How to Write the MIT Application Essays 2023-2024

Noel Kim

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a coveted university for students who are passionate about STEM subjects. Known for its highly selective admissions process, it is no surprise that MIT is considered one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. If you have your sights set on majoring in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Computation and Cognition, or any of the other specialized programs offered at MIT, it is crucial to effectively communicate your unique qualities and contributions through the MIT application essays for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Unlike other universities that use the Common App, MIT has its own application system called MyMIT. This means that you do not have to worry about repeating your Common App personal statement topic. However, it also means that the essays you submit to MIT serve as both your personal statement and supplemental responses. It is important to make the most of these essays by showcasing your passion for MIT and providing essential context about your interests and background. With only a 4% acceptance rate, MIT is highly competitive, and you have five prompts to convince the admissions officers why you are the perfect fit for this esteemed Boston institution. To assist you through the writing process, I have provided an outline of each prompt, along with dos and don'ts for your responses, and additional tips for the MIT application essays in 2023-2024.

MIT Application Essays 2023-2024

What field of study appeals to you the most right now? Tell us more about why this field of study at MIT appeals to you.

The diverse range of fields of study offered at MIT allows students to find their true calling and embrace their passions. One effective strategy for approaching this prompt is to reflect on the subjects that have consistently captivated and motivated you. Are you drawn to the intricacies of artificial intelligence or the potential of renewable energy? By introspecting and exploring your genuine curiosity, you can authentically articulate your passion for a specific field of study at MIT.

Moreover, it is crucial to research the resources and opportunities that MIT provides in the chosen field. As a world-renowned institution, MIT offers unparalleled facilities and renowned professors in various fields. You can highlight your awareness of these resources to further strengthen your response. Whether it is the cutting-edge laboratories equipped with the latest technology or the interdisciplinary collaborations that foster innovation, demonstrating an understanding of how MIT's offerings align with your interests will showcase your commitment and enthusiasm.

By carefully considering your own interests and conducting thorough research about what MIT has to offer, you can effectively convey your unwavering dedication and motivation for a specific field of study at MIT. This prompt serves as a gateway for you to showcase your perspectives, aspirations, and how you envision contributing to the academic community at MIT.

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.

MIT values students who are particularly invested in activities and topics that are meaningful to them, no matter what the scale. If you have a highly meaningful hobby that isn’t a conventional extracurricular per se, MIT is telling you to go for it. Just the introductory paragraph to most essays requires over 100 words—you might find it difficult to restrain yourself while talking about your favorite activity. In order to get your point across, you need to put less emphasis on describing the activity—limit it to one or two sentences - and more on what brings you joy about it. Why is it your favorite? How does it recharge you in a way others may not? Has it shaped your perspective in a significant way?

Since admissions officers will see your activities list through MyMIT, you should find ways to include anecdotes that will convey additional information about yourself. While you should not pick a purely academic activity or something that you think MIT wants to hear, you also should think of something beyond sleeping, eating, or hanging out with friends. Your outlook on the activity should be unique and help you stand out among your peers.

How has the world you come from—including your opportunities, experiences, and challenges—shaped your dreams and aspirations?

It’s crucial that you go through all of the prompts offered by the MIT application essays 2023-2024 before you decide on a topic for each of them because what you cover in this first prompt might also be a good fit for Prompt 4. And if you are invested in more than one community, then you’re in luck! Either way, your answer to questions 1 and 4 should not cover the same topic because each essay is meant to add new information about you.

A good clue on what to write here comes from the second part of the question, “how has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations?” It’s time to think about your goals again. Is there any community or group which has played a strong role in solidifying your goals? If the answer is yes, there’s your answer. Start your essay by introducing the chosen world—keep it brief as you have another segment to cover. The major focus of your essay should lie in elaborating on the connection between the topic you’ve chosen and your career aspirations. Use anecdotes as evidence to drive your point home for admission officers to better visualize the impact. 

MIT brings people with diverse backgrounds together to collaborate, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to lending a helping hand. Describe one way you have collaborated with others to learn from them, with them, or contribute to your community together.

Since the prompt clearly states that there are no specific boxes that your choice of community has to check, think about a place where you’ve actually made an impact. Think about how to differentiate yourself—while service trips abroad definitely could count as community service, they won’t help paint a memorable picture of you because lots of students participate in them. You could write about the smaller circles such as your family, friend group, or neighborhood. You may have helped the community as a whole or you could have helped one or two individuals who belong to it. 

To think about the kinds of contributions to elaborate on, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How have you collaborated with others in your community?
  • Have you taken any risks to help others? How have they paid off?
  • Have you spearheaded any initiatives towards change?
  • Are there any service examples that portray your curiosity and creativity?
  • Why do you care about this community? How have you shown it? 

If you choose a larger community—like your whole school or city—make sure your essay still focuses on your own contribution and role. A response to such a prompt needs to follow the classic “show, not tell” advice. Admissions officers won’t be satisfied with just “I helped my family.” You need to dig deeper and convince them through the MIT application essays 2023-2024 that you are the kind of hardworking and passionate individual who can thrive at MIT.

How did you manage a situation or challenge that you didn’t expect? What did you learn from it?

MIT values candidates “who are not only planning to succeed but who are also not afraid to fail.” When admissions officers read prompts about challenges students have overcome, they don’t want to know every single detail about the hurdle. The response should be more focused on the way the student reacted in the situation and how they’ve grown from the circumstances. Don’t pick an experience where you gave up easily after failing to do something. Your essay should highlight your strength and resilience in the face of an obstacle.

The definition of a “challenge” may vary from person to person. The keyword here is “significant.” Avoid writing about situations such as a bad grade or a sprain playing soccer that might be minor in comparison to issues other students have faced. Instead, think about an instance that showcases how your ability to recover from a struggle and proves your determination as well as your humility. Instead of writing general statements, focus your essay on your actions you took during the situation and the lessons you picked up. 

This is a great opportunity to tell admissions officers about the way you respond to tough moments - end your essay on a positive note!

Additional Tips for Writing the MIT Application Essays 2023-2024

  • Use Your Common Application Profile As Inspiration: Chances are, other schools on your list use the Common Application so you’ve already filled it out. The Common App can be a great source of letting you know the kind of context colleges want to know about you. If there’s anything that you’ve mentioned in the Common App that you haven’t gotten a chance to express for MyMIT—whether it’s mentioned in your personal statement topic or an impressive award—you may be able to include it somewhere in your response to the MIT application essays 2023-2024!
  • Read the Website Very Carefully: Research is extremely important before sitting down to answer school-specific questions and the MIT application essays 2023-2024 are no different. Luckily, MIT has very detailed information for prospective students that can help you go deeper into admissions officers’ minds. Use the information given on the “What we look for” page to get an idea of which characteristics you should emphasize in your responses.
  • Use Strong Examples: The MIT application essays 2023-2024 are all about gauging your intellectual pursuits, community involvement, and engagements outside the classroom. Since the word limits for the prompts aren’t generous, each of your essays should focus on being as specific as possible in depicting your personality and interests. Adding specific examples lets admissions officers understand your perspective better and envision the areas of campus where you’d contribute and how you’d fit in with the MIT community.

When considering the MIT application essays for the 2023-2024 academic year, it is crucial to craft your responses in a manner that showcases your passions and unique perspective, setting you apart from other applicants. These essays serve as both your personal statement and supplemental essays, so make sure to put forth your most compelling arguments to convince admissions officers that you are a perfect fit for MIT. If they grasp your context and agree with your potential contributions to the institute, you will be one step closer to receiving that coveted acceptance letter. Best of luck on your journey!

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