This one goes out to the parents by Matt McGann '00
It's been a while since I've written specifically for you.
Earlier this week, I attended an event in Washington DC where I got to meet two parents (hello!) who follow the blogs. They tell me that, despite the small number of comments from parents, there is a large population out there of parents who are readers of the blog. While most of those who leave comments are applicants, I would love to hear from some of the many parents out there. It would be great to “meet” you!
The college admissions season can be a particularly anxious time for students. I remember waiting for decisions, being both excited and very scared. Of course, all of my friends and relatives would constantly ask, “Where are you going to college?” “What schools have you applied to?” “When do you get a decision?” and so on. With so much uncertainty, and their hopes so high, it often made me dread talking to people during entire application and decision season.
Looking back, I realize that my parents were my rock. They consoled me when I didn’t get in, celebrated with me when I did, drove me to visit my college choices, asking good questions while staying neutral. My parents helped keep me on task while filling out applications, took care of financial aid forms (thank you so much!), and even drove me to the post office so I could get an application postmarked right before the deadline. Being a first generation college student, we were flying blind a lot of the time, but together, we figured it all out, successfully navigating the process. It really was a great opportunity for my family to strengthen our bond.
So, belatedly, thank you, Mom and Dad. I love you.
To my parent-readers out there, I’d also like to thank you for helping your daughters and sons through the process. They may not explicitly thank you now, but I assure you they are very thankful.
There’s also some nice advice on the parents page on our site:
Getting ready for the decision
A critical job for parents is to make sure that young people don’t interpret disappointing admissions decisions as a terrible verdict on their worth as a human being. Many students describe finding the right school for them as a little like falling in love: one trip to the campus and they “just knew.” That kind of intense emotional connection can make it especially distressing if an application is denied.
No matter how confident you are of your son’s or daughter’s abilities and college chances, it’s a good idea to find some way, perhaps long in advance, of talking about disappointments or reversals in your own life. That way, whatever the outcome, your child will know that it is all right to feel hurt, frustrated, even heartbroken – but that the hurt eventually goes away, life goes on and other doors inevitably open.
Dealing with disappointment
If a letter from a college brings sad news, you may feel tremendous frustration and disappointment. But your job at that moment is to manage your own reaction so you can help your child move forward with confidence. If your child is not accepted for admission, it is not a reflection on your skill as a parent, nor a reflection on the worth of your child. Most often, rejections are due to too many excellent applicants and too few available spaces. Your support and encouragement are obviously especially important if your child is not admitted to his or her first-choice school.
In the face of serious disappointment, children (even very mature 17- year-olds) suffer more than adults because they have less perspective. Help your child look around at other adults you know living happy, fulfilling lives. Almost certainly, they did not all attend the “perfect” college, nor did their lives proceed “perfectly” after that. There are many, many paths to becoming an interesting, successful person; one of life’s hardest but most useful lessons is that we don’t always get to choose which one we take.
Finding the right fit
For your son or daughter, the college search and application process should be about one thing only: finding the right fit. Does that mean finding a school where he or she will blend in without a trace? Not necessarily. Does it mean that there’s only one perfect school for every applicant? Obviously not. Fit means finding a community where your child shares the fundamental values and priorities, and feels comfortable enough to take the social and intellectual risks that make college really worthwhile.
Fit is also a two way proposition. Your child’s job is to find the school that feels right. Our job in Admissions is to choose – from among thousands of qualified applicants – the students we think are most likely to thrive in and contribute something important to the community of MIT.
Again, does that mean there is some “ideal” MIT student, and if your son or daughter can only match that magic profile, he or she is in for sure? Fortunately, no – or MIT would be a horribly dull place. You and your child know his or her strengths and potential; we know the strengths and potential of MIT. The goal is to find the right match between the two.
Again, thank you to all of the parents out there, and I hope you’ll say a quick hello below in the comments!
My dad was definitely very helpful throughout the whole process, especially when dealing with financial aid.
It’s the rest of the clueless-adult population who have been pestering me with “Do you know where you’re going to college yet?” since August.
Hopefully I will in two days…
For the first time, first post:D
I know this post is a little out of place here. I’m an international applicant. I’ve never been to MIT, but I’ve followed everything about the school for about two years now. Talked to everybody I could reach there, read the whole website & brochures, etc. I truly feel like I “just know” it’s the right place for me. And now, it seems so close and unrealistic that within 42 hours I’ll see my decision.
Just wanted to share that…
only 40.75 hours to go!
I told my daughter if she doesn’t get accepted it could be if she were to go to MIT she would most likely fall into the Charles and drown. Therefore she needs to thank the admissions staff for rescueing her from drowning. However, just in case, I bought her a life jacket. Good Luck to all.
^ ^ ^
“Dad” – you just made my night. Thank you for sharing that amazing email. Your son is a very lucky guy.
Very wise words Matt. Thanks. Parents do follow the blogs. We like to hear about the ups and downs of college life, plans for IAP, UROPs, summer internships, and the weekends (we were your age once as well! ). We enjoy hearing about life after MIT. I offer a belated congrats to Sam and Bryan on their grad school acceptances. I know they are an inspiration to many of the underclassmen. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Matt – I’m sure your parents appreciate your words of gratitude.
Good luck to all who are awaiting news on Saturday.
thank u dad & mum
Thanks Matt, I have really enjoyed following this blog, although I didn’t know about it until after my son got in EA. I feel the angst and worry that the kids and parents are going through. What a wild ride senior year is! Good luck to all the applicants, and great job Matt, we love hearing from you.
-Mom of ’11
Hope for the best; prepare for the worst. If the former recall this aphorism: The fortune of obligation, is for the fortunate, a deep understanding of the obligation of fortune. If the latter recall this aphorism: Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.
In either case recall one of the mantras: bcbnc (bee cee, bee, en cee) —- be confident but not cocky. Post disappointment, if it be that, the world is still your oyster, if you continue to conduct yourself as you have so that it was very reasonable for you to think that the other outcome was possible. Post initial euphoria, if it be that, be circumspect enough to realize that this opportunity was not a forgone conclusion and should evoke more than just a modicum of gratefulness and humility. It could have gone to so many others.
In our parental eyes, nothing fundamental has changed —– Love b4 = Love afta. That’s before or after 12 noon on Saturday. Also, the specific route of the journey is not as important as its purpose.
My older son is soph at MIT. I wanted him to go to Stanford or Cal, he wanted MIT. I visited all campuses, loved MIT,but hated him being so far away.Stanford was a no and he didn’t like Cal.(Go figure!) NOW, my youngest son has decided MIT is his top choice too! And I’m the one rooting for MIT now! Why?…because my older son has had such a fantastic time there. Initially I did not want my younger one going there due to distance, but big brother took him to visit and both had a great awakening! They would love to be at MIT together!Only a few more hours folks!But, most important we parents love you no matter what!
Thanks matt here is the cornflakes I promised
Thanks matt here is the cornflakes I promised *
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This is a great place to share the oldest email I still keep in my MIT inbox. My mom sent it on the first day of my first semester, and I think it fits this sentiment very well:
Just a note from your Mom on this, the day you go off to MIT.
This is supposed to rank up there with leaving for first grade. I was there for that day. I was the one who saw you off. Dad was the one that brought you down to MIT. I guess it all balances out.
I just wanted to tell you how proud I am that you have made it into such a great university. And how few expectation I have while you are there. Be challenged. Be overwhelmed. Laugh a lot and make friends. Come home when you need to touch bases with the past, get clean clothes and good food. I will be here for you…..always.
I do visit from time to time, by the way. It keeps her happy. :D
“Strategy” Posted by: Anonymous on March 15, 2007 09:29 PM
Honestly, I’ve never read a more wonderful comment than yours. Hats off!
Dear Mr. Matt
Thank you for supporting, and guiding me and my parents; I want really thank you a lot for the support you have given to us- the applicants, through your warm and friendly blogs, which I always found full wisdom. Tomorrow the decisions will be out, so I wanted to thank you today, because I have no idea, whether tomorrow I’ll be beaming, or my eyes will resemble the Niagara Falls. I hope I do get admitted, and then surely you’ll get to see more posts from me, but just in case, I experience the implementation of “Man proposes, God disposes”, this will be my last post
Keeping fingers crossed
Weird…My parents don’t pay any attention to my college apps…I did everything on my own…I find it odd that parents are helping their kids so much…
This blog has realised my parents of a great deal they have to perform after my selection in MIT. Thanks once again.
Matt, I think this blog helped us applicants a lot, too. I think now I will be able to take it easy when I get my rejection Anyway, in this opportunity I’d like to thank my Mom here too. Ma, I love you beyond words
My parents said if I don’t get accepted to MIT, they will disown me and make me become a porn star.
Having just gone through this process in December, one thing I’d recommend to any parent is to sit down with your son or daughter before the decision and tell him/her how proud you are. As others have pointed out on this blog, any student who self-selects MIT is talented and worthy. I told my daughter the night before how much we admired her determination and effort, and that whether she was accepted to MIT or not, we knew that she would succeed in college and thrive. As it happened, she was admitted, but I was really glad to have said these things ahead of the decision, so that she would know that our appreciation of her is not based on her ability to gain entrance to one particular school.
Thanks for this amazing post Matt. My dad has been very supportive of me throughout this entire process. I don’t know what I would have done without him. Good luck to all on Saturday.
In response to the applicant who wrote, “..I find it odd that parents are helping their kids so much.”
e did not help our daughter with her application; she owned that process entirely. But for some students who are juniors reading this blog, I’d like to say that even if your parents are not involved, you don’t have to go through the entire application process without help and feedback. Our daughter approached a couple of teachers and asked them for feedback on drafts of several essays. She did the same with her peers. This is similar to the way researchers might ask for peer review on initial drafts. I think the ability to ask for help from others will probably be critical for success in college and in life.
I’m an alum and a parent (just started gr 9 so college is a ways off still). I stumbled onto your blog a couple of months ago, and have enjoyed the wisdom you have shared. Like the other persons posting above, I thought your post today was great.
Matt’s alive!!! Oh my gosh! yay!!!!
Matt, Great blog for parents. I have been reading blogs for several months to hopefully get a feel for folks at MIT. My son has been a hopeful student since he was 11(seriously)and now his answer is only one day away. I have tried to carefully prepare him for an answer he may not want to get…not easy but he will do well either way. I do feel that MIT best suits him and hope that he gets to attend. If not, we will try to help him adjust and move forward. We are so proud of him and the paths he has chosen up to this point in his life. The best of luck to all the kids and parents as we move forward.
As all other parents, I agree it’s been interesting to go through this process with our children. Let me tell you something nostalgic I heard from a student who is graduating with an Engineering degree this year. The moment she saw my son Vyas, she said – “Vyas, it’s so much better applying to college than to apply for a job. When you’re a Senior in college, every time someone gets an internship, or a job, you wonder why you are not worth it like that person. This time it is more intense than it was when college acceptances came in – because now I have to make my life.” I told her in return that it is all a natural sequence. Once she gets her job and moves on, she will meet someone who seems to be doing better, and then she will wonder again. Then when the family comes along, she will wonder about her kids like we are now, and so the story will go on…
As others have said, perhaps we should hope (and pray) for our chidlren’s strength to handle whatever is dealt to them once they have given their best – just as we do so for ourselves! Let us hope that no matter where we parents and chidren are a few hours or years down the line, may we be cheerful and be in harmony with ourselves.
“Dad”, you aren’t even my dad and your email made me cry. It made my day because I know it’s true for so many people out there
This is a difficult thing to say. My parents gave up a lot of things for me to have a better future. I never told them how much I appreciate them for doing that, but I think by getting into a great college would be the best “thank you” for them. MIT is one of the only colleges in the U.S. that offer financial aid to international students. If I don’t get in, I don’t know if my family has enough money to pay for other colleges, and all of the sacrifice my parents made would be nothing. This is a defining point in my life, and I just want my parents to be happy and stop worrying about how we can get money for my college tuition.
Easy to say (my son was admitted EA), but it is still true.
Matt, great advice for parents.
He is ……….. eating the cornflakes I shared! …
Tanvi is an American citizen, living in Bahrain. Good wishes.
Tanvi is an American citizen, living in Bahrain. Good wishes.
Thank you for all that you do to make MIT the institution that it is and to help those whose children are considering MIT understand the culture. We are from a small town in No. California and my daughter had never even considered anything other than one of the University of California schools before we happened to be in Boston last 4th of July for a medical appointment at one of the Harvard Med schools, and while walking along the Charles (we were staying at the Hyatt) I looked up and said, this looks like a college, and then, in the dark, slowly made out, “Massachusetts Institute of Technology, OH this is MIT.” I said: “you should apply there” she looked at me and said, “why would I do that?” She had never heard of MIT (think small rural High School). She thought it was a “tech” school like ITT tech or Heald College. I explained about MIT and she looked into it and it opened her eyes. When we returned to Boston for her Follow up visit with the Harvard doctor in November, she took a tour and really saw the differnece in the opportunities at MIT.
My point in writing this is to tell you that whether or not she is admitted and/or chooses MIT, the entire experience of learning about MIT through the wonderfull posts of all of the admissions and FinAid folks, she will still take something very positive from this experience. For example, if she ends up at a UC, she will not just follow the program, but try to add more to it like would be required at MIT, internships, working on research projects, whatever is available. Not that anyplace else can be an MIT, but you can make the most of any college. That is what this process has given us.
Thank You All! And good luck to all!
I think you should be coming up with a blog related to this years regular applicants.HOw were they like? were they better than prev. years and things like that? Some most astonishing things you experienced this year?
how many people have you admitted this year??
how many of them are international applicants??
Well, my parents have been pretty supportive, be it for MIT or IIT in India. But its the rest of the not so wise adults who keep asking, “where have u applied”, “when are ur decisions coming” or even “what’s the need to apply to MIT, u wont get there.” Its pretty depressing, but my parents have helped me cope with it.
Thank you so very much and god bless for offically asking parents to write any comments if they have. Because Tanvi had asked me to never call you’ll or write to you’ll. She is a 14year old applied at MIT, living in Bahrain, not belonging to the 17year old race, with parents who have studied in India and the first in our entire family who applied in such a high profile University, with lots of dreams and aspirations and her only dream is to be an aerospace engineer and thereafter being all that and more to be a professor because to her teacher in any form whether at school level, at the univeristy or learning from a mum who is a secretary, means the most. The point is that she wants to do it all herself and be enirely responsible for whatever is the outcome. She has been defered from the early applicant pool and wants to bravely face tomorrow, 17th March 2007. We will support her. Good wishes to all apllicants and their families.
Falguni N. Bhatt
I havn’t posted in a long time but I have this to say Matt you rock. Even if I don’t make it into MIT tomorrow I will always remember and all your other colleagues.
I havn’t posted in a long time but I have this to say Matt you rock. Even if I don’t make it into MIT tomorrow I will always remember and all your other colleagues.
Does anyone know if they are going to mail the packages today or tomorrow?
Sorry for the offtopic here, but I have a question inspired by Falguni’s comment.
“She is a 14year old applied at MIT, living in Bahrain…”
“She has been defered from the early applicant pool…”
Are international students really eligible for early action?
Admissions said today.
Have they posted it anywhere on the site?
Matt, thanks for the great post.
I chose my screenname for the Art of Problem Solving Forum in the mistaken belief that there aren’t a lot of parents there–these days there are–and then carried it over to College Confidential. I’m blessed with a great group of fellow parents here who discuss educational choices together quite a lot. Some of us are pure-play homeschoolers, some part-time homeschoolers, and some public school parents who “afterschool” to help their children develop in their interest areas. The children in our local group consider quite a few different colleges, but so far most who have matriculated have stayed in town for the honors program at the state university.
One local friend who is now increasingly connected with our local parent group is an MIT mom who moved here from out of state just a few years ago. MIT has really been the right fit for her daughter, and that family is the source of a lot of the news I hear about MIT from non-MIT-blogger sources. I like to make sure news about out-of-state colleges makes the rounds in our local group so that we all have good information about varying fits in varying colleges. I appreciate what the MIT admission bloggers are doing to help those of us far away get a sense of what MIT is about.
I hope you squeeze some rest into your schedule now. I’ll look forward to the next blog entry.
I have been following these blogs since my son applied EA (he was deferred). Although my son now questions his decision to apply to MIT (I think there is some fear that if he does get in, he will flounder since there are so many ridiculously brilliant kids at MIT), I am truly hoping that he gets in. To be a part of a community of such interesting, insightful, and, yes, brilliant people would be a chance of a lifetime. However, my son is the kind of kid who makes cherry pie out of lemons so he will be happy and productive anywhere. Wherever he ends up, I do want to say that MIT’s admissions process and website are by far the best of any school my son applied to. Reading the blogs and being kept informed of what is going on has made the wait much easier. THank you! Someone’s mom.
wow. this entry is mildy depressing.
Matt, I truly hope that the parents reading this entry will absorb and take to heart your excellent words of wisdom and comfort. Should an adverse admission decision from MIT or any other college come to their child, each parent who reads your entry will be better equiped to help their beloved child cope.
Senior year is a roller coaster. I heard all the stories but wasn’t prepared for the “fasten your seatbelt”, warp speed of everything going on. Nonetheless, time passes and the college education begins, no matter what school a child ultimately attends. So dear parents, speaking as the parent of a sophomore at MIT, take pride in the fact that your son or daughter had the ability to apply to any college, especially MIT. Regardless of the admissions decision, rejoice in the fact that you still have your child to hug and hold and that their future is still waiting to unfold.
Best regards to everyone, especially the applicants.
I’ve been accepted and my mom still thinks I will fall into the Charles River and drown. Or be hit by a car. Or kidnapped. Or mugged. Or trapped outside and frozen into a block of ice to be discovered in several years and nicknamed the “Icewoman.”
I know, it’s because she loves me, but worrying has always seemed a funny way of showing it, as if what I was trying to do wasn’t good for me. But my mom has been my rock also through all of this, and I’m more grateful than I could ever say.
If parents got paid, this weekend would be when we earn it. Saturday my son with his mother will be enroute home from Rice when he gets his admission decision, but before then he will receive this email:
GOOD LUCK from MIT tomorrow. But remember: no matter what their decision your mother and I love you without bounds; our pride in you is almost more than we can bear quietly; and we have perfect confidence in your future no matter what college it routes through, so don’t be too full of yourself if the answer is “yes,” nor despairing if “no.” You will soar in either case.
To Matt and the entire admissions committee.I am sooooooooo thankful to each and everyone of you, for taking the time to read every document all the applicants have sent in. You are all a group of very special people and I know deep in my heart you have chosen a great class of 2011.
I have to say, the application process and the waiting has been much less stressful than watching my son try to handle his junior year, what with IB coursework & requirements, AP exams, etc. plus a high school sport. I hated seeing him exhausted, almost sleepwalking at times, as he tried to stay on top of it all. I’m very thankful that part is over!
And with his preparation, he’s got so many good options for college! We’re waiting with interest to find out about MIT, but we have told him he can be happy anywhere he has applied. They are all good fits for him. It’s true. And he knows it.
What works for him is being involved in a community with others who have a zeal for learning and who are excited about all that math and science stuff. He’ll find that community wherever he chooses to attend…I guess we’ll know in a couple hours if MIT is one of his options…
Maria… you couldn’t have said it any better. Whatever happens tomorrow, we owe so much to the admissions committee for just considering all of us and spending hours and hours just giving each applicant a fair chance at admission. Thank you so much.
Hi Matt! I’m going to just assume that you read all the comments although I don’t know where you’d get that much time..but I was so excited that I got to meet you at the banquet for STS haha and maybe I’ll get to see you at CPW too
Whatever you wrote, was exactly what my husband and I do with our son. We love him and proud of him no matter what answer we will get from MIT. Truly, MIT blogs are the best of comfort for applicants and Parents during the admission process. Wish all Universities especially the Ivy’s follow your footstep. Good luck to every body including my Mishy
Writing this for my son who had to go to work. He tried to get on the site early this am but had the wrong id or password…long story. now he’s locked out and no one is in the admissions office until monday. Can you offer any help? or does he have to wait 2 MORE long days? Thanks you so much.
Hi Matt! Writing this for my son who had to go to work. He tried to get on the site early this am but had the wrong id or password…long story. now he’s locked out and no one is in the admissions office until monday. Can you offer any help? or does he have to wait 2 MORE long days? Thanks you so much.
To all the admissions folks at MIT:
You are hands-down the best admissions team out there. Last year, when my daughter was a junior, I came across the blogs, and I read through them after decisions were posted in 2006. Initially, I thought the idea of a blog for students “waitlisted” and “not admitted” was a horrible idea, because many of the entries were painful to read. However, I’ve come to see them as cathartic. As exhilarating or as stressful as the admissions process can be, you’ve made it human.
A little story. Last year on this day I was vsisting admissions blog almost every hour. When Ben posted the entry with a photograph in the midst of admission letters, I wished I culd somehow zoom into them and find out about my D. My D was cool (at least appeared to be) and said she would not see the decisions online. She said she would wait for snail mail and that would be more fun. I had to visit Boston that Saturday. I was three miles from MIT but could not find out the result. My daughter was away at home. The next day (Sunday) I returned home and convinced my D that we should check the online notification. I said the decision is there, whether good or bad, and it won’t change. Being Sunday, the whole family was there to provide her the support. So we all crowded around my laptop, she closed her eyes for a moment as she hit the button. That was one of the sweetest moment in our lives. We got the great news we had been hoping far. We screamed, we jumped, we hugged, we prayed and went out to celebrate. Then we continued with our lives. Had the result been the other way around, we would have probably cried, consoled each other, prayed for a good result from elsewhere and still gone out to forget the disappointment. She would have gotten in somewhere and today I will still be the Mom of a soon to be Sophomore. With this blog entry I got you out of your nervous mood for a few seconds! Relax. Have hope, in the end whatever happens it is always for the good. We are just a small speck in the limitless space-time continuum. Good luck everyone.
Thanks to MIT for their Admissions blogs. My son is applying to Cornell and not MIT (though hubby is an MIT M.S. graduate), but it is still comforting to read similar stories out there and witness what a warm community you have fashioned here on the Admissions blogs. Other schools should take a lesson from you! The Ivies give out decisions on March 29th, so you will all know sooner than we! The waiting game is tough on all involved, especially those whose decisions were deferred from the Early Decision pool. My son started working on his application essays last August and mailed the application in September for a Nov. 1st ED deadline, so we’re looking at about 7 months now of work and waiting for just the application phase of the entire process alone. That’s not even counting, as all of you know, the research, visits, etc. etc.
Anyway, good luck to everyone here, and thanks for sharing your community with outsiders searching the Internet for those in the same boat!
I wanted to tell you that I have been so very impressed with the MIT website. It is by far the most informative, helpful and human site out there. My daughter applied to seven total schools including Princeton and none of the other web sites compare. I also felt like the admissions information session being run by a student was fantastic. We got so much more information about what life at MIT is like, you can read statistics in a brochure but a real life picture is much better. Keep up the great work! And thanks for letting her in!
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!