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MIT current freshman & MIT admissions

dainerusselldainerussell Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
Hey all,

Like Angela, I'm a freshman at MIT, and I dropped in on this board ocassionally when I was a high school senior. So, now I'm back, but as a registered user to offer any help I can.

I'm originally from Northern California but currently a resident of the wonderfully crazy dorm East Campus. I have sophmore standing and declared 10-B (Chemical-biological engineering). Other stuff about me, I'm on the fencing team, and am part of Concourse (alternative freshman program). Applied early action, was deferred, and accepted later.

Feel free to ask me anything. I'll answer to the best of my abilities. If any of you guys want to contact my privately about stuff, my email's jotong@mit.edu

Also, Marilee Jones gave a talk during IAP on "The Mysteries of Admissions." It was a very interesting talk, and I'll post my notes/thoughts in a separate post.

Take care, and for all you seniors out there, don't stress too much and enjoy second semester.
Post edited by dainerussell on

Replies to: MIT current freshman & MIT admissions

  • dainerusselldainerussell Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
    Stats on Class of 2008 (my class)
    • 10,466 applications
    • 1,665 admitted (16%)
    • 1080 enrolled (65%, which was way more than expected. For the class of 2009, they're aiming for a class size of 990)
    • 42% female, 16% minority, 26% asian, 6% international (later on in the talk, I found out that of the African countries, Ghana and Kenya consistently have the most applicants)
    • 37% validictorian, 88% in top 5% of class
    • mean SAT: 712/757
    • 50 states, 59 countres/territories
    • 54 languages spoken

    75% of the admissions' office's resources is spent on recruitment and yield, and only 25% on selection. Why? Marilee kept on emphasizing that if you have a large, diverse, and qualified pool, it is very easy to select a class. Instead of relying on affirmative action and other methods to increase diversity at MIT, they allocate more money and resources to recruit under-represented pools. The idea is that MIT wants the best of the best, regardless of ethnicity, background, etc. If you have more applicants from under-represented pools, then you have more to draw on when selecting a class, and then there will be more admittees from under-represented pools. But, she emphasized, once they've been recruited, they still have to duke it out on even footing with everyone else.
    • The entire class is hand picked: each admit is reviewed 4-5 times when the apps first come in, senior officers review them (triage). About half move on
    • The apps are given 1-2 reads, and I think it's at this point that each applicant's E-3 card is filled in.
    • Apps go to selection committees
    • All acceptances are read my Marilee. She signs off on every case and gives it her blessing. Sometimes, she will pull an app at the last minute and reverse the decision.

    What MIT looks for:
    • excellent academic prep - which is almost a given today
    • interest in what MIT does - applicants are increasingly well-rounded today due to the changing culture (more on that later), and the average applicant applies to 12 schools. want to make sure they have a real specific interest in MIT
    • self-initiative
    • willingness to risk
    • emotional flexibility - the ability to fail and be comfortable with it, pick yourself back up, and go at it again
    • exceptional curiosity
    • willingness to participate (be active)

    After triage, readers will read the app and give each app a Numerical Index (NI) and a Personal Rating (PR). This, and all your basic info and comments, are put down on your E-3 card. (I went to the admissions office later and got a copy of my E-3 card, minus the comments, which are destroyed before reg day)

    Numerical Index (NI) - each of the following get a number from 1-5, 5 being highest. the NI is the average of the numbers.
    • SAT Math
    • SAT Verbal/Humanities
    • SAT Science
    • Rank in class
    • GPA/highest GPA
    • TOEFL

    Personal Rating (PR) - also 1-5. 5 being highest, and corresponding to national level, 4 being statewide
    • R1 - initiative in co-curricular (academic activities outside of class)
    • R2 - overall social skills
    • R3 - initiative in extra curricular
    • Passion index = made for MIT, adds 1 point to your PR. This was added recently, since a couple years ago, Marilee was looking it over, and discovered that only 32 admittees didn't have at least state level recognition. They decided this was A Bad Thing, and so added in the passion index for students who obviously have something special, but don't win awards/recognition for what they do. Her example was a student interested in astronomy who built his own telescopes and hand-ground his own lenses. 72 people in my class were admitted because of the passion index.

    Admissions Grid - a 24 square grid for the NI and PR

    When the applicants have been given NIs and PRs, they are placed in this grid. Then, cells are grouped together as such: 1, 4, 7 2, 5, 8 3, 6, 9 10, 11, 12 and 13-24
    She mentioned that the academic calibre of students was exceptional all around. A student with a low NI still has great academics. Example, 680 each on SAT, A's and B's with a C in 9th grade, etc.
    Once the apps have been put into these groups, then they go to selection committees, where a committee can admit whoever they want from their group. Roughly 95% of admittees come from the first three groups (boxes 1-9). If the committee with boxes 13-24 decides to admit someone, then Marilee goes over the app very carefully to make sure that person can cut it, academically, at MIT.

    Athletes get no preference whatsoever in the process, unlike at other schools. As for legacy, an applicant is a legacy only if a parent or grandparent went to MIT. Siblings don't count. The only extra bonus that legacies get is that if they are denied, Marilee takes one more look as a courtesy. Very rarely will she reverse a decision.

    Is MIT moving towards more well-rounded students, rather than techies?

    Marilee emphatically denied any such trend. She said that they've been using the same criteria, looking for the same kind of people, for over 50 years. The only thing that has changed is the pool. With the rise of better state school systems with specific graduation requirements, high school students graduate much more well rounded academically because they have to fulfill certain requirements to attend state schools (and 70% of MIT comes from public schools). MIT is still looking for the techie type of person, but the country has changed so that its students are more well-rounded. Years ago, if and admittee chose not to enroll at MIT, they usually went to Carnegie Mellon, Caltech, or other tech schools. Today, they're most likely to go to Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and Princeton. Surprisingly, not many choose Caltech over MIT. It's just a different trend in today's world.

    How is MIT admissions different from other schools?

    Very different. MIT prides itself on being a meritocracy. Marliee doesn't have to fight battles with others about athletes, or legacies, or development cases. Apps are selected because they are good, can thrive, not just survive at MIT, and have something to contribute. There are no quotas, no spots to fill for specific needs. One thing that MIT does differently from the Ivys and many other schools, is that admissions is not region based. Using the region based method, there are admisisons counselors in charge of a specific region. All apps from that region go to him/her and his/her committee to read. They select a certain number of admittees, and then those go on to be read by the big committee. This is to make sure there's balanced geographic diversity. MIT's attitude is that you don't want the best of a region, you want the best of the nation, so everyone is tossed in the same pool. (Internationals are different. They are consistently the best of the best. The reason internationals can't apply early is that if they did, too many of those early admit spots would be filled with internationals since internationals are far superior to most domestic applicants.)

    What about deferred apps? (i.e. me)

    a deferred app marked B/N has a low chance of admission in the regular pool
    the rest get tossed in with the regular apps and are read and evaluated with them


    Hope that's all clear, and hope that this'll make you feel better about the admissions process. This is a copy of the email I wrote to my family (based of notes I took during the talk) shortly after attending the 1-hr talk. I don't guarantee this to be 100% accurate, so please don't call up the admissions office demanding to know X, Y and Z because you read something here.

    I also went and got a copy of the numerical portion of my E-3 card. If anyone is interested in details, email me privately (jotong@mit.edu) or AIM me (skitles108) and I'll discuss it with you
  • lithiumbromidelithiumbromide Registered User Posts: 240 Junior Member
    i hope my appl. isn't marked B/N. I really WANT TO GO TO MIT..............
  • mit_hopefulgirlmit_hopefulgirl Registered User Posts: 380 Member
    Wow thanks for all that info! Sigh it's horrid being an international=(
  • encoreencore Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
    did the marilee just say that internationals can't apply early???!
  • pebblespebbles Registered User Posts: 2,617 Senior Member
    Thanks for the post :) It's extremely helpful to applicants and parents alike - definitely something everyone should see.

    encore - Internationals could never apply early, EA is simply not an option for them :(
  • bubbloy_twobubbloy_two Registered User Posts: 102 Junior Member
    I was wondering what you did between deferral and your acceptance?
  • mootmommootmom Registered User Posts: 4,162 Senior Member
    encore, that is correct: international applicants cannot apply EA.

    From web.mit.admissions:
    "Please note that MIT's Early Action program is available only to citizens and permanent residents of the United States."

    And definitely, thanks for the excellent post, dainerussell! Very open and helpful.
  • dainerusselldainerussell Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
    bubbloy_two: after i got deferred, I had my supervisor from work (science museum) write me a letter of recomendation. I also wrote a letter explaining why I wanted to go to MIT, why i thought it would be a good match, and reiterating why I was so interested in biology (at the time). I sent the letter and recommendation in early february.
  • JLPJLP Registered User Posts: 510 Member
    Haha, cue....

    In 5, 4, 3, 2...
  • mit_hopefulgirlmit_hopefulgirl Registered User Posts: 380 Member
    why was mit so hard on internationals last year? thought the average percentage of internationals was supposed to be 8% and not 6%?
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