I have been on CC for quite a long time now. I have seen how many superlatively talented students have applied to MIT and have been rejected, how many not-so-brilliant students criticize the prospective students based on their app stats, and how most students ask for advice here just to boost their moral. I have been one of these people too, but I have a very straight forward question for the MIT legends here.
I'm an extremely ordinary person! I don't have anything stellar in me!
When a person applies to MIT exactly following the list of required documents (not counting the optional part), does it make the applicant competitive ?
I don't see how an ordinary candidate like me with decent academics and a few EC's can even compete with someone who has perfect academics, IXO honors, national level EC's, research work and all that good stuff.
Let me break it up here.
In the application itself, the only space to raise my true voice is the essay part, which is where I feel I can write something good, may not be stellar but that's my real self.
For my recs, I'm confident that my teachers will write good things about me.
For my EC's, well I'm not any national level champ or IXO winner, I love playing piano and enjoy playing soccer. That's what I have been doing all my life, but since I do it for my fun I never competed in any competitions. I will just list these in the activities section as my EC's.
I just go to school, come back play soccer, go back home study, play piano and then sleep. Just what an ordinary person would do.
I have been warned by many people that I shouldn't waste my time on applying to MIT since I'm not the 'MIT material'. I will apply anyways.
So tell me guys what you all think ? Is it really worth it ?
MIT will certainly cash the check that you send them for your application fee. They will also take the time to send you a polite letter on formal stationery. However, it is hard to imagine that you will be accepted based on the broad parameters that you describe here.
One easy comparison point for you is the middle 50% range for test scores published by the Admissions Office. If your scores are not in this range, it does not immediately disqualify you - obivously 25% of the class falls below this range. However, included in this 25% you are likely to find recruited athletes, URMs, children of large donors/politically connected, etc. This does not leave much room for non-superlative candidates.
The admission rate is in the 5-10% range. Remember that this does not mean 5-10% of a typical high school class is accepted. It means only a small percentage of the most qualified applicants in the country are admitted. Admissions officers will tell you that most of the candidates that they reject are bright, talented students who would be able to do the work, but MIT simply does not have enough room for everyone.
Feel free to follow your dream. Your chances of admission are certainly better than trying to buy a winning lottery ticket. However, you should understand that you are facing long odds.
It is true that MIT rejects a lot of people. You don't need national level ECs and awards. You mentioned that the essays are the place for you to show your voice.... YES! I really feel that my essays had a lot to do with me getting in. I had fairly normal ECs as well. Like seriously, I did theater, some volunteering, and a sport. I got some awards from my school and was a National Merit Finalist. I got mostly A's in high school and scored pretty well on the ACT. Keep good grades, score fairly well. The score part isn't as important (I think) as some people on CC make it out to be. Overall, MIT really seemed to care that you were an interesting, passionate (you hear this word a lot) person who is excited about whatever it is they do, and want to do something big with what they know and will learn. Take your time on the essays, make sure they show who you are in the best possible way. Be creative. Also, there is an optional interview (highly recommended, but optional) that you can do, and I also think you should if you can. There is another opportunity to show the real you and your interviewer usually tries to convey your personality and voice to admissions. Good luck!
I don't think you should ever get too invested in a particular undergraduate school. It's absolutely no reflection on yourself whether or not you get admitted, because, well, admissions is a little soft, and I'm sure that the admissions officers have a very difficult time deciding who to accept.
So, what I'm trying to say is that you should apply if you want to go to MIT. You shouldn't NOT apply because of the other applicants. This is about you and what you want to do, and if MIT can help realize your dreams, then go for it dude. Just be honest and heavily and subtly self-promotional at the same time.
I know that if I don't apply I have 0% chance and I also know that I'm applying because MIT is important to me and not just some "elite" school which would boost my resume.
But still I didn't get what I was looking for - A guy with standard academics, two decent EC's, good recs and stellar essay is anywhere competitive in eyes of MIT ? (By stellar essay I meant the place where I can express my true self)
I really want some of the MIT legends to comment on this now.