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Is getting accepted to MIT based on luck?

Sam1999Sam1999 14 replies9 postsRegistered User New Member
I have seen much more qualified candidates getting rejected, and less qualified candidates getting accepted.
How do you think about it?
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Replies to: Is getting accepted to MIT based on luck?

  • HPuck35HPuck35 1979 replies15 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Obviously, the admissions office admits who they think are the most qualified candidates. Is there some luck involved? Probably, but I doubt that it is primarily luck.

    I believe the people who get admitted are those that challenge themselves and then do well (but not always perfect!) with those challenges. After all, MIT is quite a challenge and they want to admit students that will do well with that challenge. You need to be able to present yourself well and show what you have accomplished. There is no "cook book" set of things that you can do that will guarantee admissions.

    I also imagine that there are some very qualified candidates that don't present themselves well on paper. They may be denied admission because of that poor presentation. So, it may appear that there is some randomness (i.e. luck) in the process but not really.

    It seems like a very tough job to read and sort thru all those applications and try to get a feel for who those applicants really are. I imagine the admissions office sits back, after they have sent out the admission decisions, and wonders what they just did.

    Just my 2 cents worth.
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  • PiperXPPiperXP 2843 replies13 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    According to admissions, 80% of candidates are qualified -- and it's the rest of the application that gets them in. Admissions could throw out all the candidates they admitted and still pull in a class they are as happy with using the remaining applicants.

    Unqualified people don't get in. It's not like Admissions is scraping the bottom of the barrel here.
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  • Sam1999Sam1999 14 replies9 postsRegistered User New Member
    How do you guys think about 145.5 score on Amc 10? It will guarantee acceptance?
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  • collegealum314collegealum314 6683 replies85 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    According to admissions, 80% of candidates are qualified -- and it's the rest of the application that gets them in.

    The definition of "qualified" used by admissions offices is not the same as the one used by students.
    For the admissions office, qualified means that they would do decently well academically if admitted. This could mean passing all your classes in some major (including the mandatory GIRs everyone has to take), or it could be a higher bar, like having a "B" average. So in this definition, "qualified" is a bar to be cleared, a "cut-off", though this is arrived at by eyeballing the candidate. This is why they say 80% of the relatively capable MIT applicant pool is "qualified."

    The definition most students use of "qualified" is who deserves admissions more relative to some criteria set out by the admissions office, with each factor weighted according to what the admissions office feels is appropriate. In this metric, there is some relative rank of all the applicants, though obviously there is no actual number someone can compute--again, it would be arrived by considering everything holistically, but certain things have more weight than others. Neophytes of the admissions process expect that MIT admissions "ranks" candidates according to academic merit and then uses other factors as tiebreakers (assuming no obvious concerns with the candidate's character.) This was a good generalization of how it was in the past, but I don't think it is accurate anymore. In reality, the process is highly subjective. Factors like "presents themselves well on paper" as one poster noted is highly subjective. People that are more effervescent, who seem to do whatever they want versus what they think _should_ be done (even if you are doing something which you think will lead to a larger goal that you have a genuine interest in), people who seem community-minded, and who portray themselves as exciting people will have a big advantage.That last part about self-promotion is sometimes a problem for high achievers, who may be measuring themselves against Feynman rather than your average college student. There are also other factors which have recently become a big help, such as the ability to be a recruited athlete.

    I feel it is somewhat confusing to use the first definition of qualified, and think it would be better to discontinue it. At worst, it is misleading and a diversion.

    Anyway, to answer the OP's question, nothing will guarantee acceptance. I'm not sure how to evaluate an AMC10 score. If that's also out of 150; it's obviously an extremely high score. For candidates like you, I think the tone of your essays may count a lot. Read the MIT blogs and successful college essays and look at the patterns in tone of the essays. This will help you find out how to present yourself.
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  • PiperXPPiperXP 2843 replies13 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    The definition of "qualified" used by admissions offices is not the same as the one used by students.

    Yep, see my first comment :)
    I feel it is somewhat confusing to use the first definition of qualified, and think it would be better to discontinue it.

    I disagree. If you are applying to a college, it doesn't seem like a far leap to me to assume that qualifications aren't just about your SAT scores -- there's a lot more that you fill out on the app. I expect applicants to at least attempt to learn what a college considers as qualification. I'm not sure what word substitution you think would help.
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  • collegealum314collegealum314 6683 replies85 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I disagree. If you are applying to a college, it doesn't seem like a far leap to me to assume that qualifications aren't just about your SAT scores -- there's a lot more that you fill out on the app. I expect applicants to at least attempt to learn what a college considers as qualification. I'm not sure what word substitution you think would help.

    Well, that's not what I meant exactly. There are two differences in the usage of the word "qualified." One as you said is that students think only academic qualifications are measured. The second difference is that admissions uses qualified to mean "whether or not they could survive at MIT--a binary classifications--while students (and most other people) use it to compare which people most deserve to get in. That is, if person A and B both could pass their classes at MIT but person A is a better candidate (according to whatever criteria you use), then person A is more "qualified." But when people say "Person A was more qualified than person B in my opinion but only person B was admitted," the response is often "Admissions says 80% of the students are "qualified." If you want to say that they don't fully understand the criteria of admission, go ahead, but saying 80% of the applicant pool is qualified is not very informative. It doesn't address the issue people are trying to grasp, which is who gets the golden ticket among people with reasonable credentials.
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  • PiperXPPiperXP 2843 replies13 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 2014
    But when people say "Person A was more qualified than person B in my opinion but only person B was admitted," the response is often "Admissions says 80% of the students are "qualified."

    Which is why my response was telling the OP that I'm guessing their metric was broken.
    edited July 2014
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  • UMTYMP studentUMTYMP student 935 replies14 postsRegistered User Member
    I'm not exactly sure how they came up with the 80% figure but it strikes me as implausible unless "qualified" is a very low bar. Many students at MIT struggle academically even though the acceptance rate is less than 10%. MIT considers more factors than simply academic potential but I would guess the vast majority of accepted students are in the top quarter of applicants based on academic ability. If students at very roughly the 75th percentile (in terms of academic abilities) of MIT applicants have a hard time academically how well would you expect students at the 20th percentile to do? My guess is not very well. Obviously this is a very crude analysis but my prior is that it's very unlikely 80% of MIT applicants could actually meet the academic standards of MIT.
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  • PiperXPPiperXP 2843 replies13 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^ "Qualified" means that they can handle an MIT curriculum. What makes you think the point is to get student who won't struggle at MIT?
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  • MITChrisMITChris 1750 replies46 postsCollege Rep Senior Member
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-unity/#StaSch
    Against the universalism of explanatory laws, Cartwright has argued that laws cannot be both universal and true; there exist only patchworks of laws and local cooperation. Like Dupré, Cartwright adopts a kind of scientific realism but denies that there is a universal order, whether represented by a theory of everything or a corresponding a priori metaphysical principle (Cartwright 1983). The empirical evidence, she argues, along the same lines as Wimsatt, suggests far more strongly the idea of a dappled world, best represented by a patchwork of laws, often in local cooperation (e.g., local identifications, causal interactions, joint actions and piecemeal corrections and correlations). Theories apply only where and to the extent that their interpretive models fit the phenomena studied (Cartwright 1999). But this is not their alleged universal factual scope. They only hold in special conditions like ceteris paribus.
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  • UMTYMP studentUMTYMP student 935 replies14 postsRegistered User Member
    I think the weaker students currently at MIT struggle. My guess is that the 20th percentile of applicants would not be able to handle an MIT curriculum. Some struggling is probably fine but I suspect in terms of learning the optimal difficulty is not a massive struggle.

    I must confess my lack of understanding at whatever point Chris is trying to make with the Stanford school regarding universal laws.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33160 replies359 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    If you are applying to a college, it doesn't seem like a far leap to me to assume that qualifications aren't just about your SAT scores -- there's a lot more that you fill out on the app. I expect applicants to at least attempt to learn what a college considers as qualification.
    Well, there's a huge distinguishing factor for you. Imo, most kids are determining "qualified" based on their limited hs experiences and perceptions, who's top dawg in their own small world. And chatter from same age peers IRL and on CC. And it nearly always cycles back to stats.
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  • qpsodiduwjanqpsodiduwjan 16 replies6 postsRegistered User New Member
    edited July 2014
    Hey Chris, do you think students must take AMC and at least qualify for AIME to get into MIT? Many students don't even know if it exists including me. So my question is Do students who have taken AMC/AIME and participated olympiads(USNCO, etc) have much more shots than who did not take any of them?

    I am very frustrated right now..
    edited July 2014
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  • PiperXPPiperXP 2843 replies13 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I didn't know about the any competitions like that when I was in high school (until I started applying and hearing about everyone having them...)

    It is by no means required. MIT compares the background you present with your accomplishments - if opportunities weren't available to you, that's not going to be held against you.
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  • qpsodiduwjanqpsodiduwjan 16 replies6 postsRegistered User New Member
    What kind of acoomplishments and awards did you have? Does it have to be related to Science/Math?
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  • PiperXPPiperXP 2843 replies13 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Horseback riding awards, drama awards, karate belts...

    I was given the science award and math award at a school-wide level. That was about it.
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  • qpsodiduwjanqpsodiduwjan 16 replies6 postsRegistered User New Member
    Sorry for asking too much : :P

    What was your SAT and SAT 2 Score? How many leadership positions did you have? How were your teacher's recommendations? How many volunter hours did you have? What was your class rank?

    Also... Do you think having Physical Science in 10th grade will disqualify me from getting top colleges? I have taken Bio freshmanyear, Physical Science Sophomore year, AP Physics and Honors Chemsitry during junior year. I'm very anxious. I need youuu
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