said is ri8

  23. Anon says:

    Fine, we do enjoy your witty comments.

  24. Jack Florey says:

    Aren’t blogs *not* the place to talk about the logistics of an info-session hack?

  25. navin says:

    isnt that gr8 for first semester for ppl who wud feel a bit of discomfort????

  26. oo7 says:

    hi Snively! I had a question, if I do get into MIT can I mix up any minor with a major??

  27. Anon says:


    Yeah, you can pick whatever major-minor combo you want (but keep in mind not all majors have corresponding minors). Also, you don’t *have* to get a minor. But yes, if you’re willing to work for it, any combo is possible.

  28. FuLanKe says:

    Hey Snively!
    Are there cases whereby students get unconditional acceptance into MIT?

  29. Snively says:


  30. kumar says:

    a question to snively…
    do poetry writing,bible reading,programming,blogging and training dogs fall into extracurriculars?

  31. FuLanKe says:

    I see!
    For RD is the senior year grade more significant than the rest of the years’ grades?

  32. kumar says:

    thanx for ya answer……

  33. Snively says:

    Not really. Junior year is important because that’s when you’re eligible for most APs, but all of your grades are important. Try just get As and you’ll be safe.

  34. VAL says:

    @FuLanKe: I am applying EA this year. smile

    @Snively: I have one quick question about academic competitions. At my school, as far as these competitions go, there is only FIRST Robotics and Science Olympiad. No tested academic competitions (such as AIME) or science fairs/competitions (Siemens) are offered. In fact, I did not even hear of these two examples until late June of this year. In your opinion, will the (wonderful!) admissions committee hold it against me? Also, I suffered a series of depressions throughout my Junior year, and my EC participation was somewhat weak as a result. Is this the kind of thing I should mention somewhere in my application (or have my guidance counselor mention). I have since sought help and have been able to do a lot more of the things that I enjoy to do. I want to make sure that admissions doesn’t think that I just got lazy during Junior year then did some application loading. Thank you!

  35. FuLanKe says:

    Aite..thanks man!

  36. FuLanKe says:

    Anything new happening over there?

  37. VAL says:

    Hey Snively, thanks for putting this liveblog on! I think I can speak for most people when I say that I really appreciate the time you put into this.

    Thank you!

  38. Raff says:

    Im in the same boat as VAL. My school offers only a Lego Robot competition and Science Olympiad. No surprise though, I know at least 80% of everybody in my school, that’s how small it is. I just would some guidance on how to get in to the other competitions.

  39. VAL says:

    Oh, I almost forgot… How can I find a list of these info sessions, the dates, the places, etc.?

  40. FuLanKe says:

    I second that!

  41. Julio ('14?) says:

    Snively, thank you for taking your time in blogging all this useful information. I really appreciate it

    PS: Question: If I were to study at MIT, would I have to leave campus during the summer? Or can I pay and extra fee and stay in my dorm?

    Thank you smile

    ~ Julio (’14?)

  42. FuLanKe says:

    Are you applying to MIT this year(14′) or the following year? Or are you a matriculating student?

  43. Julio ('14?) says:

    I’m sorry for double posting, but I forgot to mention that my question also includes winter break.

  44. Bobbyw says:

    Does MIT really offer pistol juggling for PE credit?

  45. Anon says:


    You can always stay in your dorm during winter break (and IAP), without paying an extra fee or anything. As for the summer, you can stay but you will have to pay a summer housing fee.

  46. VAL says:

    @Bobbyw: I think he forgot a comma… “pistol, juggling, archery…”.

  47. Raff says:

    Though pistol juggling would look pretty cool.

  48. Julio ('14?) says:


    Thank you for clearing my doubt :D
    Good Karma for you.

  49. Snively says:

    Ok, I’m back home and it’s bed time. I hope you enjoyed the entry. I’ll write a new one in a day or two with some sage advice about the application that I just came up with tonight. It’s probably the best advice I’ve ever thought of, so read my next entry, it’ll help you.

  50. '11 says:

    Eric Lander hasn’t won a Nobel Prize — don’t jinx him, dangit! :X

  51. Sauza '11 says:

    you should have mentioned the national champion mit sport taekwondo team =P

    also take that brown!

  52. Liz says:

    I hadn’t known that MIT had underwater hockey until just now! I highly doubt you have any idea how happy this makes me. So, I’ll emphasize it with a smiley smile Anyway, thanks for the blog(s)

  53. Anna says:

    Would you come to an info session in eastern PA? And yes. I agree differences in water can be tasted. And pickiness is excusable

  54. Raff says:


    Have you ever been to a water tasting?

  55. Liz says:

    haha I went to one of these info sessions last year. Mikey seems to love talking about how MIT people are NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT antisocial. wink

  56. VAL says:

    @Philip: Just come here at 7pm PT. smile

  57. jdk says:


    So, let me get this straight; MIT admits transfer students based on the number of freshman who drop out? That does not seem fair since freshman year at MIT is P/NR. If freshman received grades it is likely that more than 11 would drop out each year.

  58. Anon says:


    MIT can’t accept more transfers than the amount of students who drop out, or else there would be too many students at MIT (the same reason they can’t accept more freshmen out of high school).

  59. Snively says:

    It comes down to beds. MIT accepts enough freshmen to fill all the beds. Unless they leave, there’s no room. There isn’t any extra room, MIT is very very full, crowded even.

  60. jdk says:


    I can understand that, however MIT claims that transfer students are an integral and vital aspect of MIT and what I do not understand is that if transfer students are held to such high value then why doesn’t MIT do what they can to admit a few more. What is ten less freshman?

  61. jdk says:


    So, what if the transfer lives off-campus smile

  62. Snively says:

    MIT guarantees housing for 4 years, if somebody is accepted they MUST have a spot available to them.

  63. Anonymous says:

    “Ooh, at Brown they say they don’t like it when people fall asleep in class and they’re all super engaged all the time. At MIT, we stay up until 5 in the morning building things and blowing things up, so by the time we get to lecture we are completely zombified, which is good, because I always feel like I’m accomplishing more at 4 in the morning than at 9 in the morning.”

    That made me grin for like five minutes.
    Alas, Brown has Emma Watson now.
    Just for that, we’ll have to hack an info session.

  64. Anon says:

    @ jdk

    I don’t think transfer students are *that* important… and I definitely don’t see a point in admitting less freshmen so that we can admit more transfers. The point of admitting transfer students is to fill the spots left open by people who drop out, that’s it.

  65. Anon says:

    @ Labib

    MIT wants to see that you’re interested in science at least a little (remember you are going to have to pass the science GIRs), but your ECs definitely don’t have to be all science, especially if your school offers limited options (although if you are interested you can start up science-based ECs in your school). Debate is a great one though, and non-science based ECs can show passion just as well as science-based ones can.

  66. Divyansh says:

    hi Snively
    just wanted to ask one thing
    is there any way by which i can show d admission office about my extraodinary inetrest in photography( does mit count it among arts??) and show some good pics to prove it

  67. Anon says:

    @ Divyansh

    You can send in an art portfolio with your application. You can also write an essay (maybe the one about doing something you love?) about photography.

  68. Labib ?14 says:

    It’s good to see I am not the only one in a school with limited science based ECs. How does MIT view the less sciencey EC stuff like debate?

  69. VAL says:

    I have another question… Is it really bad if I have not attended any of MIT’s (or any other institution’s) exclusive programs? I was surfing around today, and I saw that MIT has many great programs- for the summer after junior year. I had a job at a camp that I was counting on, but it, for some reason, fell through. I was left to scramble for engineering and science camps that I could attend. I ended up only being able to attend one (affordable!) competitive camp at Michigan Tech. Is this bad? Is this something I should mention in my application or interview?

  70. VAL says:

    Ps. The job offer was pretty much guaranteed… I went there for 5 years, CIT’d for a summer, and interned for another year. The rejection was totally out of the blue.

  71. Anon says:


    No, that’s fine. Working during the summer, or doing whatever program you want, or traveling, or basically just having fun with friends are all fine things to do during the summer. I don’t think this really requires special attention in the application. If this Michigan Tech program was cool you can talk about that, but definitely don’t feel the need to excuse the fact that you didn’t attend one of MIT’s programs.

  72. Divyansh says:

    another question…
    in my country school children are not usualy involved in research projects but i had prepared a project report on propeties of alcohols and acids in my 12 standard on which i was evaluated in my final exams.
    Do such projects matter in d admission process.
    And if we havnt done good projects or research projects is it diadvantageous for us.

  73. Divyansh says:

    another question…
    in my country school children are not usualy involved in research projects but i had prepared a project report on propeties of alcohols and acids in my 12 standard on which i was evaluated in my final exams.
    Do such projects matter in d admission process.
    And if we havnt done good projects or research projects is it diadvantageous for us.

  74. Mariana says:

    I always Brita my water first too! there are huge differences in taste, even though some people, like my parents, think I’m just too picky