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Rising Highschool junior interested in going to MIT.

  1. Jun 28, 2008 #1
    I'm extremely interested in going to MIT, but due to the expense, I can't exactly afford to go at the moment.

    I was also want advice on what one might expect me to need to get into MIT.

    I have a 3.8 GPA, and I'm ranked 4th in my class.

    I want to major in several different fields. Specifically Theoretical physics, bioengineering, and neuroscience. Weird combination, I know.

    So basically, my questions are as follows.

    1. What's the best way to get money to get into MIT?

    2. What exactly are the qualifications to get into MIT?

    3. I've found a few scholarships that want original scientific research; such as solving problems in science and finding new applications for technology. I'm having difficulty thinking of scientific problems. Can I have some help with some basic brain storming ideas?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 28, 2008 #2
    1. "What's the best way to get money to get into MIT?"
    You cannot bribe MIT staff to get into it. Read your question again.(I know what you mean, scholarships are the best and obvious way, what else? They might give you financial aid based on need if your parents don't make much. If you got accepted, then they asses your situation and decide how much to give. Also, check out FASFA.)

    2. "What exactly are the qualifications to get into MIT?"
    There are no fine boundaries for the SAT score or GPA. I'm sure people with an SAT score of 2400 were rejected from MIT. It happens quite often nowdays. I'm guessing the average SAT score is probably 2200-2300(probably higher). Check their website, they have all this information listed. I think the best way to get into top-tier schools is to include 1 special word or similar words of that to get in, passion. You also have to display your "passion" on your extra-curricular activities list. If you do not have more than a few "passion" related activities, don't bother even applying. At these type of schools, the majority of their kids are very smart; the only judgment they have left is by their activity list. SAT scores are basically to weed out the "not so ready" kids.

    3. Ill leave this to someone else.

    Honestly, before seriously obtaining information for financial aid about MIT, see if you would even be accepted. There is nothing spectacular about a 3.8 GPA and being ranked 4 th in a class, nothing at all. It shows you are possibly college ready, but why should they choose you instead of another group of kids who got a 2400(or who got close) on the SAT and 4.0 GPA(it happens)? Like mentioned before, Passion is the key to getting into most top-tier schools.

    What is your SAT score anyway?
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2008
  4. Jun 28, 2008 #3


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    A girl in my HS graduating class was in the 99.5+ percentile in both verbal and math, as was I. The difference is that I had participated in more sports, music, extracurricular activities than any other kid in my class. I had scholarship offers from University of Arizona, Michigan State, and MIT among others, and hadn't applied to any of those. The problem was that even though I had worked and saved for college since 'way before HS, the scholarships were not comprehensive enough to allow me to attend without loans, and except for MIT (I could have hitch-hiked that easily) I would have been stuck at college on breaks, holidays, etc - not enough funds for air-fare. I decided to attend my state university - the school of engineering is very well-regarded.
  5. Jun 28, 2008 #4
    Not attending a top-tier school is always worrying me all the same. I feel I am going to "miss" out something by not attending top-tier; I know I will.

    What is your opinion on this turbo?

    Well, there is always graduate school.
  6. Jun 28, 2008 #5


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    I don't know. I should have attended U of A because of my love of observational astronomy and of tinkering. They wanted me in the math program, but I could perhaps have parlayed that into a career in astronomical optics and instrumentation. Is U of A a "top-tier" school? Perhaps not in some fields, but a student who wants to study astronomy at a school hooked into some major research programs would be well-advised to consider Tucson.
  7. Jun 28, 2008 #6
    I am of the camp that your undergrad does not matter that much. There are a lot of great undergrad schools for physics/math/science that send their graduates to top flight grad programs. As long as your school is good, i.e. has some well known faculty, a good curriculum, ability to do research or take grad courses, i believe you can get into any grad school. The rest is you working hard and excelling.
  8. Jun 28, 2008 #7
    As far as extracurricular activities, I don't really need much else.

    I basically run the remnants of the chess club.
    I'm going to be captain of the academic team my senior year. (I'll be on it 3 1/2 years when i graduate)
    I'm in NJROTC, and do TONS of stuff in it. Academic team for NJROTC, etc. I'll probably be Administration Officer my senior year. And over this past year, I've done loads of volunteer work. A good 40 hours. I'm also enrolled in AP classes. In Honors classes, blah blah blah. My weighted GPA is around 4.6. I'm also getting a job when I turn 17 for more experience. I'm joining Mu Alpha Theta next year, and the science club. I'll be part of the National Honors Society as well. This is also on top of my course load, working, and teaching karate as an assistant to a black belt in my dojo.
    I'll have my black belt in shotokan karate by the time I graduate as well. Basically, I'll have done tons of stuff involving leadership and teaching by the time I'm done with highschool.

    My last SAT score was from back in 7th grade. I got a 1000 on it when it was the old SAT. My PSAT score was 1860, having not even taken more than a month or so of geometry. My PLAN Score was a 28, where I aced the science portion and math portion. English grammar is what brought me down in that, and since then I've greatly improved my grammar. I plan on taking the real SAT and ACT this year. Since I took Geometry, I want to take Pre-Cal then take my SAT/ACT. I imagine my SAT will be around 2200 next time I take it; ACT will probably be 31 or so.
  9. Jun 28, 2008 #8
    Definitely on the right track; but I don't know, you seem to be a generic student who wants to apply to MIT. Nothing stands out at all compared to the students applying to MIT.

    I am assuming you want to be an engineer, and I don't see any engineering activities at all either. I knew someone who wanted to be a Physicist and traveled to Canada to spend a few weeks learning about theoretical physics, attend the Columbia University Science Honors Program for two years, and LOADS of other physics related activities. Assuming you want to be an engineer, go and find engineering activities that you would enjoy, and do them because you want to experience them, and not simply to gain admission into MIT(the admissions board isn't stupid, they know).

    The problem nowdays is, there are so many great kids like you who work hard and deserve go to any university he or she wants, but there are only a finite number of spots at places like MIT.

    I honestly don't know what to say, except act yourself. Being yourself and doing the activities you enjoy with passion is probably the only way to get in into these top schools.

    Like my physicist friend did, he got accepted to places where his near-perfect SAT friends got rejected while he had lower scores. He got in because of his passion and willingness to experience this field; so should you.

    If your SAT score does turn out to be a 2200, I think you have to raise it a bit higher.

    Then again, look at the bright side. Undergraduate is not as important as graduate, you will have a great time to fix your mistakes (if any) to get another great shot at graduate.

    Hope this helped.
  10. Jun 28, 2008 #9
    I got a 2100 on the SAT but a 33 on the ACT. If I were you, I'd expect a higher ACT score. The math/science sections are a breeze (I got wrecked by reading).

    To the guy above, I'm dying to do physics related stuff this summer but I can't find anything. Where would you suggest I look?
  11. Jun 28, 2008 #10
    Actually, I want to mainly be a theoretical physicist, with knowledge in biophysics/bioengineering and neurology. I'm interested in research on the subatomic level of humans. I want to know exactly what makes us tick at the smallest level.

    Basically, I want to mathematically understand intelligence. Engineering interests me a little I'm actually only a moderate gear-head. I understand how things work, but I can't normally replicate it without help.

    I really want to solve problems in physics, but at the same time I'm also interested in diseases and cells. Specifically brain decay due to old age. I'm trying to figure out how I can do both at the same time.

    So basically, I should go to a college lectures and workshops on theoretical physics?

    Also, thanks for calling me a great kid. It makes me feel a little better to hear someone say that. I'm sorta on my own with getting into MIT, because I'm the son of a single working mother, and I won't have much monetary help from her. No one in my family has ever even gone to college.

    Still, thanks for the help. Now I just need to worry about number 3.

    EDIT: Yeah, I'd like to do some physics stuff this summer.

    And yeah Razzor, I aced the mathematic and science portions of the Pre-ACT (PLAN). It was actually grammar usage that killed me. I even aced the Rhetoric portion.
  12. Jun 28, 2008 #11
    I know one of the visiting professors at MIT and speak to him regularly so if you want my two cents:

    From what he tells me, MIT wants to see that you have experience in the field which you seek to study. This reiterates the 'passion' razored mentioned.

    Also, if Theoretical Physics is going to be your gig, why got to MIT?? Sure, it's a great school and I am sure they have a great program for that, but ENGINEERING is their strongest suit. If you're dead set on a Top tier school in the Boston ares, you should check out Harvard.

    This is based on what I hear from people who do a lot of hiring in bot fields. MIT=Engineer
  13. Jun 29, 2008 #12
    I dunno, everyone has always told me MIT has a good theoretical physics program.
  14. Jun 29, 2008 #13
    My advice would be to take whatever advice you read here with a grain of salt since it's clear some people here don't know what they're talking about.
  15. Jun 29, 2008 #14

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    I'm assuming you mean "get money to pay for MIT", not "get money to get into MIT".

    If you Google "MIT financial aid", you will discover a number of useful things - such as that tuition is free for families making $75k a year or less.

    Jumping ahead a bit, it usually does not impress the interviewer if the candidate asks questions that could have been answered on line (or by a careful reading of the application) beforehand. My favorite: "MIT - is that in Michigan or Maryland?"

    Exactly? That the admissions committee feels that you would be a more valuable addition to the Institute than about 10000 other applicants.

    That tends not to be terribly helpful in assessing one's chances. MIT does publish some statistics on this.

    My feeling is that a 2200 is in the ballpark, but on the low side; 3.8 is in the ballpark but on the low side; and 4th in your class is in the ballpark, but on the low side. (A truly astounding number of admits were #1 in their classes - and while I don't think MIT is particularly impressed with whether a student ends up #1 or #2, they are impressed by students with a lot of drive, and such students often end up #1).

    You will need strong letters, a strong essay, and a strong interview. How do I know this? Because everyone needs strong letters, a strong essay, and a strong interview. While the interview is technically optional, passing it up is passing up a chance to show why they should admit you and not one of the other 11,000 applicants.

    A big part of original scientific research is posing the problem. If we did it for you, it wouldn't be original, would it?
  16. Jun 29, 2008 #15
    Never said it was bad. It's just, if you are paying 'best schools money' shouldn't you get the best physics program possible. :smile:

    Good luck with whatever you choose!

    Very clear:smile:

    Anyway, I'd definitely take durt's advice though.:rolleyes:
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2008
  17. Jun 29, 2008 #16
    Thanks a lot. I'm just a little unsure of what I need to do. I know I can push my rank up. I'll probably be 2nd in my class by the time I graduate. My GPA will probably be a 3.9 or so. And I was making a ball-park guess at my SAT scores my Junior year. Senior year I can't say. I've decided to start taking school seriously and putting forth a lot of effort. I mean, I'm ranked as high as I am without putting worth any effort. I slept in class and just screwed around. Straight A's almost all the time.

    I think I understand exactly what you mean. I expect to be 2nd in my class when I graduate. The guy who's ranked 2nd moved, and the person who's 2nd now is so caught up in sports I'll surpass him if I put forth effort. The girl who's 1st was home schooled most of her life, and lot of the time she's already done the material. And if what you say is true about the financial aid for MIT, I'll be fine. I'll still look for scholarships though of course.

    So, lets be generous.

    I get a 2300 on my SAT.
    33 on my ACT.
    3.9 GPA (Easily within reach)
    2nd in my class.

    That should be me when I graduate, if I put forth effort.

    So yeah...money is solved I guess. And what their standards are I think I have an idea of.

    Problem 3...well, I guess I'll need to start reading books on physics. lol.

    So I guess I'll keep the thread rolling with a new question, that's entirely relevant.

    What books should I read to understand physics more in depth? I have an elementary grasp on most of the concepts, as far as m-theory, string theory, quantum mechanics, etc. But that's just it. My grasp is elementary. Most of my knowledge comes from simple reading and watching the science and discovery channel. I've read some of Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe". I even have an idea I'm toying around with that I'd like to see if I couldn't write mathematically. I'd like to be able to start reading things in high school where I can teach myself as much as possible, so when I'm in college I'll have already seen the concepts. It's just at the high school level I'm severely limited in what I have access too. Anyway, thanks a lot guys.
  18. Jun 29, 2008 #17
    Hello Colonelhaakah,

    Congratulations on your very ambitious plan, it sounds like you want to do pioneering interdisciplinary work. Other fields you might be interested in besides biology and physics are computer science and mathematics, and also philosophy.

    My recommendation is to avoid loans as an undergraduate and go to your state college. This will give you more freedom as your classmates will be easy to outscore, which leaves you energy for the important research and self-guided studying.

    At a state school you could graduate with one major in 3 years, with one additional year put in for each major after that.

    The reason that the undergraduate school doesn't matter is because they are all seriously weak compared to a PhD program, even at a much "lesser" school. Your undergraduate accomplishments only matter in as much as they get you into grad school, later people in academia will ask "Where did you go to school?" and you will be no more inclined to mention your undergrad school than you would be to mention your high school.

    It sounds like you should study Calculus, and after that University Physics, or maybe Classical Mechanics.

    These are all college courses, with many textbooks available for each. You should look at the MIT course catalog, find out what textbooks they use for each course (on their website), and buy them from amazon. Even better then buying them is to go to (any) university library and borrow them, then you can get 5 books on each subject. They will be very fun to read.

    These forums are the key to great resources! We have many top notch people here, it doesn't get any better without going to a university with good professors.

    I suggest making a new thread about wanting to self-study more physics while in high school, and describe your math background along with your previous physics knowledge.
  19. Jun 29, 2008 #18
    Thank you. I try to be amibitous because I know I can do a lot with myself. Yeah, I love computers and philosophy. I also enjoy psychology. the brain interests me highly, hence why I also want to study neurology.

    I think going to a state college first might work. I wouldn't mind going to USC (South Carolina) for a couple years and getting all my undergrad done before switching to MIT or Berkeley or somewhere where they have a good physics program. (MIT just seems like the best choice at the moment.)

    Thanks for the book suggestions. I'll see if I can't get them soon. I'm not exactly an excellent mathematician because I don't use math very often. I rarely ever memorize formulas; I just reverse engineer the problem and solve through my own way.

    I'll make a thread as you suggested then. Perhaps I can get some more book suggestions.

    Thanks again everyone.
  20. Jun 29, 2008 #19
    By the way, "neurology" isn't the preferred term. When I hear "neurology" I think the medical specialty. Scientists who study the brain prefer lots of different terms to describe what they do (never "neurology" though) usually, "neurobiology", "neuropsychology", "neurophysiology" etc. Or the, now more and more ubiquitous "neuroscience".

    Of course, if you go to MIT they call everything by number, if you study neuroscience or rather in MIT-speak "brain and cognitive science" then your number will be "9".
  21. Jun 29, 2008 #20
    Thank you for the correction. Could you elaborate on the "calling everything by number"?
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