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The Essay Guide Series: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also known as MIT is one of the biggest institutions in the world for science and technology. Unlike other universities in the USA, they do not use the Common or Coalition app for submitting applications for undergraduate courses. Instead, they have their own application portal known as the MyMIT that has its own set of essays. They do not make use of any long essays such as in the common application portals that we see but rather, they use 100-250 words short essays to get to know you better and elaborate on your profile. In this guide, we will be looking at how to get cracking on these short essays!

The whole purpose of these essays is to bring out your personality and reveal aspects of yourself that highlight your interests and passion. This is not to say that the admissions committee is not looking for specific traits so be sure to highlight traits such as curiosity, motivation, innovativeness, passionate thinking, ingenuity, and a team player attitude. This is important because it is a key factor in deciding whether or not you get in! Be sure to look at the kind of values the school associates itself with by looking at their mission and vision. It helps in understanding what direction your essays should take.

Here are the questions that are part of the supplementary application form:

1. 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. (100 words or fewer)

For this question, it's better to speak about one activity in particular that you are very passionate about. There’s no need to make something up because being genuine is key and you will be able to write better when you have experience in something. For example, talk about an extracurricular activity such as sports or music and why you enjoy it. The main idea is to show them that you’re not limited to academics only.

2. Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words or fewer)

In this section, you will need to show them your intellectual abilities and curiosity and what direction you would like to go in the near future. The university’s main aim is to mold students for a successful career and to be able to make a difference in the world. So, highlight key aspects of yourself that will make them take an interest in you as a ‘student’.

For this, preferably look at the course offerings that they have and try to look for a fit of your interest and passion in any of the courses that they have. Form a link or connection and elaborate on that and explain to them why you want to pursue this career option. Do you want to take up certain minors? Then speak about that. Talk from the perspective of what they have to offer you.

Another approach would be that of telling them exactly what they can give ‘you’ in terms of ‘your’ interest and passion. This viewpoint will show them that you’re well aware of what you’re getting yourself into and also the potential you show as a student. You might not be able to list your entire plan, but a glimpse should be sufficient considering the word count.

3. At Massachusetts Institute of Technology, we bring people together to better the lives of others. MIT students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way in which you have contributed to your community, whether in your family, the classroom, your neighborhood, etc. (200-250 words)

This question pertains to the kind of person that you are and the qualities that you possess individually but also do you have what it takes to be working in a team or community. Collaboration, community service, and determination are key factors here, so speak about an issue you care about and what you have to do to solve it. It doesn’t have to be something monumental but it should at least show that you have done something in your capacity as an individual that is part of your community. SPeak about the impact it’s had on you and your passion for this project. Do not list out all your volunteer activities because you will be doing that in your main application but rather, show that you care about some deep issues and want to do something about it.

4. Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations? (200-250 words)

When we look at MIT, it's a big institution with a vast cohort of students from different backgrounds. This is something that they are known for and that is why it is very very important for you to showcase your true personality and culture here. You can talk about anything that is close to your heart such as family traditions, culture, school or home environment, etc. Make sure it highlights how you developed your interest and passion for learning and exceeding beyond limits because that’s what they want to look at. How has your background shaped you and your thinking capacity? What is your perspective on things and how has it been molded over time? Talk about these things. Do not reiterate things from your main application but rather elaborate on those and make them more impactful in this section.

5. Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (200-250 words)

For this question, it is really important that you highlight a trait such as resilience and talk about an experience where you showed resilience. MIT as such is a very demanding school and to be able to do your degree already indicates that you are capable of handling a high workload. But academics won’t be the only thing on your mind then and to be able to juggle different things and study at the same time requires a high degree of semblance and organization on your part. You need to be strong mentally to be able to do this and this is why they are looking for this quality in their potential applicants. Show that you have the ability to learn from your experiences and mistakes and how you apply that knowledge to your future endeavors. You can choose a moment of difficulty or failure for this prompt and highlight what you experienced and learned from it. It should show that it has molded the way you think and your perspective on things.


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