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The Adventures of Flat Tim by Jessica Ch'ng

And his admissions officer friend!

Before I started working at MIT, I had never driven on the highway.01 Or freeway or expressway or interstate or autobahn or whatever regional term you use for a major road that you drive relatively fast on I grew up in Nashville, TN, a driving city, but I somehow avoided driving on the highway while I was in high school. Living in the Boston area for the past 10+ years, I have had no need for a car and have instead happily relied on public transportation to get around.

Recruiting for MIT, however, has required venturing far beyond where the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) can take me, so 9 months into the job, I had to learn how to drive on the highway. I took a couple driving lessons for adults. Former Director of Admissions Matt forced me to practice driving as we visited high schools together in the suburbs of Boston, and he very kindly tolerated my expletives.

“Maybe I’ll have a six-pack by the end of this,” I thought to myself as I clenched everything.

—–

After 5+ years at MIT Admissions, I’ve accumulated quite a lot of mileage. I’ve been fortunate to travel to over 35 cities and 20 states on behalf of MIT. I’ve driven through deserts, onto ferries, in downpours, over bridges, above swamps, past mesas, across time zones, under rainbows, and yes, on many highways. My favorite part of traveling is visiting high schools and community-based organizations. I love meeting students02 I should note that we don't track demonstrated interest, so whether or not you are able to meet an MIT admissions officer at your high school, in your hometown, or even on our campus has zero impact on your admissions decision. and seeing a slice of the worlds you walk in, even if only for an hour or so.

My least favorite part of traveling is eating alone. Somehow, food doesn’t taste as good when I’m dining by myself. I think maybe the talking or affirming I do when feasting with company aerates my food such that the flavors are fuller and more vibrant. I don’t know – I’m not a scientist!

I have, however, taken to traveling with a buddy: our mascot, Flat Tim. He’s not great company for those lonely dinners (he’s not very chatty), but sometimes, when I am about to take a break from the constant movement of recruitment travel and sit in silence in my car or hotel room, I think to myself, “Would Flat Tim do it for the ‘Gram? Yes, he would.” Then I muster up the energy to go to see the local sights.

So here is a sample of my adventures with Flat Tim. You might notice that he’s undergone a couple makeovers03 Flat Tim 1.0 I made myself. He's reinforced with a file folder and covered in packaging tape to protect him from the elements. Flat Tim 2.0 was distributed to all admissions officers. He was printed on card stock and laminated. I still use both Flat Tims, and I have sometimes used a Tim sticker, when I have forgotten to pack a Flat Tim. over the years, but I hope you enjoy!

Sightseeing

High Schools & Community-Based Organizations04 I don't usually take pictures during my visits to high schools and community-based organizations, but I swear I'm doing work and meeting with lots of students and families on these trips!

Other Universities05 Students sometimes ask me if we talk to admissions officers from other schools about their applications, and rest assured, we don’t! However, we do often collaborate with other universities to broaden our reach and provide opportunities to more students than we would be able to by ourselves.

But of course, there is no place like home!

View of Boston from the MIT Sailing Pavilion
MIT Killian Court ready for Commencement 2019!
  1. Or freeway or expressway or interstate or autobahn or whatever regional term you use for a major road that you drive relatively fast on back to text
  2. I should note that we don't track demonstrated interest, so whether or not you are able to meet an MIT admissions officer at your high school, in your hometown, or even on our campus has zero impact on your admissions decision. back to text
  3. Flat Tim 1.0 I made myself. He's reinforced with a file folder and covered in packaging tape to protect him from the elements. Flat Tim 2.0 was distributed to all admissions officers. He was printed on card stock and laminated. I still use both Flat Tims, and I have sometimes used a Tim sticker, when I have forgotten to pack a Flat Tim. back to text
  4. I don't usually take pictures during my visits to high schools and community-based organizations, but I swear I'm doing work and meeting with lots of students and families on these trips! back to text
  5. Students sometimes ask me if we talk to admissions officers from other schools about their applications, and rest assured, we don’t! However, we do often collaborate with other universities to broaden our reach and provide opportunities to more students than we would be able to by ourselves. back to text