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MIT staff blogger Bryan G. Nance

What I Have Learned From The Early Decision Process At MIT by Bryan G. Nance

Here are some of the things that impressed me.

*Update as of 2015: Early action is available to both domestic and international students.


As you can see by the photos, this was a grueling process. I could go through it step by step with you, but Ben’s already covered that.

So let’s get to the meat of the matter (or for you vegans out there, the shiitake mushroom of the matter). Here are some of the things that impressed me:








  • The quality of the essays. I was constantly floored by the way so many of you approached your essays and your overall style and flow. Dare I say, I saw flashes of brilliance every now and again? I SO wish that I could share snippets of some of the essays that I reviewed. Alas, under penalty of law and all that stuff concerning your right to privacy, I am forced to discuss them using only my inner voice.
  • The fine ways that many of you give back to the community. It is not hard to tell when someone is just going through the motions or trying to pad their application. I saw true selfless activities. This includes everything from the creation of clubs in school to activities that help to relieve human suffering to activities that help to right injustices. It is humbling to see so many students showing so much compassion for their fellow man.
  • The great ways that you spend your free time. (Although, I do wish all of you would sleep more!) Other than hang out on my blog, I am pleased that you are having fun, & that many of you have such a great sense of humor!
  • The amount of passion in your applications. WOW! It does the soul good to know that you love this stuff. Some of you have been doing things related to your intended fields of study for quite some time, while others of you are chomping at the bit to jump right in. As the Black Eyed Peas said, “Let’s Get it Started in Here”. (DISCLAIMER: Do not assume that you won’t be admitted if you have not already pursued a great deal of activity in your intended field of study. We know that an interest in creative writing is easily expressed as compared to one in Nuclear Engineering. In other words, we believe that writing samples make fine submissions, whereas we REALLY discourage the submission of fusion reactor cores, no matter how much lead you use as packing material.
  • A low geek factor. Normal students apply and will be accepted to MIT. If what you do makes you a geek in HS, it’ll make you a superstar at MIT.


48 responses to “What I Have Learned From The Early Decision Process At MIT”

  1. Timur Sahin says:

    *exploding with anticipation*

  2. feel free to share my essay… lol i think it might provide a good laugh* (actually mine was pretty depressing to write) lol if only you guys knew who i was

  3. aww… Is it too late to get the fusion reactor back, or is it property of the University now?

  4. zoogies says:

    INSTITUTE, Turtle Hermit. Property of the INSTITUTE.

    Ah, do I wish I had more sleep time. I’m getting better though!

  5. Rose says:

    Low geek factor, huh? Wow…amazing.

    I haven’t done anything extra-special. Darn. Still hopeful.

  6. Rose says:

    Oh, by the way, how many people did you admit named Rose? Hehe.

  7. I knew someone would catch that right after I hit post… so Ok, is my fusion reactor core property of the Institute now?

  8. Edward says:

    Having appliead regular action (I could apply EA)
    I must say that I envy every1 else so much coz there’ll no where there are heading in a few days.
    As for me, I’m sorrry but you’ll have to go through another ‘gruelling session’ of evaluation.
    Have fun.

    P.S. I do love what you do.

  9. Edward says:

    Sorry- I meant I could not apply EA
    Have a nice day.

  10. nehalita says:

    Surely you must understand that sleep is something we vow to conquer by the end of the first month of high school!

  11. Henry says:

    “shitake mushroom”

    It puts a smile on my face when vegetarians are considered, like finding vegetarian friendly dishes at restaurants. Mushroom stipes (when prepared the right way) are a surprisingly great alternative to beef (in terms of texture and taste).

  12. ybai says:


    Shitake mushrooms are delicious!

    All those brilliant applications…now I’m getting nervous.


  13. Evan says:

    Should I be scared that I only think half of those things or less apply to me?

    Please let us know when the decision are actually sent. My friends can attest to the fact that I’m freaking out over here.

  14. Connie says:

    Uh, I’m going to attest to that above statement. He *is* freaking out, and he’s normally a very very mild kid. There could be a tornado outside right now, and… he’d still be worrying about MIT.

  15. me? says:

    “(or for you vegans out there, the shitake mushroom of the matter)”

    I’m vegan, though I’ve never actually tried any shitake mushroom. Out of curiousity, have you noticed people mentioning veganism/vegetarianism on their apps? I didn’t mention it, as I didn’t really see any relevance.

  16. Phil says:

    hi Mr. Nance,

    Major props for going through the “grueling process.” (does that mean u guyz are now done? raspberry)

    Still, it really must be fun seeing all kinds of students shining their colors!

  17. Sam says:

    No Edward you’re lucky, mopst of us are gonna have to go through this period of anxiety again during March and April.

    I’d hate to be in the shoes of an admissions officer, it must be really hard rejecting so muc great students. Does it ever get to the piont where the applications are so goods you guys just start selecting people at random?

  18. Sam says:

    No Edward you’re lucky, most of us are gonna have to go through this period of anxiety again during March and April.

    I’d hate to be in the shoes of an admissions officer, it must be really hard rejecting so muc great students. Does it ever get to the piont where the applications are so goods you guys just start selecting people at random?

  19. Catherine says:

    Eeep. ‘s all I really have to say. ^^;;

  20. Drew says:

    As for the freaking out comment, if there was a tornado outside I would first be wondering why my dog hadn’t barked in a while, haha, then it would be how long the mail, and thus the decision, would be delayed

  21. Turtle Hermit,

    As for that reactor… we don’t know what to do. If the reactor works should we admit the student or call Homeland Security…

  22. Henry,

    do you have a recipe for those Shaitake Mushroom stripes?

  23. me?

    I remember a few essays that mention vegetarianism. I can’t say that I remember anything specific. So, I’d say that it is only important if it fits the context of the essay.

  24. Evan,

    There is no crying in Baseball & No freaking out on Nance Effect. Go get a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, a big ass wooden spoon, the movie Blazing Saddles and chilllllllllll.

  25. Drew,

    Remember, neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night shall keep mail carriers from their appointed rounds.

  26. zoogies says:

    ^That last post wins.

  27. Julia says:

    Dreaming, wishing, hoping, praying, stressing, dreading, shaking, counting down to Dec. 15–> everything that we, the MIT EA applicants, are doing right now.

    I suggest not hanging out 24/7 on the MyMIT Blog website hoping that we will somehow discover more about our fate (because I guarantee it will only make you more nervous). Go outside, play in the snow, enjoy the upcoming holidays, and just live…! Whatever happens, happens! This is life…an unpredictable journey, and although getting into MIT may seem like the world to you right now, don’t forget about the other important things in life. Don’t let the college applications stresses overshadow the good things in your life.

    Like the admissions officers say, “Hope for the best and plan for the worst.” But just in case things don’t go your way, just remember that life has many, many more opportunities waiting for you. So relax and don’t forget to sMiLe grin !!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Did anyone ever tell you that you look like Theo from the Cosby show? well, not back then, but modern day Theo.

  29. thekeri says:


    Pffft. Sleep is for the weak.

    …okay, maybe not. If I keep telling myself that, though, maybe it’ll come true one day.

  30. Timur Sahin says:


    Nance Nance Revolution!

  31. Zack Yang says:

    I hope you guys are being paid overtime; being an MIT admissions officer looks like a very tough job!

    Just out of curiosity, how many people, in total, are involved with the decision-making?

  32. (quote)
    As for that reactor… we don’t know what to do. If the reactor works should we admit the student or call Homeland Security…


  33. Justin says:

    Actually you should call Sweden so that you can win the Nobel Prize for the fusion reactor. Im glad to see that MIT recognizes that high school students cannot show a proficiency in Nuclear Science and Engineering (they changed the name over the summer) considering that even at MIT one has to wait until their a sophomore to demonstrate their interest (or until IAP, I know that I would like to tour the reactor and of course the new fusion reactor that Turtle Hermit sent).

  34. Jeremy says:

    haha wow now I’m nervous. I think I botched the essay. Monday arrives…

  35. Victoria says:

    Mmm… mushrooms. They’re tasty.
    Sorry, the closest thing to stripes on them are the little gill-like slits (known as… *drumroll* gills) on the bottom of the caps. You’re thinking of stipes. You know, the little stem-like thingie?
    I think. grin
    I’d be careful of striped mushrooms. Also polka-dotted mushrooms.
    *worries* My RD essay isn’t that terrific. Alas.
    Free time? With all this academic work and altruism… sleep is relegated to while I’m going from place to place. Even while I’m walking to class…
    And here (where I live) the only other people I know that are applying to MIT are the ultrageeks. Ah well.
    I wish I’d applied EA. My rec letters weren’t done yet, though. Ah well.

  36. can’t wait see the results. i always image the admission office like a supreme court room. with all the officers seated neatly and conductly scraming at each other and stamped a big denied on everyone’s application. your pics look nothing like that. guess im too imaginative

  37. hossein says:

    Wow. I’m a high school freshman and I’M already nervous about admissions. How about you increase the campus and faculty size tenfold and just let everyone in =D.

  38. I’m ok with notifying the Nobel committee, but I think I’d like acceptance to MIT more than a Nobel Prize…

  39. s says:

    Turtle Hermit,
    The CIA’s watching this post. wink(Committee for Insane Applicants)

    My RD essay isn’t good at all. No passion :((
    I couldn’t apply EA anywhere coz MIT only lets intl applicants apply by RD.
    Best of luck and remember ur not alone.

  40. s says:

    Say the new Nance baby is arriving in early Jan. Talk about maintaining deadlines smile)
    Since there is still time, I got another name
    Shreshth Nance (The best Nance).

    It’s the male form of my name sort of (inspired by Victoria – I like her name too. Sounds umm.. regal)

  41. Clark Poland says:

    “There is no crying in Baseball & No freaking out on Nance Effect. Go get a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, a big ass wooden spoon, the movie Blazing Saddles and chilllllllllll.”

    I love Cherry Garcia. However… I was making an “icecream run” for a party at a friend’s (that’s what I get for showing up early) and she told me to get a quart of the chocolatiest ice cream Ben and Jerry’s has. So I wait in line and order “Chocolate Fudge Brownie” or something like that. The guy hands me the quart, then hands me a spoon. Honestly, does he think that a guy is just gonna curl up and eat that all by himself? If it was two spoons I wouldn’t have been offended, if he had given me a look like “for your girl” I wouldn’t have offended, but the implication that I’d eat it by myself? Preposterous!

    And as to syntax about the Institute’s name, when you’re giving the full name, do you say the Massachusetts… or just Massachusetts. For instance, “Yeah, I got accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology”. That’s what I would _think_ it is, but the English language has proven a fickle mistress to even a native speaker such as myself.

    And good thing there wasn’t a requirement for admission to spell Massachusetts, it usually takes me two or three times to get it right.

  42. Clark Poland says:

    Also, I have to say that I am most terrified of fungus in general. They’re just, *shivers*. Good thing I eat meat.

  43. Victoria says:

    Gasp, S! No passion? You’ll never make it into any institute of higher learning! wink
    Eeek! Only Int’l applicants can apply RD? wink Proofreading, proofreading.
    Don’t worry, Nance, I won’t proofread the packet you send in April. That’s what I get for learning how to type on a typewriter. The lack of backspace irritated me for a long time…
    My name is supposed to sound regal. That one English queen. Yeah. *mutters*
    Clark, you’re no fun anymore. (For those of you that don’t understand the reference, check out a Monty Python script at orangecow.)

  44. Justin,

    To quote a great one liner from the movie “THe Truth About Cats & Dogs” You can love E=MC2, Just don’t L-O-V-E E=MC2

  45. Clark,

    It’s ok. There is no need to be in ice cream denial. IC Denial, Not just a river in Egypt (or thru Vermont where B&J is made.)

  46. s says:

    I’m dying of the tension of getting my teacher’s to write their recos, the counselor to do the forms(my principal actually- he is a proper ordained priest of the Catholic Church and gives guidance of the spiritual kind)
    Not to mention my essay ( I finally got one right though after about 97 attempts wink
    And along comes Her Imperial Majesty, Queen Victoria to tell me I’d never get in anywhere. Have a heart. wink

  47. s,

    Relax!!! Breathe deeply…you’re in the zone! Applying to college is like the skills necessary to hit a fade in the middle of the fairway with a 1 iron. (Golf talk don’t ya’ know) You have to master the Zen art of concentration on relaxing. Put it all down, do your best, and go with the flow.

  48. s says:

    Mr. Nance,

    Thanks a ton. It really helps to hear you say that. (except the golf part is a clear case of overhead transmission)