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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

The return of Questions Omnibus by Matt McGann '00

It's time to answer your questions...

It’s time to answer your questions…


Jasmine wrote, “how do you register for CPW? I can’t find any information about that on the packet i received.” And Andie wrote, “where’s the registration form for CPW?”

You can register for CPW in your MyMIT Portal. Just click on the Registration link in the big red CPW box in the lower right hand corner.


Debbie wrote, “wow i’m really excited for CPW!! I really cant wait to come up and meet all of the other prospective freshmen. the only question i have is, since my parents are pretty much set on going to CPW with me, how is that going to work in terms of balancing time b/w them and with my host at CPW? I know there are probably more details to come later, but I was just wondering how CPW worked.” bonbon wrote, “I’m with debbie are we staying mostly with our parents at CPW or mostly with our hosts? any way I guess it truly doesn’t matter who I’m with cause it’s freakn’ MIT!!!!!” Nadia wrote, “If one of our parents is coming with us to CPW, is it okay for us to stay in a hotel with them so that they aren’t alone? Or do we need to stay with a host?” And Connie wrote, “This might have been answered somewhere else, but I’ve heard a lot of different things about parents’ activities at CPW–do their activities span all 3/4 days? or do most parents generally go home after the first day?”

Ah, a classic question: the role of parents at CPW. Before I answer, I’ll repost a comment from a real-live MIT parent:

“As a mom of a current MIT student and the mom of a newly admitted student (yeah!) I would recommend you stay with a host for at least part of the weekend. You’ll get a much better feel for MIT. There are generally separate activities for students and parents, but I’m sure there are some you can do together. I’m also sure someone from admissions will provide more information soon.”

Are there other parents or students who can share their CPW experiences?

My thoughts: I would recommend you stay with a host. Each year a handful (maybe half a dozen) students stay with their parents, and my sense is that it makes for a worse experience for both the student and the parents.

Parent activities are almost as numerous as student activities over CPW. Most parents I’ve met at CPW are happy running their own schedule, going to the events they’re interested in, doing a little exploring of Boston, and meeting up maybe once a day with their daughter/son for a check-in. And there’s a big event every day that makes it convenient for a check-in.

I should also provide an update about hotels for CPW: because CPW falls this year on the same weekend as the Boston Marathon, hotels in Boston are in limited supply and even more expensive than usual. Our room block for the [email protected] is sold out; they may have a few more rooms available at a non-discounted rate (call for details). The Marriott Cambridge is sold out for Wednesday (the night before CPW begins) but does have fewer than 20 rooms in the room block remaining for Thursday-Saturday nights. More hotel listing are available on the Visiting MIT website. Please remember that you must also arrange your own transportation to and from your hotel.


Jillian wrote, “Are you calling those admitted EA as well?” And Milena ’11 wrote, “I have the same question as Jillian!!!! are you calling us EA students too???”

Alas, the EA telethons have passed, but if you’d like a phone call, let me know and I can probably arrange one…


Susan wrote, “Will international students receive a call from current MIT students?” And Anonymous wrote, “Hi! I’m an admitted international student! I still can’t believe it! wow!!! Could someone please tell me if and when you’ll be phoning international students?”

The students from the International Students Association (ISA) will be contacting international students over the coming weeks. If you’re super excited to talk to someone, you can contact the ISA now (email available on their website).


Melissa wrote, “Not a question to Matt, but can one of the bloggers write about the college transition? Leaving friends, going to a school worrying about being the least intelligent one, etc? I’m worried about that stuff =)”

Several student bloggers have volunteered to write about this topic, so keep your eyes peeled.


Melissa also wrote, “For the sake of argument, what will happen if MIT recieves over the expected yield? Say, 1200 accept instead of the expected 1020. What happens? [Unlikely, I know, but I’m just curious =).]”

We’ve never been off by that much in our predictions — we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it. Don’t worry, we won’t revoke your admission!


And finally, Melissa wrote, “Just wondering how does one become a blogger?”

As a mom posted in the comments, this entry described last year’s blogger selection process. Look for more information from Ben about this year’s process sometime this summer.


Nabla wrote, “So I skimmed the financial booklet in the admissions packet and glanced over the words ‘merit scholarship.’ Help out here, I’m somewhat confused. I was under the impression that MIT only gives financial aid, not merit stuff. Is this true? Surely some people get merit scholarships from MIT…maybe?”

Many MIT students receive merit scholarships from non-MIT sources (which is probably why it is mentioned in the financial aid booklet), but no MIT students receive merit scholarships from MIT. MIT is committed to need based financial aid; this commitment was perhaps best articulated by now-President Emeritus Charles Vest in 1999. I hope this clarifies things.


Susan wrote, “Because I live far away from MIT, I cannot afford the costs of the travel, should I inform I cannot go to CPW? And since I cannot make it, what should I do in order to know MIT better?”

You do need to tell us if you are coming to CPW, but you don’t need to tell us if you’re not.

As for how you can get to know MIT better — a great starting point are these very blogs. Actually, Blogger Emeritus Mollie (who actually posted an entry while I was writing this!) posted this helpful and interesting post to a discussion board recently; it is such a good start to answering your question that I’m reposting it here:

So as you’re probably aware, MIT has a dedicated group of student bloggers who have spilled huge amounts of virtual ink on every MIT-related topic under the sun.

You may not be aware that this has been happening since 2004, and that there are, in fact, about 1800 blog entries in the archives. You have probably not read anything before the summer of 2006, which makes me incredibly sad — why did I go back and fix the code for 1300 entires last summer if you are not going to read them?

So I’ve compiled a list of blog entries that may be particularly helpful as you’re making your college decision. A bunch of them are mine, which has less to do with me being amazing and more to do with the fact that I know my own entries the best. If you know of a particularly trenchant entry written by an MIT blogger, by all means link to it below.


Mind and hand (Jessie): Engineers becoming scientists and vice versa…and_hand.shtml

MIT students do it all night (Sam): Sam’s five favorite all-nighters…ll_night.shtml

Answering my own questions (Mollie): How hard is the hard work?…uestions.shtml

The most wonderful time of the year (Mollie): IAP. Also some stuff on time management.…e_of_the.shtml

Play hard, and then work hard (Melis)…ork_hard.shtml

I think I can, I think I can (Bryan): How do you have time to have fun?…nk_i_can.shtml

Standing out (Mollie): It’s okay not to be the best…ding_out.shtml
The first step (Mollie): Asking for help at MIT…rst_step.shtml

It’s bigger than you, and you are not me (Sam): MIT’s culture, like a parfait…d_you_ar.shtml

Let it bleed (Sam): GIRs…it_bleed.shtml

Culture, Life, Activities

Choice and the MIT lifestyle (Mollie):…ifestyle.shtml

What MIT students do on Friday nights (Laura)…n_friday.shtml

Power of suggestion (Sam): One way to tell if you belong at MIT…ggestion.shtml

Yay, a hack! (Laura): Mario hack…y_a_hack.shtml

As though we weren’t hosed enough (Jessie): Firetruck on the dome hack…sed_enou.shtml

Why does my kid have to move again? (Jessie): Housing process…o_move_a.shtml

Who we are (Mollie):…o_we_are.shtml

Activities midway (Matt): A few of the five zillion student activities available at MIT…s_midway.shtml

College Choice

Why I came to MIT (Mollie):…e_to_mit.shtml

Making your college decision (Melis): Why Melis chose MIT…decision.shtml


Ginny wrote, “Our entire family is thrilled for our oldest to have been accepted at MIT! Now, as the master scheduler in our house, where do I find information on any summer or fall orientation dates. So sorry we can’t come in April! Do you webcast any of that weekend’s events? Like everyone, I imagine, we have had many nervous moments regarding this application process–for many different reasons. Thanks for providing such great communication through your website. Thanks for inspiring our kids to dream…and to work for their dreams!”

Thanks for the compliment. Optional orientation programs begin as early as August 20, and all freshmen must be on campus by August 25. Don’t book your plane tickets yet until your daughter/son has decided whether or not to do one of the pre-orientation programs (they’re quite awesome, actually). All of the important information is available at the Class of 2011 Orientation website.

Keep the questions coming…

40 responses to “The return of Questions Omnibus”

  1. Anonymous says:

    “all freshmen must be on campus by August 25.”
    That’s my birthday. Oops! My parents are going to kill me.

  2. Snively says:

    W00t for the greatest blogger ever, Mr. McGann!

    First Post. Unless somebody beats me to it.

  3. David says:

    hey Matt, did you send international decisions via overnight mail as usual? or did you change to regular mail this year?

  4. Ritchie says:

    So even if you don’t currently have a blog, you still have a chance to be a blogger?

  5. Schmidty says:

    I figure more people will see this here, so I wanted to say congrats to all you ’11s! I remember what is was like for me getting in to MIT, and I only hope most/all of you felt nearly the same way.

    A little advice from me; if you are going to CPW, explore during that time and have some fun. Learn what it is like. Use your host for questions and to ask what might be a good thing to look at (they usually know =) ). Find out everything you want to know; there is a lot, and although you might just be overwhelmed with happiness, I know there are a bunch of things you’ll want to know!

    Last thing, meet the upperclasses. You’ll spend a lot of time with them as well as those in your own class (and they’re really cool too!). There are a lot of friendly people at MIT who won’t care if they’re stopped in the hall to be asked a question. =)

    Feel free to find some MIT students (we’re about to go on Spring Break!) to ask questions of before CPW. It might be tough, but you may find some cool friends.

    That’s all from me! Congrats to you all! Hope to meet you and see you here!

  6. Jillian says:

    Wow… my question went in a Questions Omnibus. For some reason that makes me happy.

    Thanks for all the answers smile

  7. nabla says:

    So I skimmed the financial booklet in the admissions packet and glanced over the words “merit scholarship.” Help out here, I’m somewhat confused. I was under the impression that MIT only gives financial aid, not merit stuff. Is this true? Surely some people get merit scholarships from MIT…maybe?

  8. nabla says:

    Sorry I didnt read that you had already answered this post. I assumed you wouldnt have because I submitted it so late in the day. Thanks.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m wondering… what’s your target class size exactly? And what’s your expected yield?

  10. Colorado Mom says:

    Last year at CPW we (the parents) recognized that our son wanted to explore “his school” on his own. We dropped him off on the 1st day and let him do all his activities with his host and we explored the campus and attended activities on our own with the help of the wonderful CPW booklet that listed parent as well as student activities. We didn’t plan on connecting with him until Sunday. We also made an effort to NOT be where he might be so he didn’t think we were checking up on him. We left a message for him on his cell phone about where we would meet him and we connected then. I think by doing this, he was able to get a better feel of what the campus was like without us.

  11. Issac says:

    Hello. I understand you send many documents by normal mail, but for example in Mexico, the mail can last more than two months to reach the destination, so what happens if we don’t receive the letters in time? Can we know for example about the financial aid decisions in other form?

  12. Evan '10 says:

    There are so many reasons that CPW needs to be an experience for pre-frosh to experience separate from their parents. I’ll list the ones I can think of:

    A huge part of college is independence. Parents no longer wield a domineering (with the best interests, I know! Just saying…) influence over their kids, and the kids have to learn to make decisions for themselves. CPW experienced without parents is a great taste of that to help prepare future students.

    You can’t experience the dormitories (or Greek life, as the case may be) from a hotel. Where you live has a huge influence on your experience, and you have a very limited amount of input before you have to start making decisions. CPW will be most pre-frosh’s (what’s the posessive of pre-frosh? meh…) only opportunity to actually visit and live at the dorms before they have to make decisions, and nothing can substitue for that.

    Nightlife. No, not that kind of nightlife – the campus is dry for CPW. Even so, about 70% of the fun of CPW happens after dark, and about 30% is after midnight (these estimates are plus-or-minus about 25%). You can’t run up and down the Infinite Corridor playing capture the flag until 3 AM, or go to student-run lectures on how to fight zombies at 4 AM, or any number of other late-night activities if you’re parents are going to crash at 11:30 (note: I did both of those when I was here for CPW, and much more). MIT is nocturnal – like Professor Grimson said, “MIT students run on Hawaiian time,” and this carries through to CPW. You don’t want to miss all the fun.

    I’m not advocating that parents stay behind, although mine did. But staying on campus is really, really, really important to experiencing all of MIT culture.

  13. Oasis says:

    Hi, I have a question for you…

    How do I get a MIT viewbook? I’ve requested several times through the admissions [at] MIT address but somehow I always get an automated reply and never receive a viewbook…do you give out viewbooks? Just curious – I couldn’t find a “Request Viewbook” link on this homepage.


  14. Shamarah says:

    when do MITES applicants find out whether or not they’ve been accepted? is it early or late april?

  15. Melissa says:

    Wow, I ask too many questions, sorry guys =)

    Thank you, Matt!

  16. Anonymous says:

    I missed MIT. Woooooooooooooooooooooooh

  17. GY says:

    About Letters for International Students!

    Mr. McGann, I have a similar question to David’s. It’s been 5 days and I didn’t get anything from the mail. I am an international student from east Europe. Did admissions send the decisions via regular mail this year?

    Thanks a lot!

  18. Meng '11 says:

    Hi, this is for all international students waiting for their packages.

    This is an email i received from an MIT international admission officer.

    “The international packages were sent via Global Priority and should be arriving any time now –
    please let us know if you have not received your package by next week and we will investigate

    Hope this helps. Cheers.

  19. Timothy says:

    Hi Mr. McGann,

    thanks for all the effort you have put into admissions for the class of 2011. I was very disappointed when I received my decision and thought” the Admissions guys must be really heartless”. However, I tried putting myself in your situation and realised how impossible it would have been for me to admit all the great people who wanted to attend MIT.

    I can imagine how you may be feeling now, reading disparaging remarks about your team and you from desperate MIT hopefuls. I was waitlisted and I just can’t imagine waiting till May for the final decision. However, since MIT is still my first choice, I believe the excruciating waiting period will be worth it.

    Seriously, I believe you’re doing a great job.I just hope that between now and early May, you will give waitlisted applicants an indication that MIT still thinks of them( at least sometimes).

  20. Karin '11 says:

    Internationals- don’t worry. I’m in California and have not yet received my mail (though I’m hoping that it comes today!)

  21. Susan Virgem says:

    Thank you very much for the blog entries list. I had already read some of them, but for sure it was helpful. Sorry if I made you sad, it was not my intention.
    Your work of fixing the code for past entries is really worthy. Since the blogs are my main source of MIT related information, if you didn’t have fixed it, I wouldn’t know and like MIT as much as I do now. So, thanks again for all the work.

  22. Mike A, says:

    Hey, Matt, you may not remember me, but i visited MIT last summer, and I was admitted EA. I just received my financial aid package, and I just wanted to say that MIT has restored a lot of my faith in the system. I honestly didnt beleive it before when you all said that MIT does all it can to really make MIT affordable for every family, (my cynicism getting the better of me), and you guys have thoroughly proven me wrong. I can now afford to, and so I will definitely be enrolling in the MIT class of 2011, and i just wanted to say to MIT admissions and financial aid, thanks for being as good as your word. you guys rock.

  23. Susan Virgem says:

    OH! I almost forgot! Did you send the package by normal mail or by a rush service?
    I have the same problem as Issac.

  24. jasmine says:

    hehe my name’s up there :D

  25. Mollie says:

    Haha, no worries, Susan — I wrote that message board post after my bedtime, and you can tell I was cranky! smile

    For Kari, above: MIT does have art classes, and they’re listed under the architecture department. The course numbers start at 4.3xx (they’re on the second page in the online course catalogue). MIT also has the Student Art Association (, if you should want to take art classes for fun rather than academic credit.

  26. Kari says:

    Thanks Mollie. That is helpful. It is a little odd to me that there aren’t any simple drawing classes. The classes I see list installation, sculpture, video, even performance but not drawing. Actually maybe thats because its a given. I don’t know.
    Anyway, its also reassuring to see that one can cross-register at 2 different art schools in the area for more intense art/design. And the SAA seems exciting too. Yay art!

  27. Daniel '11 says:


    I have a (probably unique) question… I was accepted for ’07 enrollment, but my chain of command (Navy) won’t let me go until ’08. I’ve read MIT’s deferral policy, and this is my impression of what I need to do next:

    1. Accept admission before May 1st.
    2. Write to Marilee Jones requesting a deferral of one year.

    Am I on track? Do I need documentation for my deferral request (an official letter stating my deployed status or my enlistment paperwork)? I anticipated this would happen, so I have not yet applied for financial aid. It’s okay to apply for that during the next admissions cycle, right? Thanks for your help!

  28. Kari says:

    I was actually wondering about the defferal process too. Is it difficult to obtain one? Do you know anyone who deffered and found it difficult to readjust to school the next year?

  29. Anonymous says:

    I saw that freshmen are limited to a certain amount of units per semester. I was wondering how the unit system worked, or how to find out how many units a class is worth or anything. For example, what does “3-0-9” mean?

  30. Dhaval says:

    MOVING AWAY… kshhhhhh… kshhhh moving away from the Dark Side… kshhh. i’ll tell the truth… kshhhhhh

    i’m just telling you my real name here, the other day i used ‘anonymous’ raspberry

    yeah so i have the same question as above.. since i’m an international students. oops sorry i forgot. thanks lots Matt for answering the question on phoning international students. wink. yeah so i was asking, i’ve still not received my admission mail? d’you know when it should arrive? i heard from the blog “tell me baby” that there’s confetti in the mail, is that true???? no really, do you know when i should receive it? and when did the admissions office post it? And yeah!!! Is the financial aid package included in that mail??????

    btw just after decisions were out, that is thirty minutes later, an admissions staff called. he is responsible for the African Region… his name is McGregor but every time i’m emailing him, i’m getting an email delivery failure notification. i think i didn’t note down the email add correctly. i already emailed the admission office but the email they received from me was blank (strange) and its only yesterday that i emailed them again… could you please tell me how to get the correct email coz i’ve got so many questions concerning enrollment… like what should i do till May 1 and how do i accept admission to the MIT? i’m anxious how to get his email or how to get in touch with an admissions staff for my many questions- phoning the admission office is too expensive from here…

    thanks a lot and long live the MIT spirit!!!! wink

  31. Mrinal :) says:

    Can I please have your email address?
    I have some questions smile

  32. B. says:

    Dear Matt,

    I am an int’l student who applied one year early (before graduating – as I do a 2-year A-Level Course) and was not admitted – firstly, if i apply again next year, are my chances diminished? secondly, is it possible to call the admissions office or email you to specifically ask questions how my application was, so that I know where to improve on in the coming year? Please Advise!


  33. Susan Virgem says:

    Ok Mollie, after my bedtime I get cranky too. smile

    To anonymous on March 23, 06:14 Am. I had the same questions until I entered the link that Matt posted above. Go to I hope this can help you.

  34. Kari says:

    I was looking through the course catalog and i see no art classes whatsoever. not even a basic drawing class for architecture students. Am I missing something? Because I would love to be able to take at least a couple of art classes at MIT.

  35. Halle says:

    I’ve looked all through the MIT acceptance package and I can’t find how much the acceptance fee/deposit is! I need to know so that I can see if I can afford to go to CPW!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Hi Matt. I’m curious about the following aspect of the GIR’s: for math and physics there are both .01 more advanced .01x versions, but you can satisfy the GIR by passing out of .01. But for bio and chem, there aren’t any .01 versions, the only choices are three-digit classses that go well beyond the AP curriculum. How recent is this- were there once .01 versions of chem and bio Is there some sort of record of any of the arguments made back when this dichotomy was adopted?

  37. Amelia says:

    wouldn’t it be “Blogger Emerita Mollie”?

  38. rebecca says:

    Hi Matt!!
    this might sound stupid form ur point of view but it isnt for mine…
    do you think it is nessary to have SAT I ,SAT II and TOFEL scores???
    the thing I am studing the CBSE curriculum(Indian sylabous) and I live in Bahrain(a long way off from any MIT colledge) .
    its not very convinient for me to write SAT atleast till march 2008.
    I am in my final year of high school, and am appearing my board exams in march ,(really importantif youplan to study in India)
    so basically i’m in a fix.
    i really want to apply to MIT(it just seems perfect)
    pls tell me wat to do…
    befor i forget i want to do automobile engineering

  39. lao says:

    Could you please give me your email. I have a question related to admission , but can’t ask here as it’s very different.

  40. sam says:

    i know many homeschoolers take epgy courses, but online courses are not accepted for credit for prerequisite purposes, if i am not wrong. so when admitted, are those math and physics courses need to be retaken all over again?
    thank you