The MIT interview

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  • #1
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Any of you guys been through it (other than Vanadium and twofish) or conducted it? How was it like? Do you feel that it really has the ability to get things to turn around completely? Like, increase or decrease your chances of admission? Or is that a real crap shoot even *with* the interview?

I'm not very worried about it. My interviewer only *just graduated* and he looks like an awesome dude. I just e-mailed him. :)
I'm just hoping this thing can actually turn things around for me. I don't have the most illustrious grades or extra curricular activities. I never built no (functional!) bat-a-rang/batmobile!
 

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  • #2
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I just had my interview yesterday, and he told me the interview is just one piece of the application. He also said MIT has NO benchmarks, and that they look at EVERY word you write. So even if got like 600 on a SAT subject test, or something like that, it won't disqualify you from being accepted.

Good luck in your interview!
 
  • #3
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Or is that a real crap shoot even *with* the interview?

Getting MIT is a real crapshoot. The problem is that there are just too many good applicants and too few places, and even if you have a totally decent application, you still may not get in, because at the end of the day you have N spaces and 3*N good applicants.

I'm just hoping this thing can actually turn things around for me. I don't have the most illustrious grades or extra curricular activities. I never built no (functional!) bat-a-rang/batmobile!

Don't worry too much. If you get in then you get in. If you don't get in, then you don't get in. If you don't get in, and you wonder why you didn't get in, it might be that you were just unlucky.
 
  • #4
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I just had my interview yesterday, and he told me the interview is just one piece of the application. He also said MIT has NO benchmarks, and that they look at EVERY word you write. So even if got like 600 on a SAT subject test, or something like that, it won't disqualify you from being accepted.

Depends on the topic. If you get below a 650 in math, then you almost certainly are not getting in. Last year MIT admitted 4 people with less than 650 and no one under 600. Conversely, even if you get a perfect score, admission is not guaranteed.

If it's reading or writing, you still have a shot. See

http://mitadmissions.org/apply/process/stats

Also there is a reasoning behind this. One thing that is good about MIT is that it doesn't have weed out classes, but that's because the weeding is done up front. If you get below 650 in math, then you are very unlikely to survive 18.01 and 8.01, and unlike a lot of other places, MIT doesn't admit you to toss you out later.
 
  • #5
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I just had my interview yesterday, and he told me the interview is just one piece of the application. He also said MIT has NO benchmarks, and that they look at EVERY word you write. So even if got like 600 on a SAT subject test, or something like that, it won't disqualify you from being accepted.

Good luck in your interview!

Where did you do it? While my interviewer is from the same country as I, he's doing an MS at MIT, so we'll have to do this via Skype. :D

Getting MIT is a real crapshoot. The problem is that there are just too many good applicants and too few places, and even if you have a totally decent application, you still may not get in, because at the end of the day you have N spaces and 3*N good applicants.

Haha, yes. What lowers my chances considerably is that a US citizen/PR is 3.05 times more likely to get in than I. :))

Don't worry too much. If you get in then you get in. If you don't get in, then you don't get in. If you don't get in, and you wonder why you didn't get in, it might be that you were just unlucky.

It goes something like that. I'm more worried about what my principal will write though. I've been to that school only since March but I'm well acquainted with him (I work out some math problems with the dude) but every time I go in, he asks me which year I'm in and what my name is...*facepalm*
Either he wasn't very impressed or there's too many persons coming and going that he can't keep track of 'em all. In any case, I'm screwed!

Another question, which you may or may not be able to answer: is the high school transcript *very* important? I never cared much about them and usually wrote out funny stuff in my exams...I am confident I can get a few A+s/As for my last semester though. So, if that thing is of capital importance, let's hope this pulls me through.
Me taking only my finals seriously doesn't really give out a good impression, I guess
 
  • #6
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Haha, yes. What lowers my chances considerably is that a US citizen/PR is 3.05 times more likely to get in than I. :))

You can take a look at the stats....

US Citizen/PR - 1595 admissions out of 13979
International students - 147 admissions out of 3930

At this point, I wouldn't worry. Worrying is only useful when you can change things and what is done is done. Just see what happens.

Also, I'd make sure that your backup plans are also in place. One of the things about MIT is that it's part of a US university *system* and while it's a random shot at getting in at one school, you should have a decent change of getting in somewhere. In a lot of countries, if you don't make it into the top school, then you are totally doomed for the rest of your life, but one good thing is that that this is much less true of the US, which is a good thing.

If you don't get into MIT but you get in somewhere, you are still in the game so I wouldn't worry. If you don't get in anywhere, then you have big problems.

I am confident I can get a few A+s/As for my last semester though. So, if that thing is of capital importance, let's hope this pulls me through.

That's not going to help you. Anything that determines admissions is already in the application so anything new is not going to make a difference.
 
  • #7
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I did the interview 2 years ago (graduate in 2010) and my guy was okay. I guess I should also note that I was accepted into MIT (but declined). I doubt the interview can really help you all that much. When I was there, it felt more like a "check-mark", where it can only hurt you (i.e. you have an extremely bad personality and cannot interact socially).

It's hard for a person to get to know you within 1-2 hours and I'm sure almost all interview recommendations have the interviewer rooting for the interviewee. There's not much said in the interview that isn't already said in the application (extracurriculars, passion, etc.).
 
  • #8
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You can take a look at the stats....

US Citizen/PR - 1595 admissions out of 13979
International students - 147 admissions out of 3930

At this point, I wouldn't worry. Worrying is only useful when you can change things and what is done is done. Just see what happens.

That's not going to help you. Anything that determines admissions is already in the application so anything new is not going to make a difference.

Those stats are what I used to get to the 3.05. ;)

Well yeah, and right now, I can still get to change something and that's the plan here. I'm only sending in the application mid-November, when I get the grades for my last semester. So, in that case, better grades can only help me? Right now, I'm getting teacher recommendations.

Also, I'd make sure that your backup plans are also in place.

I have a safety plan but it's going to be a painful three years if it comes down to it. The majority doing Maths and Physics ended up there either because they didn't have the grades to get into their program of choice (engineering or finance) or because they want to teach. (there's *big money* in the extra-classes business here)

One of the things about MIT is that it's part of a US university *system* and while it's a random shot at getting in at one school, you should have a decent change of getting in somewhere. In a lot of countries, if you don't make it into the top school, then you are totally doomed for the rest of your life, but one good thing is that that this is much less true of the US, which is a good thing.

The places that I think I might get in comfortably enough aren't willing to offer financial aid and I don't think it's worth me going into such massive debt. (~$40±10k x 4)

The places who do though, are just another crap shoot. Maybe not as much as MIT, in the case of Amherst. Word on the street is they're looking for a more diverse student body...

The cool thing with college education in the US system is the generally wide array of course choices. I can major in Physics and still take courses in macro/microeconomics as well as creative/scientific writing.

I did the interview 2 years ago (graduate in 2010) and my guy was okay. I guess I should also note that I was accepted into MIT (but declined). I doubt the interview can really help you all that much. When I was there, it felt more like a "check-mark", where it can only hurt you (i.e. you have an extremely bad personality and cannot interact socially).

It's hard for a person to get to know you within 1-2 hours and I'm sure almost all interview recommendations have the interviewer rooting for the interviewee. There's not much said in the interview that isn't already said in the application (extracurriculars, passion, etc.).

Well, that's a bummer. Maybe I'll make a new friend though. :D

I'd say a face-to-face conversation is better than reading a few papers.

Why did you decline? Where are you at now?
 
  • #9
chiro
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What country if you don't mind me asking, are you from Thy Apathy?
 
  • #10
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The first couple of years after they made the interview optional, MIT published acceptance stats of interviewed and non-interviewed students. Maybe they still do. At the time, the acceptance rate for interviewed students was around twice what it was for non-interviewed students. So while sometimes it helps, and sometimes it doesn't, on average it's a net plus.
 
  • #11
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The first couple of years after they made the interview optional, MIT published acceptance stats of interviewed and non-interviewed students. Maybe they still do. At the time, the acceptance rate for interviewed students was around twice what it was for non-interviewed students. So while sometimes it helps, and sometimes it doesn't, on average it's a net plus.
They still post them on the http://mitadmissions.org/apply/freshman/interview". If you decline an interview, your chance of admission drops by almost a factor of 10, from 12.4% to 1.4% (though applicants who had interviews waived are also in that 12.4%... not really sure how large that portion of the pool is these days).
 
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  • #12
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I'm pretty sure there's confounding variables..
 
  • #13
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Yes, there certainly are. So?

Unless you're arguing that Thy Apathy shouldn't interview, I don't see the point.
 
  • #14
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Yes, there certainly are. So?

Unless you're arguing that Thy Apathy shouldn't interview, I don't see the point.

I just found that statistic to be interesting, since interviews were still mandatory when I applied to MIT. I only remembered that statistic because it came up when I was chatting with my course 6 p-set buddy who is now an EC. I wasn't arguing for correlation between the two; I have no idea how the crapshoot that is MIT admissions works.

I'm all for applicants doing interviews; it provides a bit of a sanity check for the applicant to talk to someone who has been to MIT. I somewhat wish that I had done one back then; I didn't because I lived more than 100 miles away from the nearest EC.

Good luck with your interview, Thy Apathy.
 
  • #15
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^^ So you have no evidence that taking an interview is a "net plus" as you so claimed.


After a lot of experience talking to different admissions, many people seem to use this analogy to describe interviews: "it can be seen as an optional essay where you get to express things outside your application." That's the design anyways, but you spend almost all the time in the interview explaining stuff already on your application to some alumni, who has no idea who you are. And MIT is well aware that because they're alumni and not professional interviewers, there is no standardized basis to understand the results of the interviews. Thus, on a logical perspective, it would be inane for MIT to put much weight on a subjective medium.
 
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  • #16
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I have evidence, which I described and apparently is also on MIT's web site. I don't have a rigorous proof. There is no way to "prove" anything with admissions. You can't run a controlled test.

MIT takes the interview seriously. It may be "inane", but that's what they do. Perhaps when you've had more than a couple weeks college experience yourself, you might come to a different opinion.
 
  • #17
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I have evidence, which I described and apparently is also on MIT's web site. I don't have a rigorous proof. There is no way to "prove" anything with admissions. You can't run a controlled test.

MIT takes the interview seriously. It may be "inane", but that's what they do. Perhaps when you've had more than a couple weeks college experience yourself, you might come to a different opinion.
 
  • #18
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Where did you do it? While my interviewer is from the same country as I, he's doing an MS at MIT, so we'll have to do this via Skype. :D

The interview was taken at his office place, which was pretty cool.

But yeah, I would highly suggest the interview regardless if it helps your application because you can ask questions about the dorms, Boston, weather, etc. because, if accepted, you will be living for 4 years and if you're not going to like the location then you should probably not be going to that college :eek:!
 
  • #19
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MIT takes the interview seriously. It may be "inane", but that's what they do. Perhaps when you've had more than a couple weeks college experience yourself, you might come to a different opinion.

I'm pretty sure I've had more than a couple weeks college experience. I'm graduating this year.. And as far as 'evidence' goes, feel free to snoop around Collegeconfidential and ask some of the MIT alumni/ECs there. There are a few people who are actually part of the admissions (or at least know more information) and who regularly visit the MIT subforum. And going off that statistic alone isn't going off much. Sorry bud.
 
  • #20
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I'm sorry - it must be another Anonymous who just started college. He was deciding between Berkeley and Princeton.

I am an MIT alum and an EC. I've been on a first name basis with the last four deans of admission (even before they were called that). You've...read posts on Collegeconfidential. I'll let the readership here decide who to believe.
 
  • #21
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^ I understand the "CollegeConfidential" point. But I was talking about the legitimate ECs and the admissions committee member that regularly visit the MIT subforum, not the high school kids spreading rumors.
 
  • #22
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to some alumni, who has no idea who you are. And MIT is well aware that because they're alumni and not professional interviewers, there is no standardized basis to understand the results of the interviews.

Keep in mind that a collection of application essays conveys also a limited knowledge of the applicant, and is written by the applicant (perhaps the most dubious source of info when asked to portray himself/herself subjectively). The interviewers gain some information from the applicant, and try to submit it as carefully as possible - I don't think it's much more "inane" to take it into account than to take any of the rest of the application into account.

I think it's hard to argue the admissions process isn't already extremely subjective. What can be said is that there are probably a lot of great kids who get in, but without a question, many kids who are probably equally great who don't.

All said, I do agree with most of your criticisms of the admissions process, but I must say that this is a function of placing faith in an admissions office to be able to decide "soft qualities" accurately and relevantly, and factor them into admissions.
 
  • #23
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At the time, the acceptance rate for interviewed students was around twice what it was for non-interviewed students. So while sometimes it helps, and sometimes it doesn't, on average it's a net plus.

You did acknowledge that there could be other factors, and of course an obvious one is that the candidates who do interview self-select in some form. This certainly doesn't discredit your point that the interview is a plus, although it does raise a question as to how much it changes the absolute outcome? After all, a lot of people serious about MIT probably accept the interview. The question is what specifically about the interview gets used in admissions and has aided an applicant in gaining admission.

It's hard for a person to get to know you within 1-2 hours and I'm sure almost all interview recommendations have the interviewer rooting for the interviewee.

Yes, but it's also hard to get to know someone through an application - extremely, in my opinion. You get to know what they present you. Also, I doubt the interviewer tends to be so easy to please, because I imagine a lot of them get the "this person only wants MIT because it's famous and has nothing else to offer" vibe.
 
  • #24
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Students say that they want to be evaluated as individuals, and not as a list of numbers. But as soon as you start doing that, they cry "Unfair! This is subjective!". They can't have it both ways.
 
  • #25
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I do agree there is a lot of whining, which I discourage when I see high schoolers. For one thing, I think most students vastly underestimate how much they can get out of a very good school that isn't precisely the school they are shooting for.

I do have a comment though - I think evaluating someone in context isn't quite the same as getting to know them as individuals. The former goal is much more modest, and in my own sentiment, more feasible. In conversing with various high school students applying to various top notch programs, I have found that the contents of undergraduate applications sometimes resemble psychology projects more than academic applications. Contrast this with a graduate school application, where you typically write a straightforward statement of what you'd like to do in grad school, along with some kind of personal history to give context. I don't think this is so far from the model which undergraduate studies should follow ... basically modulo the graduate program's desire that the undergraduate is showing promise towards specialized work, which is not yet necessary for the undergrad.
 

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