I've been reading the MIT site for a long time (notice my Join Date). I am a parent. A number of my friends' children have applied to MIT and I have heard of their outcomes.
However, the reason that I know that they think that "no one deserves to be admitted to MIT" is that people affiliated with admissions often state that, in writing. You can find it in the MIT forum.
What they mean is: There is no application package, no matter how good it is, that is sufficient to mean that the student must be admitted, in their eyes. This view has led to some satirical remarks. Ben Golub, a student who served on the admissions committee at Caltech, once posted, "How about Nobel Prize? Nobel Prize enuf?" I don't agree with Golub's viewpoints on everything (most notably affirmative action--since he is grad-student age now, he hasn't had a lot of time to accumulate experiences), but in this particular regard, I think he's right.
There is no contradiction. Of course, the guys with the B's don't "deserve" admission either. That is the meaning of "no one" (i.e., there does not exist x, such that x deserves to be admitted to MIT).
There is another thread running currently, about academic stars and MIT admissions. You'll notice that they admit about half of the students they rate as academic stars, but they do mark the folders as "academic stars." If you think about the process operating in the admissions office, in my opinion, they are marking the folders to ensure that they admit a sufficient number of academic stars. In my opinion (again) this almost certainly means that their admissions process does not automatically lead to the conclusion that academic stars are admitted.
On the academic stars thread, Mikalye (an MIT interviewer) remarks that the interview can be a stumbling block, and of course it can. He gives an instance of a student who appeared to have no friends and to devote every waking hour to science. (Nevermind that in a scientific career, you may have long stretches where you do devote every waking hour to science.) I think this is misleading, though, because MIT also rejects academic stars who are normal, socially, and likeable, I suspect.
If you are looking for a university that admits based on scientific promise alone, I suggest Caltech. The environment there is not for everyone, but the scientific education is excellent, for those who fit into that environment. You might also look at Cambridge or Oxford (you can only apply to one or the other of those).
Actually I'm sorry. I think I was still unclear. In your view, people who get into MIT are on the same boat with the ones denied, deferred or waitlisted. If they are all equal on Ad. Officers' eyes, shouldn't they admit or deny everyone?
Where did you get the vibe they think no one deserves admission? What makes MIT Admission different than other Ivies, for example Harvard and Yale? Is your view for admission the same for them? I mean I just want you to clarify your view a bit more.
Quant Mech, the thing I don't get is, "they admit people reluctantly" that's your point. Why would a school do that for 150+ years?
They didn't. There was a new admissions director who was appointed in 1998 that had radically new ideas on what the admissions philosophy should be. Before that, MIT's admissions policy was almost indistinguishable from Caltech. That admissions director left about 5 years ago. I think things have somewhat gone back to normal, but a lot of her influence remains.
The ivies are even worse in terms of weighing nonacademic factors, though, including weighing personality. For instance, I was told by a Harvard admissions rep that they admitted a bunch of people who sent a shoe in with their application and said, "Now that I've got one foot in the door, let in the rest of me." They thought it was funny.
As to "why" they would do such a thing, that is a loaded question. For one, they get so many good people that their academic reputation won't be harmed by taking people that are good but not outstanding academically. Secondly, it's not like everybody in the university got together and made these decisions. It was more likely a small cadre of people, led by the old admissions director. The university professors, including the administration, got to where they are by working like crazy and not making waves about stuff that didn't affect their research.
Caltech is looking for the strongest math/science/engineering students they can find. I think that educational context is taken into account to some extent by their admissions office, but there is little extra weight for it. They do not have much interest in your non-science EC's. It is harder for international students to get into Caltech (as elsewhere), though.
The Feynman Lectures on Physics (3 volume set) were the introductory physics course at Caltech when Feynman taught it. Calc 1 is taught from Apostol.
If you look on YouTube, you can find a few humorous videos about the problem sets at Caltech.
A friend of mine went to Caltech (many years ago now) and decided to leave after a single year. When the university to which he transferred (a good one by CC standards) completed their correspondences to the content of his Caltech courses, he wound up with two years of credit.
In the olden days, Caltech used to fail quite a large fraction of the students in introductory calculus (20-40%). Two of my colleagues failed calculus at Caltech and went on to have outstanding scientific careers. I think Caltech has adopted a kinder, gentler grading system since then, but they still have one of the most demanding sets of classes around.
Caltech is quite small in terms of the overall undergraduate class size, and the group of students is not very diverse. In combination, its atmosphere means that it is not really a good fit for some people who are quite committed to science and quite bright.