My "How did I transfer in?" Thread

<p>Hey guys! I recently got admitted into MIT as an International Transfer. I have gotten MANY PMs requesting more information for inspiring transfers and so I am writing this thread in the hopes of helping a brotha out. </p>

<p>I was asked what my profile looked like. I will address that later because first, I want to give a few bits of advice:</p>

<ol>
<li><p>Forget CC and be who you are.
Sounds super ambiguous I know. But really: please go ahead and delve into your current university, explore all your options, do what you enjoy, thrive in it, be happy, enjoy life. Only then can you be mature enough to understand that MIT- as AMAZING as it is- it’s just a school, and that if you get rejected- life keeps on going. This way, you won’t be terrified to send in your application. My application was waaay different simply because I wasn’t afraid to be who I am. Also, if you spend your time being happy doing what you love, your essays will have a lot more substance than if you just spend your time looking at accepted profiles in CC. </p></li>
<li><p>Please forget CC and be who you are.
Should you apply? Yes. How are your chances? Very small. “Your GPA/scores/ECs are terrible.” Oh well. Don’t listen. Only you know yourself and your situation. Apply. </p></li>
</ol>

<p>Now please don’t take me wrong: CC, in general, has been TREMENDOUS help to me. But that’s only the information part. The other- the speculation- does more harm than good. Some people in CC are very nice and encouraging. Some people aren’t. Don’t take it to heart. But yeah- you should be outside now doing something amazing. So when you finish reading this, please go outside and do something amazing. </p>

<p>On to my profile:</p>

<p>• International Transfer Applicant
• Female (doesn’t matter cause I am International)
• Hispanic (doesn’t matter cause I’m international)
• Living in: South Florida
• GPA: 3.76
• Major: Mathematics
• SAT: 2270 (R 700 / M 770/ W 800)
• SAT IIs: Math 2 720 / Chem 640 (EPIC FAIL)</p>

<p>There I am in numbers. See how cold it sounds? You get nothing of who I am. Nothing. </p>

<p>Which is why your essays should REALLY reflect who you are. </p>

<p>Here are the ECs:</p>

<p>ECs (in order for importance like they asked)</p>

<ol>
<li> Time for myself. Usually read poetry or just lay down and think about stuff. </li>
<li> Time with my family. </li>
<li> Stargaze. HUGE for me.</li>
<li> Math. I keep a math journal in which I explore all these notions. Also huge.</li>
<li> Spinal Cord Injury Research. When I was 17, I started my own independent study on ALS. Ended up with this theory. Then I joined a research team working on spinal cord injury and regeneration in zebrafish; was one of a total of 4 undergrads. In charge of several projects within the team: the breeding, the surgeries, and the design and keeping of the website. </li>
<li> Study groups for math and physics. </li>
<li> Math & Astronomy Club. Co-funded and led as Vice President.</li>
<li> Haiti Earthquake Relief. Started this very successful food/cloth/medical supplies drive. </li>
<li> Haiti Solar Energy. Design and build solar-powered devices to send to rural areas around the world. Currently working with Haiti. We are transforming this whole monastery/church/school to solar-power providing them with electricity for the first time. (my current university is catholic)</li>
<li>Build make stuff. I build rockets. And solar-powered cars. And robots. And I paint. On canvases. And walls. </li>
<li>Workout group. Started workout group in university. 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, buddy system. </li>
<li>Reading.<br></li>
<li>Bake. I bake at least once a week. Then I give it to my fam or take it to friends.</li>
</ol>

<p>My Recommendations:</p>

<ul>
<li> 3 required</li>
<li> Sent 4 instead</li>
<li> Saw only 2.</li>
</ul>

<p>Recommendation I saw #1: From high school junior year chemistry teacher. She adores me and we’re really good friends. Also, she’s currently working in my current university and so she’s seen me “bloom” through the ages. Glowing. </p>

<p>Recommendation I saw #2: From my freshman chemistry professor. AMAZING. Like out-of-this-world. My chemistry professor, who is an absolute genius but who also went insane a long time ago compared me to 3 Nobel Laureates: Woodward, Pople, and Hoffman. Why? Because he’s clearly insane.</p>

<p>Essays: </p>

<ul>
<li> MIT asked for 2, I sent 4. </li>
</ul>

<p>Here’s a description of each:</p>

<ol>
<li> “Why MIT?” Essay. </li>
</ol>

<p>I made a cartoon flip-book instead of an essay. I POURED my heart and told (and showed!) why I love MIT so much and why I wanted, so badly to be there. My last lines were this:</p>

<p><<< I really do hope you fall for me just like I fell for you. I really do hope you do, ‘cause I, MIT, am in love with you.>>></p>

<p>And then next to it, I drew a heart with the words: “Me + MIT” in it. </p>

<ol>
<li> “Most Interesting Experience” Essay</li>
</ol>

<p>This was an actual essay. About how I grew up loving science and how I began my freshman year of high school as a prospective drop-out due to my anger at my immigration situation which wouldn’t let me go to college. Then how I changed because I couldn’t escape from my passion for learning and graduated with top honors and how when my worst fears were realized- I couldn’t go to college- I would go to a bookstore everyday and read there for free, thereby teaching myself a lot of physics. And then I came home at night and went to youtube to watch MIT’s OCW on chemistry and biology and how I taught myself that as well. And then I bought all these math books and taught myself all this math. And then by the end of the summer, a local private university heard me, helped me out by breaking a thousand schools rules and letting me register without paying, and then how thanks to everything I taught myself I became the first freshman in my school’s history to take junior-level mathematics and chemistry her first year. The main theme- if it wasn’t clear by now as I am a terrible writer- was that living through my worst fears had came me stronger. My last lines: “I know now that nothing will ever stop me, because life is tough, but I am tougher. "</p>

<ol>
<li><p>Extra Essay. On “changing the world.” It was about how my high school experience as class president for 2 years had imprinted in me a desire to help our planet. How after I graduated I went on to start this fundraiser for Haiti and how then I became involved in an engineering effort to use solar-power to provide electricity to remote places in the world. </p></li>
<li><p>Extra Essay on my love for mathematics. Here’s an excerpt:</p></li>
</ol>

<p><<< The universe has many laws but those are usually invisible to the human eye and mathematics is the only way in which we can perceive the existence of these laws. Thus, mathematics is beautiful- it is uncorrupted, distilled truth, beautiful in its own perfection…it is elegantly perfect: it is philosophy with absolute truth.>>></p>

<p>There. I think that’s my whole application. As you guys probably already noticed, I’m not such a good writer. I apologize if this post is huge. I promise it’s not egotistical: I did get a lot of PMs about my profile and, remembering how I was a year ago, trying to get as much information from accepted transfers as possible (I got none), well, here I am. </p>

<p>A few things to remember:</p>

<p>MIT is an awesome place. It is so awesome, that sometimes, they don’t care about “petty” things. Petty things include 50+/- points in the SAT, or 0.1 or 0.2 points of your GPA. </p>

<p>Also you are the only one who knows your true profile, so don’t let anyone discourage you. Yes, I had a 3.76 GPA, but in the following courseload my first semester:</p>

<p>(17 credits)</p>

<p>Calc 3 (A-)
Calc Physics (B+)
Lab (A)
Chem (A)
Lab (A)
Bio (A)
Lab (A)</p>

<p>Also, in the classes that I did NOT get an A in (Calc 3 and Calc Physics) I was the highest grade. Consistently. The whole semester. They were just tough classes. Also, my Spring semester looked like this:</p>

<p>(20 credits)</p>

<p>Complex Variables
Numerical Analysis
Undergraduate Research (on Spinal Cord Injury)
Physical Chemistry
Calc Physics 2
Lab
Chem 2
Lab</p>

<p>Only my school has a flat-rate up to your 17 credit and then you have to pay, and since its private, I couldn’t afford to pay more so my physical chemistry class I just sat on. It was the same professor of my general chem class and I was the first student in his 17 years of teaching at the University that took p. chem as a freshman and he made sure to include that in his recommendation. </p>

<p>And that’s me. </p>

<p>Again, sorry for the Rapunzel-locks length of this. </p>

<p>Here are the final words (I promise I’ll be done soon):</p>

<p>See my profile? For my “Why MIT? Essay” I sent in a cartoon flipbook. For my summer activities, I told them about how I loved to paint- both on canvases and walls- and how I painted my room to look like an ice cream parlor. I told them how I loved to bake brownies for my friends and about how much I love my cat. I was myself. I tried to make the application reflect me as much as possible. Was it unconventional? Sure. I can’t think of many other colleges that would have accepted such (in hoity-toity voice) “lack of professionalism and seriousness.” I was rejected from Dartmouth and Amherst. I think I belonged at MIT and that’s why they took me in and now my dream’s come true. </p>

<p>So don’t be afraid to be yourself. An A and an A- are not very different if the class is tough. Don’t sweat it. Go out and be happy. Do what you love. Build so much passion that when the admission officers see your profile on the table, they have to wipe away the tears of laughter or emotion. </p>

<p>Good luck! =)</p>

<p>Great POST!!! you truly deserve it!!!</p>

<p>My 300th post goes to u :P </p>

<p>Great POST Awsum!!</p>

<br>


<br>

<p>I like this part much.
Honestly, that was disappointing that I didn't even become waitlisted.
I think much of it is because my native country is such a freaking place (I'm an international student now) and eventually I am begging an admission. </p>

<p>My EC told me I had an incredible chance for freshman....
well, I spend a few years struggling for success and today it seems that did me some corruption. Truly, I had to sweat a bit rather than being extremely happy. May be I will apply again for next year.</p>

<p>Risk taking vs Securing my situation > It's turning from the former toward the latter</p>

<p>Okay Maybe I should post some of my stats as well so they can get yet another viewpoint from someone who got in.</p>

<p>SAT 2020
SAT II Math lvl 2 (710) Chem (800)
GPA: 4.0
I sent 3 recommendations as asked. I wrote two essays as requested.
I had service and several meaningful activities like Chem. tutoring.</p>

<p>Like Met said the essays are extremely important. Just be honest and let them get to know you. Be confident in your writing and use the section that allows you to write anything wisely.</p>

<p>I think these threads that show that MIT doesn't want cookie cutter CC profiles should be sticked. </p>

<p>You are an inspiration :D I wish that somebody told me this when I entered highschool. I would've worried less about my APs and grades and did more things that I loved...</p>

<br>


<br>

<p>Yep, always do what you love. Get wild. I'm not in MIT anyway, but as 23 year-old guy I feel really good that I screwed my high school and did what I loved. There's more in life than grades and even MIT (you need chance to get in also, 10000 students is not huge). Some time in life you come to a point which you feel how stupid it was to worry so much about mastering school subjects, do it in favour of yours, don't live for the favour of transcript. </p>

<p>Technically, don't compress your years of HS and college into a list of alphabetic numbers.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Some time in life you come to a point which you feel how stupid it was to worry so much about mastering school subjects, do it in favour of yours, don't live for the favour of transcript.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Kids, if you want to have a scientific career, spending time mastering your school subjects is time well-spent. In the end, it doesn't matter why you do it, so long as you have that solid foundation for the next level.</p>

<p>My feeling: if you have passion for math and science, you should want to master those subjects. And it is important if you want to have a future career in science. If you have passion but there are times when you feel you don't want to do the work, then push yourself to do it. It doesn't always have to be fun.</p>

<p>If you don't have passion for math and science, you might as well do a good job with your high school subjects because it is the last time you are going to see it. And I believe that you gain something in terms of critical thinking even if you don't go into science.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Some time in life you come to a point which you feel how stupid it was to worry so much about mastering school subjects, do it in favour of yours, don't live for the favour of transcript.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Let me comment on this from a different angle, making the same point as collegealum...</p>

<p>I think people have a very bad tendency to do a ton of work, be disciplined for years, grow up and become older, try out new things, have fun at them, and forget what got them where they are. Sometimes, they may meet people who did much less work than they did in high school, and ended up working in college and becoming very accomplished, and slip down the slope thinking "nothing matters, do whatever you like!" Most people who accomplish something intellectually impressive learned to be disciplined with tons of effort. There's a reason it takes so many years to do it - many of your years are learning how to think about the important things in the right way, and figuring out why things which are called "important" are called that. </p>

<p>If someone wants to do something in math or science as a career, the best way is to do a lot of it with dedication in preparation. You don't have to be conventional, but if unconventional, you still have to get the right skills down somehow or the other.</p>

<p>
[quote]
It doesn't always have to be fun.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>My opinion is when you know what stuff is for, at least vaguely, it becomes inspiring to do it properly. Some people master the subjects by sitting down and just focusing on being good students, nay the best students they could be. Others instead find out why they're learning what they are, and use that as motivation. I was more of the former in high school, and became more of the latter over time.</p>

<p>
[quote]
My feeling: if you have passion for math and science, you should want to master those subjects. And it is important if you want to have a future career in science. If you have passion but there are times when you feel you don't want to do the work, then push yourself to do it. It doesn't always have to be fun.

[/quote]

I do agree with the point of your post, collegealum -- life doesn't get easier after high school for scientists and engineers, and my feeling is that the sooner one learns to dig one's heels in and get work done, the better.</p>

<p>But I think it does matter why people do it, especially in high school. I don't think it's worth it to work exceedingly hard in high school for the sole purpose of getting into a top college -- I think it's only worth it to work exceedingly hard in high school because you want to, and because you want to be prepared for future high-level work. </p>

<p>In the end, I think students should be satisfied with what they did in high school, whether or not they got into MIT. I don't think that means they should accept mediocrity in their high school records, just that obsessing over half a point in a marking period is significantly missing the point.</p>

<p>why not master those subjects first, then do what you enjoy?</p>

<p>
[quote]
I think it's only worth it to work exceedingly hard in high school because you want to, and because you want to be prepared for future high-level work.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>
[quote]
In the end, it doesn't matter why you do it

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Hmm, so my take is that what you use to motivate yourself can be almost anything. It could just be to achieve high results in school [setting a high bar], developing a good transcript for college, etc - eventually the work must get done. </p>

<p>However, it is important to keep the future in sight - for instance, the way college requires you to think is different, and tough for many to get accustomed to. This is very evident in a math or physics class. Having a view towards the higher level stuff is crucial to make your preparation efforts smart, not just existent. </p>

<p>From personal experience, I always had an element of fear in high school that the level of thinking required in college math and science would overwhelm me, and tried to smell out ways to make sure that didn't happen, and this turned out to take plenty of extra effort.</p>

<p>


</p>

<p>I think what ArminA means is that it's you shouldn't "master" anything for your transcript but instead, you should do it because you genuinely love it. </p>

<p>


</p>

<p>Couldn't have said it better. =)</p>

<p>Yeah, that's I think the dichotomy that I don't find realistic - learning for the transcript vs. learning because you love it truly.</p>

<p>Very honestly, I think until you learn baseline things, you don't even get to the good stuff where you get to figure out the subtleties of what you love. Starting to figure out what you like early is good, but the attitude of rejecting working hard at mastering stuff in school unless it's what you "love" seems to be funny. </p>

<p>My opinion is that a better attitude is to master things because they're necessary for you to head in the direction of things that look interesting...with a view towards discovering precisely what you "love" as you go along.</p>

<p>For instance, someone interested in a math/science future telling me they're going to decide whether or not to try to work really hard at their calculus class based on how much they "love" math is really silly to me. Chances are, they won't understand what math is really about for years to come. But immediate reasons to learn the subject abound, as it shows up in so many places in math and science, and the books motivate some classical questions it tries to answer -- these can be appreciated, and eventually the student should learn the stuff well and properly. Sure, worrying about a half a point on an exam isn't worth it, but it's worth trying to master the course and do really well because that's an important subject...not because it's what you "truly love" ...</p>

<p>I guess my fundamental concern is that I want future scientists/mathematicians/engineers to learn to be motivated internally rather than by external forces like grades or getting into a top college or the admiration of peers, which is what I mean when I set up a dichotomy between "doing it because you want to" and "doing it because of the tangible rewards". I'm perfectly happy for someone to work hard in high school because they find math or science interesting in general, rather than because they're convinced that they love some arcane subfield, the deep technical details of which they can't fully understand or appreciate. </p>

<p>But for someone who's potentially interested in math or science, developing an internal center of motivation is better to do sooner rather than later. (I know I'm not telling you anything you don't already know here, but--) Eventually, if you get far enough in a technical field, you will no longer have people patting you on the back and telling you how wonderful you are, and your non-science peers will look at you with glazed eyes when you tell them what you do for a living, not to mention that the vast majority of things you do in any given day will either fail or be useless. So the fire in your gut that gets you out of bed in the morning -- that has to come from within.</p>

<p>Ah, well I should note Mollie, your philosophy is different from the rest of what was going on in the thread [which I thought was borderline unrealistic idealism], and very good in my opinion. I think learning fundamental skills as geared to prepping for higher level studies is the best motivation to master subjects early on, as it leads to good motivation and also good planning for the future. Whereas treating the fundamental skills as silly annoyances as compared to a nebulous "what you love" is a bad idea - it's just an unrealistic dichotomy. </p>

<p>Now to your own suggestion, I guess we certainly both know internal motivation is a very subtle thing to develop. Certainly, without good fundamental skills, one won't be able to see any of the subtleties ahead, which are the real "good stuff" to get one excited enough to develop the internal motivation. I think a nice way to do it would be to master the fundamentals but keep smelling for what good stuff lies ahead, and try to do some of it. Trying some independent projects is always a great thing. But in the end, one has to do quite a bit to ensure the internal motivation actually comes - using something like doing well in calculus class as motivation in the beginning can be completely fine in my books. I think as people start getting more specialized, and delving into the "real stuff," they realize that not everyone has to learn this stuff, and begin sniffing around for what they like automatically. Encouraging this sniffing is a good thing. I just think one should not have to rely on internal motivation too early. If it comes early, great, but it doesn't for everyone.</p>

<p>One rather different point in relation to all this - let's remember most very good math and science students have an absolutely horrible chance of getting into MIT, because it's a very selective school. I will caution that while MIT may read your applications with a keen eye, and while admissions may be thoughtful and open-minded like Mollie, probably a lot of schools out there will be much more pig-headed. Doing very well in school as a baseline achievement gets you into very good schools, which are less selective by far than MIT, whereas I could easily see someone with an unconventional application who shows promise in math or science getting thrown out. Doing very well in fundamentals also builds good skills. I think this is all enough for me to completely advise against the "just do what you love" philosophy - it neither serves someone who aims for great math and science studies at MIT, nor is a ticket to admission at a great school, and indeed could make one end up at a much worse school. And let's not forget that attending a good school really helps you grow into what you <em>do actually love</em>, because that's where you have incomparably more freedom + resources.</p>

<p>I suppose my concern, which I why I fall into the "do what you love and forget the rest" camp, is that I perceive an emphasis around CC on doing X, Y, and Z to get into, e.g., MIT, rather than an emphasis on being a person who naturally is X, Y, and Z. </p>

<p>Fundamentally, I think it's important to do what you love at all stages in your life, but I also think that, if you want to be at MIT/be a scientist or engineer/etc., what you love should be learning and thinking and working hard. And you should be really good at it. I am not an apologist for poor high school records. (Other than, perhaps, my own.) :)</p>

<p>(I feel like I should take this moment to remind everyone just joining us at home that my name is Mollie, I'm an MIT alum, and I don't work for the admissions office. The admissions officers at MIT are much nicer than I am! They have been known to bring dinner to poor hungry overworked fourth-year graduate students, even.)</p>

<p>Whoops, very sorry for the bad wording - I know you don't work in admissions officially, though you've made helpful remarks about it [which was my intended meaning], but my wording sounded fishy :)</p>

<p>In spirit, I think all of us commenting on the matter probably think roughly the same at this point [certainly, I would say one gets nowhere in the real world with math and science without liking it]. We are probably reacting to different evils - one being that of obsessively tailoring resumes to a superselective school when that's the wrong way to go about it, and another which believes an idealistic version of what "do what you love" really ought to mean.</p>

<p>Everything I say goes for my belief about college too, by the way, though I'd say the burden on you to know what you love is more fiercely on at that point, and fundamental skills ought to be very interconnected with your personal future goals.</p>

<p>Hovering through your notes.... I believe inner fuel doesn't release with being exposed to fundamental skills of a subject. Courage, inspiration and talent invoking arrives directly from interesting events.
In other words, you may never get as much interested in physics as if you were in a Walter-Lewinian-style class.
I think watching a science fiction movie makes you more interested in physics/astronomy/cosmology than taking a physics course in high school. Although, you will never get credit for watching movies. </p>

<p>Back to high school, I was pleased staying up late at night in front my computer screen coding. Hopefully, I didn't drink much caffeine to pass my exams. Outcome: I certainly did know which major to choose for college and I'm still coding...</p>

<p>
[quote]
Whoops, very sorry for the bad wording - I know you don't work in admissions officially, though you've made helpful remarks about it [which was my intended meaning], but my wording sounded fishy :)

[/quote]

Oh, I didn't say that because of anything you said -- I just find it prudent to state that outright any time I say something about my personal admissions philosophy, just to let people know that what I think doesn't actually matter. I've had questions in the past when I've said things like that, and I just want to be exceedingly clear at all times, especially for people who don't read CC all that often.</p>