MIT Admission

MIT Admissions, Admission to MIT, Getting Into MIT

One student had a rather snarky response to a letter he received from MIT (photo credit: Madcoverboy).

We’ve been making fun of college brochures for years on the pages of this blog. So many parents and students believe that because they receive a brochure from a college, it means that college is actually interested in them. It means that student actually has a shot of getting in. This is not at all the case. Highly selective colleges simply want students to apply — even unqualified ones. So they will send brochures to anyone with a reasonably existing pulse. But anyhow, we came across a letter that a high school student sent to the dean of admissions at MIT, Michael C. Benhke that we figured we’d share with our reader base. The first thing that comes to mind when reading the student’s letter is that this student has absolutely way too much time on his hands!

The note that the student, John Morgan, sent to MIT was in response to this letter that he received: “Dear John, You’ve got the grades. You’ve certainly got the PSAT scores. And now you’ve got a letter from MIT. Maybe you’re surprised. Most students would be. But you’re not most students. And that’s exactly why I urge you to consider carefully one of the most selective universities in America. The level of potential reflected in your performance is a powerful indicator that you might well be an excellent candidate for MIT. It certainly got my attention. Engineering’s not for you? No problem. It may surprise you to learn we offer more than 40 major fields of study…” The letter goes on and on.

So what’d John write back, you ask? He wrote this: “Dear Michael, You’ve got the reputation. You’ve certainly got the pomposity. And now you’ve got a letter from John Morgan. Maybe you’re surprised. Most universities would be. But you’re not most universities. And that’s exactly why I urge you to carefully consider one of the most selective students in America, so selective that he will choose only *one* of the thousands of accredited universities in the country. The level of pomposity and lack of tact reflected in your letter is a powerful indicator that your august institution might well be a possibility for John Morgan’s future education. It certainly got my attention! Don’t want Bio-Chem students? No problem. It may surprise you to learn that my interests cover over 400 fields of study…”

You get the idea. If you want to check out the full letter to MIT’s dean of admission, you can check it out here. While cute, we don’t advise sending these kinds of letters. John did point out that MIT’s letter had a rather obnoxious tone, but what good does that do him? None. But we hope it made him giggle.


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1 Comment

  • Austin Bah says:

    I was one of John’s teachers. He’s doing fine. He is currently an MD-Phd, teaching doctor at one of the nation’s best medical schools and universities. He was a busy young man at the time, but he made a little time to respond to the impersonal come-on from a major university. This was not his application essay. He was barely 17 years old. In fact, this letter got him an internship and summer job at Autodesk when it caught the eye of the then CEO. Autodesk asked him to delay college a year, to develop, as part of a team, a software concept. (I believe it might have been his concept.) He declined since college was important to him. He had too much time on his hands–yes. Co-Editor-in-chief of the award winning school paper, cross country, track, occasional college classes in addition to high school classes, dating, a great social group of which he was an integral part, coding (back when one had to teach themselves coding by reading code). Valedictorian, acing the SATs, APs. Yes, he must have had too much time on his hands. How else could he have done so much?

    There must have been extra time somewhere. Maybe it was the time he saved doing physics problems while waiting for his journalists to finish their work so he could edit? Being at school at 7:oo? Making his social time time spent with other good students so there was little line between study and fun. Having that extra time allowed him to learn and behave in a very mature manner. He lived and worked with adults. He did not like being condescended to. He was exactly the type of student who would NOT be surprised by any of the things Michael Benhke wrote in that form letter about MIT.

    The purpose of parody, when done well, is to deflate the pompous powerful. Why should university administrators have so much power and manipulate admissions the way they do? Why would they not become curious about a kid that writes such a response? Because they are play the numbers. They sent a form letter to a top student in the country. They assumed many of those students could be fodder when they denied many so they could say how selective they are, taking a few others. They did less to recruit John Mongan than they might have done if he were a slightly better than average student who happened to be able to throw a baseball. He knew that and poked a pin in their bubble. He didn’t need MIT, but MIT could have used him. It was there loss that they did not send him a response, and maybe offer him that full scholarship. Even though MIT was not of major interest to him, a phone call or slightly personalized letter would have gotten his attention. MIT blew it.

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