College Intel

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Admissions

Beyond a lawn, a beautiful columned building with steps leading to the front doors is featured at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a world-renowned reputation for innovation in the fields of science and technology, boasting an elite cache of alumni such as former chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke and U.S. astronaut Buzz Aldrin, formidable faculty such as linguistics expert Noam Chomsky and machine learning pioneer Daniela Rus, and as fans of Good Will Hunting will note, one mathematically-gifted janitor who looks a whole lot like Matt Damon.

Students at this R1 Research Institute are lavished with nearly one billion dollars in research funding, most of which comes straight from federal departments such as Health and Human Services and NASA. An emphasis on research and scientific discovery prevails in the core curriculum, termed the General Institute Requirements, a pedagogy similar to that of Columbia University, consisting of requirements in the fields of science, laboratory work, liberal arts, communication, and physical education. This curriculum informs 50% of the courses a student will take during their undergraduate years. But that’s not all! In order to graduate, students must also complete a 100-yard swimming test (but don’t worry, they allow do-overs!).

The rigorous coursework is no cakewalk, so it’s no surprise MIT is known for a student body of 4,500 undergraduates and 7,200 postgraduates who work hard, but some may be surprised to learn that they party even harder. Greek life and cultural affinity housing are both facets of campus social life, while MIT parties have a reputation for drawing the likes of their neighboring peers at Harvard (where, incidentally, MIT students may cross-register for classes). The campus is situated in the platonic ideal of a college town, Cambridge, MA, so after a long night of fun, MIT students can watch the sunrise over the Charles River as the Boston skyline wakes up for another day.

Established in 1861, MIT was modeled after German research universities and was commissioned in the Back Bay area of Boston as designated by the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act. During its early years, MIT was known as “Boston Tech,” and struggled with its shifting academic focus from theoretical to vocational science, its cramped location in claustrophobic Boston, and its competition with nearby Harvard. In the early years of the 20th century, an anonymous donor bankrolled the creation of MIT’s neoclassical campus, designed by William W. Bosworth, on the other side of the Charles, and the fledgling university’s reputation improved. 

However, even once it had the look and breathing room of an elite university, MIT still struggled to find its place within the Academy. Everything changed when the Institute became the largest wartime research and development contractor for the U.S. government during WWII. While innovations in military technology defined MIT for the decades to follow, countercultural activism in the 1970s precipitated an expansion of research opportunities and academic priorities beyond defense. Today, the MIT brand is synonymous with the cutting edge of AI, robotics, linguistics, and physics.

MIT draws the best and brightest young minds, and its admissions process is correspondingly competitive. In 2022, MIT received 33,767 undergraduate applications and admitted 1,337, for an acceptance rate of 4%, making it more competitive than most Ivies. Their admissions process exemplifies the Ivy Coach ethos: students who demonstrate a specialized talent, supported by extensive extracurricular pursuits in their chosen field, are the ones who find success.

They also reward students who demonstrate initiative. As their admissions site puts it: “opportunities are abundant at MIT, but they must be seized.” Access to MIT’s abundant resources and funding is a privilege and a responsibility, so prospective students must show that they can handle it before they even arrive. This admissions ideology produces a student body that is quirky, passionate, and hardworking. Students who pursue their interests to no end, who are excited to share the fruits of their curiosity with their peers, and who desire to make the world a better place through their passion will find a home at MIT.


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