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The MIT interview

  • Thread starter Mépris
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  • #26
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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.
You sure as hell wouldn't see me complaining about getting to play the numbers game. Numbers never lie. If I ace the entrance exam, no way I can be denied entry. There's also the problem that I might have had a bad day on the day of the exam but it's the kind of risk I'd be willing to take.

With the application process being so subjective, it seems like one can be denied admission to a school just because somebody didn't like the tone he used or be granted a seat because somebody happened to like his way with words. It can get more nerve racking for some. I'm pretty certain I mentioned how Cambridge do their admissions and that, in my opinion is much more fair. If you've got the grades, you're invited for a purely academic interview. If you do well in it, you're in. It's basically a few problems in your subject of choice that you have to solve on the spot. From what I gather, one should be explaining what he's doing to the interviewer as he's doing it.
 
  • #27
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I had my interview recently. It was nice enough and while it occasionally felt like an actual honest conversation, I felt more like it was an investigation. I was asked what my plans were for the holidays and what I do for fun, which are questions also asked in the application form. So, I don't really understand why I was asked this again but I get the impression they ask these things to try and see if you're gonna be Elizabeth Shin Mk. II (no offence intended), as twofish mentioned a few times.

Vanadium, since you've been an EC yourself, I'd like to ask: is this figuring out whether the applicant will fit and be able to graduate without too many problems the purpose of the interview? If not, then what? I forgot to ask the EC whether the conversation was recorded (not sure if that's allowed...) but the person was typing out a few things while talking.
 
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  • #28
Vanadium 50
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The interviewer does not have access to your application packet. The reason you were asked what your plans were for the holidays is just small talk.

The interviewer doesn't make any decisions; his job is to try and give the committee some insight into who the applicant is as a person.
 
  • #29
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With the application process being so subjective, it seems like one can be denied admission to a school just because somebody didn't like the tone he used or be granted a seat because somebody happened to like his way with words.
That's because it could happen. One thing about interviews (both to jobs and to schools) is that you or the interviewer could have a bad day, and you could lose out because of something totally random and out of your control. But it could work both ways. You could say something that randomly impresses the interviewer.

The one good bit of news is that getting into one particular school is highly random. Getting into *some* school isn't. It could be that you show up for an interview and someone has a bad day, and you lose. However, if you apply to eight schools, and all of them turn you down, then that's not randomness.

It's seriously a bad idea to put all your hopes in one school.

It can get more nerve racking for some. I'm pretty certain I mentioned how Cambridge do their admissions and that, in my opinion is much more fair. If you've got the grades, you're invited for a purely academic interview. If you do well in it, you're in.
When people talk about "fair" they usually mean "good for me." If you are good at charming someone in an interview and your grades are really good, but not the best in the world, then the way US schools do it is more "fair." Also the problem with looking at scores only is that you are sunk if you are a good student that went to a bad high school.
 
  • #30
847
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That's because it could happen. One thing about interviews (both to jobs and to schools) is that you or the interviewer could have a bad day, and you could lose out because of something totally random and out of your control. But it could work both ways. You could say something that randomly impresses the interviewer.
The one good bit of news is that getting into one particular school is highly random. Getting into *some* school isn't. It could be that you show up for an interview and someone has a bad day, and you lose.
It's seriously a bad idea to put all your hopes in one school.
Definitely, I'm not doing that. While I will probably end up applying to ~8 schools, it's not gonna be 8 American institutions, as I can't afford the ones I could get into with relative ease. Also, spending ~600 dollars on application fees alone is quite a lot. Granted, applying is better than not applying but I'd rather spread out the places I could go to a little.

To give a little insight on my educational background. Unlike US high schools, my program didn't consist of courses taken on a semester basis. Years 10 and 11 is a two year program leading to a certificate and years 12 and 13, to another certificate, which can be used for entrance to university. My situation is that 3/4 way through year 12, I transferred to another school who did the IB and I was in time for the start of their first semester.
After a few months there, I realised it was a waste of my time and I wasn't learning much in the classroom and what I learned outside wasn't worth the money being spent, so I left. I went to another school for a while, after which I also left and started learning independently (with help of a few teachers). I proceed to finish high school on my own.

While my grades ranged from excellent to just above average through most of high school, I didn't even finish year 12, let alone year 13, although I do have the same qualification (high school diploma/A-Levels) I would have had, had I done it the traditional way. I've put a little explanation for this in my application. (which I haven't set yet)

All of which does not look very good, yeah? It's a slim chance and I don't really want to spend my money, or at least, too much of it for something that is more likely to end up negatively. Then again, the other thing is I'm not certain how "bad" this looks or is. I think I'm fine and my current situation is miles better than it would have been had I done the more traditional route. I wonder how I could convince them of that though...

In case I can't even if I do my best, I have a Plan A which is applying to schools which will take me in if I have a high school diploma and cost dirt cheap (think Germany or France). The other thing with these schools is I will most probably have intentionally hard (read: weed out) Maths/Physics courses when I do start the program. Somehow, this sort of looks appealing. I probably wouldn't think so when/if I get a big F but I'm the kind of guy who can't really do easy...

However, if you apply to eight schools, and all of them turn you down, then that's not randomness.
Hopefully, that won't happen. On paper, it shouldn't be. I think I've escape plans in place for any kind of "worse case scenario" - had a bad experience in the past which caught me by surprise.

When people talk about "fair" they usually mean "good for me." If you are good at charming someone in an interview and your grades are really good, but not the best in the world, then the way US schools do it is more "fair." Also the problem with looking at scores only is that you are sunk if you are a good student that went to a bad high school.
True, true.

An entrance exam or academic interview can fix that if you have enough time to prepare for it.

For what it's worth, I think the interview was great. Perhaps, good enough to get me in the pile of applicants that meets their requirement. So that's me, along with a few other thousands. :D
 

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