Chance me into getting into MIT—background but not enough stats? [linguistics and languages, 3.71, 1380, MD resident, story]

There are SO many colleges where you could thrive- please don’t obsess about one single institution! You need to take the long view here.

So sure, take your shot.

Then focus on identifying 5 or 6 other colleges where you can soar, where your resilience AND intelligence will be cultivated and recognized, and where you will be challenged every day. Some of these will be much easier- statistically- to get accepted to than MIT, and that’s ok. You will find smart, tenacious, resilient students everywhere.


Resilience is very important in life. I know multiple people who have been very successful, and none of them took the easiest path to become successful. Resilience is something that we all need. You might have needed a bit more than most of us, but it sounds like you have it!

I like your very positive attitude and your ability to rise up out of unfortunate circumstances and improve your situation in life. I am betting that this also provides a positive influence for many people who share in your life.

And I strongly agree with this also.

Definitely think about what you want in a university and look for a school that will be a good fit for you. Best wishes.


Thank you so much! Negativity I have found never really gets anyone anywhere so I just try and stay positive!!

To be honest I am quite reassured by the State of Maryland financial aid for foster care kids! I was honestly a bit worried about finances (I mean not too worried but still college these days is really expensive especially if you don’t have 18 years of savings haha! But in all honesty I know I’ll be happy just attending even community college!!! I think I’ll do well wherever, I know for sure I’ll definitely take charge of the opportunities offered to me, wherever I go! :smiley:


Thank you all for your help!!! I really do appreciate taking the time to help me here! I especially wanted to start a thread to at least get an unbiased opinion on how an AO would maybe see my application—as opposed to my mom, dad, and people who know me preemptively. I know you all may or may not be college AO’s (I don’t know nor care too much) still thank you for sharing your perspectives, ideas, and opinions!!!


Best of luck to you! With an interest in linguistics why is MIT at the top of your list? It might help others direct you if we understand what draws you to them. They have a pretty robust gen ed requirements in science/math so want to make sure I understand the appeal for a non-STEM student.

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Apply EA. UMD accepts a large number of their in incoming class in the early round.


MIT’s linguistics department is actually very well known and highly esteemed. It’s Noam Chomsky’s department (although I don’t think he teaches anymore).


Large number as in 93-95% each year. No, that’s neither a typo nor exaggeration. That’s just how they roll.


At first I was super into languages and language acquisition which eventually led me to bits and pieces of connect grammar → linguistics! I was completely thrilled when I found out there is a huge community of people who just loved how language shaped our view and perspective of the world influencing culture, identity, and our lives.

Long story short I read a lot of research papers on various aspects and came across “Syntax in the Treetops” by Miyagawa Shigeru, realized he worked on a lot of concepts I found interest in and eventually the link clicked he and Chomsky both had connections with MIT. I read more about the school and planned to do a visit when we visit family over at Boston just for giggles.

Then during AP music theory exam I met a women who’s son went there and after the exam we had time to discuss what she thought the school culture was like, her son sold me when he talked about all the honestly (good) bazaar resources and traditions where there.

Fast forward this March I visit the campus and waddled my way into their department and talking with Adam Albright and nerded on words, they also had a pile of free books to take and I got some interesting ones surround DP syntax and semantics in the Japanese language, authored by a professor at Nansen University.

I think what interested me was the culture at the institution, the kind of students that would be attending, collaborative nature, and the kind of weirdness that made me feel like I could spend the next four years there. Plus, I don’t know how many schools have a dorm dedicated to me having my cat so that was a plus too! :joy:


I’ve heard he does occasional lectures and still visits though! All the professors I’ve met so far at MIT are quite nice and have done amazing research in their field of focus!

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See if you can get an app fee waiver.


Did you apply for QB College Prep Scholars?


I find that to be a very compelling narrative and I suggest including some of it in one of your essays if you can.


I, as well as many of my peers, have noted that. I just realized under their early action policy I can submit EA to Maryland, I miss read originally and thought I couldn’t; thank you for making me recheck the EA page on QuesBridge’s website kind stranger!!


I didn’t get to, I found out about the program too late past the due date :frowning: still glad I know about QuestBridge for this August and not near early September!!

You’re African-born, so not really culturally a US African-American, unless you have been here a long time. Some schools will give you a URM bump, while others will not (or cannot) give preference based on race.

But regardless of whether race plays a role in your profile. you have had to overcome obstacles. We all do at sone point, but yours appears to have been fairly recent, right during high school, and plausibly led to your GPA being less than what it would have been under clearer skies.

You will want to get that SAT up for the most selective schools, or go TO – but if you go TO, the natural assumption is that your scores sucked, so… if i were in your shoes, i’d put in the study to get it up. you want to be 1500ish+ for the schools admitting <10%, to have a shot.

I think that two schools stick out like a golden thumb, a rainbow, for you in particular… and others beat me to it, so i guess i’m just confirming:

  1. U of Maryland. This is a very good school – your state flagship – and you’re probably okay to get in with your stats as they sit. They’re just fine in linguistics, and if you change your mind, there are tons of other academic avenues you could detour onto. That is one of the attractive things about big public schools. Fear the turtle.

2 Middlebury College. This is a languages gem, and they can admit based on race and other demographic factors currently. As a private school, they could admit based on any criteria they wanted to, within reason. Still – their middle-half SAT range for admitted students is like 1440-1500, and most admits’ GPA is above 3.8. You are lacking in both. With the time you have left in hs, get that gpa up as much as you can, try to max out your SAT (or try the ACT – do a free practice test to see if it fits you better), and throw your best app at middlebury. Caveat emptor: it’s a small school with cold winters in the bucolic middle of nowhere in new england. But man, you’ll have small class sizes, plenty of time with profs, resources galore at your beck and call, and a school dedicated to its undergrads. I don’t think a kid interested in linguistics/languages can do better than Midd, provided you own a warm coat and hat and can handle a beautiful rural environment. Snowball fights and ski wax.

If you qualify for Questbridge, go ahead and do it. Try for Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, UPenn, wherever. And you can do that anyway… throw apps at the dart board and hope that one hits the bullseye. You won’t be the first. lol

But you should, regardless of any big-reach schools you want to try for, consider Maryland and Middlebury. The former is your state flag, and the latter is a top-10 LAC that happens to be maybe – maybe – our best college for a lover of languages.


I strongly agree with taking your shot at any school you have interest in. But my impression of MIT is that they are most interested in finding students who can handle the highest levels of rigor. They are interested in diversity and students overcoming difficulties probably only because those are things that can mask talent, but may weight things already achieved in high school a bit higher. I just think they would be less susceptible to valuing your overcoming adversity than many other schools. Also they along with CalTech will be the schools that care the most about your Calculus grade. Not everyone has the 1610 SATs and 5.1 GPAs, and those may not be terribly important for what you ultimately achieve in life. I am just encouraging you, like other posters, to consider a wider range of schools that may meet your goals. As said above, Harvard might be an easier admit for this purpose.

MIT may have strong linguistics from a formal point of view, but they also have relatively limited language offerings. If you’re already studying Chinese and Japanese, would MIT have enough depth for you? If your talent really is for learning many languages quickly, and that sounds like fun for you, you may consider one the language flagship schools.

This is a government initiative to ensure a supply of people who know less popular languages for national security and strategic purposes.

“The Language Flagship currently sponsors 31 programs at 21 universities in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, and Turkish.”

For example, Indiana University is the Turkish Flagship for the US, and offers the most in-depth programs in Turkish and related Turkic languages like Kazakh, etc., along with more of the languages of Central Asia than you’ll find anywhere else in the country, even Harvard. These programs are a special opportunity for the right person, and are definitely less of a reach from an admissions point of view.

Something to consider.


I believe OP is interested in linguistics, not languages.


MIT is one of the few schools that is NOT test optional. So yes, get that SAT score up.

Good luck to you on your journey. You have an amazing story and a lot of people here are rooting for you!


Our school has sent URMs to MIT with lower scores, particularlyin math. Many of the black students at Ivy campuses are recent Nigerian immigrants. This young man clearly has the ability to succeed anywhere.

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