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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Visualize whirled peas by Matt McGann '00

I don’t want to alarm those of you in California, Texas, Florida… but it’s snowing here, and it is beautiful. I’m overlooking this winter wonderland as I’m reading applications today, and it makes me feel calm, very much at peace.

Last night I went to see the opening night premiere of the Bollywood movie Veer-Zaara. I love the energy of opening night film crowds, especially for big releases. The last crowd I was in that was this juiced was for The Matrix: Revolutions, and don’t expect to be in one again until Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (have you seen the teaser trailer yet?). There were cheers and shouting as each of the major actors made their first appearance. I thought Amitabh Bachchan was particularly good.

The film is primarily a love story, but there are major themes of justice and peace running throughout the film. During intermission, I was thinking about a student’s essay I had read the day before about the India-Pakistan conflict and how it continues to affect even South Asians in the United States, and how it related to the promotion of unity and understanding on the Indian subcontinent in the film.

Peace has been on my mind a lot lately. Another essay I read recently talked about the conflict in Northern Ireland. In the news, Mahmoud Abbas will lead the PLO, what will this mean for the conflict in Israel and Palestine? US troops are fighting in Falluja (a conservative radio commentator in Boston has been advocating dropping an atomic bomb on Falluja. Sadly, I’m not making this up). It’s important to remember that while this college application process is going on and everything else, there are many important things going on in the world.

The application reading process continues. Right now, I’m taking a little break from reading, eating some dumplings I bought down at Super 88. There’s a pretty big stack of folders on my dining room table. Just how does the reading process work, you ask? I’ll take the folders one at a time. First, I read the application components. I try to understand who you are, where you’re coming from, what motivates you, what you’ve accomplished, what you hope to accomplish. Then, after carefully thinking about everything you’ve told us, and everything your teachers, counselor, and interviewer have told us, it is my job to summarize your application on the previously mentioned E-3 card. I really take my job seriously and give each and every one of you the consideration that you deserve. All of this reading and summarizing takes about 30 minutes. Usually this process will be repeated by a second reader. Finally, in a few weeks, that E-3 card will go to the entire Admissions Committee to make a decision on (more on this part of the process later).

You may wonder where we read these applications. For the most part, we do not read applications in our office. We want to be somewhere where we won’t be disturbed by visitors, where we can really focus on your application. Most of the people in our office read in their homes. For me, there are several places where you might find me (though I beg you to not seek me out in any of these places):

You’ll find me at one of these five places pretty much every day for the rest of the month. There are a lot of your applications to be read! And speaking of your applications, back to reading I go…

Current music: Peking Opera, “The Forest on Fire”

Not the same few colleges: McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Remember, not all of the best colleges are in the United States. Why not check out this beautiful campus in downtown Montreal? And you can practice your French while you’re there…

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