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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Update from selection by Matt McGann '00

We're working through the weekend towards admitting the Class of 2011.

As Ben has noted, we have begun the early action selection committee. We’ll be working throughout the week, making decisions and preparing to release them on the web and through the mail.

This is what Selection Saturday looked like last year during early action:

That’s President Susan Hockfield, her daughter Elizabeth, and their golden retriever, Casey, playing in the snow in Killian Court.

This year, it was a completely different story. If President Hockfield and Casey were playing in Killian today, there would have been no need for the winter jackets, or any jacket whatsoever. According to the National Weather Service, we had nearly record temperatures (it hit 62 degrees F today, just shy of 1932’s 65). But we were inside, happily working towards admitting the Class of 2011.

Tomorrow, the work continues. As I’ve said, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. (And if you haven’t done so yet, please read Ben’s latest entry and follow his instructions). Best wishes!

91 responses to “Update from selection”

  1. Andrew says:

    Relax Lendz,

    Nobody is perfect, and I don’t think anyone is expected to be. I personally did not do as well as I had liked in my math SATII, but surely that does not mean I would not be extremely successful in college. It is my guess that the admissions people take this into account.

    The same argument goes for horrible high school teachers. Over the past 4 years I have had the same teacher twice. She grades very arbitrarily, and frankly, just isn’t a good teacher. Nobody in the class got an A. Is that fair if someone else across the country has had easy teachers? Of course not. We can’t do anything about it though so don’t worry.

    After all, it’s just the rest of your life.

  2. Joe says:

    Yeah, we’ve had some pretty crazy weather the last few days. First that random spike in temperature to the upper 60’s. Then, we too, had heavy wind on Friday. Supposedly gusts were at 40-60 mph. While running with the track team around Boston, I think we got one of those gusts =P

  3. Melissa H says:

    Aww, you’re reading through the weekend for us? Thanks Mr. McGann (and others). Does this mean all the applications have been reviewed, and now it’s just time for final decisions and such?

    Aww, you’re reading through the weekend for us? Thanks Mr. McGann (and others). Does this mean all the applications have been reviewed, and now it’s just time for final decisions and such?

    <3 hoping for the best, ready to break down otherwise wink

  4. Thanks for the update, Ben! Sorry for somewhat hijacking your thread, but I wanted to publicize this a bit..

    Unofficial MIT Admissions chatroom!

    Just thought I’d get this out there, so that we get a few people talking.

    Unofficial MIT Admissions Chat Room

    Please let me know if you have any problems at [email protected]


    P.S. Please bookmark the page if you plan to come back. Unfortunately I don’t own a domain name, so I’m stuck with giving you the IP address link.

  5. Oh wow.. I read “As Ben has noted” and accidently used his name instead of yours, Matt.

    My apologies,

  6. Good luck to everyone out there…and that includes the admissions officers that are working so diligently!

  7. proud parent says:

    Good Luck to all of you!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  8. theresa says:

    sounds like great weather! on wednesday, we in new jersey had 70 degrees. That lasted one day. thursday got cold, and yesterday it rained and was REALLY REALLY windy at night (we even had a tornado watch (which is extremely uber-rare here) and a thunderstorm watch too…) no one wanted to go outside….
    well.. have fun in your nice weather, admissions committee! smile

  9. Elizabeth says:

    That’s funny: Here where it never snows (Seattle-ish) in November, we had two snowdays and you had almost record high temps! Gosh, less than a week left, really just 6 days and a night. Well, we all hope as much as we feel is safe…or maybe just a weee bit more;)

  10. Benjamin says:

    We here in Ithaca, NY, had 30-degree weather and snow, but it didn’t stick, so we only got the disadvantages of the weather. =)

    BTW, Adam, you can use for free domain names and DNS. Well, actually they’re free subdomains, but it’s still more memorable than an IP _and_ it’s free.

  11. Wow… It must be so exciting to realise that such an important decision of your life is going to be made soon. I guess I’ll be going through the same during the days preceding regular decision admissions.

  12. Melissa H says:

    What happened to the chat?

  13. Steve says:

    Don’t know – stopped working for me too though.

  14. Melissa H says:

    Ugghhhh. I think this Limbo week is worse than the actual decision, even if its rejection. I want to know =(

  15. Anonymous says:

    Do you think the adcom was real?

  16. Jonathan says:

    The chat died. If you want to continue, if you use IRC, go to and go to #mit-hopefuls.

  17. Melissa H says:

    So now I pretty much think I’m done for.

  18. Melissa H says:

    my computer can’t find that server

  19. Jess says:

    Everyone keeps telling me I’m going to hate living in snow, but I can’t help but be STOKED. OH MAN. SNOW!!

  20. Hannah says:

    Someone make an AIM chat haha.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Ok, the AIM chat is named, simply “MIT”. Join if you want.

  22. Anonymous says:

    rather, “mit”. I don’t know if capitals matter, but it won’t let me join “MIT”

  23. Melissa H says:

    Admissions officers

    PLEASE please please don’t reject me. I’m taking more SAT IIs in January. Please give me another chance for RA. I CAN make my app stronger. I don’t know why my SAT IIs were so bad. I promise they’ll be up to stuff in January!

    Good luck with everything!

  24. Sean says:

    Good luck to all who applied. My best wishes go to you guys. Ill be one of the people applying next year in my senior year ^_^

  25. Anna says:

    Our crazy weather in Los Angeles consisted of 50 degree weather, which made us think we were going to die of pneumonia! We’re totally not used to it here.

    But, admissions officers, thank you so much for working on the weekends, especially with that nice weather. Hopefully I’ll be able to find some internet access at my tournament this Saturday.

  26. Anjanie S says:

    People stop worrying about tests!!! They do not define who you really are!!!!!

  27. Jonathan says:

    A topic came up in the chatroom addressing race and gender issues. Does race and gender affect admissions? If so, how much is it a factor?

  28. Melissa H says:

    Lendz – I think my error might have been skipping questions. Usually, I never skip questions, but that day I decided to try it and see if my score would improve – and I probably made some gridding errors =( In any case, I’m taking them again in January. If MIT doesn’t accept me EA, I hope they defer me. Most of the sin/cos on the tests are 30-60-90 or 45-45-90 triangles, so you don’t really have to figure them out if you know how those triangles work.

    To those saying not to worry about tests – they ARE a part of the admissions process, and getting 600s, even high 600s, on the SAT IIs.. that’s pretty bad. So no more from you.

    I do agree with Andrew. I was in a chat last night, and we were talking about how to make admissions fair – and then realized how hard that would be for admissions to account for everything. The admissions people will try their best, I have faith in that, and that’s all I ask for.

  29. Melissa H says:

    Gee Jon, which chatroom would that be? wink

  30. Anjanie S says:

    Melissa I am sure they wont reject you because you had a 600! I know that scores are part of the admissiosn process, but if you are wonderful person, then I believe they will be able to look over the 600 scores.

  31. jas says:

    Wow, now we have a support sytem on this blog. that’s awesome.

  32. kar says:

    And of course, here I am in California freezing at 32 degrees.
    Why did this weather shift have to occur when I’m still here?

  33. Melissa H says:

    If you go to MIT, Kar, you’re going to be facing colder =)

  34. CJ says:

    COLD?! You’re cold at 32 degrees? Outside right now, it’s, give or take, 17 degrees, and I love it. Snow covers the ground, and ice covers the roads… What could be better?

    P.S. Good luck to all EA Applicants, as I’m one of them!

  35. Sarab says:

    Hey, thanks!
    Happy Reading!

  36. Melissa H says:

    I LOVE the cold. Snow = amazing. I love visiting my family in Maryland in the winter =) California’s always so hot… 17 years of it gets old…

  37. Matt W says:

    It is down to 9 degrees in Minnesota right now. Cambridge would be an awesome vacation!

  38. Brandy says:

    That’s cool the admissions department is working through the weekend for us. That is nice. Thanks.

  39. Lendz says:

    Im with Mellisa H…

    Although my reasons are probobly quite a bit different. You see… when i was up in portland a couple of months ago… someone stole my best friend, my calculator. he was a TI 84+ and withheld programs that I had written in him that would cause it to be banned over a Voyage. So… I had to take the SAT II math section and ACT math section… without a calculator… seeing as the only other one i have is a Voyage. And no one else i know has one that i could barrow. [I live 30 miles away from ALL civilization].

    Ive takin the SAT II’s over today… woot! still without a calc though!! but i actually think i did grand… because i only skipped 9. lets hope that my addition and subtraction are correct… ouch. that always kills me.

    I notified collegeboard and ACT about this… they said it was fine, and that the tests could be takin without a calculator.

    The hardest part were the sin cos and tan. I had to remember [memorize] the taylor polynomials to these.

    How do i go about informing admissions about this? or do ACT and SAT do it for me? And does not taking high school math in 5 years also play a part in the admissions process? Ive been stuck with things WAY higher. do they look at this on the tests?

  40. Kar says:

    By freezing I mean relatively. I don’t own clothes for sub-40 degree weather (except my ski gear)!
    If I go to MIT, at least I will have bought weather appropriate clothes.
    Also I just thought it was funny that we’re relatively cold here in CA and it’s fairly warm in Mass.

  41. Anonymous says:

    plus we don’t get the pretty snow.

  42. Crystal says:

    Well last night I couldn’t sleep for some reason… (I am nervously awaiting Saturday’s decision) so last night in a nutshell: every five minutes I would wake up from a dream saying I got accepted and everyone would say congratulations! Then I’d wake up, go back to sleep then wake up again 5 minutes later. The longest dream I had last night about MIT was 30 minutes which was also the most peaceful sleep I had because I didn’t wake up to everyone screaming congratulations!!!

    Good Luck to everyone!


  43. Hi to all

    I wish if I could either have any of your climates because from where i come from the temperature ranges from 20-50 degree celcius (in the middle-east). It is so hot, we barely see rain, and when it rains we get so excited and we panic (as if its a hurricane). Anywayz GOOD LUCK GETTING IN TO MIT (my love).. As well as to me ….

  44. chris says:

    haha reading this site is not helping me feel any less anxious about next week…

  45. yossarian says:

    Wow…50 degrees Celsius? It IS the Middle East…but still. haha Seattle had the coldest/wettest weather on record….and it was awesome. Ostensibly to do college apps…but no one I knew did. Senioritis sucks.

  46. john says:

    melissa H, settle down. it is true that your SAT II scores matter, but posting desperate messages to the admissions committee isn’t going to help your case

  47. allison says:

    also,they don’t know who you are(melissa h)
    …if, for some reason you thought that would help you, you may have wanted to put your full name

  48. Fred says:

    i LOVE california weather!

  49. I agree with John and allison. Thank You,,

    All of you have fun!! And dont forget about MIT!!!

  50. Solomon says:

    We here in Ghana want to know your sat scores Melissa.

  51. YeengSocHoNu says:

    Lendz, I tottalliee now wat ur goeng thrue lyk one tyme sumun tuk my diktionairey n its jus lyk wen sumun tuk ur calckulater man that suks soooo much gooddluck!!!



  52. Solomon says:

    Stop complaining Fereiduni we have hotter weathers here in Subsaharan Africa.

  53. Solomon says:

    Don’t panic too much Melissa.

  54. milena says:

    uhh… did anybody understand YeengSocHoNu’s post? :S
    by the way, you people (and by “you people” I mean Melissa H.) obsess waaaay too much over SAT scores. They’re just numbers! I’m sure they care a lot more about the way you actually perform in class, where you spend a whopping 10 MONTHS A YEAR, than in a lousy test you can take in an hour. AND I think that scores above 600 are quite nice, if you ask me.
    Anyway, best of luck to all of you EA applicants!!

  55. Ruben says:

    i just wrote a two page essay using one of G.B. Shaw’s (my fair lady) thesis, but i made it 15 pages! the secrete? i changed all letters into phonetics, just like below!


    (all dashes are spaces, enjoy!!)

  56. Brandy says:

    I understood every word of YeengSocHoNu’s post.

    Hope you get a new dictionary Yeeng. You had a lot of misspellings in your post and I find it ironic you lost a dictionary. (now I’m wondering)

    I’ve been taking Spanish in high school, learning a second language takes a lot of effort, keep up the writing and reading, we get better with more practice.

    I have so much respect for those who know more than one language and try their best to communicate in a different language. You’re doing a great job, keep it going.
    I’m sure I sound like a “gringo” when I speak spanish, and I know there have been times (many)when people say “huh?”. Can’t let it phase you though, keep on going.

  57. Kristin says:

    How is it warmer in Boston than it is in Texas? We actually got snow in November! It was pretty ridiculous. I got the day off school, too, since no one here knows how to drive in ice. smile

  58. Anonymous says:

    These are the best comnments I have ever read! Am a regular decision applicant; I know my time is coming next year but am feeling a little bit nervous. Gud luck for early applicants!

  59. Harish says:

    To all those with low SAT scores…
    hey, I got 740+ in my SAT IIs, but am still in India! SAT scores are important, but it’s your overall application that counts. With good marks, er..that’s grades for you, I guess you can still make it. And don’t worry if u don’t, there’s always transfer admissions!

  60. Solomon says:

    There is useful advice here, so lets all take it and hope for the best. See you all at MIT especially Melissa H.

  61. theresa says:

    I wish everyone would stop fussing over SAT scores – MIT reviews the whole application, and they want to get to know you — that’s why its important to project your whole self in your application – SAT scores are only one part — keep in mind that you, yourself as a person, is not defined by SAT scores.

  62. Annette S. says:

    Hey Matt,
    I suppose this questions’ been asked a gazzzzzzzzillion times. Nevertheless:what exactly are they searching for?
    How do you define yourself ?

  63. Theresa: I agree with you.. Thank You..

    To all: Did you guys do well on your interviews.

  64. Anonymous says:

    Lendz and everyone,

    Hopefully, if someone has a 600 on the math SAT, they have shown on the application that they can handle the very rigorous work — by showing high grades in math in school, on state tests, if any, a high level of course difficulty, science fair results, teacher recs, etc.

    BUT, BUT, BUT if the 600 is “representative” of the level of work a student can handle, MIT is probably *not* a good match for that student.

    However, if the 600 is not representative of the level of work a student can handle, then MIT will look for the level of PASSION the student has shown in his/her lifetime, so please frame all answers in the application in terms of showing true PASSION.

    I am a parent who has gone through this process before — trust me about the PASSION — without it, all applications are doomed, no matter how high the numbers are.


    Everyone at MIT, from students to staff to professors… everyone is deeply PASSIONATE about their work. Make sure it shows through on your applications. Have others check it for PASSION.

    Good luck to you all.

  65. Ruben says:

    only three more days!

  66. Joon Suk says:

    No upshin nado upda, MIT……Saranghe!!!!!

  67. Melissa H

    Are you only worrying about SATs or you have other errors?

    Thank You

  68. Parent says:

    Don’t worry too much about numbers — all they’re looking for is to see if you can keep up with the work, and perfect scores are not needed to show this. Grades, difficulty of courses selected, class standing, state tests, contests, science fairs, teacher recs and more also show your abilities.

    After determining if you can keep up with the work, MIT looks at the match, the fit between the Institute and the student. Here is where things begin to get murky. What exactly is a good match? The answer in one word is PASSION for life and learning.

    What exactly is PASSION? I think it’s different for each and every student, and it *must* be shown throughout the application. Every single answer on the MIT app. must be viewed from this standpoint — for each item, ask this question: “Does my answer to this question show PASSION?”

    I believe PASSION counts more than numbers on the MIT application. So for those deffered, go back and let MIT see and feel all your PASSION for life and learning, for the benefit of mankind, of the planet, of yourself.

    Best of luck to all.

  69. Pepe says:

    Hello Matt!

    Quick question. Will anything we say on these blogs have any effect on our admissions?

    i.e. if we are flamebaiting trolls… will it severely reduce our chances of getting in?

    i.e. if we are huge kissups… will it positively impact our chances of getting in?

    just curious, please respond!

  70. Hi MATT smile

    I wanted to ask you what PEPE has asked.. pleas reply.. pleasee!!! Have a nice weekend

  71. Lendz says:


    I sure hope your right, and i think ill know if your not. so far, your response has made me feel more confident, because i know 92% of MIT students get at LEAST 740 and at MOST 800 on math… and the 600’s arnt really that close in comparison… however, if you are right (hope you are) then MIT is truly a school of their word. And nothing can top that. I thank you for your well defined evaluation of their process. If you can… please elaborate on how you know this.

    Again, i greatly appreciate that response.

    Mellisa H. –

    Mellisa, mellisa, mellisa, I admire your persistance, And i have no dought in my mind you have zeal, but i must ask… do you admire defeat?
    One of my phylosophies in life [I have nothing to do but think from 10-11:30 every night…{jay leno time}] is that those with confidence, must always admire defeat. Just the thought the proof of imperfection allows the mind to reform… to incorporate the method of defeat strait into your consiousness… have you ever played a game and lost? then continued to play it the same way over and over again for the rest of eternity? What has happened in my life is that… defeat has happened so little to me that when it does happen… i just gasp in aww… Admire the power… the humbility it gives you… and once you witness and experience defeat… you now have a new goal! Imagine being Sir Lancelot of the round table… jousting joust after joust… and never losing a match, what then… do you have to improve? Will you wonder the path, and risk losing a match to experiment on new methods? or will you stick with what works? and if what works… never fails, have you really achieved perfection? No. but if sir lancelot gets jousted off… he will have a goal, a monumental feat to become the best… but what happens when you ARE the best? how do you horde off those that want your post? they will try new methods… but dare you stray from those that have never lost? and if so, who will want to fight you… knowing that you will always win? No, its only through defeat we grow stronger (ok… maybe not ONLY through defeat) but its definately worth cherishing.

  72. Lendz says:

    Andrew –

    You are indeed correct, sometimes teachers really dont know when to through their ego away… i had a math instructor once… HORRIBLE… math wasnt required to graduate middleschool, so they fired the math instructor because he was too ‘pricy’ and then replaced him with the english instructor… owch… bad times…

  73. Melissa H says:

    John – At this point, I’m willing to try anything.

    The rest of you – “Don’t panic.” “I think 600s are fine” etc – that doesn’t help. Don’t think you’re actually going to convince me that MIT is going to look highly on 600s.

    And I did put my e-mail, the same one that went on the application.

    Ruben – that’s the language we (pilots) use to communicate with each other, towers, etc =) I’ve never seen anyone use the NATO phonetic alphabet outside flying before, hehe =)

  74. Hi,

    This question is for Matt or anyone who knows better than me..

    Is it OK if I submit part I of the application form via the internet and submit part II and the rest (teacher rec, etc) by mail?

    Thanks a lot.

  75. Hi

    One question about admission process:

    I’m curious as to whether the admission process ever involves contacting the reference teachers/administrators by phone/email.
    Please identify situations when this would happen, if at all. I’m also a Canadian, so international applicants might receive different treatment?

    Int’l applicant

  76. Solomon says:

    Melissa, your last comment was fabulous.
    Keep it up. By the way I agree with you.

  77. benhaldor says:

    Another question

    i am an international applicant

    i have thought teacher recs and other school things have to be sent by our high schools

    i am right, right?

  78. rashley says:

    I don’t have a humanities recommendation, is it okay if I just submit a math and science recommendation?

  79. Melissa H says:

    Lendz – I’m not sure I would say that I admire defeat. I do accept defeat as a means to grow, if that’s what you mean. Sure, I’ve been defeated before – I’ve challenged myself with the toughest classes, I horseback ride (competitively), I fly planes – and that means I’ve gotten bad grades before, fallen MANY times, and struggled to learn certain aspects of flying. I DON’T want to be “defeated” by MIT admissions, though. MIT is the most challenging, amazing, brilliant school that I know of/applied to. I know I will fall sometimes, but I desperately want that challenge. I want to go to MIT. As far as I know now, which isn’t everything of course, but nonetheless what I know now is that MIT would be the perfect place for me to excel – and, yes, fall.

    Admire defeat? No. Use it to do better in the future? You bet.

  80. Vidya says:

    The clock is ticking… *cue dramatic music*

    Best of luck to everybody out there grin

  81. Arman says:

    Just wondering…..what kind of questions were asked at the interview?


  82. Anonymous says:

    For international students

    what did you get from your toefl exams?
    should everybody get more than 100 or
    90 plus is ok?

  83. rashley says:

    also, I contacted my e.c. way before the application deadline, like the second week of november, but he still said it was too late, even though I clarified i was a regular decision applicant. he never answered me again. what do i do? (because i know that interviews play a big role)

  84. Kyle A says:

    To Arman,
    At my interview, it was really informal and it was more of a conversation than an interview (or at least more so than other college interviews i’ve had) and basically the guy asked about my activities i’m involved in and just got a feel for the overall person i was, not necessarily academics or anything. it’s not anything to really worry about, unless you don’t have any people skills.

  85. To anonymous,

    I got a 90+ in the TOEFL. I did well in all parts except the readng which was good. And if MIT doesn’t like a 90+ then why should they post it in the website. Anyways, did you have an interview?

    To Arman,

    Did you have an interview? Are you an international student? If yes, from where?

    THNXX smile

  86. milena says:

    My interview mas kinda like Kyle A.’s, it was more of a normal conversation than an actual interview. He asked me about my hobbies, about what I do in my spare time (going out, staying in, etc), what are my passions, what major I want to pursue, etc. If you are having your interview soon, make sure to tell your interviewer everything that you think is relevant about yourself and that you want the admissions people to see. Also, if you have a passion for anything, even if it is collecting newspaper (that’s one of my hobbies!! lol), well you should definitely tell him/her. As one of the parents said, they’re looking for passion, because even if you’re not the sharpest tool in the shed, having passion will definitely get you farther than the smart yet lazy kid. Good luck!

  87. Solomon says:

    Today is the day, Good luck all you EA applicants. I am applying RA. By the way those who have had an interview did you dress formally or casually. Please respond.

  88. joey says:

    I dressed formally, but the interview was at my school right after classes and we have a dress code anyway..It won’t hurt to dress up

  89. John says:

    Hey Matt — this is mainly in response to a post where you explained about supplementary material, but I wasn’t allowed to comment on. The main question I had was whether it would be alright to include something in a more in-depth resume if we also put it down on the actual application. I briefly described them on the application, but in most of my activities, I’m much more involved/much more goes into it than can be seen initially. Also, I’ve done a few summer service projects in Uganda and India the with a school group, so I’m assuming these are the types of things you mean we should clarify in an additional resume? Thanks a lot — I would appreciate any feedback.

  90. Hi Matt!

    A few questions I hope you will answer before application deadline!

    Do the majority or minority of accepted students have advanced credit (5s in APs or 7s in IBs)?

    Also, (I asked this previously) are our teacher references, at any time, contacted? If so, when? Can they request to be contacted?