<p>Hey this message is directed for the OP --</p>
<p>Stanford and MIT were my two first choices. I applied to MIT early and was admitted. I applied to Stanford regular and was admitted. However, I have no doubt in my mind that MIT is the place for me. I'm not going to state that it HAS to be the place for you too, but let me tell you my point of view, and maybe you will be able to relate to it.</p>
Alright, so I'm really into research. I had a really positive experience locally at a professor's lab and I've decided that research is definitely for me. I am going to major in Course 7, which in non-MIT terms, is basically the same thing as majoring in bio. When I was at CPW, I found out that a lot of freshmen serious in studying biology can get a UROP within their first year if they push, and can definitely get a UROP for the summer after freshmen year easy. This was a big priority for me.
At Stanford, you can't even declare your major until mid-sophomore year, and of course, you can't get a research project in the department until you have declared that you are going to be a student majoring in that department. Furthermore, at Stanford, graduate students have the priority over undergrads in research. Undergrads I met at Stanford told me that there is basically a 0-chance getting a research project until at least your junior year, even if you have the credential of RSI or the like. This is a big detriment for me. I got the feeling that at Stanford, student research is more the exception, and that it's not truly genuine to state that anyone can get a research project.</p>
Alright, so you can't really know about it until you visit, but the campus "vibe" of MIT is very special. It transcends simple "quirkiness." At MIT, you really feel that you and your peers are a team. People work together to solve their problem sets, and they really are passionate about helping each other achieve their life goals. I was always a geek in high school and was proud of it. If that's the way you felt in highschool, then there's no doubt this is the place for you.
No doubt that Stanford also has awesome students. But you will find that prepiness and arrogance will be much more common there. Stanford students would be great if I wanted to have a conversation about Nietzsche versus Kant. But MIT students will be better if I want to tell a joke about a muon. AND, I'm sure they could also entertain a Nietzsche discussion too. You get the point!</p>
If you are looking at grad school, MIT will feed you anywhere you want to go. Yes, other schools DO know how hard it is. And your research experience will matter more than your marks. THe only caveat would be med-school. However, you may want to know that around 10ish percent of MIT is pre-med and 85%ish get into their first-choice med-school and 95% get into a med-school.</p>
<p>Anyhow, hope some of this info helps. I would love to be one of your classmates next year!</p>