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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Supplemental material by Matt McGann '00

How to and when to send in supplemental materials.

I’m often asked about supplemental material. None of the below is required or even expected. In general, you should not send supplemental material unless the application did not sufficiently show who you are. I hope this is helpful and answers lots of questions…

Music. If you play music and would like to be a part of the music community at MIT, you may send in a CD recording of you performing (cassette tapes are also acceptable). CDs will be forwarded on to the music department for evaluation. Your musical talents are something unique that you bring to this process and your talents can be considered with your other talents in your application. Send this via US Mail to MIT Admissions; be sure your full name and date of birth are included. You do not need to be a music major for this to be considered, and students do not need to audition to take music classes or be a music major.

Art. If you are an artist and would like to participate in the arts community at MIT, you may send in slides of your work. Files on CD/DVD, such as Powerpoint or JPEGs, are preferred, though “real” slides in plastic sheets are also fine. Slides will be evaluated by members of the MIT art community. Your artistic talents are something unique that you bring to this process and your talents can be considered with your other talents in your application. Send this via US Mail to MIT Admissions; be sure your full name and date of birth are included. You do not need to be an art or media major for this to be considered, and there is no portfolio review to take art classes or be a part of the art program.

Athletics. If you are an athlete and would like to participate in one of MIT’s 41 varsity sports teams, please be directly in touch with the coach of your sport, and/or fill out this form. Your talents will be evaluated by MIT’s coaches. Your athletic talents are something unique that you bring to this process and your talents can be considered with your other talents in your application. You do not need to be “recruited” to join an MIT sport.

Extra recommendations. If you feel an extra recommendation would show an important additional side of you not already covered, you may send in an additional letter of recommendation. This in general would not need to be on an MIT recommendation form from the application; a separate sheet of paper is most common. In general, third recommendations from a teachers do not provide much additional insight; the most helpful supplemental recommendations come from people who know you well outside the classroom. Some helpful extra recommendations I’ve seen have come from research mentors, youth group leaders, coaches, and bosses. If you decide a third recommendation is necessary, have your recommender send this via US Mail to MIT Admissions, and be sure your full name and date of birth are included.

Research papers. I think research papers are best talked about in the “completely optional essay” or in an extra recommendation from your research mentor. It is unlikely that if you submit a complete research paper that we will be able to have it properly evaluated during our process. We’ll be most interested in your research experience: how you got interested in the field, how you acquired your research opportunity, your results, what you learned, how this experience influences your future plans, etc.

Resumes / “brag sheets”. We will use your application Part II as the resume of record. Sometimes, an addendum that explains your activities/accomplishments can be useful, particularly if it is an usual pursuit or it requires further explanation than what you can fit in the formal application. However, long lists of activities and awards are most often not useful. These extra sheets are most useful in providing depth, not breadth.

Most applications I read do not include any of these extra materials; they are neither required nor expected. In some cases, one or two of these extras can help you in providing us with greater insight into who you are. Also, please note that we do not “lower the bar” for musicians, artists, or athletes; while these are talents that some students bring to the admissions process, all students must be independently qualified to be admitted to MIT.

In other news, Seth Cohen (?) is lecturing today at MIT. No kidding.

30 responses to “Supplemental material”

  1. Anna Kotova says:

    “send in slides (CD/DVD files, such as Powerpoint, preferred) of your work”

    It means .jpg or Powerpoint files on CD or actual slides in standart plastic sheets?

    Thank you.

  2. zoogies says:

    Out of curiosity, how would one generally go about making a music CD? I play clarinet but don’t have any recording technology at hand, so I’m not really planning on sending one in.

  3. Robb Carr says:

    Hi zoogies! first you would have to go to an electronics store and purchase a microphone, they range from 8, to …80? dollars in general. However for most purposes an eight dollar microphone is fine. On the back of your computer close to where you plugin your speakers there should be a jack labelled MIC (Often red…it really depends on how old your sound card is) plug it in there. Go to, start window accesories entertainment volume control make sure the microphone volume is turned up and not muted. Now go to Start, programs, accesories entertainment Sound Recorder, record your sound and save it as a wave. Then use your cd burning software of choice smile. Alternatively if you want all of this in one application you could look at: http://www.download.com/3120-20_4-0.html?tag=srch&nid=1&qt=cd+burning+software&tg=dl-20&search;.x=0&search;.y=0&search;=+Go!

    One of the first few results “cakewalk pyro” appears to be what you are looking for. (Sorry if you already knew most of this…always better to go MORE indepth, rather than less).

  4. Shikhar says:

    aha..so the resume I explained about to someone earlier is exactly what MIT wants. So basically MIT does not want a list of activities but an explanation to the activities listed on the apps is fine. Thanks a lot as there is a strong need for explanation of certain competitions and awards held in foreign countries which are not easily interpretable otherwise.

    So I should not hesitate to send in explanation should I matt??

  5. nurlan says:

    i wanna send one supplementery rec paper butthe problem is that must it contain the same question as in the main rec papers.

  6. zoogies says:

    Thanks rob, though the bigger mystery for me is my sound card, which plays through Windows Media fine, but the computer doesn’t really acknowledge that the sound card exists, so nothing else works. Heh, if I solve that problem…=p

  7. Uhoh, i think I have a problem then.

    I sent my supplementary recommendation in the same format (humanities teacher – evaluation form) as my main form. One is English, the other is art – both are on form B. Form A is physics, but it doesn’t pertain to my problem. What do you suggest I do?

    I’ll also be sending in an art CD, thanks for the information.

  8. someone says:

    Hey Matt, after looking at Sloan school website, I don’t quite understand the admission process. Do freshmen declare that they want to be in Sloan as if they were declaring their majors after freshmen year? And how hard is it to be placed into the school after declaring it (is there a quota for number of students)? Or that any students who want to be in Sloan will get in?

  9. Sukrit says:

    Can my mentor send in his recommendation via email? If so, to which address?

  10. Clark Poland says:

    Zoogies,

    May I recommend that you ask your music teacher or AV people at your school if they have recording equipment. That would be much easier than trying to do it yourself.

    Matt,

    Thanks for answering the questions I had.

  11. Alvin says:

    Hi Matt, regarding research, you’ve answered part of my question before. But let’s say the research that I’ve done isn’t original because I didn’t think of it, but was assigned to a research doing it, can I still talk about it? Plus, I didn’t really make any *HUGE* discovery or anything, just adding small amounts to this huge body of knowledge.

    Second, the name I registered with Collegeboard for SAT isn’t exactly the same as the one I used for MIT because Collegeboard didn’t give me enough space. Will that be a problem?

    Thanks a lot for your time matt.

  12. Evelyn says:

    Hi,

    May I send a music tape instead of a CD? I used my piano teacher’s recording equipment to record my piano playing, but his equipment only allowed me to record on cassettes.

    Thanks for your help. smile

  13. madmatt says:

    Quick answers: Anna, either electronic or digital files are okay (see my edited text). Shikhar, send it in, no worries. Nurlan, the extra rec need not answer the same questions as those in the application, though often they are a good guide. Laura, don’t worry about the two form Bs — this is fine, no worries. Someone, you don’t apply to a specific school/major, you apply to MIT; all freshmen come in undeclared and declare any major they choose at the end of the freshman year with no additional admissions requirements. Sukrit, I believe under certain special circumstances we can accept emailed recommendations; email [email protected] for more info. Evelyn, yes, you may send in a tape (see edit above).

    More in depth answers in a forthcoming Omnibus.

  14. Thank you very much.

  15. y2kit says:

    Hi Matt, I have just finished my optional essay

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hi Matt,

    You probably don’t remember me, but I met you a at one of the MIT informational sessions in California awhile back. I’m the guy who finally asked about the social life/parties at MIT ;P I’ve been browsing through your blogs for awhile, but this is my first time posting. Anyway, I’m applying EA to MIT this year and I’ve got a question about a supplemental letter of rec. It’s just an idea that popped into my head-I was thinking of having one of my close friends write about me. Yes, I know, it’s probably not considered the most objective of recs. raspberry haha. The reason it occured to me was that there are some personal/family issues that I’d like to get across, and while I’m planning on writing about it in the essay, I was thinking maybe an outside perspective might help since she knows much of what I’ve gone through. Also, she can attest to my person in ways that teachers might not be able to, such as my willingness to forego sleep in order to make sure my friends, or those who need my help, are alright (be it ready for a test or a need to talk about personal issues). Basically, I feel that she can show a more personal side of me that might be unknown to teachers. Of course, I know how it sounds. Having one of your best friends write you a rec letter, right? haha. But this is why I ask. What are your thoughts? (BTW, when I say close friend that is what I mean, she’s not my girlfriend raspberry)Again, I’m definately planning to write my essay on some of this (question B seems perfect), but I thought this might be something to reinforce or introduce information that might not be present in a 500 word essay. So tell me Mr. McGann, in or out? raspberry Thanks for your help.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Hi Matt,

    You probably don’t remember me, but I met you a at one of the MIT informational sessions in California awhile back. I’m the guy who finally asked about the social life/parties at MIT ;P I’ve been browsing through your blogs for awhile, but this is my first time posting. Anyway, I’m applying EA to MIT this year and I’ve got a question about a supplemental letter of rec. It’s just an idea that popped into my head-I was thinking of having one of my close friends write about me. Yes, I know, it’s probably not considered the most objective of recs. raspberry haha. The reason it occured to me was that there are some personal/family issues that I’d like to get across, and while I’m planning on writing about it in the essay, I was thinking maybe an outside perspective might help since she knows much of what I’ve gone through. Also, she can attest to my person in ways that teachers might not be able to, such as my willingness to forego sleep in order to make sure my friends, or those who need my help, are alright (be it ready for a test or a need to talk about personal issues). Basically, I feel that she can show a more personal side of me that might be unknown to teachers. Of course, I know how it sounds. Having one of your best friends write you a rec letter, right? haha. But this is why I ask. What are your thoughts? (BTW, when I say close friend that is what I mean, she’s not my girlfriend raspberry)Again, I’m definately planning to write my essay on some of this (question B seems perfect), but I thought this might be something to reinforce or introduce information that might not be present in a 500 word essay. So tell me Mr. McGann, in or out? raspberry Thanks for your help.

  18. Anna Kotova says:

    Matt, Thank you much!

    One more little question about art supplement.

    How many works I can include in my portfolio (on CD, in .jpg format)?

  19. Edward says:

    Hi Matt.

    I hope you’re doing great

    Thanks for all the usefull information

    I was wondering, could an athlete contact more than one coach(different sports) in hope of being recruited by all of them?

    Thank you, have a nice day.

  20. Hi Matt, thanks for the info.

    I’m curious if we can submit a computer application and source code to show evidence of programming talent. What are the rules for things like that? If you do examine code, and if it’s a large program, I could point out several sections that I think are examples of my ability.

  21. Josh Wang says:

    Hi Matt,

    I read on your previous posts that there is no auto-word counter on the online application essays. But today when I was saving my optional essay about my research(which was 800 words) it displayed: Your answer exceeds the allowed length. Please edit your response. (in red, at the top).

    I cut my essay down to 600 words and it still displays this, and I found it stopped displaying this at exactly 530 words. There is also a box that says: Check here to ignore errors and save data anyway. What happens if I check this and submit it? Will my extra words be cutt off?

    Thanks for your help!

    Josh

  22. @Kyle: I once sent a mail asking Matt “to what extent do we have to substantiate our application form?” And his reply was this:

    “Most vitally important information is verifiable. If, however, we discover at any point in your MIT career that you misrepresented yourself in the application that you lied, it is grounds for expulsion. That fear and people’s own ethics are usually enough to make the system work.

    Copies of the many certificates are usually not necessary.”

    As it looks, it seems we’re not required to show proof of *everything* in the application form.

    I think it wouldn’t be good for us to overload the officers with the supplemental material, unless it gives us a chance to show an extra dimension of ourselves that the application didn’t show. But then again, it’s all only my opinion – gotta wait for Matt’s official one to know for sure. wink

  23. Alvin says:

    Hi Matt. The name I used to register my SAT is slightly different from the one I used for my MIT app. Will that be okay? (Collegeboard gave me too little space)

  24. Tracy says:

    Hi Matt,

    If I’m going to write about my research in the optional area of the essay, should it be more technical or more why I’m interested…and what if those two things kind of meld together? It’s difficult to write about research without using specific terminology, which, I assume, should be accompanied by brief explanations.

  25. Tracy says:

    Ooh, and one more thing: Are the supplements also due on November 1st if we’re applying early action? My research mentor is probably going to send in a recommendation; should I tell him to postmark it by Nov.1, or can he send it in earlier? Thanks a ton!

  26. Alison says:

    What deferrals really need to know is this: what percent of EA’s were deferred? what percent of deferred applicants are admitted RD? (in past years) I would also like to know what percent of EA’s v. RD’s are URMs and same question for females. While we’re on it: what percentage of URM’s, females and none-of-the-above are admitted in general?

  27. andy says:

    Hi, If we have a “brag” sheet we want to turn in, do we send it in via e-mail? If we do, may I have the e-mail address? Thanks.

  28. zoogies says:

    Alison: I believe close to 2500 EA applicants were deferred, including 130 for having an incomplete application (which seems to me like they submitted Part 1 but not Part 2, but I could be wrong). Last year I think 267 of the deferred were admitted RD.

    As for URM percentage, I’ve seen the phrase “27% URM” being thrown around, I’m not sure exactly what it means (27% acceptance?)

    It seems like our fates are pretty much decided. Some EA deferrals are destined to make it in, many are probably destined not to make it in, and there must be a certain middle ground…because our applications are all submitted, it’s the same as if a RD applicant just decided to submit really early. I can’t imagine most updates would be of such dire importance as to affect our overall application by too much…it just feels so awkward to be sitting around twiddling thumbs, with so little to be done about our applications…