How to Get Into MIT
June 30, 2020
How to Get Into MIT
Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a dream school for almost every student interested in STEM — and even for business and humanities candidates. But gaining admission to MIT is easier said than done. With only a 7.3% acceptance rate, the bar is unsurprisingly set quite high. So, you’ve found yourself looking up how to get into MIT. Between you and a “yes” letter from this prestigious school there are several hurdles, including achieving both academic and extracurricular success. MIT has a very high standard set for every one of your application components.
While it’s certainly not an easy path, many students do get accepted to the school every year, so you know it’s not impossible. If you know you’re going to be gunning for a college of MIT’s caliber, start challenging yourself and excelling in your areas of interest early in high school. To guide you through the process of how to get into MIT, I’ve outlined the different colleges within the university, the necessary academic preparation, how to succeed in your extracurriculars, and what MIT expects from your application essays.
The Schools at MIT
Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts — just a short subway ride from Boston — the MIT campus has 4,530 undergraduates, and accommodates students whose interests range beyond more than just science and math. As you Google how to get into MIT, you’ll learn that when you apply to the university, you’ll have to choose one from its six colleges.
- School of Architecture and Planning
- School of Engineering
- School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
- Sloan School of Management
- School of Science
- Schwarzman College of Computing
Each of these colleges comes with its own set of majors. Depending on what program you’ve got your eye on, choose your college carefully. MIT will want to know that you’ve conducted the necessary research. Don’t say you want to be a math major — which is a department in the School of Science — but instead apply to the School of Engineering.
Although most of the students who attend MIT are STEM-focused, the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is a strong institution for candidates interested in technical sides of fields such as writing, economics, music and theater. Even though these programs exist elsewhere, MIT’s approach to them is unique. When evaluating your file, officers will check whether you’ve conducted sufficient research when it comes to understanding why MIT’s departments are unique compared to other schools where you could also study these subjects. In your application, thoroughly emphasize MIT’s disciplinary approach to your favorite topics.
Academics and Test Scores
Receiving admission into a school that denies over 92% of its applicants is not a simple task. The Dean of MIT writes, “We want students to make decisions that are educationally sound for them to best prepare them to succeed in college and beyond. We want students to challenge themselves appropriately in the areas that are most interesting to them.” This means taking the most difficult courses your high school offers, consistently performing well in these classes, and demonstrating your academic interests through your transcripts and beyond. The average admitted student brings a GPA above a 3.9 to MIT!
MIT has stopped accepting SAT subject test scores very recently, but still asks for your SAT and ACT results. The median ranges for admitted students are:
SAT Math: 790-800
SAT ERW 730-780
ACT Math 35-36
ACT English 35-36
ACT Composite 34-36
You’ve undoubtedly got your work cut out for you.
But if you’re not a stellar standardized tester, don’t lose hope. You still have a chance if you’ve got a strong GPA as that number reflects four years and is the most important part of your application. Since you’re researching how to get into MIT, you’re probably interested in STEM to some degree. Make sure that your passion towards your favorite subject comes through in your application. Take classes like AP BC Calculus or IB Physics Higher Level. Work to build relationships with your teachers as well. MIT asks for two letters of recommendation — one from a math or science teacher, and the other from a humanities, social science, or English teacher. Your teachers can add to why you’re a valuable candidate, and how you can contribute to MIT’s campus.
If you know that you’ll be looking into a university of MIT’s caliber, it’s extremely crucial that you go beyond just joining clubs that already exist at your school. MIT wants each student “to add something useful or intriguing to the team, from a wonderful temperament or sense of humor to compelling personal experiences, to a wide range of individual gifts, talents, interests, and achievements.”
MIT’s mission statement reads: “The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.” Your involvements need to align with this purpose and you must challenge yourself in the field of your interest. As you plan high school involvements and think about how you can take it up a notch, keep the values that MIT looks for in its students in the back of your mind:
- Collaborative and cooperative spirit
- Willingness to take risks
- Hands-on creativity
- Intensity, curiosity, and excitement
- The ability to prioritize balance
You don’t have to have written an earth-shattering math formula to grab the admissions officers’ attention. MIT considers leaders and collaborators who look to take steps to change the world and their community, no matter how small. Think about the areas that you’re most passionate about and ask yourself how you can use your skills and resources to step up as a leader and make an impact. MIT admissions readers should see your application and have no doubts that you will be able to take advantage of MIT’s offerings such as the specialized Underground Research Opportunities Program (UROP).
The MIT Essays
Because MIT has its own application system, it comes with essay prompts unique to the university. But they aren’t too different from supplemental essays you might find for other institutions, so there’s no need to panic. Although the word limits are far lower than your Common App personal statement essay, you may have already had practice with reflective writing while planning the longer response for other colleges. You can apply similar ideas and topics to your MIT supplements. Alongside conveying your love for the school, use these essays to provide crucial context on your interests and background. The 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 simply 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)
At MIT, we bring people together to better the lives of others. MIT students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way in which you have contributed to your community, whether in your family, the classroom, your neighborhood, etc. (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)
Remember that you’re trying to demonstrate why admissions officers should pick you over other applicants. Talk about activities, stories, and parts of your background that are unique to you. Remember the values that MIT looks for in students — consider how your collaboration skills, dedication to your involvement, and leadership skills can shine through your essays. Think also about how an MIT education pertains to your goals. The word limit can be difficult for most questions, so you need to be succinct. Don’t waste the space fixating on general statements that might apply to any of the top 10 colleges. Make sure your answers are specific to MIT’s resources, and more importantly, to your assets. You can read about how to answer the MIT application essays in more detail here.
Requirements and Deadlines
When thinking about how to get into MIT, you must also think about the logistics so that you can submit all your required scores, recommendations, and other documents on time. The Early Action (EA) deadline for MIT is November 1, while the Regular Decision deadline is January 1. Knowing these dates can help you start working on your essays, asking for recommendations, and completing the MIT application. The important dates for the college are outlined in the table below:
|Requirements for MIT Application||Deadlines and Notes|
|The MIT application||This includes your biographical information, activities list, academic information, and essays.|
|Two letters of evaluation||One of these should come from a math or science teacher, while the other from a humanities, social science, or language teacher.|
|Counselor recommendation||This letter is very important to help you stand out from your peers.|
|School report||This should be submitted by your counselor to summarize your academic performance, including your official transcript.|
|SAT or ACT||The last tests students can take for EA are the October ACT and November SAT. The last tests students can take for RD are the December ACT and December SAT.|
|February updates and notes form||This form (https://mitadmissions.org/apply/firstyear/february-updates-notes-form/), containing your midyear grades, should be completed by February 15.|
|Financial aid||If you’re applying for aid, you must fill out the FAFSA, the CSS profile and submit your parents’ tax returns. The EA financial aid deadline is November 30 for EA. Awards are released in mid-January. The application deadline for RD applicants is February 15. Awards are released in mid-March.|
|Interviews||After you submit your application, you may be contacted by an Educational Counselor (EC) if there’s one available in your area.|
As you can see from the table, there are several components to keep track of and prepare on your road to submitting your application. Make sure that you note all the deadlines and requirements so that you don’t miss anything!
The question of how to get into MIT is a tricky one; very few students receive a chance to attend this prestigious institution. However, if you believe that your goals align with MIT’s mission, and you’ve worked hard to stand out both inside and outside the classroom, you shouldn’t be afraid to shoot your shot and see what happens. Take it one component at a time. Who knows, you could be part of the next batch of students who walk through the doors of MIT’s famous campus. Good luck!