MIT Application Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

MIT's white-colored building

MIT Application Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

If there is one college that is considered to be even more competitive, prestigious, and harder to get into than Harvard University, it’s the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – otherwise known as MIT.

MIT is truly one of the best schools in the entire world, and students who are interested in attending the school as undergraduate students have to be prepared to work hard throughout high school and during the application process.

Part of the most important aspect of trying to get into MIT is avoiding the MIT application mistakes that even the most accomplished high school students can fall into.

Here at AdmissionSight, we know that avoiding a mistake on the MIT application and throughout the college application is a very important thing that students have to pay attention to. Avoiding mistakes not only makes a student look more mature, professional and prepared for the challenges that a school like MIT bestows upon its students, but it also allows the information to come across to the admissions officers reading your application as seamlessly as possible.

But before we get into the mistake on MIT application that high school students are going to want to avoid at all costs when they are applying to MIT, let’s break down some of the most important facts that students should be aware of regarding the school itself.

MIT admission basics

Back in 2020, the acceptance rate for MIT was an exceptionally low 6.7 percent. In fact, the acceptance rate for applying high school students has not gone above 8 percent since 2016, and the acceptance rate has not been in the double digits since high school students were applying all the way back in 2012!

Given the current trend, it’s only logical to assume that the acceptance rate at MIT – and all other top schools for that matter – will continue to drop.

And let’s not forget that the acceptance rate is that low even though the students that are applying to the school are truly amongst the most impressive in not only the United States, but also the rest of the world.

In fact, the average GPA for students that are accepted to MIT is an astounding 4.17. That means that if you even want to have a realistic shot of getting into MIT, you are going to have to perform at the very top of your high school class for the entirety of your high school years.

And the task at hand does not become any easier when SAT or ACT scores are brought into the conversation.

When it comes to the SAT, the average score of high school students that are accepted into MIT is 1535. That’s out of the perfect score of 1600!

As for the ACT, the average score for students who get into MIT is 35 out of the perfect score of 36.

Are you sensing a trend here? When we say that only the cream of the crop are getting into MIT year after year, we truly mean it! These are some of the most intelligent young minds in the world, and if you are interested in joining them on campus in Cambridge, Mass., you are going to have to prove that you completely belong.

Your GPA and test scores will do some of the work in that regard, but your application is also going to have to do a large amount of heavy lifting if you want to set yourself apart from the pack.

Application requirements

The final thing that we think every high school student interested in applying to MIT should know about right off the bat are the many different requirements that MIT expects every student who wants to apply to fulfill.

This includes a number of deadlines depending on how a student plans to apply, as well as the many different materials that every student will be expected to include with their application.

MIT application deadlines

At MIT, there are two different kinds of applications. Some students apply Early Action (EA) and some students apply Regular Action (RA).

While the materials sent in with each application type are the same, the deadlines are different. We will go into some of the differences in a little bit and will also explain why not applying Early Action for students who know that they want to attend MIT can be considered as a mistake on MIT application.

Early Action deadlines

Schedules of application in a university

Regular Decision deadlines

regular application schedule of a university

On top of the materials in these tables and their connected deadlines, MIT also encourages students to send in supplemental material that they think will help give the admissions officers at the school gain a better understanding of who they are as students and people. This includes anything from physical art, music, research papers, award announcements and more!

Mistakes to avoid on your MIT application

Now that we have broken down the most basic information regarding application and admission at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, we can now finally get started on breaking down the MIT application mistakes that every student will have to make sure they are able to avoid.

Let’s get started!

Mistake No. 1 – Sending in the same material to multiple schools

If you are like other high school students, there is a pretty high chance that MIT is far from the only prestigious university that you plan on applying to. In fact, the average number of schools that American students applied to range from somewhere between 8 to 15 schools.

Applying to schools it’s a lot of work, and paired with the demands of your high school curriculum, you may be encouraged to try and create material that you can send to multiple different schools. This is a major mistake no matter what kind of applicant you are and no matter what kind of schools you are applying to.

Consider the fact that the admissions officers at the schools that you are applying to are trained and experienced professionals whose entire job revolves around deciding whether or not high school students will be able to succeed at the school that they work for. With that in mind, it should not be hard to imagine that these teachers can easily identify material that has been made purposefully vague so that it can be sent to multiple schools.

While this applies to every aspect of a student’s application to MIT, it especially applies to the personal essay section of the application. In fact, there are a number of MIT application mistakes that we will go over that have to do with the essay section of the application.

In this instance, the reason why making cookie cutter material for the essay section it’s such a mistake is because this is the one chance that every student will get to truly let the admissions officers and who they are as people to set themselves apart. Making sure that that material is as unique as the student itself is a crucial step to take.

Mistake No. 2 – Letting parents take control of the process

Another very important mistake an MIT application that high school students must avoid at all costs revolves around the student’s parents. It’s hard to blame parents for making this mistake, as they obviously just want what is best for their child, but students need to be aware and remain cautious about letting their parents get too involved in the filling out of their college applications.

Without a doubt, parents will play a certain role when it comes to editing and proofreading, but their work should not go much further beyond that. There should never come a time when parents are actually filling out the applications instead of the students.

If you are a high school student who is starting to sense that your parents may be getting too involved in the process, you may need to sit them down and remind them that it is not them who is applying to the school, but you.

Hopefully this stern and mature conversation will light them to the importance of the application process. In the end, college applications are best presented when the students have their identity and fingerprints all over the material. That aspect can be dramatically reduced if a parent ends up taking control of the process.

Mistake No. 3 – Not reading all of the application directions thoroughly

This may seem like a fairly straightforward mistake on your MIT application to avoid, but you would be surprised by how often this can trip up even the most accomplished high school students. After all, students are very likely applying to many different types of schools all over the country.

Ultimately, all of those different applications may end up blending into one in the students mind. This can result in students wasting time unfulfilling a certain requirement for one school when they are actually filling out the application or a different school entirely.

A girl studying in a room

That in and of itself is bad enough, but it becomes an even bigger problem if the student actually sends the application in without recognizing their mistake. While that mistake may not be enough to disqualify them outright from getting into the school, it will certainly reduce their chance period.

In order to make sure that that mistake does not occur, students simply have to read the directions of each unique application carefully and make sure that they fully understand what is expected of them.

Mistake No. 4 – Turning in an exceptionally long application

While we are specifically talking about undergraduate applications at the moment, this mistake can easily be applied to Graduate School and even job applications as well.

Though students will obviously want to include all of the relevant information that they think could be the deciding factor in them getting in or being rejected by MIT, they will want to make sure that they do not create an application that is overly long.

Because of this, students may need to prioritize certain things about their time in high school when it comes to what they will include and what they will leave off of their application. This especially applies to students who were involved in many different extracurriculars during their time in high school.

At the end of the day, students should really only be including the extra curriculars, but they think will help them better stand out compared to the other students that are applying to that school.

Mistake No. 5 – Valuing the number of extracurriculars a student was involved in

This mistake actually has very little to do with the application itself and has more to do with the ways in which a high school student decides to spend their time during their years in high school.

Back in the day, it used to be valued first for students to get involved in as many activities out of the classroom as possible. The reason why this was considered a priority was because it was believed that this high level of involvement led to well-rounded students prepared for a college education and the real world following that.

Various sports equipment on the floor

These days, going that route is considered a major mistake. Part of that is a byproduct of the real world itself becoming more specialized and demanding individuals who have more specialized skills.

So, what do admissions officers look for now when it comes to a student’s extracurricular activities? The answer has several different components.

First off, admissions officers are looking for students who involved themselves heavily in a few extracurricular activities that they were highly interested in.

A student’s interests in high school can range from anything from sports teams to drama club, from model UN to the science Olympiad. Admissions officers are not looking for anything in particular, but they are looking for students who got heavily involved in their community and pursued their passions deeply throughout high school.

Another layer to this that students should keep in mind is that admissions officers at MIT – and similarly prestigious schools – will be especially excited if they notice a trend of leadership within an applicant. What that means is that students should work to assume roles of leadership in their chosen extracurriculars in high school whenever possible.

Mistake No. 6 – Forgetting to proofread personal essays

The final MIT application mistake that we will go over in this quick breakdown has to do with the student’s personal essays. Yes, we are aware that we have already gone over a mistake that has to do with that section of the college application. The reason why we are going back to that aspect is because it is one of the most important parts of any college application and because it is the section of the application that students tend to struggle with most.

Often, students spend a large amount of their time trying to come up with an answer from an angle that they believe will make them sound as interesting as possible.

They pick rare or unique experiences, and some even make the grievous error of inflating the truth in the hopes that it will help them stand out more.

A man writing on a piece of paper

Admissions officers at schools like MIT are really looking for our students who appear to be passionate, curious, self-aware and confident. Sometimes the best essays are the ones that look at a mundane aspect of life in a unique way as opposed to a unique experience in a rather mundane way.

But more important than even that is the simple need for a student to make sure that they avoid spelling and grammatical errors within their application. When it comes to these kinds of errors, it is less about the error itself and more about what the error says about the student and how seriously they are taking their college application process.

Though no one thing – including a mistake of this nature – will downright disqualify a student from getting accepted into a school like MIT, it will likely serve as a major black mark and dramatically reduce their chances of getting in.

For that reason, students should make sure that they have the adequate amount of time before their application deadline to not only craft meaningful and beautifully written essays, but also proofread for spelling and grammar errors. In fact, students would be wise to ask a parent, teacher, peer or admissions consultant to go over their essays with them so that a fresh set of eyes can confirm that there are no errors within the work.

Get more MIT admission advice

Here at AdmissionSight, we use our years of experience within the college admissions landscape to help our students beat the odds and get into some of the best schools in the world. That’s probably one of the many reasons why 75 percent of the students that we work with end up getting into an Ivy League school or a top-10 school like MIT!

If you are curious about how we can help your chances of getting into MIT, contact us today for a free consultation.


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