How I got into MIT?
“I’m an MIT alum and the best advice I got about getting into MIT was that MIT is looking for geeks who can convince MIT they’re not geeks.
First, you need to understand that at MIT words like geek and nerd are not derogatory terms, they are often used simply to describe those with passion for a particular subject. Passion is important, I tell many parents thinking about MIT for their kids that MIT is not a place to discover yourself. That doesn’t mean you need to decide exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life the day you enter MIT, but you have to have the drive, you have to be trying to achieve something to succeed at MIT. You might find that your drive leads you in a totally different direction than you started, but the journey is always driven by passion.
(BTW: If by the time you’re applying to colleges you haven’t found that thing you can be passionate about, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Lots of people take a little longer to get there than 16 or 17 years. But if that is the case, I’d advise against MIT – or any other top-tier school – even if you’ve got rock star grades and everything else to get in. Go find a nice private college with a good student-teacher ratio. After you’ve discovered your passion, go to MIT for graduate school.)
MIT is also looking for leaders and every great leader I know is in some way a geek. They’ve got that passion for something and can totally blow you away with their command of the subject, but they also have great interpersonal, communication, and motivational skills.
Also, they are interdisciplinary, they understand just enough about a lot of different areas to value people around them who are experts in those other areas they know they need to achieve the goal they’ve set out. You don’t have to be the editor of the yearbook or the captain of the team to show leadership (although it certainly helps), but don’t just “participate” in everything. Leaders are leaders before they are given the title and responsibility.
I mentioned “interdisciplinary” before, that’s another way of saying well-rounded. Do lots of different things, don’t just focus on getting the best grades and being the class president. Do sports, do politics (so you can’t vote, you’ve still got an opinion; express it), do acting, music, whatever try it everything you have the time and opportunity for. Work hard, play hard is pretty much a mantra at MIT, but you might be surprised at what counts as play.
Oh yeah, and rock school. You still need the grades and the test scores. (Although don’t fret them too much, lots of people with perfect test scores and straight A’s don’t get accepted into MIT in favor of people with good, but not perfect grades). When you get to MIT, you’re gonna need to be ready to study hard and learn some fascinating but challenging things. You need that foundation from high school.
Essay and interview are very important parts of the MIT application. If you did everything above you should be in good shape to write a good and thoughtful essay. It doesn’t matter what you write or talk about so much as it is thoughtful and well communicated (take it from the guy who actually wrote an essay about why cold water faucets are always on the right on his MIT application).
And finally when you get to MIT (or wherever you go) make sure you make the most of it. Interact with the faculty, get involved in research, interact with your fellow students (they are a pretty impressive lot), but don’t just go to class. I always say 60% of what I learned at MIT was outside the classroom.”
- Jerry Larivee, a former student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
6 Tips to Get Into MIT
Now that you have a deeper understanding of the MIT admissions process, the level of competition, and the type of students that get into the university, you can feel a bit more confident in what you’re stacking up against.
Next, let’s take a look at some specific factors that can help increase your chance of getting accepted. It’s important to keep in mind that MIT’s acceptance rate isn’t necessarily reflective of your odds of receiving that coveted acceptance letter. Depending on the strength of your application, your chances might be even higher. Here are some tips for gaining the attention of MIT admissions officers.
1. Earn excellent grades and test scores.
You’ve heard it time and time again: you’ll need good grades in order to get accepted into the college of your dreams. It might not be fun to hear, but it’s true! MIT is known for its academic rigor, challenging curriculum, and tough classes.
Admissions officers are only going to pick applicants they feel have the ability to perform well at the university. What do they base this decision upon? While there are other factors taken into account, your high school GPA and your performance on standardized tests carry the most weight when determining whether or not you’re prepared to handle college-level courses at MIT.
To keep your GPA at a respectable level, studying regularly, turning in homework on time, and paying attention in class are obviously important. However, we also advise students to take Advanced Placement (AP) and honors courses as they can help improve their overall GPA. These college-prep courses also look great on your application!
When it comes to standardized testing, its’ recommendable to take the ACT or SAT – whichever suits you the best – at least two or three times. With more opportunities, you can optimize your score. However, too many changes will reflect poorly on your application.
2. Take part in academic competitions.
Academic competitions are an excellent way to show MIT admissions officers that you’re confident in your abilities, always looking to improve yourself, and have the drive to pursue your academic interests. It’s no secret why many students avoid these challenges, especially when it involves performing in front of other people.
However, if you’re able to set aside your nerves and anxiety, these competitions are a fantastic opportunity to ensure your application stands out. You’ll immediately gain a competitive edge over other applicants who didn’t take part in such events.
It’s ideal to participate in a competition that relates to your field of interest. For instance, if you’re applying for a math or science degree at MIT, you could compete in the USA Math Olympiad or the Science Olympiad. If you’re pursuing a degree in the humanities, there are plenty of similar events such as speech competitions or national debates. While you should, of course, strive for the number one spot, placing anywhere in these competitions will still help increase your chances of getting into MIT.
3. Participate in extracurricular activities.
The vast majority of students underestimate the weight that admissions officers place on non-academic factors. Many simply assume that extracurriculars such as clubs, sports, and other activities outside the classroom carry nearly zero importance when compared to academics.
While it’s true that MIT will look at academic performance first and foremost, it’s vital that applicants don’t underestimate the importance of extracurricular activities. After all, MIT takes a holistic approach to its admissions process, meaning its admissions committee looks at a wide range of factors spanning from your grade in math class to your success in D & D club.
While you might be tempted to sign up for all of the clubs and teams available at your high school, this seemingly smart strategy can backfire. Admissions officers at MIT are going to hold quality over quantity when considering your extracurricular performance.
We recommend students to test out a variety of different clubs until finding one or two that stand out. Pursuing these passionately throughout high school while developing a unique set of skills will stand out significantly more to MIT than spreading out your time and energy between multiple different activities. While not required, finding an activity that lines up with your field of study is a plus.
4. Join a reputable summer program.
When summertime rolls around, you’re most likely looking forward to forgetting about the responsibilities and stresses of school for a solid few months. However, if you’re really dedicated to the idea of getting into MIT, your efforts don’t have to stop when the school year ends.
Summer programs are a fantastic way to give your application an edge over the competition. These programs typically last a few weeks in length and have students explore a certain field in greater depth, usually in the setting of a real-world application.
Participating in these programs shows admissions officers that you’re proactive about pursuing your interests, dedicated to furthering your skills, and highly knowledgeable about a certain field. Although it’s not going to hurt your application to join a summer program in a subject unrelated to your area of study we recommend finding something that aligns with your desired degree.
It’s advisable to sign up for these summer programs when you’re a sophomore or junior so you complete it in time to include on your college application. If you’re not sure where to begin, feel free to check out AdmissionSight’s list of prestigious summer programs.
5. Get fantastic letters of recommendation.
Admissions officers at MIT want to get to know applicants on a personal level. Unfortunately, they don’t have the time or personnel to speak with the tens of thousands of applicants individually. As a result, MIT requires all applicants to send in two letters of recommendation in order to get a better understanding of what the individual behind each application is like. After all, who’s a better judge of your character, behavior, and personality than teachers who have worked with you on a daily basis?
MIT does it a little differently than other colleges by specifying that one recommendation letter must come from a science or math teacher while the other one comes from a humanities teacher. As an interdisciplinary school, MIT wants to see how applicants perform in both settings. It’s critical to be careful when choosing which teachers you ask to write these recommendations. Ideally, it’s a teacher with whom you’ve bonded on a personal level and developed a special relationship. Also, be sure to request these letters as early as possible to give the writers sufficient time. After all, these letters of recommendation will ultimately be a reflection upon you.
6. Write amazing essays.
MIT requires all applicants to write responses to a series of short-answer essay prompts. This portion of the essay is specifically designed to give students an opportunity to reveal more about themselves than is possible on other parts of the application. When reading your responses, admissions officers will be looking for what makes you unique. It’s important to keep this in mind when writing your responses.
While you might be tempted to remain as formal as possible, this will come across as dry, unoriginal, and maybe even forced. Without being too informal, you still want to add your own unique style to these essay responses while still sticking to the prompt.
Transparency and openness are two other vital components to a great MIT essay response. Again, admissions officers are viewing this as an opportunity to get to know you, your personality, your interests, and your background a little more in-depth. You’ll also notice by the open-ended nature of the prompts that admissions officers are giving you some room to be creative and inventive.
Whether you’re not confident in your writing or you’ve never had an issue penning a stellar essay, it’s still smart to work with an admissions consultant who can offer professional essay editing services. This ensures your essay responses are enough to help catch the attention of the admissions staff at MIT and set your application apart from the crowd.
Improve your chances of getting into MIT
If you’re not sure how to get into MIT, you’re not alone! Every year, tens of thousands of students start applying to this prestigious university without much knowledge of the admissions process.
AdmissionSight was founded to provide applicants with the guidance, support, and help they need to drastically increase their chances of getting into their dream schools. With over a decade of experience working with students just like you, we’ve perfected our services to ensure we’re providing the highest quality available. In fact, over 75% of our students end up getting accepted into an Ivy League school or Top 10 University.
Need a hand choosing the right high school schedule? We can help! What about summer programs? We’ve got you covered there too! We even offer pre-high school planning for parents who want to get a head start in preparing their kids for the Ivy League or other top-tier schools.
All of our services are specifically designed to improve a student’s application in the light of the school’s requirements in order to greatly improve their odds of getting accepted. If you want to learn more about what we offer and how you can benefit from it, feel free to contact us today. We can set up a free consultation to answer all of your questions.