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MIT student blogger Chris M. '12

Tips from Me to You by Chris M. '12

15% is standard most places, but my tips are 100%! (awesome that is)

This is more of a mini-entry, a blogget if you will. I know that for a good portion of you, the pressure is on, as there’s officially nothing else you can do about your Early Action application. But you know what you have to do now?

Chill out.

Seriously, pat yourselves on the backs guys, if you’ve done your best walk away from it now. It’s out of your hands, don’t let the rest of the world pass you by. I’m sure it varies by high school location and personality, but Senior Year is not something you’re going to want to fill with stress. Make plans with your friends, watch movies, make jokes, write programs, start organizations, just DO stuff. Whatever it is you like to do, get out there and get it done!

Now I know you’re probably thinking “but Chrism* I spent 2.0X10^6 hours on my application, do you think that’s enough? Do you think I’ll get in because I expressed my number in scientific notation? Do I need more Sig Figs? Is 2 enough?

Here comes point #2, and it’s gonna hit you hard:

It doesn’t matter.

*gasp*! MIT, not matter?! Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love this place, even amidst the sunrise as my cue to bed and the hours tooling for a C on a test, and you should take pride in your application, but an important thing to remember is that MIT is not the only place in the world, and definitely not perfect for everyone. It’s interesting that only after coming here for school did I realize how unhappy some people would really be here, so you may just have to trust me on that one, even though when I was in your spot I probably wouldn’t have believed it. The thing about your application is that it’s a trade-off between you and Admissions. You have two similar but distinct characteristics:
Know yourself, but don’t know MIT that well.

Knows MIT, but doesn’t know you that well.

So to make sure everyone’s happy, there’s a trade off, all you have to do is be honest about yourself, and Admissions will be able to tell if you’ll like it here, and Admissions is super good at their job, (I hear they hire the sexiest bloggers too, but that’s just what I hear…)The catch is they can only go off what you tell them, so it’s in YOUR best interest to be honest. Because even if there was some formula you could replicate to guarantee admission (it’s 6. That’s it. The answer is 6*), getting in based on a fabrication isn’t only dishonest, it’s not you. And YOU won’t be happy, whoever you wrote about on that application will. (Which is not you, in case you didn’t catch what that implied)

So the whole point of this is to take a deep breath and relax. If you applied early the hard part is over. If you’re applying regular, don’t stress about it. In 6 months or so you’ll be graduating from high school, and the end of Senior Year is totally awesome. Enjoy every minute you’ve got and don’t get too caught up in being the perfect applicant. Be the perfect you. Get excited about the fact that if you do your best on your application, one year from today, you’ll be in happy in a college that’s right for you.

I am.

*It’s surprising the number of emails I get addressing me in sentences as Chrism. My name doesn’t rhyme with “prism”, you can just call me Chris.

**In case you didn’t pick up on the sarcasm, there is no admissions formula, and it certainly wouldn’t be 6. If you put 6 on your application and that’s it, I take no responsibility for whatever happens.

P.s. email me some questions and I’ll do a Q&A blog.

Ok, so I’m going to post the Q&A blog next Wednesday the 12th, so plan on emailing or commenting your questions to me by say Tuesday the 11th. I can already tell this will be interesting.

44 responses to “Tips from Me to You”

  1. Billy says:

    “But you want you have to do now?”
    I get it.

  2. Ehsan says:


  3. wesh m says:

    Don’t want to look stupid, but how do I (international student) apply for a fee waiver for the application?

    And do you think I can send some certificates depicting that I won/participated in a regional science camp?

    I asked Matt but he seems to be busy.

  4. Chris M. says:

    @ Wesh M

    I’m not sure if it’s different for international applicants, but I know that regularly you request a waiver from one of school officials and they send a letter to MIT on your behalf. This page talks about it a bit under Part 1: Biographical Information:

    As far as submitting certificates. I think you can, but I don’t think it’s really necessary. There is a place on your application to talk about awards you’ve won and things you’ve participated in. Filling it out there should be good, no need to actually mail them. One word of warning though, you only get to choose a limited number of awards to talk about, choose ones that are most important or fitting about you. Do NOT send an “ego sheet” of your achievements as supplementary information.

  5. Pan says:

    Hahaha~ True, I hope I’m MIT material then! Maybe I should chant *6* in my head!…*666666*….Then people might think I’m the devil’s child…..maybe not…

  6. Sonal says:

    @Wesh m

    are u from india?…and are u talking about the space camp organized by ATLANTIS

  7. Ivan says:

    @ Chris M
    The Q&A blog that you will post in the future, what will it be about? (Admissions, Life at MIT, Pset?)

    @ Wesh M

    I am also an international student, I heard that it isn’t good to request waiver if you are an international student. Other students have told me that if you request a waiver, this might diminish the chances of receiving your I-20 if you get into MIT.

    I am not sure about this or if it depends on the country, I’m from Brazil.

  8. Chris M. says:

    @ Ivan

    Mmmm all of the above? I was thinking it would be more of an open “anything you want to know about” setup. So if you have anything you’d like to know about anything related to MIT feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Ivan is right. According to new visa rules for F1, J1, etc., an international candidate must show at least $50000 reserve in finances, to ensure smooth operation of I-20 execution.

    Harsh Reality, Gentlemen.

  10. Ahana says:

    @ Wesh M
    I’m applying for a fee waiver too. With the increased dollar-rupee exchange rate, it’s difficult to afford the app fees for my family. I have letter from my Principal explaining the hardship. I hope that helps!

  11. Kasey says:

    This post makes me giddy smile
    Great advice, Chris. I can’t wait for December, but I’m trying not to wish away the rest of November…

  12. madmatt says:

    Requesting a fee waiver is the same for international students as it is for domestic students, and will not impact your visa process. Most of the international students at MIT are quite needy, and none have been denied a visa due to financial issues. And as we are need blind for all students, foreign and domestic, requesting a fee waiver will not impact your admissions decision either. (This may not be true at all schools)

  13. Anonymous says:

    An issuance of I-20 is more of a federal exercise rather than private corporations’.

  14. Dhvanit says:

    @Chris,Madmatt : I hope what Ivan said ain’t true !? And everybody : “HAIL 6 !”

    @Ahana, Wesh m : Rupee’s gone to almost *50* once again !! I hope both of you get your waivers.. all the best..

    @Sonal : Where’re you from in India ?

  15. Becca says:

    Hey Chris, have you never seen Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy?? The ulimate answer to the universe is 42, not 6! If you forgot, thats okay, you’re forgiven, if you haven’t watched it, you need to! Its an awesome movie!

  16. Hey says:

    For the Q&A: Are MIT students very stylish or are jeans and a sweatshirt a common outfit?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Are there any abnormally good looking people at MIT?

  18. Colton says:

    Anonymous: If I make it, then there will be.

  19. hamsi says:

    LOL i laughed when i read the question above me

  20. Paul says:

    @Hey: I’ll be interested to hear what Chris says about this, but MIT’s fashion sense pretty much runs the entire gamut…I think it’s one of the few places on earth where you get some people who almost always have a multitool on their belt and others who could have stepped out of a Hollister ad. smile

    Personally, my wardrobe tends to oscillate between geeky T-shirts (Firefox, xkcd, shirt.woot) and relatively preppy attire (Abercrombie, Ralph Lauren)…with a middle ground of, yes, sweatshirt and jeans if I’m in a rush.

  21. Tristam says:

    Great post. Thanks for all the info.

  22. '16 hopeful says:

    Haha, 6 is the answer to the admissions formula? Did you have some supercomputer figure that out for you…perhaps with the name Deep Thought?

  23. Bridger says:

    I would like to know how classes taken as a senior affect admissions. If I applied ea, wouldn’t I know if I got accepted before I know my final grades? Of course, I am still going for the A’s, but I am just wondering.

    Looking forward to the Q&A post!

  24. Anonymous says:

    For the QnA: everyone hears about MIT hacks, but what are some of the non-hack “institutional charm” elements you like? Just wondering what quirks about MIT you personally like aside from hacks.

  25. Dhvanit says:

    I’m from Gujarat..

  26. Sonal says:


    I am from Punjab…where r u from?

  27. Anon says:

    yeah…. I go to the Intelligent Design school. We don’t have any competitions around here… I was wondering if you would know the details on how you start a project to enter into an Intel fair? Do I just start randomly or do I work with another teacher to help me?

  28. Anonymous says:

    @ Chris

    I was wondering if there was a backlog of emails at the admissions office from the early action weekend because I sent you guys an email 5 days ago and I am still waiting for a response. I just wanted to check before resending it.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the post. It was really helpful. I can’t wait until decisions come out! It’s out of my hands now. BTW you are extremely funny.

  30. navdeep says:

    @ chris -i am from india and would like to know more about the admission process for an international student …and do you really think that i would stand a chance of getting admitted because honestly saying ,like most of the other applicants, i have not won any national level Olympiads and stuff like that .. but my credentials with my high school are fine and am also quite better in studies and extra-curricular activities than all my other classmates ?????

  31. Elizabeth says:

    Great advice! I know I’ve been trying to keep all that in mind from the start. I made my EA application as honest as possible, while trying to show the sides of me that might make me a good fit for MIT. If I don’t get accepted it won’t be the end of the world (I’ll find happiness and success elsewhere), but I think that I would really enjoy going to MIT. In the end I will trust that the admissions office is making the right decision though.

  32. Niki says:

    Not only does not worrying about MIT allow you to enjoy everything else about senior year, but continuing to have fun and be involved will take up all the time you might have spent worrying. It’s a circular system that you can use to your advantage!
    (To the reader of my application: I don’t mean to say that I’m any more ambivalent than anyone else – I’m still hoping for acceptance.)

    Anyway, more to the point, I do have a question for the Q&A. I come from a tiny high school where the teachers really care about their students and interact both inside and outside of class. Now, pretty much every college brochure advertises the relationships between teachers and students (because, of course, it’s what many of us are looking for.) But I’m curious about how personally teachers and students interact at MIT, not in some outstanding cases, but on the average, or on whatever the MIT equivalent of average is.
    Thanks in advance!

  33. Tiffany says:

    I wouldn’t say my app was dishonest; it was just unusually happy. Pulling your second all-nighter for apps and halloween does that to a person.

    Question: How’s the humanities side of MIT? And are MIT students into politics/current events? (not worded as a question but…) I hear the food is awful.

    @anonymous: My friend told me that when she visited, there was an unusually high number of really good-looking guys walking around.

  34. June says:


    Although I am a prospective applicant as well, I know the answer to this question. smileBecause it was one of the main questions that I had prepared for the interview.

    My interviewer told me that the food at the dining commons does get a little bit monotonous, but (as in my interviewer’s case), lived in a fraternity, where he had his personal cook make everything for him. He told me that there would be many girls who would come over to the fraternity over for dinner.

    just HAD to write this… I didn’t mean to intercept the question. smile

  35. June says:


    It took me awhile to figure out why people addressed you as “chrism”…

    once I found out, I literaly laughed for two minutes. :D

  36. curious says:

    Hi Chris…
    I was just wondering…
    Is there anything close to a major or serious study about nanotechonology? I’m really fasicanted by it and I think that’s what I want to study and later do in life. Is there a majore for it? Minor? Any courses in nanotechnology?
    Thanks a lot

  37. Anonymous says:

    Hi Chris,

    I noticed that you are a Course 15 student. I applied EA and also want to do Course 15. I was wondering what are your favorite things about Sloan and why?


  38. saad says:

    for Q&A: Does MIT accept january SAT scores for international students?

  39. MIT student says:

    To Tiffany:
    The Humanities are pretty okay. Your HASS-D requirement [Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Distribution] basically makes sure you take a HASS class a semester [or…you could put them off, but that’s not the idea]; the quality varies by class.

    I would say a lot of students are very politically aware and socially active. I would also say a lot of students have no idea what’s going on in the world. MIT students are pretty smart kids and they’re pretty interested in the world around them, but sometimes it’s hard to devote as much time as you’d like to politics with those psets..

    Food! So the thing about eating at MIT is that’s it’s all up to you. There’s no dining plan, and I personally have never been to a dining hall [but I hear they…exist]. If you end up eating from Verdes every day, you’ll probably end up bored and broke, and cooking is a lot of effort. So I guess it’s not optimal, in terms of convenience, but at least you’re not eating cafeteria food every day. [I don’t know what June means by ‘dining commons.’]

  40. Ben Zheng says:

    Thanks for the advice (I am working on the regular application)! Hopefully I get myself across via my application.

    Now, is that a 6 or a 9 backwards? There has to be a trick, it’s too easy.

    Maybe I should add in a 6 on my application just to see how many people figures it out. That would be entertaining.

  41. C. M. please stop spamming the dorm lists with your idle mind.

    Subject: anyone willing to turn in my 18.01 pset
    Body: It’s due at 1:45 but I don’t have class today and don’t particularly feel
    like headed all the way over to building 2 just to turn it in and come back.
    Anyone headed that way anyway? I’ll give you a dollar…

    yours lazily,
    Chris M

  42. Anonymous says:

    A question regarding the teacher evaluations forms: Can they be written by teachers who taught me in Grade 9 or 10, or does it have to be only Grade 11 and 12? Does MIT have any preference?