MIT - Good fit for S24? Would app be a waste of time?

S24 is looking for a large and urban school. We’re trying to think about if it is worth the time to tackle the MIT application. Would a kid like this fit in? Would he have the regular 4% admission chance or not even close (in which case not worth applying).


He’s not super tech-y

He has not participated in any sort of STEM extracurriculars

Thus, he obviously has not won any awards in STEM

Why we’re considering:

He loves math and has always had an easy time with the subject

Having so much “fun” in Calc BC and Physics Mechanics

Thinks it would be enjoyable to be around people who are passionate about STEM

Has no set idea of major but maybe econ? poli sci? math? some combination?

Loves Boston

$$ Major reason parents are considering $$ - We need a lot of money and NPC is estimating VERY generous aid

4.0 / 4.6

36 ACT one sitting

8 APs (4s and 5s)

12 Concurrent enrollment classes at local community college

Very involved at school (sports, music, theater, clubs) but the only leadership is in sports

Loves math but really loves every subject - history, physics, reading, philosophy, etc.

We have lots of other ideas for reaches, targets, safeties, so not looking for more suggestions on that front. Just hoping someone with experience at/with MIT could chime in. Thanks!

MIT is not a large school. In fact, by most definitions, with less than 5000 undergrads, it’s a small school.


MIT has no restrictions on their EA policy. If he is willing to work through the app - why not?


Thanks for clarifying the undergrad enrollment. We were looking at the 11,858 number on the website which includes grad students as well. I think by “large” he means he doesn’t want to know everyone he sees as he walks around and wants much larger than high school. Are grad and undergrad students in separate areas? Would he only be amongst 5000 people?

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Yeah that’s kind of our thinking. But he’s just working on so many scholarship apps on top of regular apps that we were also thinking this might not make sense if is so far below their standard. We see a lot of applicants have won many many STEM awards and he has not been involved in those activities.

My sense, and I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, is that if he is from a somewhat underrepresented place, or has some other underrepresented hook, he could have a chance with those stats if he also has recommendations from his teachers that say, he is one of the smartest/most technically creative/whatever student they have had.

But, if he is from an over represented place, probably not. Now, if he’s willing to put the effort in on the application, it might happen for him! My white, upper middle-class son from Massachusetts, who is the child of two MIT graduates, is not going to apply because his stats are similar to your sons and we don’t think he has much of a chance. (it also probably is not a great fit for him, but even if it was, I think we probably would not encourage him to spend the time on the application, and instead would encourage him to focus on places he had a better chance)


If he wants to apply then give it a shot. Then he won’t have to wonder “what if?”


All of the highly rejective schools are long shots for even the most qualified candidates. If he doesn’t get in it will be be cause they all get far too many fully qualified students applying than they can accommodate.

If math/physics is his thing, and he’s willing to throw out a couple of more long shot apps, I’d add Harvard and Princeton.

All that said, finding a safety or two where admission and affordability are both guaranteed will be paramount in his quest.


Thanks for your reply. Yes, I should have mentioned he is not underrepresented in terms of race. Class… maybe.

Or Williams if he is willing to consider the location. It would be a mistake to not apply at all IMO because their Math department is excellent, with LAC opportunity for exploration, fantastic FA and zero work (no supplements).

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Yes, he has a few safeties and is already into (and likes) Pitt. The issue is even with their largest merit scholarship (unless he gets the Chancellors Scholarship) it will still be a major stretch for us. All of the highly rejective schools are much more affordable for our income bracket. But of course they are all highly rejective so his chances are miniscule. He is also applying for every full scholarship we can find at large and urban schools.


My son had no STEM awards and other than some not-very-intensive math club activities at his school, had no STEM related EC’s. He loved, lived, breathed math, and loved virtually every minute of his time at MIT.

You’ll never know unless you apply. So I’d encourage him to first look at the core requirements (everyone takes the same core- poli sci majors, engineers, econ, urban planning majors) and then take a look at the rest of the requirements (distribution requirements in the humanities, writing, etc. although there are lots of choices here so students don’t all take the same courses) and if these excite him- he should apply. If his reaction is “OMG, I’d hate taking bio and why do I have to learn how to write, I already know how to write” then probably not.


Apply and see…and good luck to him!


This sounds like something that students at MIT might say!

MIT is very good for economics, and one of the top universities in the world for mathematics.

MIT is relatively small with about 5,000 undergraduate students. However it does not feel small. One issue is that there is so much research being done in the area. MIT might be called a multifaceted research facility with a university on the side.

MIT is a lot of work. Students there work hard. IMHO the desire to work hard should come from the student themself. If this fits your son, then I think that it is worth an application. As others have suggested, Harvard, Princeton, and Williams might also be worth applications.

By the way, I did not win any STEM awards in high school either. The closest I came was competing in sailing, chess, and a bit in skiing. At least two of these are not usually thought of as academic in nature. I did however get my bachelor’s degree at MIT (in mathematics). You never know.


My daughter has similar stats but attends a stem boarding school. No big math awards or even involvement. But she’s going to throw her best application out there. What are the big Uni full rides you are going after?

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You can apply but what would he major in?

Fit depends - you need to go visit and see. It’s likely got a strong personality.

Or might he like a CMU, Brown, Rice, Johns Hopkins, or Emory instead? Or a large school like UT Austin or UMD, both strong in math.

All these schools will have different personalities - so I don’t think you say - it’s MIT and that’s why.

I would worry about the 12 classes at the community college - would they count?

There are many schools that his #s would bring huge aid - there’s a list of meets need schools and then you have schools like Arizona that tuition would be $9K or so so mid 20s all in (not sure your budget) or Alabama where he’s be Presidential elite and he’d pay no tuition for four years, get his first year of housing free, $2K one time for research and another $1500 a year each year. Granted, urban it’s not - more suburban - but a guaranteed - maybe $40-45K over four years.

So a lot depends on budget and I understand an Alabama or Arizona aren’t MIT - but they get these kids with these #s because they buy them in. So that’s another consideration. I’d also wonder about he high end schools - would your classes count? At the low end schools, you might walk in with a lot of credits.

Is your income $65K-ish or lower? If so, you can look at Questbridge.

Here’s all the schools that meet need - you can run some NPCs. You might also look at schools with abundant scholarships - like SMU’s Presidential. I’d say W&L’s Johnson but it’s neither large nor urban - but 10% of the class gets the full ride.

While I would want to ensure the fit is right, it certainly can’t hurt to apply - but i’d also find those likely and assured admittances that will pay well too.

Here’s Every College That Offers 100% Financial Aid (

Are his scholarship apps for private scholarships - because they are very hard to get and a time suck - especially the national ones. Someone will win - but it’s very hard. There can be more luck with small local ones or your employers (I got $3K for my two kids - $2K for one and $1K for the other).

The money is out there but it comes from the schools - some are auto merit (a lot in fact), and then some have competitive ones - where you are competing against others at that school.

Those, in my opinion, are a much better use of your time than a private scholarship.

Good luck.

Two schools that meet full need that are more accessible and strong in what your S is looking for include Lehigh and U Rochester. Run their NPCs to see if they would be affordable. Good luck.


MIT loves test and 36 is perfect. Would want to better understand the 4.0/4.6. Given the many AP’s, I believe the transcript will not be at the proper level. For that reason, the odds are extremely low.

Can you expand on what you mean by this? How many APs are needed to be competitive for MIT? This student has 8 APs and 12 concurrent enrollment classes.