The Ivy Coach Daily

September 8, 2023

2023-2024 MIT Supplemental Essay Prompts

One of the Maclaurin Buildings, Building 10, with the great dome at MIT.
MIT has published its essays for the 2023-2024 college admissions cycle (photo credit: John Phelan).

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has released its essay prompts for applicants to the Class of 2028. The Institute, one of the last highly selective universities to release its essay prompts for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle, poses five required essay prompts to this year’s applicants in addition to an optional text box in which applicants can include anything else they wish to share. So what are this year’s MIT essay prompts? Let’s check them out!

2023-2024 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Essay Topics and Questions

Required Essays

MIT applicants are asked to answer the following five short answer essay prompts in 100-200 words.

1. What field of study appeals to you the most right now? (Note: Applicants select from a drop-down list.) Tell us more about why this field of study at MIT appeals to you.

This essay is an opportunity for students to articulate the origin story of their interest in a specific discipline — a discipline that is ideally showcased through their activities section and other MIT essays (always in complementary, never redundant ways). Students should focus on how they became interested in the field as high schoolers rather than as children.

2. 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.

When answering this essay prompt, so many students choose to write about an activity that brings them joy that fails to showcase intellectual curiosity. The activity an applicant chooses need not relate to their hook that they’ve ideally showcased in other essays and their activities section. But it must showcase how an applicant thinks. Tie-dyeing a t-shirt isn’t an intellectual pursuit — until a student zeroes in on the math behind tie-dyeing. Do you get the idea?

3. How has the world you come from—including your opportunities, experiences, and challenges—shaped your dreams and aspirations?

In the majority opinion striking down Affirmative Action, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts penned a loophole for colleges to still factor in the influence of a student’s race or background. This essay is an opportunity for applicants to capitalize on this loophole.

Of course, students need not be underrepresented minorities to answer this prompt. Applicants could instead focus on their faith, community, or experiences that have shaped who they are and who they hope to be.

4. MIT brings people with diverse backgrounds together to collaborate, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to lending a helping hand. Describe one way you have collaborated with others to learn from them, with them, or contribute to your community together.

MIT’s admissions committee wants to see that an applicant can play well in the sandbox with others. Too many know-it-alls apply to MIT. MIT is sifting through applications to identify students who have strong opinions but are malleable to change them when presented with differing viewpoints.

Through a specific anecdote, applicants should describe an example of a time they worked with others to address a problem in their community — ideally related to their hook so that their application sings with a singular talent rather than well-roundedness. If an applicant’s hook is environmental science, their answer will hopefully focus on an environmental issue in their community.

5. How did you manage a situation or challenge that you didn’t expect? What did you learn from it?

Too many applicants choose to write about tough graders or rigorous exams. It’s a mistake. MIT’s admissions committee seek to admit students for whom learning comes easily rather than students who have to work hard to get great grades and scores. Besides, by writing about grades and tests, it implies that’s what matters to the applicant.

Students should instead focus on an anecdote that showcases their love of learning. It could be a time when an applicant was debating a hot-button political issue with a classmate in a political science course. Maybe the fellow student they were discussing raised a point the applicant didn’t foresee and for which they didn’t have a retort. So the applicant hit the library and learned more about the issue, only to come back the next day to either counter or further substantiate the fellow student’s position.

Optional Open-Ended Additional Information Textbox

MIT’s admissions committee also includes a final, open-ended text box with the below instructions and 650 words available in the text box:

There is also one final, open-ended, additional-information text box where you can tell us anything else you think we really ought to know.

In this free response, many students include their Common Application Personal Statement. So long as it fits like a puzzle piece with the MIT supplemental essays, we at Ivy Coach fully support that since any optional essay in elite college admissions should not be considered optional. Instead, it should be viewed as an opportunity to inspire admissions officers to root for an applicant.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with MIT Essays

If you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, fill out Ivy Coach’s free consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to delineate our college counseling services for seniors.

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