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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

The Final Countdown by Matt McGann '00

I’ve just finished in New York City, where I did my last two days of outreach to students for the season. After this, I’ll head back to the office where, with all of the admissions officers finally together after a long travel season, we’ll prepare to read your applications. I suspect we’ll start reviewing applications sometime near the first weekend of November.

If you’re applying for early action, you may be asking yourself, what should I be doing right now?

  • Schedule the interview now (today is the deadline!), and complete it before Halloween, assuming you’re in an area where we have interviewers (if you’re living in, for example, Crescent City, CA, or any of those other areas we can’t cover, you needn’t worry). Having an interview is an important part of our process.
  • Check in with your teachers that are writing your evaluations, and be sure to thank them once again for helping you with your college process. If they need a stamped envelope to send their recommendation in, provide them with one.

  • Track the status of your application at Students like to call and ask if their English teacher’s recommendation has come in, or if we have your SAT or ACT scores, but when you call us, our (outstanding) administrative assistants will be using this exact same tool, assiduously kept up to date by our (again, outstanding) records office staff. So before calling, check here, and allow some time for processing, especially as the deadline draws near. I expect that Tuesday, November 2, will be the busiest mail day of the early action season, so I encourage you to get your materials in before the deadline.

  • Have someone proofread your essays for those easy-to-miss mistakes. We expect that you will complete the application on your own and write all your own essays without any of these “paid coaches” or the like, but you should feel free to ask for help making sure that you didn’t make any spelling or grammatical errors. We won’t be “grading” your essays for how many fancy adjectives you use or anything like that, but you definitely want to put your best foot forward by ensuring that you haven’t made any careless mistakes.

  • Have your standardized test scores sent to MIT. Our College Board (SAT I, SAT II and TOEFL) code is 3514, and our ACT code is 1858.

  • Don’t slack off in school. Your senior year grades are important, and midyear grades will be an important factor during regular action, if you’re deferred.

  • Work on your other college applications. It’s never good to put all your eggs in one (or even two or three) baskets, so work hard to give yourself options.

  • Relax. College admissions isn’t life, and senior year is supposed to be the most enjoyable year of high school. Take some time to smell the roses.

Not the same few colleges: Rice University. I make no secret of the fact that I think MIT’s housing system is the best around, and Caltech has a similar system I admire for similar reasons. But I think Rice can give both schools are run for their money with the strong communities they’ve built. And one admissions officer I’ve met from there had Smalley and Curl (the Buckyball guys!) for Intro Chemistry… isn’t that cool?

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