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MIT staff blogger Kim Hunter '86

This One is for the Families… by Kim Hunter '86

...but applicants can read it as well...

My grandfather used to tell a “story” about how when kids came home on their first vacation they thought their parents were so much smarter than they had been before they went off to college. My grandfather has been gone a long time but I was reminded of this story when I went out on fall travel this year. I long ago realized that both my parents are very smart and when I called them from the airport as I was leaving in September they reminded me to take a moment in my discussion each day for the families since this process is a tough one for them too. I took that to heart and tried to keep it in mind at every stop I made.

In a few days this year’s applicants will find out if they have been Admitted, Not Admitted, or Waitlisted for the Class of 2013 and I know you all are waiting for the news with as much interest as your kids are. But getting the “answer” is not the end of the journey. The next couple of months will not be easy since there are many decisions still to be made. Before things get really complicated I thought it might be worthwhile to offer some of my thoughts on the subject…so these are my “two cents”…

Admitted: Obviously this is the answer that all our applicants want to see when the decisions go live. If this is the message that your student receives I hope you’ll enjoy the moment. I certainly would were I in your place. Revel in it a bit, knowing that you can be very proud of your child. When I got my letter many years ago, I wasn’t certain who was more excited about it — my grandfather or me. When the dust settles, you’ll need to help your child make some tough decisions. But first, for a few days, just enjoy it.

Not Admitted: To get this answer will be difficult and perhaps a bit frustrating, but at least you will know that the wait is over. The first question students ask if they call our office after they have not been admitted is “what did I do wrong?” It tears at my heart to hear this because I know that they didn’t do anything wrong and have done so many things right that it’s easy to lose count of them all. Sadly we will ultimately say “no” to an amazing bunch of applicants. But those that we don’t admit will find they have great opportunities elsewhere. For that brief moment it may seem like the “end of the world” to them (and fodder for yet another college essay) but we hope they will quickly realize that they will be offered a place at another great school.

Waitlisted: In some ways this one is the most difficult answer to get. Every student on the waitlist is one that we know would be really great on our campus but just don’t have room for. It’s not something we do lightly but it can be very tough for the student. They are in a sort of limbo. This one requires a couple of choices, first accepting an offer of admission elsewhere — which all who are waitlisted should do — then deciding whether or not to stay on the waitlist. Remaining on a waitlist can be hard, giving your heart fully to one school, while still hoping to get in elsewhere and with really long odds. Waitlist variation from year to year (in this decade, one year we took more than 100 students from our waitlist, but three other years we took no one) makes it even more difficult to make the decision. Your support of your children through this period will be invaluable.

Helping your kids through this process, no matter what answer they get, has been a huge task. You’ve gotten them this far and you are to be congratulated for that. With your help they are ready to enter college in the fall and just in case they forget to tell you…thanks for all you’ve done!

72 responses to “This One is for the Families…”

  1. Anonymous says:

    hahaha my parents don’t want me to go there.

    what an absurd.

  2. This was a very needed post right now. I know my nerves are crazyily on edge right now just counting the hours until decisions come out (approx. 53) but its nice to remember that other options exist and to take a moment and think about all the people who will love us anyway if we don’t get accepted. And while i don’t necessarily agree with Class of ’12 about it not being that big of a deal, i was very grateful for this post reminding us that there will be life after decisions come out!

  3. Pranav says:

    I’d be pretty glad if I’m waitlisted. I’d feel like Schrodinger’s Cat . . .

  4. Anonymous says:


    I like that. If the wave doesn’t break down to “Admitted,” let it not break down at all.

  5. Pranav says:

    I’d be pretty glad if I’m waitlisted. I’d feel like Schrodinger’s Cat . . .

  6. Pranav says:

    @Anonymous (10:44 AM)

    The boundary conditions suggest that there are no boundary conditions. So the wave shall never break down. Haha!

  7. Ahana says:

    Pranav, you’re already Schrodinger’s cat considering you don’t know your decision yet. So am I =) Go cats!

    Thanks for the post, Kim!

  8. Hopeful says:

    Wow, things were sure simpler for me back in the stone age when the choice boiled down to what school I could commute to for the least cost! This entire process has been educational for me as much as for my son. In a way, I feel sorry for the premium schools — faced with how to fill a one gallon vessel with 10 gallons of fine wine. At an informational briefing hosted by one of the Ivy’s, the admissions counselor couldn’t even articulate the admissions criteria. As such, there seems to be a “Wheel of Fortune” aura to the process. That makes sense, considering so many applicants come in with stellar credentials. In my book, they are all winners, no matter what!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hope I’m not waitlisted then,
    or rejected for that matter…

  10. Jamo says:

    Thank you for the message. I will certainly keep these thoughts in mind whatever happens smile

    good luck to all!

  11. Wow says:

    Hey, thanks for calling it “Not Admitted” instead of “rejected”.

    Well, I’m already waitlisted at Caltech. Probably should take myself off that list. At least 3/14 won’t feel as bad as I thought it might.

  12. Parent '13 says:

    We all know that our children are amazing, fantastic, wonderful, intelligent etc. My daughter applied early action to several schools, and while she was accepted to MIT she was waitlisted elsewhere. I hope that other parents realize that every college that your childe applies to does as well and not take it personally if the desciton is not accepted or waitlisted.

  13. no rejections/waitlisting here please!!!

  14. trym says:

    im going to get accepted if the admission office has brains
    MIT: Must Include Trym raspberry

  15. Hello,

    I am an undergraduate applicant. I just wanted to say thank you for using “Not Admitted”. The choice of word is pretty subtle, but it makes a huge difference. “Rejected” can be pretty downgrading for a youngster like me, with all his/her hopes on joining a school as good as MIT. It carries the connotation that “You are not good enough for us”.

    So once again, THANK YOU for the subtle, yet significant, choice of word.

    Love you all, and all the best to everyone.

  16. Anonymous says:

    @Not Admitted ’11

    c’est la vie =/

    think about all the late nights and work that you didn’t have to do. there’s many MIT students who wish they didn’t attend — in a way you won the admissions game.

  17. Pranav says:


    The decision basically depends on the application. The wave function representing the decision exists right now and MiT knows it’s value. One such function exists for each and every one of us. But if ‘X’ is waitlisted, the function shall oscillate much more rapidly and it would be relatively difficult to predict it’s position as it would then ‘depend’ on some other function. Thus, neither MiT nor ‘X’ shall be able to do anything about it; which ,I feel, is nearer to Erwin’s Cat. So, relatively, I’d feel much much more alike Erwin’s Cat if I’m waitlisted.
    Go cats! Yipee!

  18. EC'83 says:

    As an EC, it warms my heart to have met so many bright young students applying to MIT, and my best wishes goes out to all of you. Some of you will be admitted, some will not; but I have no doubt that all of you will continue on being the great people that you are. Seeing so much talent brimming today, the future of humanity is indeed bright.

    My sadness is that MIT does not increase their capacity to grow with the rest of the world, as it seems that you students are really stepping it up and yet MIT’s class size remains unchanged. No matter the outcome, congratulations to all.

  19. comboy says:

    no answer for me since i never filled any form for any university or institvte. i have nothing present in my mind about applying words “not admitted” or “rejected”, what i want to thank you for is, thank you for this sentence “what do you do purely for fun”

    i love fun and i do it, no limitations for fun, decision date is not a limit for my fun. i do fun before, within these few days, and after these few days. i will never let anything disturb my fun, don’t ever think decision date distress my fun.

    there is Matt, there is Beaver and there’s an old mom who says: i never regret to make mistakes
    all of them are in 13 going on 30
    there’s love in violet, there’s v in love, v in beaver and v in institvte
    also there’s v in fvn

  20. Dear Kim

    Greatly appreciate your post. I do not too know too many colleges around the world that take this much effort to make the applicants, and even their parents, comfortable. Your post is much needed not only for the students, but the parents as well!

    Thanks a lot. And all the best to all prospective ’13ers. I am sure you will all do well in all your endeavours.


  21. “…they will be offered a place at another great school.”

    I don’t want to spoil the anticipatory mood, and I don’t want to come across as whining or blaming MIT for my troubles. However, I feel the need to point out that this was not true in my case–I was only accepted to one school, my so-called ‘safety school’, the one application into which I put almost no work at all. At that school, my grades and motivation have been at an all-time low. My grades are so low, in fact, that I have been unable to transfer to a school that would be more challenging and appropriate for me. It’s a pretty lousy deal.

    Anyway, good luck to all the Class of ’13 hopefuls; I hope none of you find yourself in my situation. =)

  22. Piper '12 says:

    Thanks for this blog, Kim. I think it’s really something people need to hear.

    @aMIT – I’m glad that quite a few bloggers here have used “Not Admitted”. It’s been said several times that out of a single applicant pool they could admit several rounds of people who are perfectly qualified.

    @EC ’83 – While I think it’d be great if MIT could admit every qualified applicant, I think such a huge class size would take away from the community here. I don’t think MIT would have the same feel if it was twice as big.

  23. Huzaifa says:

    Its a really encouraging post. Well I have already been rejected at Caltech(really unexpected :-(
    So I have high hopes for MIT. But this post makes the whole mood lighter

  24. EC'83 says:

    @Piper’12 – Even at double the class size, I believe MIT would still be tight knit community and also have a relatively small student body.

    Of course I respect that the class size is what it is for a variety of good reasons. At the same time, there are far more equally qualified applicants than they can accept each year, and as such the selection process seems to be factoring in a lot of intangibles that leaves one scratching one’s head sometimes.

  25. '13? says:

    @ aMIT — naice realization.

  26. tyto says:

    The wait is killing me! Its worth it though becayse if i get in, it’ll be one of, if not THE, best day of my life.

  27. Anonymous says:

    # don’t hurt little kiddies’ feelings
    alias not_admitted=’rejected’

  28. Dear MIT,
    Please admit me.

  29. Parent EA13 says:

    As a parent of an EA student this past winter, and informing her grandfather, I understand what you are saying.

  30. Vikash Ptel says:

    I really do not know what to say next to, I hope to GOD himself that I get accepted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There is no other school I want to go, not even Harvard or any of the other Ivy League schools.

  31. Vikash Patel says:

    I really do not know what to say next to, I hope to GOD himself that I get accepted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There is no other school I want to go, not even Harvard or any of the other Ivy League schools.

  32. Dhvanit says:

    Great post!

    @Not Admitted ’11: Hope you are able to figure out the right path out of your present situation. Good Luck buddy!

  33. correa says:

    At this point we can only hope, pray, and eat of bag of chips (unless you gave it up for lent). Best Wishes everyone!

  34. mariana says:

    Hope I be in the admitted list.
    But what matters to us is the opportunity we had to LEAVE this experience.
    Good luck to ALL!

  35. Class of '12 says:

    I am a 2012 student.

    I know what you are going through. As Kim said, it’s not a big deal at all.

    Take this opportunity to get support and love from your family and everything will go beautifully.

    No biggy! Just a decision right?

  36. '13 hopeful says:

    This was a nice post. The only thing that has been disturbing me the last few weeks is that so many parents are responding to blogs. As a hopeful ’13er, I think any parents that get this into their kids college decisions need to get a life. I would hope their kid is interested enough to reply, but let the kid and but out! If your kid isn’t, then he/she doesn’t belong at a school like this.

  37. musicman says:

    @’13 hopeful

    The title does say that the post is for the families of applicants….

  38. Shahla says:

    thanks for the info.

  39. Anonymous says:

    does anyone know if MIT admissions officers care about number of absences included on a transcript? don’t most transcripts not include any attendance information? anyone know? thanks!

  40. EA13 says:

    EC83..Double the class size??!! IT would no longer be a small class. Besides, you will always have qualified students not being accepted. “Put the gun down and step away from the admission process”

  41. Dan says:

    I have mixed feelings about this situations.While, I am dying to know I am admitted; I really don’t know how I would take being rejected ( which is what’s most likely going to happen).
    Any suggestions?

  42. Shahla says:

    @ Anonymous

    I don’t think they’ll consider the number of time you were absent… It doesn’t usually show up on the transcript… at least not on mine.. i don’t know about other countries’ transcripts format.. But it shouldn’t

  43. Kmills says:

    Look at being admitted as winning the lottery; it would be really really awesome if you did, but there are still many places where you could get a great education and college experience (and there’s MIT grad school).

  44. Shahla says:

    I will be definitely upset if i don’t get in… because i have worked so hard for this and i want it so bad… I don’t know what to do if i see “Not-admitted”…

  45. 2012 says:

    seriously this isn’t a big deal.

    The next few months will be the only times and think about MIT with happiness.


  46. Piper '12 says:

    @Dan – Having faced a decent amount of rejection in the past, I can tell you that the best thing to do is experience it and move on. Let yourself feel down and sad for a while – then get up and keep trying your best. If you keep working hard and enjoying life, you’ll end up in a place that’s right for you – even if it’s not the place you thought it’d be in the first place.

    But if you let one adversity get you down permanently, you’ll never succeed. So don’t do that :D

  47. Jola says:


    Next year I want to applicate for MIT. I’am from Poland. I am a little bit afraid about my English. I have been learning English for 8 years, but I do not use it at home. Now I have extended curriculum. I hope, that my results from SAT and TOEFL will be good enough for MIT. It’s really hard to be only one person from whole school, who doesn’t want to go to polish college…

    I am 17 years old and I am doing undergraduate program from math and physic (including all of math analysis – coefficients, integrals etc.). I take a part in Olypmics in physic and astronomy. I am interested in art, I attend in art competitons and I have really nice results (for example 1st prize in reproduction of Stanislaw Wyspianski).

    I hope that next year I’ll get “admitted” decision wink

    Good luck for ’13 wink!

  48. Great post!

    Regardless of what will happen, I have enjoyed being here online with admitted mit students and staffers like you to share our/your thoughts as well as passion for getting into this most open and great college…As far as I know, there is no second college which is doing exactly what you are doing for the admission process. This blog site connects each and every one of us with the dreams we have sought for pursuing our college life at mit.

  49. sz says:

    All men by nature desire knowledge.

  50. corey says:

    I’ve already been waitlisted at caltech and deferred from MIT. I figure that puts me about as close to the cat as anything. If MIT puts me on the waitlist as well, then that means I can’t get a straight answer from either school. lol. in some ways it’d be easier to just hear a rejected.

  51. Joey says:

    Hmm, how to describe being waitlisted is tricky. I’m not sure you could cram it all into A*exp^i(kx-œât) though…

  52. Chris says:

    Hey, Corey, you will always be a part of MIT now anyway thanks to your guys’ brilliant hack.

    I have to agree with you though, being waitlisted has to have the ultimate pain to it – after being told you have to have more stress (defer), you have to suffer it AGAIN. Best of luck, though.

  53. To hopeful 13′- Maybe the parents are interested because they have just as much invested in this decision. We may not have done the actual work, but we have done everything in our power to help our kids realize their ultimate goal, whether it was by providing the best education they could possibly afford, or cheering them on from the sidelines, offering love and support, or all of the above. It will be as hard on us for them to receive a “not admitted” as it will be on them, and we are genuinely interested in their physical and mental welfare. I think you are insensitive to suggest we should be otherwise.

  54. Arun says:

    Thanks for the advice!

  55. N says:

    I am so nervous. I haven’t been able to sleep for the past few days. I need to get in and I can’t help but feel depressed if I don’t get in.

  56. Caitlin says:

    Dear MIT and Ms. Kim:
    I just wanted to say that it’s fairly mean to keep us in suspense like this.
    I’d like to know now whether my next four years will be spent in tech-Nirvana, or whether I’ll be forced into becoming merely a side-line MIT fangirl, chasing down nerds in the Boston cold just to ask if someone will LaPlace transforms with me.

    So needless to say…..I don’t think my parents are the ones who need help here.


  57. comboy says:

    from boston to seattle to california. why not miami? it makes it square trip.
    i’m not very tall, and i never asked you about counselor recommendations. i’m not in Hawaii or Miami. i never see any of my grandfathers. i have a smart mom and i have a hope: i don’t want to believe that last september was the last time i could hold my grandmom’s fingers. she said, take care

  58. aidan says:

    Good post.. we need to get over that initial disappointment if we are rejected. smile In fact i think they’ve already decided by this time.. it just hasn’t been released. All the best, everyone!!

  59. alvin says:

    shot first group

  60. comboy says:

    you can wait for decisions till the cows come home, you may have a cow then. but if you feel as dummy as cow watch ocw

    w in wait and cow
    vv in ocvv

    now choose one:


  61. Michael says:

    I would like to comment that it’s really the applicant’s (our) faults that these colleges have such low acceptance rates.

    If the average student sends out 10 applications (which is pretty common at my high school), there is a pool of applicants 10x larger than the actual amount of students. In the ideal system, 9 out of every 10 applications is denied, so that each student gets accepted at just one school. Each student then attends that school.

    Anyway, the idea is that the more applications we send out, the lower the average acceptance rate for every school. The application system has almost become a game. We believe the more applications we send out, the higher the chances of acceptance from at least one good school. It’s true to an extent, we who send out lots of apps have an advantage over our peers who send out fewer apps. Unfortunately, The number of spaces available at each school does not increase with the number of applications they receive.

    On a side note, the anxiety is starting to get to me :(. Could you guys consider releasing all those shiny decisions at 1:59 AM instead of PM? wink

  62. Kim '86 says:

    @ All: Thanks for your great comments on this post. I have to admit that what I like best about blogging for the office is reading your responses.

    We’ve completed our work for now and and all that is left is for you to wait (patiently?) for tomorrow’s news. No matter what answer you get tomorrow, I hope you will each realize that you have been a valued part of our lives this year in the admissions office and you make what we do each day worthwhile.

  63. Shahla says:

    @ Kim ’86

    I appreciate all the work you along with the admission group have done… thank you very much… I can’t wait to get the results tomorrow… hopefully something good…

  64. comboy says:

    my mom called me now, we talked. she start by: happy pi day!

    wow, i told you my mom is smart. she can not calculate the area of a circle in mathematical ways, she can celebrate pi day.

    two phone-calls between me and my family in one day, pi day, great day.
    she kissed me through phone-lines and i did the same thing. i do it the same way, never i can know how moms do in such warm way.

    it’s like the finishing pats a mother gives the child’s hair after she’s got it combed and brushed – mark twain

  65. Matt A. says:

    Sorry, no such luck on the patient part, especially for us EA deferrals. raspberry

  66. Shahla says:

    @ Adm. office
    Before anything, i wannat appreciate all the work the adm. group has done… thank you…

  67. Anonymous says:

    a acceptance would certainly be wonderful…..
    but a rejection( or the euphemism: Not Admitted) surely is not the end of the world and should not be thought of as such…
    I would certainly not let any institution decide what i am worth and certainly not on the basis of 500 word essays and laundry lists of achievements…
    therefore, i would not be too bothered by a rejection…..
    Anyway, Best of Luck everybody….

  68. John says:

    I was rejected by Caltech. For all of you under similar circumstances, I want to reassure you that MIT’s criteria differ greatly and our chance at acceptance maybe be higher than our admitted counterparts…

  69. comboy says:

    if you have entered a password to see whether there’s a match between you and mit or not, you already proved that you’re interested in numbers

    now if you don’t feel good after that entering password, here’s what you can do with numbers

    change 8 with different numbers and see some match, also wait till May 10 when you can use 9.

    mom’s day

    let me give you another link from my firefox tabs

    another tab

  70. The hard work; the suspense; the parents cheering on from the sidelines; I still have another year (’14?) and the suspense is already killing me! Any suggestions? …

    Good luck ’13 hopefuls – what a way to celebrate/learn to hate Einstein’s birthday! I am celebrating his birthday with the infamous SAT – easy as pi – (I hope, anyways…)!

    As Einstein said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” Remember that; dwell in the suspense and realize that regardless what happens, you worked to your potential and things happen for a reason!! (Reminder: I need someone to tell me THESE WORDS in a year when I am in your shoes…!)

    ( & Remember to thank your parents!)

  71. Hopeful "14 says:

    @THIS WIL BE ME :=)
    I’m taking the SATs tomorrow too. What a way to spend Pi Day, huh? 3.1415926535!
    Good luck to all who are waiting for decisions. I wish you the best. Always remember that if you were even considering applying to MIT you must be pretty smart!

  72. @ Hopeful “14,

    I hope you did well on the SATs, too. Is the suspense, the anxiety, and the stress of what the next year holds driving you into a deep hole of abyss? I just keep thinking that at the end of that hole, there has to be a light somewhere! Whether or not that light is MIT or not admissions must decide; but I am fairly confident that that decision will put me where I was meant to be (where that is, I am not certain; only time will tell).

    Now we just have to work hard and be patient 364 days…

    Best of luck to you in your future, as well!