A Step-By-Step Guide to the MyMIT Application Portal
November 23, 2020
A Step-By-Step Guide to the MyMIT Application Portal
The 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. Plus, you need to dedicate a significant amount of time to the MIT application as it has its own portal: the MyMIT application portal.
Unlike most top schools, MIT doesn’t accept the Common Application or the Coalition Application. However, if you go through the process once with the Common App, you might find that you already have most of what you need to complete the MyMIT questions. The MyMIT application portal is divided into the following sections:
- Introduce Yourself
- Application Information
- Family Information
- Academic History
- Self-reported Coursework
- Test Scores
- Activities and Distinctions
- Short Responses
- Additional information
- Review and Submit
As daunting as all of the sections of MyMIT might seem, if done right, you can submit a stellar application that captures who you are and what you can bring to this STEM-oriented college. We will take a closer look at the sections and provide tips for filling out each one to ease the process for you.
Preparing to Fill Out MyMIT
Before you sit down to complete the different sections of the MyMIT application portal, make sure you have the following information and documents at hand:
- Your high school transcripts
- A list of your extracurricular activities and awards
- Your parents’ or legal guardians’ employment information, education, etc.
- Your test scores
- Contact information for your recommenders
Start collecting the documents and asking for recommendations ahead of time. Your teachers cannot write a stellar recommendation on the spot if you only give them a days’ notice. You should ask them as early as the end of your junior year, or at the beginning of your senior year.
Remember, each section is very important, not only individually, but in how they work together to paint a more holistic picture of you as an applicant. Do not rush through these details. Think about all of it carefully, and you will set yourself up for success as you fill out the MyMIT application.
The first step is very basic. Create an account on the portal by letting MIT know your email address, first name, last name, and birthdate. Be careful not to make any spelling errors because you don’t want your name or birthday to appear incorrectly on your application file!
If you’re a first year applicant, rather than a transfer student, make sure you select “First-Year Application” as you set to complete your MyMIT application.
The first section is all about introducing yourself. Besides basic information such as your name, address, contact information, and gender identity, The MyMIT application portal also wants to know when and where you were born, and what citizenship you hold. Make sure to fill out this section very carefully, as it’s easy to mix up information such as your first name and last name. This section allows you to put in a nickname if applicable, your name in another language if you have one, and any named that you might have used previously.
While MIT does not read applications by your region, it’s still crucial to make sure you’ve typed out your address correctly as you might get important mail from the school. They might send brochures, ask clarifying questions regarding your application, and of course, announce your admissions decision. Knowing where you were born and where you live also helps provide context on your life to the admissions readers.
Next we come to the “identity” section. Prepare to do a little bit of writing here.
Cultural Background Question: The first box here is a prompt that asks: “Please tell us more about your cultural background or identity in the space below. (150 words or fewer)”
MIT wants to make sure that it admits students from a wide variety of backgrounds. They’ve presented this question to ensure that they understand the full context of your family history and upbringing. You might choose to elaborate on an important piece of family history, or you might want to talk about an aspect of your culture or identity that you really enjoy, such as a dish or a traditional holiday. Whatever you choose to write about, remember that your goal is to stand out from the thousands of other applicants vying for a spot at MIT. Think about what really distinguishes you.
Sexual Orientation and Pronouns: Part of MIT’s goal in admitting a diverse pool of students involves making sure they accept students who identify in different ways, including on the basis of their sexuality and gender. If you feel comfortable, let MIT know how you identify.
Religious preference: If you are religious, you can let MIT know which faith you belong to—or you may click “choose not to answer” if you don’t wish to elaborate. All of these questions are there to help the admissions officers understand your context better.
Share Your Story: MIT has posed another question here for students. “Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, school, community, city, or town. How has the world shaped your dreams and aspirations?” (250 words)
This short essay focuses on community impact. In understanding how you and the world you come from have shaped each other, MIT wants to gauge what you will bring to campus that no other student can. Carefully think about whether you want to write about your family, your school, or even your city, and identify what your role has been in this community. If you’ve spearheaded any initiatives in this community or collaborated with others, highlight them in your response. MIT appreciates students’ leadership and teamwork abilities.
Next, it’s time to let the MyMIT application portal know when you’re applying and what major you’re applying for.
Application Round: If MIT is your dream school and you want to receive your admissions decision as soon as possible, apply early action by November 1. Early action is a flexible route as not only would you know if you’ve been admitted to MIT by December, you also won’t be bound to commit and can use the regular decision pool to explore other options and even better financial aid packages.
If you’re not ready by November, you can choose to apply during the regular decision pool. Remember that you’ll be competing with a far greater number of candidates—MIT received 21,312 applications in 2019! You’ll have to bring your absolute A-game.
Major: MIT would like to know which among its 50+ programs appeals to you. You might go for a STEM subject, as many MIT students do, such as Biomedical Engineering or Physics. Or, you might be interested in being a Writing or Women’s and Gender Studies major. The university provides you with a box limited to 100 words to explain why you’re drawn to your chosen field.
Before you write this response, it’s important to sit down and look through the majors and course offerings. Once you’ve decided on which major appeals to you, it’s time to think about your own experiences. How did your love for the field begin? How have you honed your skills in the discipline since then? If you’ve taken any challenging courses or started relevant clubs, how is MIT the perfect place for you to continue your exploration? No matter which MIT major you’ve chosen, it’s important to show admissions officers evidence of your dedication to this field, and how further study in this field meshes with your profile.
Parents and Siblings: When filling out information about your parents, you need to know your parents’ marital status, their profession, their educational background information (including their school and graduation year), and their employment status (whether they are employed, retired, homemaker, or deceased). Your family background is a big part of providing admissions officers more context about who you are and where you come from. They want to know if you were raised by a single parent, whether you grew up in a divorced home, or whether one of your parents have passed away.
This section is also for admissions officers to find out if your parents went to college, what your parents do, and their current position. MIT values the perspective of first generation students and looks to see if you are coming from that background. Plus, they ask how many siblings you have and what their highest level of education is.
Unlike other elite schools, MIT does not give a boost to “legacy” candidates. In other words, having parents who attended MIT does not in any way improve your chances of admissions.
Languages: The MyMIT application portal wants to know what language(s) your family speaks at home. This is an opportunity to show more about your cultural background.
Additional Information About Family: If you want to add anything further on your family circumstance, this section provides a box to do so. This information helps provide admissions officers with more information regarding your familial circumstances, such as changes in employment history or how COVID-19 might have affected you, do so. There is no specific answer that MIT is looking for—it will just help the school understand your background better.
The next section requires you to mention all of the high schools you have attended. MIT wants to know the name of the school, the city, state, and country where it’s located, and what the dates of your attendance are.
The academic history section inquires into whether any disciplinary action has ever been taken against you, whether you’re graduating high school without a diploma, and whether you are still in school during the time of your application. You should say yes to the question if you aren’t currently taking a gap year.
In the next section, MIT wants to know what high school classes you have taken and whether you have challenged yourself throughout the last four years. MIT is an academically rigorous institution and not only expects you to excel academically, but also specifically bring experience in the following:
- One year of high school physics
- One year of high school chemistry
- One year of high school biology
- Math, through calculus
- Two years of a foreign language.
- Four years of English
- Two years of history and/or social sciences
The MyMIT application portal’s boxes ask what the subject category is (English, foreign language, science, math etc.), which years you took the class, which level you took it in (AP, college, IB, honors, regular, etc.), the name of the class and the grade you received. You also have to separately indicate the number of years you bring in the form of STEM experience.
Additional Information: If there is any information about your school’s subject offerings or grading policies that you want to provide for the admissions officers, MyMIT has a box in the self-reported coursework section. There is a second box with a limit of 250 words which has been added this year for you to explain any extenuating circumstances you’ve experienced due to COVID-19. This could include changes in the school system, conditions at home, illness in the family, etc. Use it to your discretion—similar to how you would answer the Common App COVID-19 question.
The test scores section asks you to self-report any tests you have taken, such as standardized tests like the SAT or ACT (this is optional for the 2020-21 cycle), tests based on what you’ve studied in high school, such as the AP or IB, or tests which show your English language proficiency, such as IELTS or TOEFL. When self-reporting your test scores, you must be honest. You also have to order your scores to be sent from the Collegeboard or the ACT websites to each individual school.
The MyMIT application portal also has a box asking you to indicate whether you experienced any unforeseen situation when it came to your testing. This could be a place to talk about whether your test score was affected by external factors or if you had multiple test dates canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
MIT appreciates students who are responsible and hardworking. One way to demonstrate that you have different skills is by listing any job positions you’ve held in high school. MyMIT asks that you list every single work experience and the duration of the role, as well as a description (without a character limit!) of what you did. Make sure you take advantage of the space to describe both your place of employment and what your specific work entailed. Whether you babysat, worked as a cashier, or started your own business, no job is too small here!
Activities and Distinctions
The activities and distinctions section is divided into four parts: activities, summer activities, distinctions, and supplements and portfolio.
Activities: Unlike the Common App, which allows space for 10 different activities, MyMIT asks you to list your four more important ones. Think very carefully about which ones you pick. Prioritize science and engineering activities, particularly roles where you’ve held leadership positions, have earned tangible achievements, and committed to for a long period of time. You also have a 40-word limit to describe what you did as part of the activity. Use this space well.
Summer Activity: If you participated in a summer program or extracurricular, you get a separate section for it! So talk about the different ways you spent your high school summers—and MIT encourages mentioning anything you did, from reading and relaxing to camp and travel to summer school and volunteer work. This can be a great place to showcase your prowess in STEM if you participated in competitive science summer programs and competitions, or read STEM-specific books.
Distinctions: The MyMIT application portal allows you to list up to five “scholastic distinctions” and five “non-scholastic” distinctions. Think carefully about what counts as scholastic versus what doesn’t. A writing or art award could very well fit under scholastic, where a sports trophy would fit under non-scholastic. You’re asked to mention the name of the organization that granted you the prize, the name of the award itself, the level at which you received the award (school, regional, state, national, international), and the year in which you got the award.
Supplements and Portfolio: In this part, MIT provides you with directions on how to submit an arts supplement if you’re a musician, dancer, or artist of any kind or fill out the varsity athletics form if you’re interested in sports. You can also indicate an interest in the ROTC here. Finally, there is a box (with a 250-word limit) to indicate whether any of your extracurricular activities were significantly disrupted due to COVID-19. You can also use this space to discuss anything else about your activities you would like the admissions officers to know. Mention anything you believe might add to your application. However, don’t use this space to add a 5th activity or 6th honor!
The MyMIT application portal 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, which must each be limited to 250 words each. 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 for the pleasure of it.
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.
Tell us about the most significant challenge you've faced or something that didn't go according to plan. How did you manage the situation?
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 in 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 strengths. You can read about how to answer each of the MIT application essays in more detail here.
Next, MIT gives you a space of 500 words to describe any additional information you might wish to share with the admissions officers that has not yet been mentioned in the application.
You should always be very careful when filling out this section. Admissions officers go through a lot of applications. You do not want to waste their time with something that could have been mentioned elsewhere in the application. It could be used to provide context on whether any unforeseen circumstances, such as illness or a death in the family, impacted your school performance. You could use it to build upon any research abstract or include your art or writing portfolio. You could also use it to address any disciplinary action that might exist on your record.
This section is not a place to extend your essays or add to your activities list. Those word limits and guidelines exist for a reason. You absolutely do not have to fill out this section if you don’t have anything else to add. It will not make or break your application.
Most of the hard work is now done! MIT requires two teacher evaluations and this is where you add them as your recommenders. One of these letters should come from a math or science teacher, and the other from a humanities, social science, or English teacher. Make sure you ask someone who knows you well and can provide concrete examples on why you’re a valuable candidate, and how you can contribute to MIT’s campus if accepted.
Finally, you must confirm that all of the information that you’ve entered is an accurate representation of you. You also agree to inform the MIT admissions office in case there are new updates to any of the answers in your application including new disciplinary action.
Review and Submit
Check for any spelling errors, mix-ups in phone numbers, addresses, and names. Make sure you’ve put your best foot forward and prioritized your most impressive highlights. Once you’ve checked and double checked that you’ve correctly filled out the different parts of the application, it’s time to submit!
Very few students receive a chance to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 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 give it your best shot and see what happens. A lot of it begins with understanding what the MyMIT application portal asks for, following instructions, and making sure that you’ve portrayed your strongest self in filling out the application. Take it one component at a time. Good luck!