3 Success Stories from MIT Admits

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Front view of an MIT building - one of the best computer science schools in the world

3 Success Stories from MIT Admits

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the most well-recognized institutions of higher learning in the country and even the world. Despite being just as respected and prestigious, MIT isn’t a member of the illustrious Ivy League. With some impressive alumni such as Buzz Aldrin, Noam Chomsky, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Richard Feynman, it’s no wonder why this school is well-respected and highly sought after.

Similar to the Ivies, this reputation and popularity come with a high degree of selectivity as thousands of students compete for limited spots. As a result, many applicants want to hear stories from students of “how I got into MIT”.

MIT building beside a man made creek

Although learning about various strategies for overcoming the challenging admissions process is imperative, there’s a unique sense of inspiration and assuredness that comes with hearing from people who have actually succeeded in what you’re attempting.

It can help to take away from some of the mystique that often surrounds these famous schools. You understand that it’s possible to get into these selective universities, but it feels impossible…until you hear from actual students that got accepted into MIT. Here, we’ll take a look at some actual success stories and tips from MIT students.

How hard is it to get into MIT?

Both parents and students often wonder “how hard is it to get into MIT?” Despite not being a member of the Ivy League, MIT is just as competitive as these notoriously tough universities. In total, 20,075 students applied to become members of the Class of 2024.

Of these tens-of-thousands of applicants, only 1,457 were chosen to attend MIT. This puts the university’s acceptance rate at 7.2% for the year. Although the MIT acceptance rate tends to fluctuate every year, it generally hovers around this number. That means, for every 100 students that apply, only seven ends up gaining admittance.

Students listening in front of the class.

Although a school’s acceptance rate is a great way to determine the competitiveness of its college admissions process, there are some other stats applicants can look at to see what they’re up against.

Since academic performance is a critical and objective factor that admissions officers take into consideration, seeing how admitted students performed on standardized tests and their high school courses is a good way to gauge the competition. The average SAT score of successful applicants to MIT is 1535 and the average GPA is 4.17. Not only do you need to score high on your exams, but you also need to get nearly straight A’s in your courses.

Students working on something while lookin at a laptop.

While it’s natural to get caught up on these admissions statistics, you shouldn’t spend too much time obsessing over them. They’re only useful insofar as they provide you with a metric for which you should aim.

However, they can end up becoming destructive and detrimental when you end up solely focusing on where you fall short. Yes, getting into MIT is a challenging process. But it’s not impossible! After you have a good idea of what it takes to get into MIT, you should forget about the admissions statistics and, instead, focus all of your energy on improving your chances of getting accepted.

Does applying to MIT’s early decision make a difference?

As with many schools, MIT offers two application timelines. This gives applicants a choice between applying during the standard period or during an earlier period aptly called early decision.

Although many students stick to the standard application timeline for simplicity’s sake, some opt for the early decision process. Even though you’ll have to get started earlier in the application process to make sure all required documents are turned in one time, there is another advantage to the early decision application timeline. Believe it or not, it can actually increase your chances of getting accepted to MIT.

Female student typing in a couch.

That sounds way too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, lucky for you, it’s entirely true! In total, 9,291 applicants applied during the early decision for the MIT Class of 2024. Of these thousands of students, 687 were accepted.

This puts the early decision acceptance rate at roughly 13.5%. As we discussed before, the standard admission rate at MIT is 7.2%. This means that students applying for early decision have nearly a two-times better chance of getting accepted. And, unlike other schools that have binding requirements on their early action, MIT doesn’t force students to abandon applications to other schools. It’s a win-win!

Success Story #1

“MIT takes the best of the best and locks them together for four years in a very stressful environment. Right away, half of the students who have been the best at everything they can do for as long as they remember are now in the bottom half of the class. If the students are not kind and cooperative then there are going to be problems real quick.

You mentioned that you excel in academics. That is good, but that is also par for the course. If you apply to MIT they will presume you have excellent scholastic abilities. You are trying to stand out against people where 4.0’s, triple 800’s and 36’s are the rule rather than the exception.

So what skills could you cultivate that would help you get in? Create your own opportunities. I attended a school of 200 students that offered a total of five science classes. The highest math class is a Calculus I class offered through the local community college. That wasn’t what I wanted from my education, so I made my own opportunities. I founded a debate team. Then I lead it to a state championship. I taught myself coding. I volunteered at a museum. I taught at a STEM summer camp. I learned how to be friends with almost anyone. Everyone has a story that can teach you something. Everyone also loves to talk about themselves if you will listen.

In particular you should work on being more personable.

Be generous and compassionate. Listen. If you are a very academic person you may not relate well with your peers, I know I didn’t for a while, so try and find a hobby that you can relate to others with. I enjoy tennis. I also did boy scouts. Figure out whatever it is that helps you to interact with people. Finding a hobby is cliche though, so you could do what I did and help other people learn to love what you already do.

I started an astronomy club in my backyard. The first meeting people came for the s’mores, but by the second meeting we were all excited for the opposition of Jupiter. None of them want to be astronomers, but they love to talk to me about what is going on in the sky that night. It’s not deep thought conversation, but it is very rewarding to see other people take interest in your hobbies.

Keep up the academics, but remember that you can’t simply walk the path to MIT. You will need to forge your own trail. If your school has more opportunities than mine, don’t rest on your laurels, but instead seek out greater challenges. Build something. I didn’t have straight A’s in high school. My freshman year I was building a replica Mars Yard. Sophomore year I was spending my free time making mods for a game called Kerbal Space Program. I was too busy building a (fiberglass, but still awesome) Iron Man suit during my junior year to study for Spanish so I got a B. College Algebra also gave me B.

Senior year I built an injector for a liquid fueled rocket engine and built my own CCD imager for my telescope. I always have a project in the works. School was an auxiliary to my self directed education. It’s not that I couldn’t have gotten an A in those classes, its that I chose not too.

So in conclusion, be nice, if not necessarily outgoing. Create your own opportunities. Build something. Apply to MIT. Even if you don’t get in you will be a better person for the effort you put in. If you could succeed at MIT you can succeed anywhere without MIT. Getting into MIT is an arduous task, but you will be better for the effort. Good luck.”

Charlie Garcia, former student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Success Story #2

“While I had decent grades in high school, it was less than 4.0 and I wasn’t the valedictorian – I think if memory serves I was ranked #7 in GPA in my class. I did have a perfect math score on the SAT (800 at the time) and a not a very perfect score on verbal, even though it was respectable. I had a bunch of extra curricular activities – speech competition, science olympics, etc, all of which helped …

When I saw my essay recently I realized what really got me in: I think MIT looks for people who are genuinely curious about the world and not afraid to pursue that curiosity. My essay (which i had totally forgotten about) was unusual – not because I was *trying* to make it unusual but just because it was about an area that interested me. It was about the right brain – left brain split and how we use intuition vs logic to solve problems and how this has implications for us personally and for society as a whole.

I didn’t write it because I thought it was a great essay topic per se that would get me in (I don’t recommended writing about this particular topic for most people!), but it was something that I had thought deeply about in high school (spending hours reading books about the mind and yoga and meditation and scientific achievement, and exploring different techniques of same). As a post-script, even after graduating from MIT it’s been an area that i’ve continued to explore (and written books on!).

I was genuinely surprised when I read that essay recently that it had been written by any 17-year old (let alone me 30 years ago!). I’m not trying to toot my horn here – but i’ve found mostly this type of curiosity and introspection comes later in life, but I’m glad the younger me wasn’t afraid to pursue it and write about it on my MIT essay; because it was genuinely something I was interested in.

By contrast I didn’t get into Stanford undergraduate. When I think about it 30 years later I realize, that my essay there was very generic- it said almost nothing about me; it could have been written by any high achieving, extra curricular activity wonking, good grade-getting, Asian-American high school student!

So my recommendation is make sure your essay genuinely reflects something that is unique about you- that shows you have curiosity about how the world works and that you haven’t been afraid to follow that curiosity. In my opinion that outweighs others who are just racking up better GPA’s and Test scores”

Rizwan Virk, BS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Success Story #3

“Having gotten accepted twice (undergrad and grad), here’s my 2 cents.

As an undergraduate, it always seemed like the grad students were quite a bit different from the undergrads. Undergrads seemed to be selected mostly on the basis of raw potential, while the grad students were usually the ones who worked the hardest as undergrads. Having been through both, this appears to be (mostly) the truth.

For undergrad admissions, it seems like the best way to get in is to have exceptional academic performance. Perfect or near-perfect grades and SATs seem like a near requirement. Many applicants will have done something else exceptional – you will meet undergrads who were IOI medalists or placed in the USAMO or the like. You could list pretty much every award or special program that you can win or do while in high school, and it’s likely that someone in the freshman class would have attained that.

That’s not to say that all of the undergrads are off-the-charts brilliant – plenty are just solidly smart (I always put myself in this category). People with extremely high test scores who are reasonably well-rounded seem to get in as well. The best way to distinguish yourself may be to do extracurriculars that aren’t typical of MIT students (use your imagination). I don’t know if this has changed, but when I applied as an undergrad (over 10 years ago), they only allowed you to list 5 extracurriculars on your application, so depth matters more than breadth.”

  • Dana Levine, received an undergraduate and graduate degree from MI

Write your own “How I got into MIT” story

As you read these MIT admission success stories, it might be tough to imagine yourself on the other end as the student attending this prestigious university and writing about your experiences for eager applicants to read.

However, it’s much closer than you think! How can we be so sure? With over a decade of experience helping students master the admissions process, we’ve seen students just like you make their way into some of the country’s top schools including MIT. In fact, 75% of the students who work with us end up getting admitted to an Ivy League school or top 10 universities.

Students talking in the stairs.

We offer a wide variety of custom-tailored services to help students nail their applications. Need an effective way to spend the summer? We can help you find a great summer program that captures your interest while impressing admissions staff! Nervous about your admission interview?

We can help you with that too! What about your essay prompts? We even offer professional essay editing services to make sure your responses are fit for a leading university. Feel free to reach out to AdmissionSight to learn more about what we offer and how you can benefit from it.


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