Everyone...take a deep breath

<p>I know it has been said, time and time again, but everyone stresses out a lot on CC, and maybe it wouldn't be CC if we didn't, but I think we might all be a little healthier with a little less stress.</p>

<p>I just got back from a tour of the East Coast and along the way I stopped at MIT, Harvard, Yale and Princeton for tours and information sessions. Now I know many people like me, on the MIT forum of CC may also be looking at the other schools I listed too. Now if you haven't visited these schools, you may be just as surprised as I was to find that the atmospheres of these places, admissions-wise, isn't as bad as it is made to seem here on CC. Don't get me wrong, all of these schools are very competitive and selective, but from what all the admissions officers at these schools said, they really do look for a good fit. I know we hear a lot about "fit" from this forum, but even still, every other thread is "SAT scores not good enough?" or "Didn't do Math Olympiad, can I still go to MIT" or "Haven't cured common cold, do I stand a chance???" but something that was emphasized by all the admissions officers was (on the pretense of fit) was: transcript, extracurricular activities, and personality. If you don't mind reading a lengthy post, I will discuss these further. Keep in mind, I am no expert, I am just a 17 year old kid, and these are my impressions I hope to share with you to reduce the freak-out-factor...</p>

<p>Transcript- Obviously this is important. I mean we spend a good 9 months slaving away in a classroom, learning a lot of what we know and shaping your minds, and getting those A's or B's, whatever you consider good grades. Now for top schools like these, obviously top grades are necessary to get in, this doesn't always mean 4.0 though. Colleges want to see you challenge yourself too. You know all this already though. My impression was one of relief. I have good grades, I work hard for them. I'm glad that grades play a higher role in admissions than a test that you spent one Saturday morning on. I think that it is only fair and right that it be this way as the time and value of our years spent in school, I feel at least, far outweigh one test score.</p>

<p>Extracirriculars- My family was more surprised by this than me but colleges don't care if you have been in every single club your school has to offer. They want students who are passionate about a few things, not dabblers in everything and have no real experience or passion in the club. For instance, I felt very comfortable with my ECs after all the info sessions, meaning to say I felt they were sufficient and they won't break my app (Don't know if it will make it either, but if I knew that then I would have NO stress lol). I am on the swim team, I've been in Girl Scouts forever, I do NHS, I volunteer with autistic kids, I'm in a band and I tutor. I felt good with these because I know that I am passionate with these activities, I know they fill up most of my free time. I cannot physically fit any thing more into my schedule. I know many of you are also like that, so DON'T STRESS ABOUT IT. Also, the admissions officers did NOT spend time talking about competitions or Olympiads or research done in high school, and if they did, it was maybe a sentence or two, but now I wholeheartedly believe that they are not the norm or majority at MIT or any of these schools. I did not hear the name Siemens or Intel not even once. So don't worry if you have not done these things.</p>

<p>Personality- I would say, by the sounds of it, it is usually the essays and recs that make or break the app. They want your true personality, and if it is one they feel will fit in and contribute to the University, maybe you'll get admitted. That said, I know a lot of people at my school who want to go to these schools are cut throat and are basically jerks. Don't be cut throat, know-it-alls and a jerk in your essays, or in real life! Remember, colleges want to admit fun applicants, the admissions officer at MIT even said that on the app they want to make sure you are having fun at your school or with your extracurricular if they are going to admit you. Also about the cut throat, know-it-all, and jerk business, teachers will notice if you are and maybe even your counselor. Remember these people have to write you some stellar recs of you want to go to these schools.</p>

<p>Thanks for reading. Hope you are less stressed like I am. Feedback welcome.</p>

<p>Isaac who did you MIT info session?</p>

<p>Ah, I feel horrible, I don't remember her name, but it was whoever did the July 12th 2pm session. I remember our tour guide's name was Emily and she was amazing!</p>

This is an excellent post and organization of the main points of admission, though I must say, not everyone on CC thinks in the way that "are my SAT scores good enough?!!"
The things you listed are basically the whole application. This isn't a bad thing, as all parts of the application are extremely important in their own way (if I had to label it I'd say: talent, passion, fit - respectively, for the things you named, though they're all inter-related) but I'm just saying that only a select few people (especially on the actual college board) only think in terms of grades. On CC that is. And if they do, then the countless posts around that keep saying EC's and recs/essays are extremely important will soon open their eyes a bit more ;)
Awesome post though! The EC's part is kind of scaring me though, because I've done a lot of EC's purely out of desire (I didn't even want to apply to MIT til like a couple months ago) but some things I never really went anywhere with (for example, I've taught myself guitar for 7 years now, but have never really played in front of an audience - not for a lack of talent either.) I sure hope MIT doesn't see it as "he's just doing everything on the list" - I just have a really wide range of interests.</p>

<p>I agree, great post. Its great that you know all of this now before you apply. I know it is an extremely stressful time, but do your best to not let it get to you, be yourself, and let your application speak for you.</p>

<p>@jimmy797....I didn't mean not to do a bunch of ecs. Just don't do a bunch just for the sake of having a ton to write down. Don't worry man.</p>

<p>@MITChris - son and I will be at the 2pm tour tomorrow (Fri). Say hi if you're around.</p>

<p>I went on one this past Monday. I forget the guy's name as well. We had a senior as our group guide who just graduated as a bio major/psych minor. She was really nice and did a great job.</p>

<p>@Chardo - </p>

<p>am actually heading down to DC, stuck in Logan during a 4 hour delay right now. At least Google gives Logan free wifi. Have a good time on campus though! </p>

<p>@tmanneopen - </p>

<p>If you went Monday morning, 'that guy' was me ;)</p>

<p>Noooooooooooo! I went to the 2PM one. I can't believe I missed a chance to see you! So sad D:. Who was the guy who did the afternoon one?</p>

<p>You haven't invented a way to hack free wifi wherever you are? Come on, Chris. Use that MIT education.</p>

<p>Enjoy DC. Say hi to Barack.</p>

<p>^Who's Barack? </p>

<p>Just joshing with you. lol</p>

<p>haha thanks for this! great summary of everything, it's nice to know that you picked up on the not-as-cutthroat-as-I-expected feeling too (I was a little worried that maybe it was just me or just the admissions officer who did my information session) and that Harvard/Yale (I didn't visit them) also have a similar mindset regarding the admissions process as MIT and Princeton :)</p>

<p>and @MITChris, if you ever see this, I attended one of your MIT information sessions, and it was honestly the best out of all the ones I attended and made me want to go to MIT even more than I did before and now I'm probably going to apply early. So thank you so much for being the great and hilarious person that you are! :)</p>

<p>^Pokemon master = win.</p>

<p>^ Flamethrower ftw! (:</p>

<p>thanks charizarrd!</p>

<p>We were very impressed with our tour last Friday. Son liked MIT much better than that other school nearby. You know the one.</p>