MIT - does being a recruited athlete help admissions chance?

Hey everyone, I’m a junior in high school right now and my 60m, 100m, and 200m sprint times are within range to qualify for recruitment at MIT. I was wondering how much influence this will have in admissions, or if it could even be deleterious. Basically, what percentage of the list of recruited athletes for MIT actually get admitted?

Here are some of my stats if needed:
Unweighted GPA: 3.8
Weighted GPA: 4.6 (16 AP courses, all 4s or 5s)
SAT Score: 1570


  • Track (obviously)
  • Founded a nonprofit organization that promotes marine sustainability with technology; has garnered over 500 volunteers, partnered with the WWF, won a few national environmental awards, and is being featured in Forbes documentary this fall
  • Created the Entrepreneurship club at my school, which became the most popular club in 2 weeks with my promotions
  • I post on my personal blog occasionally but mostly just for fun – not a whole lot of readers but it provides some insight into my character
  • Have had a few internships in tech and business at both startup companies and with professors
  • Also like to make films a lot in my free time, 2 of which have been selected to show at the All American HS Film Festival and Boston International Kids Film Festival

Any comments are appreciated. Thanks!

MIT coaches have some influence but not anywhere close to what coaches at other schools have. I’d email coach Taylor to see if he has interest and take it from there. But I’d definitely look at other D3 schools, such as NESCAC, where coaches have more formal and predictable influence with admissions.

Here’s an interview with the coach that might interest you:

Relevant passage re: recruiting:

“ We have no picks, slots, or likely letter possibilities. We do not even have legacy options. With that said, admissions does try to help, but only when the academic criteria is met. No, a 3.5 and 1350 would have a zero chance of admission. The minimum standards I will successfully recruit are 3.9 unweighted with all A’s in math and science while taking at least AP Calc and AP Physics and the most rigorous curriculum available. Scores would have to be 770 or higher for math and 720 or higher for reading/writing with subject test scores of 780 or higher for math and 760 or higher for science. Because we have no early reads and no slots we have to recruit high volume to hope and get a reasonable number when all is said and done. Hundreds of emails, texts and at least 200 phone calls a month are what it takes to get the job done, and I am not sure that is enough. We still lose quite a few to the Ivies with their early likely letters.”

Thank you! I contacted coach Taylor earlier this week and he informed me that my transcript as it is now is good enough for recruitment based on the rigor of my curriculum. He also told me that some athletes from his list get recruited every year, but he’s not completely sure as to how they select who makes it and who doesn’t. I was just wondering if anyone else had some insight into how the admissions team makes these decisions – some even hinted that it could hurt your chances, though I’m not completely sure why.

The other schools I’ve been looking at recently for possible recruitment are UChicago and CalTech, though I expect the influence of the coaches at these schools to be equally confusing.

S’s tests scores similar to yours, gpa higher (4.0 UW). Baseball head coach willing to give full support but said that made his chances 50/50. The question is if MIT is a good fit for you. S stayed one night with with a buddy from HS who was on the track team. The kid was the physics whiz kid in HS, but I think my S saw him for just an hour or 2 before he headed out for an all nighter at the library. S attended some classes, and figured out pretty quickly that he wanted a more rounded college experience. So I’d say if you have your heart set on MIT, the athletic card is a good one. However, if you are trying to use the athletic card to get an admissions edge in a top school, there are better alternatives.

To be honest, I’d love to continue running in college. It’s just the way I’ve come to stay active and healthy. That being said, though, I’d also really like to get some more rigorous courses, and that’s why I’ve been focusing on schools like MIT and UChicago. From your story, though, would being on the list give a recruited athlete about a 50/50 shot? Or uncertain?

You need to reach out directly to the coach with your times, grades, GPA, classes taken, classes you plan to take senior year and test scores. It is not too early. Actually, just fill out the online prospect questionnaire and maybe send a resume if you have one with links to your times from meets. He will let you know how interested he is. He won’t be able to guarantee admission and MIT does not issue likely letters, so you can never know. I don’t think you will find accurate info on what percent of recruits are admitted, but your best chance is to start a conversation with the coach. As with any coach, listen very carefully to everything said. You will get straight talk about chances from the coach. My daughter had a LL elsewhere and interest from the MIT coach but there is no guarantee at MIT and in any event her chosen school was a better fit so my runner never applied to MIT. She came away with positive feelings about the MIT program and was treated very nicely. You can always check your times against how the runners at MIT ran the past couple of years (focus on times at conference finals and other big meets) which may yield more info for you to consider beyond the posted recruitment times. Good luck!

^ I agree with bksquared above. Being an athlete with coach support will boost your odds, but into the 50/50 range at MIT compared to the 95%+ range at some other schools. It’s not a disadvantage. Not sure why anyone would think that.

I’d check with the Chicago coach but I heard they had slots and likely letters now for some sports, so that might be a more predictable path if so. HMC or other Claremont schools also worth a look.

Thank you, I’ll ask a bit more from the coach for some insight! I guess that would be the best way to find out.

CalTech similar to MIT, with the AD that time telling S his chances were 50/50 with the athletic boost. Also remember CalTech is smaller and even less academically diverse than MIT.

I’d cast a fairly wide net so you have a good sense of your options. 50% chance at MIT can be a great gamble for some if the fit is right. But quite a few athletes decide that a 95% chance at Tufts or Williams, or a likely letter from an Ivy, is tough to pass up. That’s especially true if financial aid is important. So it’s worth contacting more than just a few coaches.

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Any idea about UChicago?

U Chicago, at least in my son’s sport (soccer) recruits more like a NESCAC school than like MIT.

S did not pursue U of C.

Awesome, thank you! Guess I’ll spread my bets then.

For anyone still wondering, MIT has around a 40% acceptance rate for recruited athletes, but such athletes are also held to higher academic standards to make the list in the first place.

Yes, MIT recruits. Academic qualifications depend greatly on the sport. Very Orwellian, some coaches have much more influence and for some sports, the (and standards are much more flexible.

Good luck.

Regarding UChicago, I can confirm that UChicago admissions does offer likely letters to athletic recruits as my son received one in November. However, this likely letter is issued only after admissions does a pre-read of the student’s academic profile which includes transcript and test scores. After the pre-read was completed, the head coach told my son that feedback from admissions was “very positive” and that he would get a likely letter.

To my knowledge, Johns Hopkins also offers likely letters to athletic recruits after pre-read, while NESCAC schools do not offer likely letters. And of course MIT and Caltech do not offer likely letters. Son was being recruited at all these schools and was happy choosing UChicago because of the certainty the likely letter offered as well everything about the school itself (he’s a STEM oriented guy but didn’t necessarily want to be surrounded by a study body where everybody was STEM, he liked the broad education offered by the Core curriculum, the city of Chicago is amazing although winters will be cold, and he preferred being at a major research university than a small LAC).

I think it’s great that UChicago and Hopkins offer their recruits likely letters, and both of these schools have risen to the Top 5 in the D3 Director’s Cup standings which speaks to the strength of their athletic programs broadly. MIT is also usually strong across the board in Director’s Cup, while Caltech’s student body is far too small to be able to compete athletically (just winning a few games in a given sport is a major accomplishment for Caltech; of course, the education is awesome and intense, but not an environment for everyone).

Just to be clear…did the likely letter come before or after the application was submitted?

The likely letter came after the application was submitted, in early November, and about 1.5 months before the early admissions decision date of mid-December.

However, if you are asking whether a likely letter is only offered upon submission of an application, the answer is Yes but that is the same process for any school that offers athletic recruits a likely letter including the Ivys. All Ivys only issue a likely letter to their athletic or non-athletic recruits/students AFTER a full application has been submitted which includes all essays and teacher/counselor recs. No school issues a likely letter just on basis of a pre-read as the pre-read only has transcripts and test scores and is not the full application. The coach can tell a student that it is highly probably that he/she will get a likely letter upon submitting an application, but only admissions can issue the formal likely letter because it is essentially an early and official offer of admission.

Yes, I’m aware of how LLs work at many schools…that’s why I asked, you didn’t specify that the LL came after applying, you said it came after the pre-read.

Likely letters are not formal offers of admission…that is called an early write.

We saw in the Harvard lawsuit data that only 86% of athletic recruits were ultimately admitted…so ostensibly all had positive pre-reads and fell out for some other reason post-application. We don’t know what proportion of those 14% had LLs of course, because not all athletic recruits admitted receive LLs either.