Foreigner trying to get into MIT

  • #26
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Then that makes you much more interesting than the average applicant.

/sarcasm

....

Play music? DUH. Your single is played in every radio station in South Africa, and within a few months, it's getting a lot of attention in Europe? AWESOME. You study college math and physics? DUH. You co-authored a paper with somebody at a local university? AWESOME.

You get the idea.
I'm sorry but I just can't resist this. I find your comment makes sense in that top schools tend to see the applicants' achievements and etc, but I do think your post is pretty harsh, especially the last part. I hope you realize that you are patronising the OP.

I saw you have posted several threads yourself asking for academic advise, and I don't think you might appreciate people talking down on you, using capslock and sarcasm to deliver a point.
 
  • #27
Vanadium 50
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Nearly every international student ive met from Caltech or MIT did an olympiad.
And none of the international members in my living group did.
 
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  • #28
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And none of the international members in my living group did.
That was my experience in one of the 2 aforementioned schools mostly IMO, some years have different yields for olympiad applicants since they are sought after.

If olympiads arent being used as a means for a foreign student to stand out then how exactly does an international student get into MIT ?

There are ~500 international students at MIT. How exactly did they stand out?

If you could give some actionable advice about what makes them stand out on paper because most international students wont be able to interview with an alum working as an EC in their country that would begin to be helpful. Assuming the goal is to be helpful and give advice that one can put to some use.
 
  • #29
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I'm sorry but I just can't resist this. I find your comment makes sense in that top schools tend to see the applicants' achievements and etc, but I do think your post is pretty harsh, especially the last part. I hope you realize that you are patronising the OP.

I saw you have posted several threads yourself asking for academic advise, and I don't think you might appreciate people talking down on you, using capslock and sarcasm to deliver a point.
Meant to help. I've been in his spot before. I was quite neurotic about the whole thing.

It's harsh because the admissions process is harsh. MIT accepts 150 international students per year. Last I checked, that was about 3%.

And as Vanadium implied, no knows what the OP should do to get in. You talk to some people, and they're not sure how they did. You talk to some others, and it quickly makes sense why.

Just to put things into perspective for the OP: I know of somebody who went to Stanford, and that person published two books before. They weren't good books by any stretch, but getting published as a teenager and having people buy your books is a pretty big deal. Another kid I know went to Yale, and that person was heavily involved in politics to the point where he was elected in his hometown.

Somebody else said this before: "You could do all the "right" things and still not get in." It's very important to think about that.

Wanting to go to any arbitrary school, shouldn't be a goal of its own, in my opinion. If you're doing things, do them for the sake of improving yourself. If you go the other way, you'll get a tendency to view everything as "ticking boxes" and "jumping through hoops", and that's when things get more stressful than they should be.

Work hard, improve yourself, and let the chips fall where they may. Don't put all your money on one school, apply broadly. Plenty of good schools to choose from. By the way, OP, I saw someone on physicsgre.com who went to UCT for 4 years, and was accepted for PhDs at Chicago and Columbia.
 
  • #30
would I be hirable internationally if I got my phd from a south african university?
 
  • #31
Vanadium 50
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would I be hirable internationally if I got my phd from a south african university?
What has this to do with trying to get into MIT as an undergrad?
 
  • #32
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It's harsh because the admissions process is harsh. MIT accepts 150 international students per year. Last I checked, that was about 3%..
115 last year. Which means 37 of every 38 international students who applied did not get in.

Somebody else said this before: "You could do all the "right" things and still not get in." It's very important to think about that.

Wanting to go to any arbitrary school, shouldn't be a goal of its own, in my opinion. If you're doing things, do them for the sake of improving yourself. If you go the other way, you'll get a tendency to view everything as "ticking boxes" and "jumping through hoops", and that's when things get more stressful than they should be.
And MIT says those very things on its web site. (Which, frankly, should have been the OPs first stop). I know there are students who don't believe this, and it baffles me why they are applying. If they think the Institute is lying to them, why would they want to go to a place that is lying to them?
 
  • #33
I was aware of the admission rate when I started this thread. I had no delusions about getting in. I just thought that starting this thread wouldn't hurt.
 
  • #34
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It didn't. But as stated above, you won't get responses like:
To get into MIT, do x first, then y etc. What we can do is, if you give us more information about your academics, predict to some degree of accuracy if you can get into a prestigious school. Only thing I can say, as a MIT student, is that get excellent grades, do well on standardized tests, have ECs and most of all, don't act superficial. And by the way, KhanAcademy is not a good resource to learn from. If you have learned directly from there, then you better relearn some algebra, geometry, trigonometry, precalculus and linear algebra soon.
 
  • #35
80% for science 77% for math 82% English 90% IT(we do Delphi) 70% Biology 50% afrikaans (second language, sounds like a throat infection)
if you give us more information about your academics
 
  • #36
I agree I could do better in science and math but I really suck at second language, do universities care?
 
  • #37
HayleySarg
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The best universities will, yes. You'll want to be just as good in English as the rest of the students are, at least, written English. Your assignments and lab reports will be expected in English, and while grammar isn't the core lesson to be learned in a lab report, if you're not capable of concisely and effectively writing, it will hurt you. Not to mention you'll be learning from English books which will require a high level of reading comprehension in English.


My father got into MIT, and attended (he dropped out late into his 2nd year for a variety of rather dumb reasons).

He told me something along the lines once,

"You're a valedictorian, so is everyone else. You're athletic and the star of every club, so is everyone else. You could solve any problem, so can everyone else. Everything that made you special enough to get you there ceases to feel amazing. Suddenly your a very big fish in a pond full of even bigger fish, crammed tightly enough that you're uncomfortably certain you just might not belong there.

I didn't aim to go to MIT. I aimed to be the best I could be at what I loved [physics]. I didn't chase the requirements, though I certainly was aware of them. No, instead I worked to consistently push myself. Everyday a new and harder concept. I just loved the challenge. "

Generally speaking, if you're building yourself up specifically to attend MIT, you'll be disappointed. Don't focus on that nonsense. If you're passionate about the subject, as you say, you'd study it regardless of the name of the school. Anywhere you got in would be better than none. Keep that in your heart, set it aside for later, and focus on the now.
 
  • #38
I meant second language. Americans learn Spanish right? So do your universities care about it?
 
  • #39
HayleySarg
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Ah I wasn't aware English was your first language.

Eh to some extent. It's a highly marketable skill, but I'm not entirely sure how valued it is by universities. I would imagine it varies. They expect some understanding (some amount of courses out of HS) but not fluent, as a general rule.

I took 6 years of French, for example. Look at specific institutions requirements, and that will let you know just how much they care.
 
  • #40
Afrk is only spoken in SA and it's dying. The people who rule the country hate the afrikaaners because of apartheid. I can't imagine it being marketable.
 
  • #41
HayleySarg
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Well correct, you'd want to learn a major world language.

Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese (in no particular order of importance).
 
  • #42
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80% for science 77% for math 82% English 90% IT(we do Delphi) 70% Biology 50% afrikaans
You are trolling, right?

Nothing is impossible. But I think I have a better chance of playing in the NBA than you have of getting into MIT as an undergrad. And I'm 5'6" tall. And 51 years old.

If you do apply, keep in mind that there is one question you have to answer. Why you? Why not one of the other students in South Africa with better grades and better test scores? Underline that "one"... because MIT admits one student from your country every four years. Why you and why this year?
 
  • #43
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Unless you threaten the MIT admissions department, or improve your marks and be less superficial and vainglorious, I doubt your acceptance in any prestigious university.
 
  • #44
I would have lied about my marks if I was superficial. I reiterate, I had no delusions/expectations about getting in and I was happy with the first couple of responses. If I could I would have closed this thread ages ago, and I am not vain.
 
  • #45
HayleySarg
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That's not what was implied by superficial.

Instead, what was implied is that you're not seeing the depth of the material before jumping into the next conclusion. Not that you're vain or otherwise overly concerned with appearance. But rather that you aren't looking past the surface of the situation.

Study the maths, focus on improving your marks and becoming a well rounded young adult, and you'll find a place in a university somewhere.
 
  • #46
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I dont get any particular pleasure in kicking you while you are down or namecalling you but you really should just work at getting into A university.

However these threads are read by others with different grades and for them I would suggest they get in contact with someone in an olympiad that they are interested in. If you do well you will get to meet people from your home country who have got in to MIT or Caltech etc and you can get advice tailored to your home country and be part of a network of people who are well connected and experienced at getting into these schools. Dont bother asking in a forum on the internet where you are more likely to be given at best a morsel of advice and most likely be given information about domestic admissions which is different than international (a much higher acceptance rate domestically and more knowledge from admissions people about the US education system and how to compare students within it).
 
  • #47
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You said you had studied up to and including linear algebra. You also said you were doing QM soon. Therefore, you should have learnt CM already. Yet your marks scarcely support your claim. Sounds pretty superficial to me.
 
  • #48
455
11
You said you had studied up to and including linear algebra. You also said you were doing QM soon. Therefore, you should have learnt CM already. Yet your marks scarcely support your claim. Sounds pretty superficial to me.
A less confrontational way of making your point would of been to frame it in terms of what he should do not what he is doing. You could just suggest he work at learning those topics at greater depth or practicing them until he has near perfect grades.

He should work at perfecting his grades and test scores and seek some type of mentor in his home country.
 
  • #49
No I am not learning CM nor have I nor did I ever say I had. Here physics and chem are one subject. I get average for chem and good marks for physics.

I don't mind people insulting me if what they are saying is fact. I.e. i'm fat, my mom's a slag ect. but I don't like people dissing me on opinion. especially if you don't know me.

Just a suggestion, but perhaps try creating something you're passionate about. Some sort of simulation or
Hence me wanting to learn c++, it's the fastest language I've heard of and seems the best for simulations.

Of course they care. Particularly elite universities. They will be asking questions like.
I long since gave up on the oversees universities, I just don't like the local ones because this country is so obsessed with engineering, nothing wrong with engineers of course but physics it's just amazing.
 
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  • #50
HayleySarg
Gold Member
57
10
Most of the people in here aren't "dissing you."

They're attempting to provide constructive criticism and advice.
 

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