This whole "Does getting into RSI guarantees an admission to MIT" is driving me insane. It's been discussed ad nauseaum.
Matt already said, "Being admitted to one of these programs does not mean you will necessarily be admitted to MIT." Yet people keep bringing it up in the form of "Did MIT reject any RSI scholar applicants this year? People always tell me that RSI is the ticket of getting into MIT"
Honestly, RSI doesn't get you into MIT. RSI doesn't guarantee admission ANYWHERE. If anything, the rickoids and their stellar accomplishments, as well as their out of this world personality, match them perfectly with MIT's mission and culture. It's like saying so does winning a gold medal at IMO gets you into MIT? The accomplishment didn't get the person in, it's the person that accomplished the feat who got himself in.
this is like arguing what came first the chicken or the egg. getting into RSI wont get you guarateed acceptance but it will get you in a group with an acceptance rate that is around the 90's, compare that with the 14 % for regular admits. A person just cant put in his app " I couldve of won gold in IMO" and have an adcom believe him. These types of things you have to do to prove you could of.
saying that RSI causes MIT acceptance is like saying that gray hair causes heart disease. Both gray hair and heart disease are associated with being old. Both RSI and MIT acceptance are associated with being outstanding in math and science.
Also, RSI is an amazing research program that is an amazing experience that puts you a leg up in admissions (for being a research program). Doing research is good. Doing research at RSI is even better.
Hard/nearly impossible to arrange to do reasearch at MIT or Caltech or most research universities(grad/ug are a priority) outside of RSI. I don't think anyone would disagree with doing research with a professor that is well known in his field is not better than a professor is who is relatively unknown.
i'm not sure that it's all that much worse, tho. having had the "omg i can't find a place to do research nearby, will MIT reject me?" discussion, i'd like to point out, again, that plenty of people get into MIT without having that specific sort of accomplishment, well-known professor or otherwise. it helps, yes, but it's not a make-or-break deal.
RSI is a great program. But there isn't anything magical about it. There are people at RSI (perhaps a large majority) who have great research experiences. But I also know there are at least a few people who went to RSI who had pretty disappointing research experiences. They may have worked on a project that didn't go anywhere, or their assigned mentor may have been unavailable most of the time they were there. Being left to your own devices, floundering with an inappropriate project, or getting pawned off on an uninterested grad student at MIT/Caltech is not necessarily better than what you could have done at home.
" doing research with a professor that is well known in his field is (not) better than a professor is who is relatively unknown." RSI doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be doing research with a prof, well known or otherwise.