Applying to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT is arguably the best technical university in the world. Their application is separate from any other school’s application, but it is certainly worth putting the time in to apply!
The MIT Admissions website is one of the most informative admissions websites. A lot of information can be mustered from their clean and easy-to-navigate webpages. It is a good idea to check out their pages for international applicants.
Please take advantage of the helping hand icon found throughout the application. Clicking on it provides helpful information and advice about many parts of the
Starting the application
To access the MIT Application, you’ll have to first make an account on their application system called MyMIT. Although US applicants can apply through an earlier decision process called “Early Action,” international students do not have this option. They do this so that they can consider all international students at the same time.
The application is typically released at the end of the summer and is due by January 1st. After creating an account you should make sure you have the following for filling out the application:
Academic Records (Official English Translation of Transcripts Grades 9-12)
Test Scores (SAT, ACT + Writing, APs, TOEFL)
The application is split up into the following components that can be submitted separately:
Test scores and Grades
Official Transcripts and Teacher/Counselor Recommendations
Supplements and Portfolio (Optional)
Although these parts can be submitted separately, it is a good idea to read through all parts before submitting any one part. For example, you are asked what you want to study in Part 1, and then asked about which department at MIT appeals to you in Part 2. You want these answers to be consistent.
Part 1: Biographical Information
Most of this section is the same as it is in any other college application. Unlike some other applications, though, they ask for more information on your “cultural background and identity” in 100 words or less. You may think all Arabs have the same answer to this prompt, but that is not true! Mention elements of your cultural upbringing that you feel have shaped who you are. An honest response will be more unique than you think.
Under “what field of study appeals to you most right now?” put what you currently hope to major in at MIT. This should be consistent with your essay answer about the same topic in Part 2.
Part 2: Personal Essays
The questions in this section can change from year to year, but the content that MIT Admissions asks for is usually the same. Make sure to check out essay-writing advice on Qimmah. Start early, be honest, and talk about something that is unique to you.
Admissions officers are reading a lot of applications with high scores and great grades. The personal essays are your chance to make your application unique to you and truly stand out. The essay prompts are:
We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do for the pleasure of it. (100 words or fewer)
Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words or fewer)
What attribute of your personality are you most proud of, and how has it impacted your life so far? This could be your creativity, effective leadership, sense of humor, integrity, or anything else you'd like to tell us about. (200-250 words)
Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations? (200-250 words)
Tell us about the most significant challenge you've faced or something important that didn't go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (200-250 words)
Part 2: Activities
The Activities section is also a very important part of the application where you can distinguish yourself. MIT limits you to the 5 activities that are most important to you. For each activity, you must fill out the following row of information:
Even if you have more than 5 activities, choose the activities that you were most devoted to. You want to show the most about your personality and time spent in high school. You are also asked about your summer activities and employment in this section:
Part 2: Courses and Distinctions
You are asked to list any Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), A-level or O-level tests you have taken or are currently taking.
Next, you must list your top 5 scholastic distinctions and your top 5 non-scholastic distinctions. Scholastic distinctions are anything academic you have been recognized for (e.g. science fair, math olympiad, etc.). Non-scholastic distinctions are anything you have been recognized for that is not academic (e.g. athletic awards, community service awards, etc.). It is fine if some (or all) of these distinctions are at the school or regional level. MIT repeatedly emphasizes their context-dependent and holistic admissions process. There is more on what this means in the last section.
Interview and Evaluations
You will be assigned an interviewer by the MyMIT system if there is one in your area. Be proactive about scheduling an interview!
You will need an evaluation/recommendation from a math or science teacher and a second one from a humanities teacher. You will also need a “Secondary School Report” from your guidance counselor or school principal that gives MIT more information about your school. These are all done through an online system that the website walks you through.
After Submitting the Application
Be sure to follow up with all your teachers to make sure they get in their forms on your behalf. After the interview and application submission, there is not much else! MIT requires a “February Update and Notes” to report your first semester senior year grades and anything else that has been going on in your life. This is an opportunity to include any new activities or accomplishments that may have happened since you submitted your application. It is fine if you do not have much to say here, but be sure to write something. There have been people who ended their February Update form with some math and science puns.
After this, all you can do is wait—decisions usually come out on Pi Day (3.14 = 3/14 = March 14th). While waiting, keep doing what you love and do not stress so much about the decision. After all, there are many colleges that would help you reach your full potential
Supplements and Portfolio
It is amazing how much this section can really make your application stand out! It is not required, but MIT allows a supplement for research, music & theater arts, visual art & architecture, athletics, and “makers.” If you have anything for any of these categories, be sure to send it in! There are no limits on what this can be: research you’ve done, a song you’ve performed, paintings you’ve made, or circuits you threw together to make the lights in your room clap-activated—they will love anything that shows your technical or creative abilities!
Everyone has a Chance!
Everyone who is motivated and passionate about learning has a shot at being admitted to MIT! MIT prides itself on a holistic and context-dependent admissions process. This means that they truly consider you as a person and how you succeeded in respect to the opportunities that were available to you. They have many times in the past admitted students who have attended school in their village and studied in Arabic their whole life, learning English only through self-study. Although research and international distinctions certainly help, do not be discouraged if you do not have these on your application. Good luck!