The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, colloquially known at MIT, is often perceived as one of the world’s most prestigious research universities with top programs in STEM. Ranked at #5 by the U.S. News and World Report undergraduate university rankings, applicants to MIT are undoubtedly drawn to the institution’s top-tier education programs.
Located just outside of Boston in Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT affords students the opportunity to explore their intellectual and extracurricular passions in a thriving urban setting. Beyond STEM, MIT also offers students an equally prestigious business and entrepreneurship program, making its urban environment all the more conducive for both business and engineering opportunities.
With only 1,464 students gaining admission out of an applicant pool of nearly 22,000, MIT’s admission rate for the class of 2022 comes in at 6.7%, putting MIT at the same level as many Ivy League schools.
Keep in mind that MIT does not use the Common Application, and instead uses its own system called MyMIT. To those seeking admission, MIT requires students to complete 5 additional essays, all of which understandably appear intimidating to approach. However, CollegeVine is here to help and offer our guide on how tackle MIT’s 2018-2019 application!
MIT Application Essay Prompts
We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it. (Response required in 100 words or fewer)
One of the first things to note is the brevity of the response; with only 100 words, there’s no room to be too detailed. Even so, 100 words should be just enough for a few vivid sentences that really show the admissions officer what you do in your spare time. There’s no need to try to squeeze in an introductory or concluding sentence. For this prompt, it’s better to get straight to the point.
Next, remember that the prompt is asking for an activity that isn’t required of you. If you’re the captain of your school’s varsity basketball team, then don’t write about basketball (even if you do play for pleasure outside of school). MIT wants to know something about you that they can’t already find elsewhere in your application, something outside of your academic and extracurricular responsibilities. Essentially, MIT is asking you: “What do you do in your free time?”
A great way to approach this prompt is to construct a brief anecdote to illustrate your passions. Do you love reading because you enjoy imagining yourself in fictional worlds? Do you find peace in painting natural scenery? Now is a great time to describe these experiences.
Here are some examples:
- Photography – Sitting on the pier, you watch as the sky transitions from blue to yellow, and from yellow to orange. With your camera in hand, you capture the exact moment that the sun touches the horizon, the moment that the colors begin to fade into a gradient. Perhaps the sound of your camera’s shutter acts as an instant stress reliever. Or perhaps you love the ability to capture nature’s wonders from a different perspective. Either way, the vivid imagery here makes writing an anecdote a very powerful approach.
- Baking – Do you love the aroma of homemade baking? Do you love experimenting with new recipes and creations? Maybe you love the meticulousness of measuring out ingredients and combining them to form one cohesive unit. If this sounds like you, write an anecdote about how you use baking as an outlet for your creativity. Use sensory details to briefly go through the process of that new cupcake recipe you came up with, sharing with the reader your passion for innovative baking. You’ll definitely make the admissions officer drool a little bit with this one.
- Rubik’s Cube – You love the thrill of solving a challenging puzzle. Starting with no instructions, you figured out the secret behind solving the cube and how to move each square to the right place. After a few more tries, you can now solve it in just a few minutes, a reflection of your ability to quickly learn and master difficult puzzles. While this may be a “nerdier” example, don’t be afraid to let your inner nerd shine (this is MIT after all).
What makes each of these examples strong is the employment of imagery and sensory details. Although the response must be brief, you want to make the admissions officer interested in what you love; appealing to the five senses is an excellent way to do so. Don’t tell them that you love photography, show them that you love it by transforming your answer into a story.
Be honest — don’t lie for the sake of sounding more impressive. While volunteering at the local homeless shelter may sound very humble, don’t write about that if it isn’t what you actually do in your free time. MIT can spot essays that try too hard and lying about humanitarian efforts is definitely one of those instances.
While it’s important to be honest, make sure to also use good judgement when articulating your response. Generally, anything goes for this prompt and you can essentially write about anything you’re passionate about. But if your favorite activity is “looking at memes,” it might be better to choose something else (especially after the Harvard incident).