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.