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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

When Disaster Strikes by Matt McGann '00

About how we'll be flexible with applications, and a couple of benefit events.

With Hurricane Wilma bearing down on Florida, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the earthquake in Pakistan still very much on all of our minds, and the early action deadline about a week away, I figure this is a good time to talk about application process flexibility.

We know bad things happen, like when your school is shut down by a hurricane, your home is destroyed by an earthquake, a close relative passes away, or other unforeseen tragedies. Obviously, any of these things can make it hard to apply to college.

We at MIT Admissions are willing to be very flexible with your application if something awful happens to you. Each circumstance is very different, so it’s hard to give examples, but do know that we are willing to work with you.

If you need to work out a flexible solution for your situation, please call the office at (617) 253-4791, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm Boston time, or send us an email at [email protected]

Relatedly, there are several upcoming benefits at MIT. First, from an email I received…

Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2005 02:31:09 -0400
From: [an MIT student]
To: [MIT students]
Subject: Candle-light Vigil for the Earthquake Victims in South Asia this Tuesday @ 7:30pm

Candle-light Vigil for the Earthquake Victims in South Asia

Come show your support for the Earthquake Victims in South Asia on Tuesday, 25th October at 7:30pm by lighting a candle in front of the student center steps.

Over 80,000 people have died and more than 3 million are homeless in Pakistan, the country worst hit by the earthquake. As communications with remote villages are re-established, the death and injury toll is likely to rise. Tens of thousands of people have lost their homes as entire villages in the Kashmir region and northern Pakistan have been wiped out. Pakistan faces an enormous challenge in terms of not only providing food and shelter to those who have lost their homes and families, but also for the future rehabilitation of earthquake survivors, especially the thousands of children orphaned by the disaster.

Please take out a few minutes of your time and help remember the earthquake victims, hear personal stories of people affected by the disaster and help contribute funds to save more lives.

Suggested donation: $2 per candle
Time: 7:30pm (stay for as long or as short as you want)
Location: Student Center Steps
Needed: YOU!
**Coupons for candles are available for sale in lobby 10**

Also, the annual Fall Festival event has become a celebration of/benefit for New Orleans, coordinated by New Orleans resident and MIT junior Louis Fouche:

Fall Festival Presents
Bayou Bash;
A Big Celebration of the Big Easy!

October 28-30th, 2005

Fall Festival 2005 will host internationally known jazz greats from New Orleans including the city’s Mardi Gras ambassadors, Big Chief Bo Dollis & The Wild Magnolias, Marva Wright (the Blues Queen of New Orleans), the Piano and Zydeco princes, Davell Crawford and Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr., traditional Jazz legend Bob French, and the “second line” street beat of the Lil Stooges Brass Band, among many others. Performers and guests will converge on campus in late October for a series of charity performances to benefit both the victims of Hurricane Katrina and now struggling musicians from the vibrant New Orleans Jazz community. All events are open to the Entire MIT community and guests (the Sunday evening concert is open to MIT community and non-MIT members).

Bayou Bash Events:

Friday, October 28th:

Jazz Concert, 12:30pm – 1:30pm in Stata Amphitheater. Join the Stooges Brass Band and the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians led by Big Chief Bo Dollis, Jr., directly from New Orleans, for an authentic New Orleans second line procession (Parade) in and around Stata Student Street. Follow the parade to a New Orleans Jam session for the MIT campus from 12:30 to 1:30pm in the Stata Amphitheater. (Inclement Weather location will be the Gates Lobby). Bring your instruments: including tambourines, cowbells, percussion. And second line handkerchiefs and umbrellas. Free drinks and food will be provided.

SaveTFP Spooky Skate: The Great Masquerade, 10pm – 1am in the Johnson Ice Rink. This annual event, sponsored and run by SaveTFP, will certainly be a great success again this year. SaveTFP has decided to incorporate the Mardi Gras theme into their event. New Orleans themed costumes are encouraged and there will be prizes for the best costume. Activities and food in the Zcenter Lobby will accompany the free skate.

Saturday October 29th

BBQ and Jazz Music, 1pm at the Kresge BBQ Pits. Join The Christian Scott Sextet and MIT’s own Louis Fouche as they play Jazz music during the Bayou Bash BBQ. This event is open to the entire MIT community and will be a great way to celebrate New Orleans style music, hang out with friends and enjoy some great food.

23rd Annual Sigma Kappa Late Night, 8pm in Kresge Auditorium. Sigma Kappa Late Night is the annual variety show fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Disease. Every year, students enter acts to show off their talents to over 500 members of the MIT community and compete to win great prizes donated by local Boston and Cambridge businesses. Last year, we raised over $3,500 to benefit Alzheimer’s Disease research.

Sunday, October 30th

Jazz Brunch, 12pm in the Sidney-Pacific Multi-purpose Room. Join graduate students and friends for a wonderful brunch in the Sidney-Pacific Multi-purpose Room. A live Jazz quartet will entertain guests as they enjoy good food and good company. This event is open to the entire MIT community.

HallowMIT, 3:30pm on Kresge Oval and Student Center Lobby.
Where: Student Center Lobby (W20), followed by trick or treat at Simmons Hall
Who: Entire MIT Community – students, staff, families, kids.
What: Clowns, jugglers, face paints, balloons, parades, candy, games and tons of fun for everyone!

Bayou Bash Concert featuring The Wild Magnolias, 7pm (doors at 6:30pm) at Kresge Auditorium. Bayou Bash’s main event!! This concert will be a huge gathering of New Orleans musicians including Big Chief Bo Dollis & The Wild Magnolias, the famous Mardi Gras Indians, who will perform with other Jazz standouts including: Marva Wright, Davell Crawford, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr, Bob French and the Lil Stooges Brass Band.

More About the Fall Festival Charities…
Bayou Bash has two main charity goals: The first is to provide a fantastic venue for New Orleans musicians to practice their livelihood; live and on stage here at MIT. This is an important goal as many of the performers have lost their homes and performance venues. Our second goal is to donate proceeds from the Sunday evening concert to Pass Christian, Mississippi’s high school music program and to the New Orleans Children’s Hospital.

Even if you can’t make it to these events, you can of course still donate to the cause via the Red Cross or any of the many, many other groups involved in the relief efforts.

16 responses to “When Disaster Strikes”

  1. Leon says:

    Hi, Matt,

    I just have a quick question. From reading your previoius posts I learned that I can submit my highest scores on each section of the SAT I. But as I was completign part two of the application, the direction reads, “If you took the SAT or ACT more than once, please list the test date for your highest combined/composite score or your highest math score.” So does that mean that I can only submit my highest combined score from one SAT I, or I can still submit my highest scores in each section, though I only put one date that I had the highest combined total?


  2. Alvin says:

    Erm. Just in case you didn’t see my post at a past entry. The name I used for Collegeboard is slightly different from the one I used for MIT cos Collegeboard gave me too little space. Will the reports still get to MIT?

  3. Leon, you list the date of your highest single-sitting combined score (or highest math score) on the application and the scores from that date. But when CollegeBoard sends your official score report, it will include all your SAT sittings. The MIT folks will see all your scores and will use the ones that put you in the best light.

  4. Shikhar says:


    I dont think I can retake Math II now. I dont know if my good grades in class will make up for this or not but I’ll apply with them only.

    In any case first I want to see my score report then decide anything.

    So should I believe Eric and think that I am still in the running Matt?

  5. Clark Poland says:

    Not to detract from this post or anything, but I got a 660 on my regular SAT math. Granted, I didbetter on my ACT, SAT Math2, and AP Maths, but still that’s a crushing blow.

    As a question about that, my SAT was not good. My ACT was far better. Should I submit both or just the ACT? Is openness (and one bad test) better than showing myself in a better light?

    jcarkeys (at) gmail (dot) com

    (I’m always nervous about spam bots harvesting my address)

  6. shikhar says:


    I have been struck with disaster too. My SAT MATH II score is 660,it came out today. NO idea how I could have got so low.

    I have good grades in school in Math but do I still have a chance at MIT being an international (that too from India). Or is it bye-bye MIT for me.

    and my chem score is 730.

  7. Shikhar,

    I refer you to a previous post by Matt, which talks about competitive scores for MIT applicants.

    “#2 What scores should I get? Are my scores good enough?

    We do not make decisions based on test scores. There is no formula for admission, and there are no minimum test scores. Test scores are one of many parts of the application that inform our decision. Admissions decisions at MIT are made following a holistic, subjective review of each applicant.

    That being said, I know that folks are still (understandably) very concerned about test scores. To give you a sense of things, here are the middle 50% score ranges of students admitted to the Class of 2009 [MyMIT]:

    SAT I Verbal: [690, 770]

    SAT I Math: [740, 800]

    ACT Composite: [31, 34]

    SAT II Math: [740, 800]

    SAT II Science: [710, 790]

    SAT II Humanities: [700, 780]

    (Please remember that we are not considering the new SAT Writing test this year.)

    Also, it’s worth noting that more than 35% of students (370+ students) admitted to the Class of 2008 had SAT I Verbal scores lower than 700, and 11% (110+ students) had SAT I Math scores lower than 700 [CDS]. In the end, it is being a good fit & match with MIT that makes the decision.”

    It isn’t good, and perhaps you would want to re-take your SAT Subject Tests, but it doesn’t mean “bye bye bye” to MIT yet.

    Jia you! (It literally means “add oil” [to your engines, perhaps wink], which figuratively translates to “Keep at it! You’ll sooner or later make it!”)



  8. Drew says:

    Hey everyone,

    I’d like to start out by saying that its nice to hear the extra consideration and leniency MIT is giving to those affected by all those events.

    As to all the talk on SAT and ACT scores, its important to keep in mind that they are just tests in the end. I’m not saying they aren’t important but there are a lot of other parts to an application, maybe just try to make some of those a little stronger. As to sending the ACT scores in place of the lower SAT scores, there is no use in omitting your SAT reasoning, because the collegeboard sends the SAT reasoning and SAT subject test scores together. Its important to keep in mind that some people do better on one, while others excel in the other, its part of what makes the different tests useful.

    That’s it for now, Drew

  9. Rushil Goel says:

    Dont give up Shikhar. Since you are from India (me too!), you can only apply regular . So you have both the Dec and Jan testing dates available!

    Where did you take the exam ? Delhi? American Embassy?

    I got 800 in all three – Math IIC, Physics, Chem!

    (Sorry – dont mean to hurt anyone)

  10. Shikhar says:

    Thanks guys,

    hey Rushil congrats.

    Actually I am not taking the Math 2 once again coz I have physics on 3rd Dec. And I cannot add another subject as I have to prepare for my class 12 Boards and for the IOI.So maybe in Jan I’ll try to take them.

    Coz see there is no point in retaking if I dont practice (because there is hardly any subject matter which I do not know but the only thing is practice) so I think I’ll take it in January..that too if MIT has a problem with it.

    Please reply on the next omnibus matt.

    One good thing though..I just won another competition for computer quiz. (national level)

  11. Justin says:

    I am from New Orleans and my biggest concern right now is hot to get my recommendations to MIT in time for Early Action because the post office is messed up currently. I can get the materials postmarked for November first but I am not sure if they will ever reach MIT nonetheless reach MIT in a reasonable amount of time. How long should I wait to receive confirmation that my recommendations got through before sending them again and will MIT realize that if I have to send them again they will be postmarked past the deadline?

    BTW Im disappointed in my 660 Math 2 and 710 Chem but I like the 800 US History.

  12. Leon says:

    Thanks a lot for your clarification regarding my question. =)

  13. anonymous says:

    Since we’re kind of on the topic, how does MIT evaluate academic growth? For example, going from a B- to an A, and maintaining an A in that subject. Is the growth enough to balance out the intial low grade?

  14. Sam says:

    Do you guy take AP scores into account as well as SAT scores? I got a 5 in BC Cal but my SAT II score is 710. Will the 710 hurt my chance or willl the 5 on the AP even it out?

  15. Shikhar,

    There’s still time. You can register for the Dec 3 SATs if you register before the 28th of October. So I think if you try again, it shouldn’t be a problem given the extra time and the fact that it’s a second try.



  16. Mike says:

    Wow, that’s really cool that MIT shows some leniency toward victims of natural disasters. I myself am from Naples Florida and just got power back from Wilma.