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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

The Undecideds VII: Decided? by Matt McGann '00

T-minus one day until the reply form postmark deadline.

Well, tomorrow is May 1st, the postmark deadline for reply forms. The questions have died down, but I have some last-minute thoughts and advice.

First, if you are still deciding, there are some things you can do.

1. Ask questions! I’m happy to do answer questions, and most of the bloggers are on hand for help.

2. Read Melis’ most recent entry on how she made her college choice. She starts things off with the following from golfer Kelli Keuhne: “[In many ways, picking a college is a lot like marriage: the courtship, the ceremony, the cost. So it’s not surprising many players compare it to falling in love.] Make the decision with both your head and your heart, … When you’re at the school for you, you’ll know it.”

3. Daniel, a kindred spirit admissions officer/blogger at the Johns Hopkins University, had this advice in his most recent entry:

1. Time for a self-analysis – what is important to you?: You may have done one before, or avoided it like a plague these past few years, but a self-analysis can be quite helpful before deciding which college to attend. Ask yourself the important questions, and be honest with your answers:

  • What kind of a school do I want to attend for four years? Location, atmosphere?
  • What kind of student body am I looking for? Do I think I will mesh well with the current students?
  • What kind of academic opportunities will be available to me as an undergraduate, and what am I actually looking for?
  • Same question, but relate it to extracurricular opportunities. Which is more important to me – academics or social life or a mix of both?
  • What about the professors? Are they accessible? Can I see myself learning from them? Do I want to learn from them?
  • Will I be proud in four years to call myself an alumnus of the school?
  • Don’t forget the money factor!
  • Will I / Can I make a difference?

If you visited your final choice schools it is probably easier to answer these questions with the certain schools in mind. If you didn’t visit, hopefully you did a lot of surfing on each school’s web sites to gather as much information as possible. You may also want to create a ranking system for each question you ask of yourself and how each school measures up as well.

2. Make PRO/CON lists for each school you are considering: Some of you are probably not overwhelmingly organized and the thought of lists is laughable, but they work! Not only is this the time where you can catalog your personal opinions about each school’s strengths and weaknesses, it also becomes a study in what characteristics you find most important. If you did a self-analysis, now is the perfect time to match your thoughts of what you want to your opinions about what each school has to offer. Location, size, friendliness, professors, extracurricular offerings, cost, academic opportunities, etc. — list everything from the most important detail to the most minute. Nothing is too ridiculous to be included on these lists, and actually the best thing is to keep these lists private so they remain lists of your own thoughts.

(Yes, we know #1 and #2 are quite similar – but that’s the point. It shows how important they are!)

3. Do not focus on just statistics and rankings – they are superficial at best: Seriously, statistical analysis should be kept to the process of choosing which schools to apply to. Throw US News out the window; ignore the numbers that can actually be manipulated to prove any point you want; avoid side-by-side number comparisons of schools. It is time to focus on the intangibles. The schools you have been admitted to are all fantastic and they will all offer you amazing opportunities if you have the initiative and drive (which you probably do). Numbers can not predict whether you will be happy for the next four years, whether you will be challenged, whether you will be stimulated. The top schools are all top schools – it now comes down to FIT, and a percentage, formula, or statistics can not determine FIT.

4. Avoid hearsay, conjecture, myths, rumors – they often are far from the truth:Can we say this any louder. Each and every individual sees each and every college differently. Do your own research, get information directly from the source, and avoid the biased comments to come up with your personal thoughts. There is no cardinal rule that says if you read it or heard it, it must be 100% true. You need to filter through everything. (I hope you hear that College Confidential students!)

(If all else fails, just listen to your gut!)

It’s good advice from Daniel and Hopkins, and I look forward to co-presenting our blogs with Daniel at this year’s national admissions conference (more on that in another entry).

Most of the questions from last entry will be answered this week when I do the Questions Omnibus. However, there’s a subset of questions relevant here — people wanting to be officially referred to as members of the Class of 2010 (assuming we’ve received their reply form with an affirmative response). Well, here goes:

George L. ’10, George W. ’10, and DeRon ’10, welcome to MIT! See you in the fall!

Bashir, Cristen, Ploy, and Fernando — we haven’t processed your forms yet, but don’t despair. We’ll be entering hundreds of replies throughout this week. I assure you, we have a space in the class for you. If you’ve mailed in the reply form with an affirmative response, I think it’s reasonable to consider yourself a member of the Class of 2010. Heck, let’s do it — welcome Bashir ’10, Cristen ’10, Ploy ’10, and Fernando ’10 to MIT!

On the topic of the reply form, we do expect to get a reply form back from all admitted students, not just those who will be enrolling at MIT. So, if you are an admitted student who will be going elsewhere, please return the reply form by the postmark deadline, May 1. This helps us keep an accurate tally and better anticipate our needs with the waitlist. There are hundreds of students awaiting word about the waitlist, and your prompt return of the reply form helps everyone in this process.

I also received a couple of questions about financial aid deadlines. Cristen wrote, “will i (finacially) die if one item out of my control (i’m talking the Pell Disbursement Record from COD here) doesn’t get to MIT by May 1?” And Fernando wrote, “I’ve also e-mailed the FA Office about a possible extension as I was just told by my friend that two forms for FA are due May 1st, but my FA is still in the mail(it was mailed thursday, and should be getting to me shortly).”

I can’t say for sure since I’m not a financial aid officer, but my instinct tells me that we will be flexible with these financial aid documents. For the official answer, email or call the Financial Aid Office.

Coming tomorrow: Class of 2010 Roll Call, and sign-offs for those pursuing other opportunities over the next four years. And later this week: Omnibus, ISEF event preview, and catching up on what’s up at MIT.

10 responses to “The Undecideds VII: Decided?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Matt, what is MIT’s targeted class size this year? I’ve heard numbers range from 950-1000.

  2. Ismael says:

    Yo Matt, Just wanted to say that Ill be there in the fall, a proud member of the class of 2010!

    Ismael Olea’10

  3. Ismael says:

    Also, Id like to say that these blogs helped a lot in my decision making process. thanks very much.

  4. Dominic says:

    Is there anyway possible to get my financial aid package sent to my email? Thanks.

  5. Hey everybody!

    Indeed the blogs are great!

    Thanks and good luck to everyone!


  6. Kim says:

    Yes, thanks so much for taking the time to write a blog along with everything else… they’ve all been extremely helpful. (Except for making MIT a really, really hard opportunity to pass up, that is. For those of us who won’t be here in the fall.)

  7. XYZ says:

    What is the procedure for international stuedents to repay their loans ( taken to contribute for self help ) after ending their student status? Once they return to their home country it may be quite large amount in terms of their own currency!

  8. Fancy says:

    Rankings are really useless and pointless. Newsweek and US News should really concentrate on actual news.

    I agree on the intangibles bit: it’s what made me decide to come to MIT. In February, I really wasn’t sure why I did apply or how in the world I managed to get in (i still blame it on my e.e. cummings like essay). However, the more I played around the website and definitely after CPW, I discovered why I fell in love with this place, and why it was a better school for me than Reed.

    Besides, who can decline a view of a Frank Gehry building, the ones that look like falling jello blocks frozen in time?

    Oh, I forgot – I had a question, I’m not just procrastinating. With my high school being one where you have to apply to get it, I was always happy to lend my time in recruiting and helping pre-frosh. I was wondering how I could do that for MIT as well. I hablo espanol.

  9. Rudy says:

    Hey matt, it’s Rudy from Laredo, TX just wanted to say that my yes decission is being mailed off tomorrow. There might be a snag though, the city that I live in is about 98% Hispanic and everyone who is Hispanic has been urged to leave work and school tomorrow in protest of immigration reform that might be harsh. This means that the post ofice may not have any staff, if this is a problem tomorrow I will call you. Thanks for all of your help.