How Do You Get Into MIT? 4 Simple Steps

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is one of the top universities in the world, predominantly specialising in researching and teaching the physical and natural sciences and engineering. 

If you are interested in studying for an undergraduate degree with a scientific focus or conducting world-leading research in such disciplines, MIT is one of the best options around. As a result, competition for places is very competitive, and successful admission is a result of hard work and years of preparation.

In 2021, the admissions rate for first-year undergraduate students was just over 4%: that’s more than three times as competitive as the average place at an Oxbridge college. 

If you’re feeling a bit daunted by this point, don’t worry. We’ve got a few tips to strengthen your application, and have broken them down into relatively simple, actionable steps that you can begin to work on right away. 

  • Work on Your Extracurriculars

As you’ve already seen, MIT is super competitive: of the 33,000 that applied for first-year admission this year, just over 1,000 received an offer. To put that into perspective, that’s roughly 1 offer for every 33 applications. 

The reason we’re telling you this is not to scare you, but to drive home the point that you need to think about the things that make you stand out as an exceptional candidate. Most of the other applicants will have an excellent academic record, but do they volunteer at a local soup kitchen twice a week? Are they the captain of the school’s badminton, football, or squash team? Have they written and produced a musical, or organised their school’s leaver’s ball? 

If you think that you might be looking a bit light in the extracurricular department, you can sort that out by joining some new clubs, picking up a new sport, or engaging fully with a community project that you’re passionate about in your local area.

Past successful clients of ours have published their own academic work, won awards at International Mathematics Olympiads, interned at world-leading research groups, and represented their countries in International Debating Championships.

These are lofty heights to strive for, but you don’t have to earn a cap for your country in a sport or win a national competition to ensure a successful application: just try to engage with activities and leadership roles that demonstrate important aspects of your character. 

Here are a few examples of extracurriculars that top American universities like MIT really value:  

  • Anything that requires you to take a leadership role: the best US colleges absolutely love candidates that have recorded experience of working in a leadership role, whether it’s as captain of their school’s swim team or head of their student council. When applying for the top US colleges, it helps to think of the old adage; “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” In this case, schools like Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and MIT want to hear about what you can bring to their community. These are the sorts of character values that help elevate and enrich your application. 
  • Sports: MIT might not be the best-known US college for sports, but if you’re an avid athlete, you should emphasise this in your application. Athletics reflects a number of core positive character values, like discipline, flexibility, commitment, and passion. 
  • Internships: If you’ve taken the initiative to earn a summer-long internship, particularly if it’s in an area that’s closely related to your academic passions, you should emphasise this point in your application. Committing to an internship demonstrates your zeal for a certain subject field.  
  • Voluntary work and community engagement: The MIT Admissions Team cites community work in the public interest as one of the main factors that it’s looking for in the applications of prospective candidates, so that’s just one more reason to make sure you’re taking part in activities that benefit your local community whenever you can. 
  • Creative achievements: If you’re someone who prefers to write fiction, make music, or doodle in your artbook in your spare time, you should think about producing a relatively substantial piece of creative work that you can include in your MIT application. Admissions teams at all the top US universities are looking for factors that make candidates stand out: if you’ve published a short story, performed at an internationally-recognised festival, or produced an exceptional portfolio of artwork, you’ll make quite an impact. 

Here’s something really crucial to bear in mind. MIT doesn’t necessarily care about how many extracurriculars you’re taking: keep in mind the fact that you should value quality over quantity when it comes to your out-of-school activities.

For example, there’s no point stretching yourself too thin by signing up for 5 school music groups and 4 sports teams and trying to lead the debate team if that means you don’t make any real, quantifiable impact in any of these clubs. In other words, when you commit to an extracurricular, make sure it’s something that you can bring real value to. 

  •  How to Get Into MIT: Ace Your SAT Exams

Generally speaking, any applicant to MIT will have to register for and complete a standardised test called the SAT as part of the admissions process (the ACT is an acceptable alternative). 

If you want a more in-depth breakdown of the SAT/ACT processes, from registration through to effective revision and exam-taking tips, check out our website’s section on Studying in the US

A quick note: if you’re an international student who cites English as a second language, you’ll likely have to register for a recognised English proficiency exam like the Duolingo English Test or the TOEFL. 

  • Start the MyMIT Process Early

Unlike most other top US schools, MIT doesn’t use the CommonApp for application building and submission: instead, the college has its own portal called MyMIT

It’s best to sign up for this portal as soon as possible: you can log in and edit or build your application as many times as you want. Bear in mind that you’ll have to pay a $75 fee before you can actually submit your application (although there are a number of ways to waive this fee if necessary). 

You’ll want to take some time to consider the essay questions (MIT tends to require a number of short-form responses to a selection of prompts). You’ll also be able to list a maximum of 4 different extracurriculars in this section of the admissions process, so think carefully about how you want to represent yourself as a candidate.

The portal also requires you to upload an academic transcript and a number of references (two academic, one personal). When you’re obtaining your references, it’s best to reach out to your choices sooner rather than later. Also, aim to secure a diverse range of references. For example, don’t pick two maths teachers when you can demonstrate an aptitude for a number of subjects by obtaining the references of both a science teacher and a history or literature teacher. 

Last, but definitely not least, make sure to remember these dates: 

  • Early Action Deadline: 1st November 
  • Regular Action Deadline: 5th January.

If you apply for Early Action, you’ll find out whether you’ve received an offer a lot sooner, but if you choose to apply for Regular Action, you’ll have more time to put together a number of college applications: the choice is yours. 

  • How to Get Into MIT: Commit to the Interview Process

It’s likely that you’ll be offered the chance to have an interview with an MIT alumnus as part of the admissions process. You should embrace this opportunity: it’s a brilliant chance to be yourself and show the alumnus who you are as a person.

These interviews are very informal, and will often take place in a coffee shop or some other public space. Most applicants find the college interview fun and interesting: if nothing else, it’s an opportunity for a fascinating conversation with a former MIT student who lives in your area. 

Final Thoughts 

If you’ve got your heart set on applying to study at MIT, but you feel slightly daunted by the low acceptance rate and substantial admissions process, don’t worry.

There are a number of actionable tips you can bear in mind when applying for this college: these tips should help you build a thorough and impressive application profile that will catch the eye of the admissions team.

For more advice on how to bolster your application and improve your chances of getting into the university of your dreams, book a free consultation with one of our admissions experts at A&J Education. 

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