How to Write the MIT Essays 2020-2021

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is mit cultural background essay optional

Learn how to write the MIT essays and distinguish yourself as an applicant that is the right fit for MIT.

Hale Jaeger will provide an in-depth breakdown of each of the essays, discussing how to optimize and tailor a response to each one by breaking down the purpose of the prompts.

He'll also open up the floor to answer any and all questions about the MIT-specific essay prompts. If you’re not sure where to start, this livestream will help you figure out the best plan for you.

Video Transcript:

In today's presentation on writing the MIT application essays for the 2020 2021 cycle, I am a current senior at Yale University. So while I am not an MIT student, and can't necessarily answer all of your questions about what it's like to go to MIT, this is my fifth year working with CollegeVine through the admission cycle. So I have lots of experience with writing these kinds of essays. So I'm really prepared to answer those questions. So please, please feel free to throw those questions into the chat box on your screens throughout the evening. I will try to answer the questions as we go. But if not, if I don't get to your question, in the moment, we are going to end with a q&a session. So if I don't get to your questions in the beginning, I'll try to make sure to answer them by the time we wrap up for the night. Without further ado, though, I'm going to jump right in to the presentation. And so that starts with just what we're going to be covering today. We'll start with a little bit of background about MIT and about the college applications process. And then we'll take take a deep dive into each of the essays that you will be asked to answer and asked to write for the MIT application. And like I said, we'll end with opening the floor for q&a.

So just to jump into the background, MIT is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge is contiguous to Boston. It's also the home of Harvard University. So it has a lot of connections with Boston and with other institutions, namely Harvard, and you can actually take some classes at Harvard if you're an MIT student, and vice versa. It is a really highly regarded institution as well as ranked number three and a tie. US News and World Report's for 2020. And it's especially well known for its STEM programs, though it is also really highly regarded for its business program. It's definitely a selective school, and it offers an early action rather than early decision. But if you're not ready to, if you haven't already submitted your application, if you're watching this presentation, you're likely headed for the regular action deadline, or maybe you're prepping for next year. And so that early action is something to keep in mind.

Just a quick overview on what's important to know about college essays is that these are part of the holistic application process, they are not necessarily going to be considered for exactly 30% of your application, but they do get a pretty heavy weight, because they are the best place for a reader to get to know you and your personality. So usually, these essays are about 700 words or fewer anywhere between really 100 to 700. And some schools ask you to write several and other schools only asked for one or two, as you saw MIT is on the longer end, and that they ask for more than one essay, but they're all fairly short. And these are a great place to reveal something about yourself who you are, again, this is part of that personal component of the application. And so you want to be sure to convey something meaningful about your personality and who you are beyond your grades and your test scores. And whatever else is on your resume. It's important to know that MIT is not on the common app. It has its own application. And so for that reason, they asked a bunch of questions. And none of them is a personal statement per se, but they have questions that span the entire spectrum of what a college might ask. And so they're fairly straightforward. But that doesn't mean you can give generic answers, you definitely want to make them personal to you and to MIT, in order to build a connection with the school as we go forward. And so make sure you are using authentic reasoning and specific details that added personal dimension to your writing, and helps you to stand out.

And the case of a school like MIT that has so many essays, you have to treat them sort of as a portfolio. What that means is that they shouldn't all be considered in a vacuum. Each of them is going to be one facet of your application and the same reader is going to look at all the essays you submit. So they'll have some context that That being said, they don't necessarily read them all. In order, so you don't want to rely on one or site one in another essay, they should each stand alone, but they should provide a different dimension of your cohesive application, they should complement one another, not be repetitive.

So jumping into the MIT essays, as I said, they're not using the common application, they use my MIT their own proprietary application product. And so what that looks like is five unique supplementary essays, plus one additional optional essay that I'll talk about at the very end. And so as you're starting those off, we're just going to read through what the prompts are that you're going to be asked to respond to. The first prompt is describe the world you come from, for example, you're fed family clubs, school, community, city or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations 250 words or fewer. The second prompt asks you to pick what field of study at MIT appeals to you the most right now and tell us more about why this field of study appeals to you in 100 words or fewer. The third prompt asks, 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 in 200 to 250 words. And then the last two prompts here are at MIT, we can 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 to 250 words. And lastly, tell us about the most significant challenge you faced or something important that didn't go according to plan. How did you manage the situation 200 to 250 words. Like I said, there's also that optional essay at the end, which asks you to in 150 words, or fewer talk about your cultural background if it's been important to you.

So jumping forward into the first prompt, as we do that, I want to throw a question to you guys. So I'll be launching a poll, it'll be great to get some feedback from you just to understand where everyone is in the cycle. So I'll be asking you some questions throughout, please do give me some answers there, because it'll be really helpful for us. But without any further ado, we're going to talk about the first question about the world you came from. Whether that means your family clubs, school, community, city or town, and they want to know how it shaped your dreams and aspirations. So what this essay is asking you to do is reflect on your past and your present, to see how it's shaped your future. And so this is a pretty common essay type. It's asking you about your community and the place that you call home. So start maybe by thinking about your aspirations, and working backwards, what are your goals? What do you hope to achieve, especially after college, and how has your community helped you to realize those goals to understand and recognize them. You can also work you know from in a chronological kind of way, rather than working backwards from your aspirations. You can think about it in terms of what is a community that's really important to me, which community is really formative in my life? And what has it taught me and which goals and aspirations because has that influenced, so you can work at it from either direction. But as this last bullet says, you're reflecting on the past and present, to take a look into the future, that's going to be something that you hear me say a lot in this presentation. And in every other one. It's all about taking your past experiences, and seeing where they're headed and seeing where they're directing you to.

So, to give an example of what this kind of essay might look like, we have an example here about breathing fresh air. Okay. So maybe you are somebody who has grown up in a very smoggy city like Los Angeles or Beijing. Beijing is a really interesting example because it's a place where the air quality is so bad, a lot of the time that people are often seen wearing masks, even pre pandemic. And so, you grew up in this place, or maybe you spent a couple years there, and it made you realize how important it is for us to transition towards green energy and that has sort of fueled your passion for sustainability and green technologies and eco friendly practice. And so now you want to study environmental engineering, and architecture. And that's what you're interested in pursuing as a career. It doesn't necessarily have to be a career goal that you explore here, especially because you do answer a question about your major in the next product. But that's a usually a pretty good concrete place to pin an aspiration, you don't necessarily have to stick to what this is, this is not asking you to set your future in stone, of course, but it's an example for you to keep in the back of your mind.

Another example of an essay, responding to this prompt might be about a children's hospital, for example, if your parents work as pediatric nurses at the Children's Hospital nearby, and you spent a lot of time there watching your parents work with these kids. And to the point where the hospital is basically your second home, and you're observing, and you're learning and you're taking it all in, and maybe you grew up and you started volunteering at the hospital. And you could focus on a lot of different things. Why, for example, you know, if it was really painful for you to see kids suffer, but you also get to see this glimpse of hope, and people who really care about getting better and making other people better. And seeing how much joy The staff was able to bring to the patients to their families, and the community around you. So maybe this is, you know, undercutting your, or underscoring your motivation to go to medical school or to become a nurse yourself, like your parents and spread hope, you know, in this kind of setting.

So just sort of in conclusion on this type of essay, and this particular prompt, every one of the examples that I mentioned here is recreating or retelling an important story, and maybe a moment a single anecdote that analyzes how the world that you're talking about, led to the realization of the goals and aspirations you have for the future. So it's that it's that future look that forward facing direction, towards personal growth, that shows what this essay is really asking you to do, which is to reflect on what your dreams are, and where they came from. And while this, this says, preferably tied to your career, and missions, partly because that's an easy way to put it in perspective of your own future. But it doesn't necessarily have to be related to your career, it can absolutely be a more personal goal, especially if you're like me, and you had no clue what you wanted to do when you graduated upon applying to college.

One key thing here, as is going to be important for pretty much every essay you write from here on out, specificity conveys authenticity. So the danger of writing a generic essay is that it doesn't actually share very much about you personally, as but so the more detail you can include, the more if this feels like you, this feels like your voice. And I can get a sense as a reader of who you are and what you'll bring to my campus at MIT. And so that's a really good rule of thumb, that you should be thinking of whenever you write a personal essay like this, you know, am I being as specific as I can be? I haven't stopped to check for questions yet. So I just want to take a quick moment to see if you guys have any questions. So far, I'm not seeing any. So I'm going to keep on going I'm also going to throw another poll your way, just to see where we are in the process. Prompt two is a why major question. They're asking you which field of study that MIT offers is going to be appealing to you right now. And tell us more about why this field of study appeals to you. So it's really just asking you, why do you want to study what you want to study. And the key phrase here that a lot of schools don't include, but which everyone implies is right now, this is not something you are signing with. In blood, these are not writing this in stone, you are 100% free to change your major. Most people change their major at least once during their college career. I changed my major twice in the last couple years. So you are absolutely by no means committed to the major that you write this essay about.

And you'll notice you'll know only got 100 words maximum to write this essay. So you have to really condense what you want to say down into this and while specificity is still important or A lot less room here for detail. And in the other 200 to 250 words that MIT is asking you to write. This is a really standard, straightforward question. None of MIT's questions are kind of out to get you or fool you or trick, you may just want to know, what are the reasons that you want to study this field. And you want to give something that we call authentic reason? These are not things related to prestige, or post graduation salary. Or just because what's what your parents want you to do. They want to know what you're passionate about, and why. What are the past experiences you've had, that have influenced your decision to pursue this further in the future? How have you interacted with this in ways that have been meaningful to you. And so you want to be able to tie this from your past into your future at MIT. And MIT actually has pretty distinctive majors, I think they call them courses rather than majors. So you're gonna want to check out what their programs are called, because they do have unique titles. And as a result also might have some interesting curricular emphases that aren't necessarily common at every single school. So you want to check that out for sure. So you want to see what resources they have on offer, and talk about how you'll be taking advantage of those. So this functions primarily as the Why Major essay, but it's really asking you why do you want to study this at MIT? So you want to make sure that it's not a generic essay, it's specific to MIT programs and what they have on offer. If you're undecided at the moment, that's totally okay. Like I said, most people change their majors a couple times, I actually gave another presentation a little while ago, about how to write a wide major essay if you're undecided. And so I won't go too much into it here. But basically, you just want to find a couple things, one or two things that you're interested in pursuing or exploring, maybe you're not, you know, committed to, but you want to check it out a little more. And talk about why you think these might be potential areas of interest for you. Even if they're not things you want to solidly say, this is what I'm studying. And again, as always, specificity is going to be your best friend here.

So for example, with MIT, you might want to study electrical engineering, and computer science or eeks. Because that's going to really help you start a startup in your future, and helps you look at both the hardware and the software sides of things. And it has a new curriculum in place at MIT with more flexibility and interdisciplinary study and independence for the undergrads. So you have the opportunity to explore eeks, as a department, specifically at MIT. And you also might want to talk about entrepreneurship, Since launching a startup obviously, takes some business acumen. And so, as I said, at the beginning of the presentation, MIT has a very strong business program and economics program. So you might want to be able to connect with those programs, and see what's going on, and the Sloan School of Business. And that'll really help you to get yourself off the ground with this kind of essay.

You might also want to be talking about specific researchers that you want to work with, or specific classes that you're excited to take. So you don't want to necessarily pin yourself down if you're undecided. And they get that. But there are lots of ways to make this specific without feeling like you're committing to something you're not passionate about. Again, I want you to make sure that you're talking about this in a way that shows how clear your passion is. Whether that's for research, or for entrepreneurship, or anything that you're thinking of pursuing a major and because prestige and clout are not going to translate as passion, it's going to be really easy to tell. So if you are interested in something it makes for a great story, make sure you just focus on those long term goals and what you are hoping to get out of this program at MIT and tie it back to your past experiences. I know that that's a really tall order to place into a very short essay. So the art attire, there's not a ton of room for detail, but you can make sure that you get some good information in there.

The next piece of the application puzzle that we're putting together here is about question about something that you enjoy. You know, what is something that you do not because you have to, but because you want to 200-250 words is a pretty generous margin here. And it lets you really explore something, this is probably one of your extracurricular activities. But it also might just be a hobby. So what do you do in your free time. And you're going to want to use this opportunity to discuss something you haven't talked about in other essays. And that goes back to the idea of essays as a portfolio. And again, like with the major, you want to be honest, here, you don't choose something that sounds impressive. You rather you'd rather put something forward that demonstrates your genuine, authentic passion, or something.

That being said, being honest, doesn't necessarily mean using an idea that isn't reflective of who you are, and what you will bring to MIT, you still want to be putting your best foot forward. So for example, you want to choose something that is going to show that you can think meaningfully and maturely about something, scrolling through your Tik tok, or looking at memes all day isn't going to be something that resonates really strongly with an admissions reader. You probably want something a little more substantive here, volunteering, maybe if that's meaningful to you, it might be a job that you have, it might be babysitting for your younger siblings or cousins, this can be one of those things that you just love to do. And you do it without being asked, because it's something you want to do. And so you can approach this essay structure, once you have a topic in your mind, you can take it in one of two directions, okay? Either stick to the moment in time method, which is you know, a brief anecdote about a specific episode in which you were doing this activity. And you want to just tell that story recreating a single moment in time, I can raise how much you love it, or you want to look at it from a longitudinal method, you know, saying, This is what I love. This is how I discovered it. This is how I've engaged with it and how I've grown through it, this is what it's taught me, and this is how I hope to continue doing it in the future. Um, you're going to want to incorporate some elements of both, for example, even if you're doing the longitudinal method, you want to include details of a meaningful moment, to give authenticity to it. But the moment in time also has to have some context to it some explanation, you can't just drop yourself right in the middle of the story and never explain how we got there. And so I want to give an example to show what this might look like. So if your passions when you love to do is sunset photography, maybe you want to tell a moment in time story about when you were sitting on a pier, and watching the sun go down and you lift up the camera. And as the colors on the sky just sort of turned this gorgeous gradient and the sun hits the horizon, you take a photo, and you hear the click and you just feel all your stress melt away. That's a great moment in time that shows what really vivid imagery, something that makes you feel right.

But maybe you want to approach it a different way. Talking about the first time you ever took a photo personally ever had a camera in your hands. And you went on this sort of long journey, taking pictures of lots of different things until you finally settled on sunsets. And what does that mean for you? You know, what have you gotten out of this? Maybe it's a question of understanding balance and perspective. Either way, no matter what direction you're taking this, you want to be telling us what you do that you love, why you love it, and while how this activity has shaped you and what you've learned from it, what you've gained from it. Okay, so the lessons you've learned are going to be important here. And make sure again, try to throw in some good details here. It makes it seem really authentic and meaningful and personalizes the essay and makes you stand out. A second option here Another example might be to talk about Rubik's cubes. You love doing Rubik's cubes, you've been doing them forever, you know all sizes from the force side. Now four sided the two by two grid, two things that are huge. Maybe not even cubes at all. So you just love to solve puzzles, you love challenges, and you love trying to do better than you did last time. And so you can do this again moment in time focusing on a single solve. Or you can make it more of a narrative from growing and from the basic Rubik's cube to the more complex ones and how you see challenges. And you know that there's some method, and you're just trying to figure out what that looks like and how to make it work. And yes, this is kind of a nerdy thing. But again, this is the MIT application after all, so you're in good company, if you are worried about it being too nerdy. Just to summarize, you want to use good imagery, good details to tell a compelling story. This is a very show don't tell, because this isn't a new love. This is something you're passionate about, you shouldn't have to describe it. And then bullet point kind of way, this is very pathos filled essay, ideally.

Moving on to the next of the essays, I want to ask you guys another quick question. So feel free to answer in the polls again. This essay, number four here is about your impact, and your community and the people around you, and how you work to improve the lives of those around you. And whether that's your community, family, classroom, neighborhood, whatever that means. And so this is a really broad question asking you to talk about a time or a way in which you cared about other people. And so, if you look at the examples, they give family, classroom neighborhood, big challenges being a good friend, you don't need to go with something massive, it doesn't have to be I have created lasting peace in the Middle East. Like that's not really what they're going for here. They want to know, what human interactions Do you have, that you use to improve the world. And so you don't have to panic if you haven't cured cancer, you're okay. It can be as simple as being a good friend having the ability to support people who need to be supported in your life. That's totally okay. So just think about a time where you made a positive impact in the world around you and the community around you in the lives of the people around you. Show that you're generous that you want to make a difference that you work hard to make a difference, and put in good emphasis on what that outcome looks like. What did you do? And how did it pay off for the other people involved? In addition, this is another essay where you want to have gotten something out of this experience. We want to know what it changed about you. Why does this matter to you? And how did you grow is really sort of the key here. So maybe you volunteered with the Red Cross or at a local retirement home, maybe you found it a club at school that was about bringing education to children in need, it doesn't matter what your cause is, or how it word you can take. Maybe it was just a time that you stood up for someone who was being picked on. Um, do you just have to give meaning to it? If it's meaningful for you that'll come across? Maybe so tying in that personal significance that personal development is going to make it seem like it matters in ways that we might not get otherwise from such a short essay. So give that act personal meaning, and we want to know what we're supposed to learn about you from this, you know, maybe you'd want to compare yourself before and after. But that might be a stretch given the length of the essay.

So an example here might be you tutored a teammate or a friend, somebody on your varsity sports team was struggling in math, for example, worried about failing and didn't really see the point. Just thought that they were bad at math. And that was it. So you decided you were going to help to tutor that friend and do it for free every week, and just help as in any way you can? Because it's something that makes sense to you. And maybe you work with them every week for a month or two months and finally they get their first a on a test or a homework. And they're really excited by that they are not just getting it not understanding Getting the concepts but understanding why they're important. And maybe they even start to like math, maybe they don't. But just what is the outcome there? And then what did you get out of it, maybe you learned that you really like to teach maybe that maybe you gained a new appreciation for math or learned new study tactics, that help you to understand concepts in ways that bring other subjects together in ways you hadn't anticipated. So maybe was a What do you get out of it, but in a way that is very spiritual and not material. Make sure you're emphasizing your generosity here in a humble way, by getting that outcome and what you got out of it as well. Um, so that's one example.

A second example might center on food waste, for example, perhaps you realize that your school has just a huge amount of food waste going on. So you work with administration, and maybe the student council and sustainability group and you push for composting as a system within your school. And you help to reduce waste in that way, and you work with the principal and the school board, and you make it happen, not just in your school, but all over the district, you know, and this sparks, you know, an interest in sustainability and environmental engineering or environmental studies, it doesn't have to start that it doesn't have to jumpstart it, per se, but maybe it furthers it, or it gives it a new perspective. Now, which one of the ways in which you've grown? Okay, so the situation, the way you did the outcome, and what you how you grew from that.

Um, we have one more of the main essays here, before we get to this sort of optional secret essay that they've hidden on their application. And this last one is about the most significant challenge that you faced, or something that didn't go according to plan and how you manage that. Cuse me, I'm sorry. So it's asking you about either the most significant challenge you faced, or something important that didn't go to plan. Either away, you can't, you're not going to go wrong with this essay. I will say you don't have to necessarily focus on the most significant challenge that you faced, okay. But you do want to focus on something that has some weight, some gravity to it. Because you want to make sure that you're not trivializing this. They're trying to figure out how you handle truly difficult situations, and what you take away from them, and what you put into them. So as you go through it, make sure you are describing the significance of this situation, why it's important to you. Because, again, if it is too trivial, it'll look like you're not taking it seriously, or you don't know how to engage with real challenges.

And so that's not to say you have to write about something that is really difficult for you to talk about still. But you shouldn't be writing about getting a B on a calculus test, you know, it should be something that does have some meaning, some significance to it. And so you want to think about what happened, what you did, and the steps that you took, and you want to show what came with it, you know, what was the outcome in general? And also, how did you grow? Again, just like the last essay and some of the other ones before that. We want to know what happened in your past? And where is it leading in your future? Why was this challenge so important to you? You know, what was your reaction in the moment? What was your reaction leader and how did you approach a solution? And how did this challenge you to grow and mature in important ways. Again, common mistakes include choosing something that's just far too trivial, like doing poorly on one task is not really going to help here. You also want to avoid things that are really cliche. For example, a sports injury. Okay, that's something that lots of readers have read a million times. And so you want to be able to put a unique spin on something like this. Something that you definitely want to try to avoid often includes romantic relationships and breakups, those are often a little too personal and difficult to make serious and mature. So you want to stick to something a little more workable.

For example, if you didn't want to do something about the sports injury, so it's a really significant challenge, you want to spin it in a new way. Maybe instead of classic story, which you can picture as, like a training montage in your head, no, I got injured, I couldn't play in a big game, I had to go through rehab and physical therapy, eventually, I got back on the field the next season, and we and I was, was able to lead the team to a state championship title, that story is a little played out. A more unique approach might be you got injured, and then you were forced to stay away from the sport. And so you picked up a new hobby, like writing. And now you love English, and you want to go into journalism. And so, you know, maybe, or maybe you got injured, and you started to sell on the sidelines a lot and you love realize you love the strategy and sort of the philosophy of the game more than you actually like playing it. And that's how you got into political science, or chess or something new and different, you know, so it's, you're skipping the cliche, and you're going in a new direction, something that is surprising to a reader.

Another example might be something, we have the Bandung Conference. If you went to Model United Nations, and you were on this panel, in this conference, you showed up, you've been preparing for months and months and months, but one of the other delegates couldn't make it got sick. So you needed to suddenly switch sides, you had to be on the opposite side from the one you'd prepared for. This could be very scary. But instead of panicking, you get as much information as you can in a short time. And maybe you get there and they call on you and you still blank, you still have no idea what to say you ask them to come back to you. And so they circle back and you still make, you know, a confident, articulate argument. And even if you don't come out on top, in this situation, you've learned something about the importance of preparation, but also the importance of being flexible, being adaptable to new situations and changing conditions.

a different example might be about a robotics club experience, where you start the competitive Robotics Competition club at your school, you get the interest in students together, and you get it approved. But for some reason, the administration decides they don't want this club around. And they reject your proposal. And then you get other people to rally around you, you get support from other peers and maybe faculty, and you figure out exactly why this would be beneficial to your school community. Maybe they still say no, even if you don't persuade this school board, maybe you realize you enjoyed the research of it and the debate. And so you've gone now and joined the debate club instead, and you found your people there. And something has been really important to helping you discover this new passion that you wouldn't have otherwise realized. So this is a sort of way to spin a different type of essay out of something that could be a really typical question.

Before we go into the last, sort of what we've labeled the secret essay. I have a cup and one more poll for you for now. Another one's coming soon. Don't worry, I know you were worried about more polls. So please do give us a little bit of feedback. But as I'm going into the secret prompt, what I want to say about it, is that we call it the secret prompt because it's not listed on their website. Rather, it only appears on the application and it's an optional prompt. Please tell us more about your cultural background and identity in the space below 150 words or fewer. And so it is optional, technically here and there is some overlap with prompt one. But you should still consider answering this question. We like to say the most optional things on these applications are not truly optional, you should still consider them as mandatory. There are very few exceptions. For example, Duke University asks about being a member of the LGBTQIA plus community? And if that's an important part of your identity, and if it's not, you should definitely not answer that question. But this kind of question is one that a lot of applicants can relate to, you have something in your background that's meaningful and has had some influence on your life experience. So this might relate to your minority status in some way, your religion, or your ethnicity or your nationality, but it could also relate to other aspects of your identity. And so you don't want to rule it out just because it says it's optional. And again, here, you have the option to do more moment in time or more longitudinal. Now, is there one example of a story that really helps display why your background is important to you? Or is it something that's easier told, by talking about the entire course if your life, you know, either approaches valid, you might want to think about, you know, your weekly family dinners, say, if you, you know, have lots of big families, and within your larger extended family, you have lots of cousins and aunts and uncles, and they all converge for dinner every Sunday. And you get to tell stories, your you know, your older relatives tell stories about the old country, and they have celebrations that are specific to your culture, maybe that's something that's really important. And you want to focus in on something like that. But again, narrative show don't tell specificities, your best friend and these kinds of things.

And that does bring us right towards the end, I want to summarize, before we move to the q&a portion of this call here of this presentation, the most important things I want you to take away from this presentation are that you want to be articulating your active role, your past and present in something and how it points to your future, the ways you've grown from what you do, and where you are and who you are. You want to use specific details so you can show and not tell and convey your passion in an authentic way. And you want to, you know, get feedback throughout the process. Ask the people around you, teachers, advisors, parents, or you could use college vines free tools to get your essay peer reviewed. So feel free to get other perspectives on this, throw other eyes at these essays, once you've written drafts, because you want to be able to give these the best you can and show off who you are.

And that does sort of bring us to the end of this presentation. So I'm going to stop sharing my screen. And I am going to open up for questions from you guys. Because I want to be able to answer the questions that you have about these types of essays and these options here. And what that looks like. I know I've talked a lot at you in the last 45 minutes or so. So I don't want to keep blathering at you if you have specific questions or specific specific things that you want to know. So please start putting those questions in the chat box. I haven't seen any just yet. So I'm really excited to see what you guys are interested in learning about writing these essays. A brief note is that the presentation that I've just given here is being recorded. And so you'll be able to access it at any point in the future. Just by going back to this website, you'll be able to share it if you would like or you can just revisit. And that same that same thing is true for all of the presentations that we give here at CollegeVine. They're always free and they're always available. So if there's anything that you are interested in, that you think there might be another presentation about already, for example, writing the Why major essay, especially if you're undecided. You can go back and check that out. Um, and it will be in our archives You can also go back and check out our college fair from a couple weeks ago, where we had students from all different universities, giving panels and talks about what their student experiences like. You can go back and see, you know, what do MIT students have to say about being at MIT? So these are things that you can absolutely investigate further for free through CollegeVine. But at the same time, I'm here live right now to answer questions that you have. So please, please do give those questions up to us. Or if you have any feedback on how this presentation went for you what you're hoping to see more from CollegeVine in the future, you can put that in the box as well. And we'll review it and we'll take it into account. I am going to continue talking until I have some questions.

Great. We have one question here. Because these prompts are on the shorter side, should students aim to write in a narrative style or to summarize events so that there's more room for the meaning? This is a great question. And one that's not necessarily confined to these essays, you know, short essays, I think, are some of the most difficult ones to write. Because you have so much to say, I would still recommend using anecdotes here, because they are much more personal, and can show a lot about you and how you think and what your voice sounds like. You should definitely be reserving room for explicit analysis, you know, so in a 250 word essay, you should be devoting at least 50-75 words to analysis here. And that's not a hard and fast rule, it's rule of thumb, you should be telling a story, and then telling us why that story is important and what it means for your food. And that might take a couple tries to write something and then cut it back and then cut it back and then cut it back. But it's always easier to write more and then cut stuff out than it is to work with a skeleton and try to flesh it out. Because if you think about the word count, you might leave out the most important thing because you just don't get there. So I recommend writing everything you have to say. And then cutting out the fluff and making things more concise and condensing it from there rather than working the other direction. That's a great question.

I'd love to see some other questions as well, about this or about the essays in general for MIT, or just the college applications process? Um, what are the questions that you have about what this might look like and what is expected from you? I definitely want to be able to give you guys the answers that you're looking for. In whatever realm that is that you feel you need guidance in. In the meantime, launching the very last poll while I wait for questions, that's the thing, love. If you guys don't ask me questions, I have time to ask you questions. So we're going to need you to put in some participation here to make sure that we're getting everything shipshape here and answering the questions that you guys feel we haven't yet addressed.

I'm not seeing any new questions rolling in at the moment. So I'm going to give it another minute. I'm going to let it keep keep and keep tabulating and keeping you know, pulling in the things that you guys are putting into the box. But I'm not seeing too much. So it looks like we're sort of drawing to the end of our presentation. I know every time I say that I'm going to wrap it up. That's when the questions start flooding in, because it's just how the karma of the universe works out for these things. But even though I've said the words wrap up, I'm still not seeing lots of new questions. So I'm just going to give it another minute. Before I do call it a night. And again, you guys totally have the option here to come back and watch later. You can also check out which live streams we have coming up and register for those. For example tomorrow we have a live essay review. We have another how to write essays kind of presentation coming up for Georgetown. So I'm going to show you guys that one in case you were hoping to register for something like that. Um I'm sorry if that pulls is coming up for you again, you can feel free to ignore it the second time. But, again, if there's anything that you guys feel was missing from this, please put it in the box. And I'll try to answer it now or we'll take it into consideration for the future. Alrighty, I am still not seeing any new questions coming on in. So I am going to Oh, here we go.

There's one. Usually you're told not to write about personal issues such as politics. What about talking about specific companies that you want to investigate or that you admire? So I'm not exactly sure what context you're thinking of this end. But it's always okay to be talking about the experiences you've had. Um, so if you worked at a company, and it was a really formative experience for you, it changed what you want it to do in the future, for example, that's a really valid experience to write about, because it shaped you into the person who is applying to college today. If you're thinking about it in the future, where you're saying, okay, I had this one experience. And I think I like consulting, for example. And so now I want to explore x consulting firm, that's not necessarily the direction I would take it, you want to think about more resources that are available at MIT, you know, maybe they have a campus consulting firm that you want to explore or business clubs or economics clubs, or things that, you know, are being operated through the Sloan School for business. So you have MIT specific opportunities there. So if that's answering your question, I hope it is, if it's not feel free to put a follow up in the box, and I'll try to address it. But the my general advice is, feel free to talk about your past experiences as they've influenced your future. When thinking about the future, think more in fields and sub topics, and not so much in specific companies, unless that company's doing something truly unique. But you can think about it in this way. And for years, a lot is going to change by the time you graduate from college. The odds that that company is the only one doing what they do is pretty those odds are pretty slim. So maybe I would talk more about the field or the research or the work rather than name dropping a company, especially if it has nothing to do with being a student at MIT.

Right, What other questions do we have? Is there anything else that's sort of outstanding, that we haven't had the opportunity to discuss together? I want to make sure that I'm getting you guys the answers that you're hoping to hear, or that you are excited to hear or need to hear, though those aren't always the same thing. Is there anything else that you guys are missing that you feel we haven't yet touched on that you are hoping to hear more about? Alright, I'm not seeing any new questions. But I'm going to talk pretty slowly. So that I'm making sure not to miss a new question right at the buzzer. Because I know that you guys are hearing me a little bit after I'm talking. So I want to account for that lag. But otherwise, it seems like I can go ahead and wrap this presentation up and bring us home. So thank you guys for asking your questions. Thank you for tuning in tonight. We're always excited to be able to bring you some information that's going to be helpful for you and your application process. As always, best of luck. You guys are excellent and I hope to see you in the future at some of our other streams. Have a great rest of your night.

is mit cultural background essay optional

Undergrad College: Yale University '21

Work Experience: I am a senior at Yale and excited to begin my fifth admissions cycle working with CollegeVine. After four years of working directly with students, I can't wait to engage with the people and the process in new and innovative ways online.

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MIT Supplemental Essays 2023-24 – Prompts and Tips

September 8, 2023

MIT supplemental essays

When applying to MIT, a school with a 4% acceptance rate where a 1500 SAT would place you below the average enrolled student (seriously), teens should be aware that it takes a lot to separate yourself from the other 26,000+ applicants you are competing against. While trying to be among the 1 in 25 who will ultimately be accepted sounds like (and is) a rather intimidating proposition, every year around 1,300 individuals accomplish this epic feat. We’ve worked with many of these students personally and can tell you one thing they all had in common—exceptionally strong MIT supplemental essays.

(Want to learn more about How to Get Into MIT? Visit our blog entitled:  How to Get Into MIT: Admissions Data and Strategies  for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

There are few schools that offer as many essays as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All applicants are required to respond to five prompts as they work through the MIT application. Your mission is to write compelling, standout compositions that showcase your superior writing ability and reveal more about who you are as an individual. Below are the MIT supplemental essays for the 2023-24 admissions cycle along with tips about how to address each one.

MIT Supplemental Essays – Prompt #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. (200-250 words)

There are many different ways that you can approach this prompt, but the first step is to take MIT at their word that they are sincerely interested in what you do “simply for the pleasure of it.” While this may be something that also happens to be high-minded and/or STEM-oriented in nature, there is no expectation that this will be the case.

In essence, you want to ask yourself, what brings you great pleasure and happiness? Universal experiences of joy like family, a beautiful sunset, smiling children, or your cat or dog curled on your lap are perfectly acceptable answers here. However, you could also talk about dreams for the future, more bittersweet moments, abstract thoughts, moments of glorious introversion, or even something semi-embarrassing and vulnerable. The only “wrong” answer to this question would be an insincere one. As you enter the brainstorming phase, just make sure to turn off your “resume mode” setting. Instead, allow yourself to embrace the limitless possibilities of this essay.

Essay Prompt #2 

What field of study appeals to you the most right now? Tell us more about why this field of study at MIT appeals to you. (Note: You’ll select your preferred field of study from a drop-down list.) (100 words or fewer)

Generally speaking, we all have a story of what drives us to pursue a certain academic pathway and career. How did your interest initially develop? What was the spark? How have you nurtured this passion and how has it evolved over time? If you desire to go into engineering, this is a chance to talk about everything from your childhood fascination with how things work to your participation in an award-winning robotics program at your high school. Share a compelling (and, of course, true!) narrative about how your love of your future area of study has blossomed to its present levels.

In other words, this essay should show evidence of intense hunger for knowledge that extends well outside of the classroom. How do you learn about your favorite subjects? What books have you read on the subject? Which podcasts have you listened to? What museums have you visited?

You can also tie your passions into specific academic opportunities at MIT including courses , professors , hands-on research programs , or any other aspects of your desired major that appeals most to you.

MIT Supplemental Essays – Prompt #3 

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. (225 words)

How you interact with your present surroundings is the strongest indicator of what kind of community member you will be in your future collegiate home. This prompt asks you to discuss how you have collaborated with others (in any setting) in order to learn from them or contribute to a particular community. This could mean how you’ve collaborated with others during a group project, internship, extracurricular opportunity, sports event, or service project, to name a few.

Some words of warning: don’t get too grandiose in explaining the positive change that you brought about. Of course, if you and your team truly brought peace to a war-torn nation or influenced climate change policy on a global scale, share away. However, nothing this high-profile is expected. Essentially, MIT wants to understand how you’ve worked with other people—in any capacity—to expand your thinking or reach a common goal.

A few potential ideas for areas where you may have worked with/alongside others include:

  • Racial injustice
  • Assisting those with special needs
  • Climate justice/the environment
  • Making outsiders in a group feel welcome
  • The economically disadvantaged
  • Mental health awareness
  • Clean-up projects
  • Tutoring peers or younger students
  • Charitable work through a religious organization

This is, of course, by no means a comprehensive list of potential topics. Most importantly, your story should be personal, sincere, and revealing of your core character and developing values system.

Essay Prompt #4

How has the world you come from—including your opportunities, experiences, and challenges—shaped your dreams and aspirations? (225 words or fewer)

This essay encourages you to describe how your world has shaped your aspirations. We all have any number of “worlds” to choose from, and MIT is inviting you to share more about one of these worlds through the lens of how that has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

Take note of the wide-open nature of this prompt. You are essentially invited to talk about any of the following topics:

  • A perspective you hold
  • An experience/challenge you had
  • A community you belong to
  • Your cultural background
  • Your religious background
  • Your family background
  • Your sexual orientation or gender identity

Although this prompt’s open floor plan may feel daunting, a good tactic is to first consider what has already been communicated within on other areas of your application. What important aspect(s) of yourself have not been shared (or sufficiently discussed)? The admissions officer reading your essay is hoping to connect with you through your written words, so—within your essay’s reflection—be open, humble, thoughtful, inquisitive, emotionally honest, mature, and/or insightful about what you learned and how you grew.

You’ll then need to discuss how your chosen “world” has influenced your future, and in what ways.

MIT Supplemental Essays – Prompt #5

How did you manage a situation or challenge that you didn’t expect? What did you learn from it? (225 words)

Note this prompt’s new wording: How did you manage a situation or challenge that you didn’t expect ? Can you think of a time when you felt surprisingly overwhelmed? When something out-of-the-ordinary occurred? When you were caught off guard? Basically, MIT is trying to discover how you deal with unforeseen setbacks, and the important thing to keep in mind is that the challenge/story itself is  less important  than what it reveals about your character and personality.

Of course, some teens have faced more challenges than others, potentially related to an illness or medical emergency, frequent moving, socioeconomic situation, natural disaster, or learning disability, to name a few. However, you don’t have to have faced a significant challenge to write a compelling essay (and even if you have faced a significant challenge, you don’t have to write about it if you’re not comfortable doing so). Writing about a common topic like getting cut from a sports team, struggling in a particular advanced course, or facing an obstacle within a group project or extracurricular activity is perfectly fine. Any story told in an emotionally compelling, honest, and connective manner can resonate with an admissions reader. The bottom line here is that there are no trite topics, only trite answers.

Given the 225-word limit, your essay needs to be extremely tight and polished. In all likelihood, getting this one precisely right will involve a round or two of revision, ideally with some insight/feedback from a trusted adult or peer in the process.

Some tips to keep in mind include:

  • Firstly, make sure you share what you were feeling and experiencing. This piece should demonstrate openness and vulnerability.
  • Additionally, you don’t need to be a superhero in the story. You can just be an ordinary human trying their best to learn how to navigate a challenging world.
  • Don’t feel boxed into one particular structure for this essay. The most common (which there is nothing wrong with), is 1) introducing the problem 2) explaining your internal and external decision-making in response to the problem 3) Revealing the resolution to the problem and what you learned along the way.
  • Lastly, don’t be afraid that your “problem” might sound “trite” in comparison to those of others. This essay is about you. Y our job is to make sure that your response to the problem shows your maturity and resilience in an authentic way. That matters far more than the original challenge itself.

Essay Prompt #6 (Optional)

Please tell us more about your cultural background and identity in the space below. (150 words)

Unlike other optional essays, this one truly is optional. You don’t need to respond unless you have something significant to share about your cultural background and identity that hasn’t already been shared elsewhere on the application.

How important are the MIT supplemental essays?

There are 8 factors that MIT considers to be “very important” to their evaluation process. They are: rigor of secondary school record, class rank, GPA, standardized test scores, recommendations, extracurricular activities, and most relevant to this blog—the MIT supplemental essays.

Moreover, character/personal qualities are the only factor that is “very important” to the MIT admissions committee. Of course, part of how they assess your character and personal qualities is through what they read in your essays.

Want personalized assistance with your MIT supplemental essays?

In conclusion, if you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your MIT supplemental essays, we encourage you to get a quote  today.

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Dave Bergman

Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).

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is mit cultural background essay optional

How to Write the MIT Application Essays 2023-2024

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, colloquially known as MIT, is known as one of the world’s most prestigious research universities with top programs in STEM. Consistently ranked in the top 5 national universities, MIT draws in accomplished students from across the globe. 

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. 

Keep in mind that MIT does not use the Common Application, and instead uses its own system called MyMIT . For the 2023-2024 application cycle, MIT is requiring students to complete 5 additional essays, all of which, understandably, can seem quite intimidating upon first glance. However, CollegeVine is here to help and offer our guide on how to tackle MIT’s essays!

Read these MIT essay examples to inspire your writing.

MIT Application Essay Prompts

Prompt 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. (100 words)

Prompt 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. (150 words)

Prompt 3: How has the world you come from—including your opportunities, experiences, and challenges—shaped your dreams and aspirations? (200 words)

Prompt 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. (200 words)

Prompt 5: How did you manage a situation or challenge that you didn’t expect? What did you learn from it? (200 words)

Prompt 6 (optional): No application can meet the needs of every individual. If there is significant information that you were not able to include elsewhere in the application, you may include it here. (Many students will leave this section blank—and that’s okay.) (350 words)

What field of study appeals to you the most right now? Tell us more about why this field of study at MIT appeals to you. (100 words)

This prompt is classic “Why This Major?” question that asks you what you want to study and why you want to study it. Most importantly, it asks you why you want to study this major at MIT. Ultimately, the most compelling response to this essay prompt is one that:

  • Demonstrates your passion for the major that you have chosen.
  • Integrates your past and present studies and interests seamlessly with your future at MIT and your long-term academic and professional goals.
  • Addresses specifically why MIT―the campus, resources, faculty, programs, and opportunities―is the place where you need and want to study.

MIT has a unique list of distinctive majors . Before you start brainstorming and drafting a response to this prompt, spend ample time exploring the various courses on the MIT website. You should pinpoint a few courses of study that appeal to you and then dive deeper into what the curricular emphasis is of each course of study, what resources and opportunities are available, and which faculty might you be interested in studying with or whose research you find compelling. 

The key phrase in this prompt is “right now,” which many schools don’t include in their “Why This Major” essay prompt, but which all schools imply. This key phrase means that if you matriculate at MIT, you will in no way be required to major in the field of study that you write about in response to this prompt. You are free to choose and change your major, and most students change their major at least once during their college career.

For anyone who has many interests, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to choose just one major to write about. It is completely fine, and even expected, that you may be undecided , but spend time condensing your list of potential majors to one or two that you are truly interested in pursuing further. 

This straightforward prompt requires a concise response since it has only a 100-word limit. While specificity is still important, there is less space for detail than in the other 200 word prompts that MIT asks you to write. 

Once you have introduced the field of study that most appeals to you, you will need to discuss why this field appeals to you. The reasons that you give need to be authentic reasons; they should be based on pure intellectual curiosity, personal goals, and strongly held values. Avoid listing prestige, post-graduation salary, or your parents’ desires as reasons for choosing your major or MIT. The admissions committee wants to know what you are genuinely passionate about and why. 

Here are some key questions to consider before writing: 

  • What past experiences of yours have influenced your decision to study this field at MIT? 
  • What coursework or independent study have you pursued in this field?
  • What classes are you interested in taking at MIT?
  • Who are the teachers that you have had, thought leaders in this field, or other role models that inspire you to pursue this course of study?
  • Who are the professors or researchers at MIT that you would want to learn from or work with? 
  • Who are the people that you wish to serve, or whose lives you hope to improve, through working or doing research in this field? 
  • How did you first discover this field of study? 
  • How do you engage with this field of study inside and outside of the classroom?
  • How do you envision yourself using this field of study in your future career?
  • Why is this field of study personally meaningful to you?

With these ideas in mind, you should be able to write a concise response about why you have picked your major of choice and why MIT will be the perfect fit for you.

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. (150 words)

First, 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 judgment 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.

is mit cultural background essay optional

How has the world you come from—including your opportunities, experiences, and challenges—shaped your dreams and aspirations? (200 words)

Out of the many prompts, this one is the most open-ended. MIT is asking this question to see how your environment has shaped you as an individual. When thinking about your “world”, think about the unique culture, community, and people you have interacted with and consider how they each have contributed to the person you are today. Consider how they have shaped your value systems and the way you view the world. 

A great way to start brainstorming for this prompt is to think about your dreams and aspirations first; what do you hope to achieve in your lifetime? Next, reflect on specific opportunities, experiences and challenges that you have faced in your community and evaluate how these factored into your individuality and personal goals. 

Perhaps you grew up on a Native American preservation and were a central figure in the tribe’s pow-pow committee but faced backlash from park rangers for planning rituals in public areas, and this fueled your desire to work in politics to defend indigenous land-rights. Or maybe your childhood love for building Lego masterpieces contributed to your goal of becoming a civil engineer. Either way, remember to reflect on your past (or present) and use this reflection to analyze your future.

What each of these examples succeeds in doing is analyzing the “world” from the lens of challenges, experiences, and opportunities that led to a specific dream or aspiration.

is mit cultural background essay optional

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. (200 words)

For this prompt, MIT wants to see your selfless side by looking at the strategies you take to help those around you. Don’t panic if you haven’t saved hundreds of lives or discovered the cure for cancer; as the prompt suggests, helping your community can be as simple as lending a shoulder for your friend to cry on. Your community can be practically any group from family, neighbors, classmates, sports team, etc.

Whether big or small, think of a time that you made a positive impact on one or more people. Maybe you have experience volunteering at the Red Cross or at your local retirement home. Or maybe you founded a club at your school with the goal of bringing education to children in need. No matter what the cause is, show the admissions officers your generosity and willingness to make a difference in your community.

Here are a few more examples:

  • Tutoring a Teammate – One of your cross country teammates said that she was struggling in her Algebra 2 class, and was worried about failing. She didn’t see the point of math and thought she was just “bad” at it. You volunteered to tutor her for free on a weekly basis. After just a month of your tutoring sessions, your teammate got her first A on a test. This sparked your interest in teaching math, as you were able to get your teammate to not only understand math concepts, but also appreciate them.
  • Food Waste Campaign – You noticed your school cafeteria was generating tons of daily food waste, so you created a campaign to implement a compositing system and encourage students to reduce their waste. You gathered a team to research different composting services, contact your principal and the school board, and create educational materials on how to compost correctly. The program was successful at your school and diverted several tons of food from the landfill weekly. You’re currently working on getting the system implemented across the district.

What both of these examples succeed at doing is describing the impact that an action has on others. Whether it be putting a smile on someone’s face or preventing a child from contracting a deadly disease, remember to show the reader what the outcome of your efforts were. Tying in your personal development is another great way to heighten the magnitude of your contribution, as it gives your actions more significant personal meaning. Ask yourself: How did you grow from this experience? What changes did you see?

How did you manage a situation or challenge that you didn’t expect? What did you learn from it? (200 words)

The idea of this prompt is similar to the archetypal “ Overcoming a Challenge ” prompt. Whether it is a personal situation or a challenge, MIT wants to know how you handle difficult situations that suddenly arise and what you learn from such experiences.

You want to construct an anecdote that goes through both the situation and/or challenge and your thought process. When crafting your response, start by briefly describing the situation or challenge, making sure to answer the question, “ What was so significant about this event? ” Next, go into detail about the steps you took to approach the unexpected event and how you went about this process. Make sure to discuss the outcome of the situation and show the admissions officer how you matured from this experience, specifically identifying what you have learned from this experience. The most common mistake students make is to focus too much on the situation or challenge, rather than their thought process, emotions, and their growth.

As you brainstorm and begin drafting your response, here are some guided questions to get you thinking:

  • Why was this challenge so important to you? What is the significance?
  • At that moment, what was your reaction to the situation? How did it affect you (thoughts, emotions)?
  • Were the steps you took to manage the situation successful? Why or why not?
  • How did this challenge allow you to grow and mature as an individual?

Try to avoid “challenges” that are too trivial; although you may be upset that you got a B on that one calculus test, this is not a significant enough challenge to analyze. For this prompt, it’s important to demonstrate personal growth and maturity, as this shows your capacity to adapt to difficult environments.

You should also try to avoid challenges that are cliche , such as:

  • A sports injury
  • Working hard in a difficult class
  • Adjusting to a new culture or school
  • Facing tragedy (death, illness, abuse)
  • Romantic relationships and breakups

These tend to be very common experiences that have a predictable outcome, often focus too much on the challenge instead of your growth, or are simply inappropriate topics for your essay. Of course, you can still choose to write on a common topic if you feel that you can write something especially meaningful, but it’s better to find a more original experience to share.

You can, however, “spin” a cliche topic. For example, the “sports injury” essay tends to go: you get injured, can’t play, have to go through rehab, and you eventually get back on the field and succeed. A more unique approach would be to talk about how your injury led you to start a blog while you were recovering, and that became a big passion. Or, how your injury made you realize that you actually liked the strategy of the sport more than the actual sport, which led to your interest in competitive chess.

Here are some good examples:

  • You had to switch positions last-minute on your Model UN simulation of the Nuremberg Trials. You’d researched and prepared your arguments for months, but a delegate showed up late, so you needed to represent the opposite side you’d prepared for. Instead of panicking, you gather as much info as you can in a short time to argue the other perspective. When it’s your turn to speak, you blank out, however, and the Committee Director says they’ll come back to you. You take a deep breath, refocus, and re-outline your notes. When it’s time to speak again, you present a confident and articulate argument. The experience teaches you the importance of both preparation and adaptability.
  • You are passionate about robotics and wanted to start a competitive robotics club at your school. You gathered a group of interested students and began the process of getting the club approved by the administration. To your disappointment, your club was rejected. Instead of accepting defeat, you and your peers petitioned the school in hopes of having the board members reconsider their decision. While you didn’t ultimately win over the school board, you discovered your talent for persuasive speaking in the process, and decided to join the Debate Team. You’ve since won several awards and even got to give a local TED Talk.

No application can meet the needs of every individual. If there is significant information that you were not able to include elsewhere in the application, you may include it here. (Many students will leave this section blank—and that’s okay.) (350 words)

This is your typical “ Additional Information ” prompt, and while we usually recommend that you fill out all optional prompts, this is an exception. As MIT says themselves, many students won’t need this space to complete their application.

However, if you have unusual circumstances or a significant experience you weren’t able to address, you should write about it here. Some potential topics include:

  • Family responsibilities that prevented you from taking on traditional extracurriculars
  • Financial hardships
  • Death of a loved one
  • Unique extracurricular that can’t be fully explained in the Activities section

While your other essays should have a more narrative quality, your response here can be more straightforward, and you also don’t need to take up the full 350 words. 

Just avoid using this space for topics that may be deemed trivial, such as explaining that B on your transcript when you otherwise have straight A’s. Significant dips in grades for reasons out of your control are certainly fine to explain, but make sure that anything you cover here is actually a major part of your high school experience and development.

It’s important to note that in light of the Supreme Court striking down the use of affirmative action in college admissions, many colleges have added open-ended prompts that give students the opportunity to discuss their racial background. Because the ruling allows colleges to consider race on an individual basis, essays are the prime place for you to reveal your racial background and its effect on you. If you feel that your racial background has impacted you significantly, this is the place to discuss that.

Where to Get Your MIT Essays Edited

Do you want feedback on your MIT essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools.  Find the right advisor for you  to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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is mit cultural background essay optional

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MIT Essays that Worked

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MIT Essays that Worked – Introduction

In this guide, we’ll provide you with several MIT essays that worked. After each, we’ll discuss elements of these MIT essay examples in depth. By reading these sample MIT essays and our expert analysis, you’ll be better prepared to write your own MIT essay. Before you apply to MIT, read on for six MIT essays that worked.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university in Cambridge , Massachusetts. Since its founding in 1861, MIT has become one of the world’s foremost institutions for science and technology . With MIT ranking highly year after year, the low MIT acceptance rate is no surprise. Knowing how to get into MIT means knowing about MIT admissions, the MIT application, and how to write MIT supplemental essays.

MIT Supplemental Essay Requirements

The MIT application for 2022–2023 requires four short essays. Each essay should be up to 200 words in length.

MIT 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., describe the world you come from (for example, your family, school, community, city, or town). how has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations.

  • MIT brings people with diverse backgrounds and experiences together to better the lives of others. Our students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way you have collaborated with people who are different from you to contribute to your community.
  • Tell us about a significant challenge you’ve faced (that you feel comfortable sharing) or something that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation?

MIT changes the wording of these prompts a little bit every year. As a result, our MIT essay examples may look a little different from the prompts to which you will be crafting your own responses. However, there is a lot of overlap between current and past prompts and often the underlying questions are the same. In other words, even if the prompts differ, most of our MIT essays that worked are still helpful. Even MIT essay examples for prompts that are gone can be useful as a general sample college essay.

As one of the best universities worldwide, MIT is nearly impossible to get into without a good strategy . Even if you don’t have a stellar ACT or SAT score , your essays may impress admissions officers. Let’s briefly analyze each prompt so we know what to look for in MIT essays that worked.

MIT Essay Prompt Breakdown

is mit cultural background essay optional

1. Extracurricular essay

First, you’ll write about an activity you enjoy, whether it’s baking, doing magic tricks, or writing fanfiction. Remember, strong MIT essay examples for this prompt show genuine enthusiasm and explain why the activity is meaningful. Choose a hobby you can write about with gusto while also showing what it means to you.

2. Your Background Essay

Next, we have a prompt asking about your background. This is a classic question; in every other sample college essay, you find answers to this prompt. This question is intentionally open-ended, allowing you to write about any aspect of your background you’d like. In the MIT essays that worked, the “world” has something important to say about the author’s values or outlook.

3. Community Essay

Then, the third essay asks how you work with diverse groups to contribute to a larger community. MIT wants to see that you can work toward community goals while valuing diverse perspectives. But don’t worry. They don’t expect you to have solved world hunger—pick something that demonstrates what community means to you.

4. Significant Challenge Essay

Lastly, we have the failure essay, which seeks to answer how you persist in the face of adversity. Notice the prompt doesn’t mention “overcoming,” so this can be a time that you completely flat-out failed. Everyone handles setbacks differently, so effective MIT essay examples illustrate the author’s unique way of managing failure. It doesn’t have to be a particularly unique or unusual failure, although that may help you stand out .

How to Apply to MIT

mit essays that worked

MIT doesn’t accept the Common or Coalition Application. Instead, there’s a school-specific application for all prospective students. The 2022 Early Action MIT application deadline was November 1. The Regular Action MIT application deadline is usually January 1, but it’s been extended this year to January 5, 2023. The financial aid information deadline is February 15, 2023.

Depending on your admissions round, you need to submit all materials to the Apply MIT portal by the specified deadline.

MIT application requirements

  • Basic biographical information, including your intended area of study
  • Four supplemental essays
  • A brief list of four extracurricular activities that are meaningful to you
  • Self-reported coursework information
  • A Secondary School Report from your guidance counselor, including your transcript
  • Two letters of recommendation : MIT recommends one from a STEM teacher and one from a humanities teacher.
  • SAT or ACT scores —MIT is not test-optional for 2022–2023!
  • The February Updates form with your midyear grades (goes live in mid-February)

Furthermore, interviews are offered to many—but not all—students; not being offered an interview doesn’t negatively reflect on your application. At the end of this article, we compile more resources regarding the rest of the application. If you have specific questions about your application, reach out to the MIT admissions office .

Now that we’ve discussed the prompts and MIT admissions process, let’s read some MIT essays that worked. We have six sample MIT essays to help you learn how to write MIT supplemental essays. And, if you’re looking for more tips on managing the application process, watch our webinar on Building Your College Applications Timeline!

MIT Essay Examples #1 – Cultural Background Essay

The first of our MIT essay examples responds to a prompt that isn’t exactly on this year’s list. Let’s take a look. The prompt for this MIT essay that worked is:

Please tell us more about your cultural background and identity in the space below (100 word limit). If you need more than 100 words, please use the Optional section on Part 2.

Although the wording isn’t identical to any of this year’s prompts, it is similar to prompt #2. Remember, essay prompt #2 asks about the world you come from, which is essentially your background. However, MIT essay examples for this prompt speak more specifically about cultural background. With a shorter word limit, concise language is even more critical in MIT essays that worked for this prompt.

MIT Essays That Worked #1

My dad is black and my mom is white. But I am a shade of brown somewhere in between. I could never wear my mom’s makeup like other girls. By ten, I was tired seeing confused stares whenever I was with my dad. I became frustrated and confused. I talked to my biracial friends about becoming confident in my divergent ancestral roots. I found having both an understanding of black issues in America and of the middle class’ lack of exposure gave me greater clarity in many social issues. My background enabled me to become a compassionate, understanding biracial woman.

Why This Essay Worked

MIT essays that worked effectively show that the author can think about the bigger picture. This author describes their experiences as a biracial woman while addressing the wider scope of racial issues. While you shouldn’t reach to reference irrelevant societal problems, MIT essays that worked do often incorporate big ideas.

In addition, this author mentions conversations with biracial friends. MIT essay examples often include collaboration and community, and this one is no different. Often, sample MIT essays about cultural background will connect that heritage with one’s community. It shows that you value what makes you unique and can find it in others.

Lastly, strong MIT essay examples display reflection and personal growth. Do you understand the ways your experiences have shaped you, and can you write about them? Can you point to areas where you’ve grown as a result of your experiences? MIT essays that worked link the topic and the writer’s personal growth or values.

MIT Essays That Worked #2 – Activities Essay

The second of our MIT essay examples answers a prompt that’s on this year’s list.

In other words, write about a hobby or extracurricular activity—and what it says about you. As we mentioned above, MIT essays that worked for this prompt aren’t all about lofty ambitions. If you don’t read textbooks in your spare time, don’t write an essay claiming that’s your hobby. Be honest, thoughtful, and enthusiastic while finding a way to make your uniqueness show through. Let’s read one of many MIT essays that worked for this prompt.

MIT Essays That Worked #2

Adventuring. Surrounded by trees wider than I am tall on my right and the clear, blue lake on my left. I made it to the top after a strenuous hike and it was majestic. There is no feeling like the harmony I feel when immersing myself in nature on a hike or running through the mud to train for my sprint triathlon or even fighting for a pair of cute boots on black Friday. I take pleasure in each shade of adventure on my canvas of life, with each deliberate stroke leading me to new ideas, perspectives, and experiences.

MIT essays that worked use precise language to appeal to readers’ emotions. Note words like “strenuous,” “majestic,” “harmony,” and “deliberate.” The strategic use of vivid words like this can strengthen MIT essay examples and heighten their impact. But don’t overuse them—like paintings use a variety of shades, you should play with the intensity of your words.

Another benefit of colorful language is conveying meaning more deeply and precisely. Well-written MIT essay examples layer on meaning: this author likes adventuring through nature as well as life. With effective diction, you can make the most of the words you’re given. Consider using metaphors like in this MIT essay conclusion, comparing life to a canvas.

Now, think about your impression of the author after reading this. They’re active, ambitious, and, above all, adventurous. We know they like to challenge themselves (training for a triathlon) but also like fashion (buying cute boots). And we see from their concluding sentence that they have no intention of slowing down or pulling back. In under 100 words, we’ve got a clear snapshot of their worldview and see their adventuring spirit fits MIT.

MIT Essay Examples #3 – Why Major Essay

The third of our MIT essays that worked answers a prompt that isn’t on our list for 2022.

Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why?

This is a classic “Why Major” essay, asked by hundreds of colleges every year. Obviously, the prompt asks about your academic interests . However, it subtly asks about school fit : why is MIT the best place for you to pursue this interest? Although this sample college essay prompt isn’t in this cycle, you should read as many sample MIT essays as possible. MIT essays that worked for the “Why Major” essay prompt illustrated the author’s academic interests and motivations. Let’s see what the next of our sample MIT essays has to say.

MIT Essays That Worked #3

My first step in to the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research was magical. My eyes lit up like Christmas lights and my mind was racing faster than Usain Bolt. I was finally at home, in a community where my passions for biology, chemistry, math, and engineering collided, producing treatments to save lives everywhere.

I pictured myself in a tie-dyed lab coat, watching a tumor grow in a Petri disk then determining my treatment’s effectiveness. If I am admitted to MIT, I look forward to majoring in bioengineering and shaping and contributing to the forefront of bioengineering research.

Earlier, we said that MIT essays that worked use vivid language to drive home their point. This sample college essay is no different. Describing their instantaneous reaction, the author pulls us into their headspace to share in their delight. Following that, they show us their vision for the future. Finally, they state directly how they’ll work toward that vision at MIT.

This author points out that bioengineering aligns with their interests across math and the sciences. There’s no rule saying you can’t be purely into math, but MIT strives to cultivate the world’s leading minds. Many MIT essays that worked present the author as a multifaceted person and intellectual. If you write a Why Major essay for a STEM field, it may be worth your while to take an interdisciplinary angle.

Among other parts of these MIT essays that worked in the author’s favor is the mention of an experience. Many model MIT essay examples directly reference the author’s life experiences to connect them with their interest. For instance, this author frames their essay with a visit to a cancer research institute. We don’t know if it’s a tour or an internship—the reason for their visit is less important than the impact.

MIT Essay Examples #4 – Community Essay

mit essays that worked

At this point, we’ve gone through half of our MIT essay examples. Moving on, we’ll read three MIT essays that worked for prompts (nearly) identical to this year’s. Next, we’ve got a prompt asking about community contributions.

At MIT, 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.

It’s very similar to this year’s third prompt, with one crucial difference. The current prompt asks for “one way you have collaborated with people who are different from you .” While past MIT essay examples for this prompt could have focused on individual efforts, now you should focus on group efforts. In particular, groups where “people who are different from you” also play key roles. This is intentionally open-ended, allowing for endless kinds of differences.

With that said, let’s continue with our MIT essay examples.

MIT Essays That Worked #4

“I’m going to Harvard,” my brother proclaimed to me. My jaw dropped. My little brother, the one who I taught to pee in the toilet, the one who played in the pool with me every day of the summer for 7 years, the one who threw me in the trash can 3 months ago, had finally realized the potential I have seen in him since he was a little kid. And I was thrilled.

He told me that after attending the Harvard basketball program, he knew that attending college was the perfect opportunity for him to continue playing the sport he loved as well as get a very good education. His end goal (this is where I almost cried) was to become an engineer at Nike. The best part, though, is that he asked me to help him achieve it. 

I was astounded that he thought so highly of me that he trusted me to help him. That night, we began discussing various fields of engineering that he could pursue, as well as the internship opportunities that he classified as “so cool.” As soon as school started, I bought him a planner and taught him to keep his activities organized. I go over homework with him and my baby brother almost every night.

I love using my knowledge to contribute to my family with my knowledge. I am so proud of my brother and our progress. I cannot wait to see him grow as he works to achieve his dream.

Perhaps while reading the prompt, you thought all MIT essays that worked discussed setting up a food bank or working at a hospital. Not so! What really matters for this essay is the impact the community has on you. In sample MIT essays like this one, we see just how important the writer’s family is to them. If your family means the world to you, don’t shy away from writing about them!

On the other hand, while many sample MIT essays discuss family, the best ones remember to center the author. It may seem selfish, but in an applicant pool of over 30,000 , you must stand out. You have to beat that low MIT acceptance rate by putting your best foot forward. Notice how the author’s feelings and thoughts show through in their interactions and reactions. Even in recounting their past with their little brother, you see them as a caring, playful older sibling. They’re thoroughly proud of their brother, his ambitions, and the trust he’s placed in them.

MIT Essay Examples #5 – Describe Your World 

The fifth of our MIT essay examples answers a prompt in circulation this year. Hooray!

This “world” is open-ended to allow writers to explore the communities and people that have shaped them. This essay calls for deep introspection; can you find a common thread connecting you to your “world”? Some MIT essays that worked discuss family traditions, other city identities, etc. Whatever you choose, it should reflect who you are now and who you want to become.

MIT Essays That Worked #5

I was standing on the top row of the choir risers with my fellow third graders. We were beside the fourth graders who were beside the fifth graders. My teacher struck the first chords of our favorite song and we sang together, in proud call and response “Ujima, let us work together. To make better our community. We can solve! Solve our problems with collective work and responsibility.”

Then the students playing African drums and the xylophones on the floor began the harmonious percussion section and we sang again with as much passion as nine-year-olds can muster. This was my world. As a child, my community was centered around my school. At my school we discovered that if you love something enough, and work hard enough for it, you can do great things for both yourself and others around you.

In the years since I left, I reflected back on the lessons I learned at school. I determined I wanted to focus on the things I love – mathematics, science, and helping others. I also want to harmonize my abilities with those of other people so that we can work together to make the world a better place. Today I aspire to work in integrative research as a bioengineer to address the pressing medical issues of today.

For those who don’t know, ujima is the Swahili word for collective work and responsibility. The most well-crafted MIT essay examples employ narrative devices like framing and theme to leave a lasting impression. This essay, for example, introduces ujima with the choir scene—which itself is collective work—then reflects on the general concept. In every sentence, this writer works with the idea of collaboration and the positive power of the collective.

Among sample MIT essays, this can be challenging if you haven’t thought critically about your past and present. This writer clearly values collective responsibility and sees their future through that lens. They speak directly to their interests and their aspirations of bioengineering. All in all, they show careful consideration of ideas that have influenced them and the direction they want to take.

MIT Essay Examples #6 – Significant Challenge

The last of our MIT essays that worked answers a prompt nearly identical to one from this year.

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? 

The only difference is that this year’s prompt indicates you should feel comfortable sharing what you write about. This seems obvious, but you may be surprised how many students dredge up traumatic experiences in sample college essays. The issue isn’t that these experiences are unpleasant to read; on the contrary, they may be painful to write about. Although many MIT sample essays are somewhat vulnerable, you don’t have to write about experiences you’d rather keep to yourself.

With that said, let’s read the last of our MIT essay examples.

*Please be advised that the following essay example contains discussions of anxiety and panic attacks. 

Mit essays that worked #6.

Ten o’clock on Wednesday, April 2016. Ten o’clock and I was sobbing, heaving, and gasping for air. Ten o’clock and I felt like all my hard work, passion, and perseverance had amounted to nothing and I was not enough. It was ten o’clock on a Wednesday, but it all started in August of 2015. I moved cities in August 2015. I knew the adjustment would be hard, but I thought if I immersed myself in challenging activities and classes I loved, I would get through the year just fine.

I was wrong. With each passing month I experienced increased anxiety attacks, lack of satisfaction in any and every activity, and constant degradation of my personal happiness. By April, I was broken. Naked, bent over the toilet, sweating, shaking, choking on the tightening of my own throat, thinking “not enough, not enough, not enough.” 

It was extremely challenging to pick myself up after such a hard fall. When I finally made it out of the bathroom, I crawled to my room and read “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou. Her struggle encouraged me to rise to this challenge stronger than I had been before. I prioritized my own happiness and fulfillment, taking care of my body and mind.

I finally realized I did not have to do everything on my own, and began collaborating with my peers to finish the year strong and begin initiatives for the next year. I became a stronger, more confident woman than ever before.

Now, you may understand why this year’s wording includes “that you feel comfortable sharing.” While the author’s vivid description helps immerse us in the moment, a reader may hope they’re okay now. Again, you don’t need to strictly avoid traumatizing moments—but don’t feel obligated to share anything you don’t want to. In any case, the diction is indeed very precise and helps convey just how shaken the author was.

Furthermore, we see how the author dealt with this challenge: they were inspired by Maya Angelou. This ability to seek and find strength beyond yourself is crucial, especially in an ever more connected world. At the end of the essay, the writer notes how they’ve changed by working with others to accomplish goals. Their renewed confidence has made them even stronger and more willing to face challenges.

MIT Essay Examples – Key Takeaways

mit essays that worked

So after reading six sample MIT essays, what do you think? What are the takeaways from these MIT essays that worked? It goes without saying that you should read more sample MIT essays if you can. Additionally, when you draft your own MIT essays, take time to revise them and have other people read them.

MIT Essays that Worked Takeaways

1. discuss experiences.

The best MIT essay examples keep it real by talking about the author’s experiences. Can you think critically about how they have made you who you are? Find ways to address the prompt with your background and life experiences. You may also find sample MIT essays easier to write when they’re rooted in your reality.

2. Use precise language

Two hundred words are, in fact, not that much space. MIT essays that worked use every word to paint a vivid picture of the writer and their world. Mark Twain said it best: “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.” Choose your words carefully to refine your meaning and strengthen your impact.

3. Reflect on yourself

In college essays, it’s all about you and your personal narrative . So don’t miss any opportunity to introspect on your experiences, community, and personal growth. Demonstrate that you know yourself well enough to point to specific influences on your worldview. We all move through the world in different ways—why do you move the way you do?

4. Be genuine

You’ve heard this a thousand times, and we’ll say it again: be yourself . While you hear all about the typical MIT student and what MIT looks for , we’re all unique individuals. As, or even more, important than good scores or a huge activities list is an accurate representation of you . Write about extracurriculars and subjects and communities that are important to you—not what you think will sound impressive.

Additional MIT Resources from CollegeAdvisor

We have a wealth of resources on how to get into MIT here at CollegeAdvisor.com. We’ve got a comprehensive article on the MIT admissions process, from the MIT acceptance rate to deadlines.

MIT Admissions

Speaking of the acceptance rate, we take a closer look at that, too.

MIT Acceptance Rate

If you’re wondering about MIT tuition and costs, read our breakdown .

MIT Tuition & MIT Cost

Finally, we’ve got a guide covering application strategy from start to finish.

Strategizing Your MIT Application

MIT Essays that Worked – Final thoughts

Placing among the top American universities, we see MIT ranking highly every year, and for good reason. By the same token, it’s very challenging to get admitted. So, in order to get in, you need to know how to write MIT supplemental essays.

We read through several MIT essays that worked and identified strengths in our MIT essay examples. Use these tips when writing your own essays to craft a strong application!

is mit cultural background essay optional

This article was written by  Gina Goosby . Looking for more admissions support? Click  here  to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how  CollegeAdvisor.com  can support you in the college application process.

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How To Answer MIT's 2023/24 Application Essays: Tips & Insights

How To Answer MIT's 2023/24 Application Essays: Tips & Insights

What's New in 2023/24

What Are MIT's Essay Prompts?

Short Answer Questions

General Guidelines

The MIT essays are crucial to your application, offering a window into your character and aspirations. Highlight your unique experiences, challenges faced, and lessons learned. Approach these essays with authenticity, genuine introspection, and a focus on how you align with MIT's ethos. Ensure your essays resonate with MIT's pioneering spirit, showcasing not just your academic excellence but also your potential contributions to the MIT community. Our expert review services and consultations are here to guide and support you in this journey.

What did MIT students write their college application essays about?

MIT’s 2023/24 Essay Updates: What's Changed?

Securing a place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) , with its acceptance rate of approximately 4% , is an extraordinary feat. In the realm of elite college admissions, your essays are instrumental in illuminating your unique journey and alignment with MIT's ethos.

Each academic year, top-tier institutions like MIT meticulously refine their application process to ensure they gain a holistic understanding of their prospective students. For the 2023/24 admissions cycle, MIT has introduced several significant modifications to its essay questions .

The first notable change is the introduction of a prompt that asks applicants to select their desired field of study from a drop-down list and elaborate on why this field at MIT appeals to them. This change underscores MIT's commitment to understanding applicants' academic passions and reasons for choosing MIT as their ideal educational destination.

While the second question remains consistent, focusing on personal activities pursued for pleasure, the third question has been reworded for clarity. It now emphasizes the world the applicant hails from — its opportunities, experiences, and challenges, and its influence on their aspirations. This revision showcases MIT's interest in understanding applicants’ diverse backgrounds and experiences.

The fourth question has evolved to spotlight collaboration, not just in the context of community contributions but also in terms of mutual learning. Although rooted in understanding how applicants handle unexpected challenges, the fifth question now emphasizes the lessons derived from such experiences.

These updates reflect MIT's continuous efforts to evolve its admissions strategy, emphasizing the diverse experiences, aspirations, and values that applicants would infuse into its vibrant academic community.

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What Are MIT’s Essay Prompts for 2023/24?

For the 2023/24 application cycle, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has meticulously crafted specific essay prompts to understand its applicants better. These prompts explore your academic inclinations, personal narratives, collaborative experiences, and resilience in facing challenges. Applicants will need to answer all five questions, with responses ranging from 100 to 200 words each, through the MyMIT application portal .

Short Answer Essay Questions

MIT's short answer questions provide insights into your academic interests, personal pursuits, background, and experiences.

  • Field of Study : 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.
  • Pleasure Activities : 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.
  • Personal Background : How has the world you come from—including your opportunities, experiences, and challenges — shaped your dreams and aspirations?
  • Collaborative Experiences : 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.
  • Unexpected Challenges : How did you manage a situation or challenge that you didn’t expect? What did you learn from it?

With an acceptance rate of around 4% , MIT's application process is highly competitive. These prompts give applicants a golden opportunity to highlight their academic passions, personal growth, collaborative spirit, and the unique perspectives they'll introduce to the MIT community.

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How to Answer MIT’s Essay Questions?

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., - 100 to 200 words.

MIT, at its core, is an institution that thrives on innovation, research, and pushing the boundaries of knowledge. This prompt aims to understand your academic inclinations, passions, and how they align with MIT's offerings . It's an opportunity to showcase your intellectual curiosity and eagerness to delve deep into a specific field at one of the world's premier institutions.

Choosing Your Field

Begin by reflecting on:

  • Your academic interests and passions
  • Courses or projects that have particularly resonated with you
  • Articulating the appeal of the field of study you selected from the drop-down list
  • Future aspirations and how they align with the chosen field

Once you've identified your desired field of study, delve into:

  • Why this field intrigues you : Is it the challenges it presents, its potential impact on society, or personal experiences that have drawn you to it?
  • MIT's Unique Offerings : Research specific courses, professors, research opportunities, or facilities at MIT that make it the ideal place to pursue this field.
  • Future Aspirations : How does studying this field at MIT align with your long-term goals, be it in research, entrepreneurship, or any other endeavor?

Being Specific and Demonstrative

Avoid generic statements. Instead, demonstrate your genuine interest by mentioning specific courses, labs, professors, or projects at MIT that align with your interests. Showcase your understanding of the field and how MIT's offerings stand out.

  • "As someone deeply fascinated by quantum mechanics, the research being done at MIT's Center for Theoretical Physics, especially under Prof. XYZ, aligns perfectly with my aspirations. The blend of theoretical understanding and practical applications offered by MIT's courses would provide the ideal foundation for my goal of contributing to quantum computing solutions."
  • "Biomedical engineering at MIT stands out due to its interdisciplinary approach. The opportunity to work at the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) and collaborate with experts from various fields is precisely the kind of environment I seek to develop solutions for pressing medical challenges."

MIT's first prompt is your chance to demonstrate your academic interests and your understanding of what MIT offers in your chosen field. It's about showcasing your passion for the subject, awareness of MIT's unique strengths, and a vision for your future . Approach this essay with thorough research, genuine enthusiasm, and a clear understanding of why MIT is the best place to delve deep into your chosen field.

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.

MIT is keen on understanding the multifaceted nature of its applicants. Beyond academic achievements and extracurricular commitments, this prompt seeks to uncover what genuinely brings you joy, relaxation, or fulfillment . It's an opportunity to showcase a side of you that might not be evident in the rest of your application.

Identifying Your Source of Pleasure

Begin by reflecting on activities or moments that bring you genuine happiness. This could be:

  • Simple joys like reading a book, cooking a new recipe, or stargazing
  • Engaging in hobbies such as photography, gardening, or playing a musical instrument
  • Spending quality time with family, pets, or immersing yourself in nature
  • Delving into philosophical thoughts, writing poetry, or journaling

Articulating the Significance

Once you've identified your source of pleasure, delve into why it's meaningful:

  • Personal Growth : Does this activity offer introspection, relaxation, or a break from routine?
  • Skill Development : Perhaps it's a hobby where you've honed a particular skill or discovered a new passion.
  • Emotional Connection : Maybe it's an activity that connects you to cherished memories, people, or places.

Being Authentic and Personal

Avoid reiterating activities already mentioned in your application. Focus on personal experiences, feelings, and motivations behind your chosen activity. The aim is to offer a glimpse into your personal life, values, and what truly matters to you.

  • "Every Sunday, I bake bread from scratch. The rhythmic kneading, the aroma of fresh bread, and the joy of sharing it with my family transports me to my grandmother's kitchen – a haven of love and warmth."
  • "Late at night, I often find myself sketching. It's not about creating a masterpiece but capturing fleeting moments, emotions, and thoughts on paper. It's therapeutic, a silent conversation between my heart and hand."

MIT's second prompt is a canvas for you to paint a picture of your joys and passions. It's about showcasing the activities or moments that offer solace, happiness, or fulfillment. Approach this essay sincerely, detailing the emotions and motivations behind your chosen activity and providing a window into your world beyond academics and obligations .

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

MIT seeks students who are academically driven and deeply influenced by their surroundings and experiences. This prompt aims to understand the interplay between your environment and personal growth, aspirations, and dreams . It's an opportunity to showcase how your unique experiences have molded your ambitions and how you envision channeling them at MIT.

Reflecting on Your Background

Begin by considering:

  • The community or environment you grew up in
  • Key experiences, opportunities, or challenges that have had a significant impact on your life
  • How these factors have influenced your goals and aspirations

Narrating Your Journey

Once you've introspected on your background, focus on:

  • Specific anecdotes or experiences that were turning points in your life
  • The lessons you've learned from these experiences and how they've shaped your perspective
  • How these experiences have influenced your academic and personal aspirations

Connecting to MIT's Environment

Reflect on how your unique background and experiences will contribute to MIT:

  • How do your dreams align with MIT's mission and values?
  • Are there specific programs or initiatives at MIT that resonate with your journey and aspirations?
  • "Growing up in a multicultural neighborhood in NYC exposed me to many cultures and languages. This dynamic environment ignited my passion for urban planning, and I aspire to create inclusive urban spaces. At MIT, I aim to leverage the resources in the Urban Studies and Planning department to bring my vision to life."
  • "Having a father who served as a firefighter instilled in me a deep respect for public service and the sacrifices it entails. This inspired my interest in chemical engineering, with a goal to develop advanced safety equipment. MIT's cutting-edge research facilities would be the ideal platform for my endeavors."

MIT's third prompt is about introspection and understanding the symbiotic relationship between your environment and aspirations. It's about showcasing the influences that have shaped you and how you plan to channel them into meaningful contributions at MIT . Approach this essay with authenticity, clarity, and a clear vision of how your unique experiences align with MIT's ethos and offerings.

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 is renowned for its collaborative ethos, where students from varied backgrounds come together to innovate and solve real-world problems. This question seeks to understand your ability to collaborate, learn from diverse perspectives, and contribute to a collective goal .

Identifying Your Collaboration

  • Instances where you've worked with individuals from different backgrounds or experiences
  • The dynamics of the collaboration — how did you navigate differences, and what was the shared goal?
  • The outcomes and impact of this collaboration on you and the broader community

Narrating the Experience

Once you've identified a significant collaboration, delve into:

  • The challenges faced and how they were overcome
  • The lessons learned and how they have shaped your perspective on teamwork and diversity
  • The tangible outcomes, whether it's a project, an event, or a community initiative

Consider how this experience prepares you for MIT's collaborative environment:

  • Are there specific groups, clubs, or initiatives at MIT where you see yourself contributing?
  • How have your past collaborations equipped you for future teamwork at MIT?
  • "Collaborating with international students in my school's Model UN club, I learned the importance of understanding diverse perspectives. Together, we organized a cultural exchange event, bridging gaps and fostering a sense of unity in our community."
  • "Volunteering at a local shelter, I worked alongside individuals from different socioeconomic backgrounds. This collaboration taught me the value of empathy and the power of collective effort. Together, we initiated a fundraiser that provided resources for the shelter's expansion."

MIT's fourth prompt is about understanding the power of collaboration in diverse settings. It's about showcasing how you've embraced diversity, learned from it, and contributed to collective goals. Approach this essay with authenticity, clarity, and a clear vision of how your collaborative experiences will enrich the MIT community and your future endeavors.

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

MIT is interested in your resilience, adaptability, and problem-solving skills . This question seeks to understand how you handle unexpected challenges and what insights you gain from such experiences.

Identifying Your Unexpected Challenge

Reflect on:

  • A situation that caught you off-guard or was unforeseen
  • The immediate emotions and thoughts you experienced
  • The steps you took to address or navigate the situation

Narrating Your Response

Once you've pinpointed the challenge:

  • Describe the context and the unexpected challenge succinctly.
  • Detail your thought process and actions in response to the challenge.
  • Highlight any external support or resources you sought or utilized.

Drawing Lessons and Growth

Conclude by reflecting on the following:

  • The insights or lessons you derived from the experience
  • How the challenge and your response have influenced your subsequent actions or mindset
  • Any skills or perspectives you developed that will be beneficial in future endeavors, especially at MIT
  • "While leading a group project on environmental conservation, a key member, responsible for the data analysis, unexpectedly dropped out a week before the deadline. I had to quickly redistribute tasks, manage team morale, and ensure the project's timely completion. This experience taught me the importance of adaptability, clear communication, and contingency planning."
  • "During my junior year, I faced a sudden health challenge that required hospitalization, disrupting my academic routine. Navigating this unexpected hurdle, I reached out to teachers for extensions, prioritized my well-being, and sought peer assistance for notes. This ordeal underscored the value of seeking help, being compassionate towards oneself, and the importance of a supportive community."

MIT's fifth prompt offers a window into your character, resilience, and problem-solving abilities. You demonstrate your capacity to adapt, learn, and grow by detailing an unexpected challenge and your response to it. Approach this essay with honesty, introspection, and a focus on personal growth, showcasing how such experiences have prepared you for the rigors and unpredictability of life at MIT .

How Bobby Got Into MIT with Crimson

General Guidelines for Answering MIT's Essay Questions

  • Research and Specificity : MIT's essay prompts aim to understand your fit within its innovative and diverse community. Dive deep into MIT's offerings, from courses and professors to clubs and research opportunities. Demonstrating your knowledge about MIT specifics indicates genuine interest and a proactive approach.
  • Show Growth and Resilience : MIT values students who can adapt and grow from challenges. When discussing unexpected situations or your background, emphasize the events and lessons learned and how they've shaped your perspective.
  • Diversity of Experience : MIT's community thrives on diverse experiences and viewpoints. Highlight how your unique background, challenges, or interests will add a fresh perspective to classroom discussions and group projects.
  • Be Authentic : Authenticity is paramount. Write from the heart, focusing on genuine experiences and aspirations. Authentic narratives resonate more than manufactured stories tailored to what you think MIT wants to hear.
  • Depth Over Breadth : Given the word constraints, it's essential to delve deep into a few topics rather than skimming over many. This approach offers a richer insight into your character and experiences.
  • Narrative Storytelling : Engaging narratives can make your essay memorable. Whether discussing a community project or a personal challenge, a well-told story can convey your character and values effectively.
  • Proofread and Revise : Ensure your essays are polished and articulate. Beyond just grammar, your essays should have a logical flow and effectively communicate your thoughts. Feedback from trusted individuals can be invaluable.
  • Connect to MIT's Ethos : Always tie your responses back to how you'll contribute to MIT and how MIT's ethos and resources align with your goals. This shows a forward-thinking approach, emphasizing how you see MIT as being instrumental to your personal growth and vocational aspirations.
  • Embrace the MIT Spirit : MIT is known for its innovative spirit and problem-solving approach. Use the essays to showcase how you embody these qualities through past experiences or future aspirations.
  • Reflect on the Broader Impact : MIT is about improving the world through science, technology, and other fields. Ensure your essays reflect personal growth and how you aim to make a broader impact in your chosen field or community.

MIT's essays are a window into your personality, aspirations, and fit for the institution. By thoughtfully crafting your responses and showcasing your alignment with MIT's values and ethos, you can effectively convey why you'd be a valuable addition to the MIT community.

Final Thoughts

Embarking on the journey to MIT isn't solely about showcasing academic prowess; it's about weaving a narrative that aligns with MIT's pioneering spirit and the admissions committee's values. Your essays provide a unique opportunity to spotlight your character, aspirations, and the distinct contributions you'll bring to the MIT community.

Every MIT aspirant has a unique story waiting to be told. This is your moment to share yours. Approach your essays with authenticity, introspection, and a genuine passion for your narrative.

If you're unsure whether your essay truly captures your essence or stands out amidst the myriad of applications, our essay review service is here to guide you. Our seasoned experts will meticulously review and provide feedback, ensuring your essay resonates with MIT's admissions officers. Explore our  ebook , which features essays from students who secured places at elite institutions for added inspiration.

For those beginning their college application journey, consider booking a free consultation with our experienced college counselors. We're dedicated to guiding you in crafting an application that maximizes your chances of joining the ranks of MIT's innovative thinkers and doers. Your dream of becoming part of the MIT legacy is within reach, and we're here to support you every step of the way.

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What Makes Crimson Different

Key Resources & Further Reading

  • Everything you need to know about US Application Supplemental Essays
  • Acing your College Application Essay: 5 Expert Tips to Make it Stand Out from the Rest
  • How to Tackle Every Type of Supplemental Essay
  • 2023-24 Common App Essay Prompts
  • What are the Most Unusual US College Supplemental Essay Prompts?

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MIT part 1 question re: cultural background/identity

My kid is applying for EA and we are struggling with the “Please tell us more about your cultural background and identity in the space below (100 word limit).” writing prompt. Anyone have any suggestions on approaching this? My kid is midwestern white bread in a blended family who was born unto a teenage mom (yup that’s me). He is planning on writing about his bio-dad abandoning him so his step-dad is listed as father in the bio-section in the ‘Optional section’ on Part 2.

Thoughts? Ideas? Should I go all genealogy on them with “I come from the land of France where my decedents worked the guillotine after they were thrown from royalty…” or keep it more current? Send help!! I hate college applications! Back in my day we just filled out a form and had it postmarked by the due date, lol.

also, should I move this to the MIT specific forum?

“Should I go all genealogy on them”

Why are you writing it, not him? It seems like he already has a plan of what to write about. MIT wants to hear from your son. If you feel it’s necessary to discuss it with him, let him bounce ideas off of you to find out what part of his background is important to him.

Poor phrasing on my part, sorry. I am not writing anything…only helping come up with ideas. ETA goodness I know how to type and spell but this keyboard sucks

He doesn’t have a plan on what to write. That’s the problem he’s struggling with. He doesn’t want to write about the dad/step-dad part in this section.

I guess I am hoping for some ideas on the way others have approached this question to hopefully get his mind thinking about ways to answer this. Writers Block for him is a real struggle right now.

If he doesn’t want to get into his dad/step-dad then he could focus on his midwestern white bread cultural identity.

I believe most schools use essay questions to see how well the student can write and express themselves. It’s your son’s chance to share his personality so MIT can get to know him. I think the goal when answering this question should be: if someone didn’t know your son and read his answer, would they feel like they knew who he really was? And even better, would they want to know him?

There are some helpful books out there on college application essays. I found some at our local public library.

Don’t take this prompt to literal, this is not only about ethnicity, race etc. he can pretty much write about anything that makes him “him”. It doesn’t have to be a serious subject or something major.

Years ago I attended an MIT Club of Boston event where the MIT director of admissions talked of parents helping to write their child’s application. I was amazed at the insight they have to detect it.

And as expected, it doesn’t help the applicant.

This should be about how his cultural background effected him. It is not about your family history, it is about how it shaped him into a person he is today .

I don’t think MIT wants an emotional bit about abandonment. This is more about what they see in him that they want and like.

Surely he’s got some group identity and sense of self other than the genealogical aspects. In part, this question is to see how he does think, how he recognizes influences.

Some kids will write, eg, about their communities.

Agree, don’t overthink this. Midwestern and white is a culture, just like any other culture. Let your son write it from his tone of voice and experiences. My oldest son had a similar prompt many years ago and wrote about roaring down country roads in a car at sundown when the fruit trees were in full bud and with bugs hitting the windshield creating a crazy color montage against the sunset.

My older son would probably have written about coming from a family of nerds. There are more computers than there are people in the house.

Younger son would have written yet another funny anecdote that illustrated who he was. He has a real knack for self-deprecating humor.

I think it helps that the point of the application is that you want the admissions officers to like you. They want to think this would be a fun guy to have as a roommate. This would be a thoughtful person to have in class. This guy has an interesting way of looking at the world. (My kid wrote one of his essays about the history of the playground key, and the tug of war between wanting to let kids play on the school playground after hours, to finding parents weren’t being responsible. He was going through neighborhood files and finding that history kept repeating itself because no one remembered what had happened last time. He talked about how this project made him feel like a real historian as he put together information no one had thought about before.)

Thank you everyone for your insights and helpfulness.

@momofthreeboys - he read your comment and immediately came up with exactly what he wants to write about to convey where he comes from.

@mathmom "They want to think this would be a fun guy to have as a roommate. This would be a thoughtful person to have in class. This guy has an interesting way of looking at the world. " This helped him so much. Thank you!

  • Don't write the essay for him or even do any real editing of it. As another post said, any admission person worth their salt can figure out who wrote it (actually what generation by the phrasing of it). I read my kids essays and provided comments as to whether I liked or disliked the content but not any specific edits.
  • What that kind of prompt to me means: who are you? who is your family? I wouldn't go back very far in family history unless it somehow directly influenced him. Being white, from the Midwest, conjures up a certain personality. Is he that person or someone else? What does he like to do?

Part 1 is supposed to be relatively straightforward I think. My understanding is that this question is just meant to let people expand on the previous questions about ethnicity since they might not really give a good picture of one’s cultural background. I’m not sure if this is the place to be creative, though it’s probably fine if you are.

We want whatever he thinks is relevant.

(“he” because, as others have said, he should be authoring the essay)

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First-year applicants: Tests & scores

Testing requirement.

We require the SAT or the ACT for both prospective first year and transfer students. We do not require the ACT writing section or the SAT optional essay. We accept both the paper and digital SAT.

While MIT does not require the ACT writing section or SAT optional essay, MIT does value writing and communication highly . We believe that students in any field should learn to write prose that is clear, organized, and eloquent, and to convincingly present facts, data, and ideas. As such, all MIT undergraduates must fulfill a communication requirement that integrates instruction and practice in writing and speaking into all four years and across all parts of MIT’s undergraduate program.

Resources for free test preparation

Khan Academy , ⁠ 01 Khan Academy is now recognized by the College Board as their official test preparation source, fully integrated with their suite of assessments. offers personalized—and free—SAT test prep. Founded by MIT alum, Sal Khan, Khan Academy offers world-class instruction to anyone , online, for free. Their personalized practice recommendations will help you build your own practice plan, let you take practice tests, and give you tips for taking the test. They also offer AP prep, should you be considering AP exams.

ACT also offers free test preparation guides and practice exams.

schoolhouse.world is a free peer tutoring platform that offers SAT tutoring and SAT prep classes online. They also offer live, one-on-one support from tutors who are certified to help in math—from pre-algebra to calculus—all at no cost.

For non-native English speakers

For non-native English speakers, we strongly recommend providing the results of an English proficiency exam if you have been using English for fewer than 5 years or do not speak English at home or in school, so that we may consider that information alongside the rest of your application. We accept the following English proficiency exams:

  • Cambridge English Qualifications ( C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency )
  • Duolingo English Test (DET)
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

Competitive scores

We do not have cut off or recommended scores for the ACT or SAT as scores are evaluated within an applicant’s context. To view test score statistics from the most recent admissions year, visit our admissions statistics page .

We do have minimum and recommended scores for our English language tests. These minimums are in place to ensure your level of English proficiency. Because English is the language of instruction at MIT, all students must show that they will thrive in our community.

If you take the same test multiple times, we will consider the highest score achieved in each section. We do this in order to consider all applicants in their best light.

Students should report official full sittings (including future sittings) of the SAT, ACT, or English proficiency exams on the application. For each examination, required subscores are indicated with an asterisk. They should not list practice results or enter a superscore as a single sitting. Students should self-report scores from all exams taken, and MIT will consider the super-score in our review process.

Self-reported scores

We do not require applicants to officially send their SAT, ACT, or English proficiency test scores as part of their application. Instead, you will self-report your scores on the application, and we’ll verify these scores upon enrollment. There will be an opportunity to update us with any test results that become available after your application is submitted.

Testing deadlines

In order to apply for first-year admission, you must take the required tests before November 30 for Early Action, and before December 31 for Regular Action. We will also accept English language proficiency test scores for RA applicants through the January test dates.

Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and other standardized exams

Students should self-report scores for standardized exams they have taken or plan to take, such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, A-level, Baccalauréat, etc., on the Test scores section of the application. We do not require applicants to officially send scores as part of their application, and instead have a verification process upon enrollment.

  • Khan Academy is now recognized by the College Board as their official test preparation source, fully integrated with their suite of assessments. ⁠ back to text ↑

IMAGES

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COMMENTS

  1. How optional are the MIT "optional" essays really?

    For example, "Please tell us more about your cultural background and identity in the space below." I'm asking because this optional essay is similar to my world you come from essay and I'm not sure if I need to come up with more to write about. ... TLDR: Are MIT's optional essays actually optional, or are they "optional" like Harvard essays ...

  2. How to Write the MIT Essays 2020-2021

    Learn how to write the MIT essays and distinguish yourself as an applicant that is the right fit for MIT. Hale Jaeger will provide an in-depth breakdown of each of the essays, discussing how to optimize and tailor a response to each one by breaking down the purpose of the prompts. He'll also open up the floor to answer any and all questions ...

  3. My MIT Essay Revisions

    music - Essay #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) Filipino identity - Essay #4: Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town.

  4. MIT Supplemental Essays 2023-24

    The 2023-24 MIT supplemental essays are confirmed. The College Transitions team advises you how to make all 5 MIT essays shine. ... Essay Prompt #6 (Optional) Please tell us more about your cultural background and identity in the space below. (150 words) Unlike other optional essays, this one truly is optional. You don't need to respond ...

  5. How to Write the MIT Supplemental Essay

    Prompt #3: "Community" essay. Prompt #4: Extracurricular activity / community contribution essay. Prompt #5: "Manage a challenge" essay. Prompt #6: Activities list essay. Prompt #7: Optional additional information essay. If you're applying to MIT, odds are high that you're a pretty exceptional student (and human).

  6. How to Write the MIT Application Essays 2023-2024

    For the 2023-2024 application cycle, MIT is requiring students to complete 5 additional essays, all of which, understandably, can seem quite intimidating upon first glance. However, CollegeVine is here to help and offer our guide on how to tackle MIT's essays! Read these MIT essay examples to inspire your writing.

  7. MIT Online Application

    Cultural Background and Identity. At MIT, we use a holistic admissions process which entails understanding as much about you as we possibly can, and the context in which you have been shaped, both as a person and as a student. Because simply checking a box cannot fully describe a person, we are providing this opportunity for you to tell us ...

  8. A Protocol for MIT Admissions Essays

    Luckily MIT tells you exactly what they want: Alignment with MIT's mission to make the world a better place. Collaborative and cooperative spirit. Initiative. Risk-taking, or resilience and the ability and willingness to handle failure. Hands-on creativity. Intensity, curiosity, and excitement, also known as passion.

  9. Writing the MIT Application Essays

    At MIT Admissions, we recruit and enroll a talented and diverse class of undergraduates who will learn to use science, technology, and other areas of scholarship to serve the nation and the world in the 21st century. ... Some of my favorite blog posts about the MIT essays: This year's prompts and some advice from Petey; ... The MIT education ...

  10. MIT 2020/2021 essays

    The cultural background essay is optional. My daughter who graduated MIT 2 years ago, left it out. MIT admissions really wants to get to know each applicant. That space is for students whose cultural background is significant to their identity and feel that without a place to write about it the committee will be lacking important context to ...

  11. MIT essays that worked & MIT essay examples

    MIT Essay Examples #1 - Cultural Background Essay. The first of our MIT essay examples responds to a prompt that isn't exactly on this year's list. ... please use the Optional section on Part 2. Although the wording isn't identical to any of this year's prompts, it is similar to prompt #2. Remember, essay prompt #2 asks about the ...

  12. Advice On The Essay

    To summarize: be yourself, and let your essay be a perfect window into that person. You're the best only person who can truly translate that into words. At MIT Admissions, we recruit and enroll a talented and diverse class of undergraduates who will learn to use science, technology, and other areas of scholarship to serve the nation and the ...

  13. How To Ace MIT's 2023/24 Application Essay Prompts?

    For the 2023/24 application cycle, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has meticulously crafted specific essay prompts to understand its applicants better. These prompts explore your academic inclinations, personal narratives, collaborative experiences, and resilience in facing challenges.

  14. Is the MIT "Please tell us more about your cultural background and

    Is the MIT "Please tell us more about your cultural background and identity in the space below. 150 words or fewer." essay optional? It doesn't have an asterisk after the prompt unlike the other essays.

  15. Essays, activities & academics

    Rather than asking you to write one long essay, the MIT application consists of several short response questions and essays designed to help us get to know you. Remember that this is not a writing test. Be honest, be open, be authentic—this is your opportunity to connect with us. You should certainly be thoughtful about your essays, but if ...

  16. MIT part 1 question re: cultural background/identity

    If he doesn't want to get into his dad/step-dad then he could focus on his midwestern white bread cultural identity. I believe most schools use essay questions to see how well the student can write and express themselves. It's your son's chance to share his personality so MIT can get to know him.

  17. Tests & scores

    We require the SAT or the ACT for both prospective first year and transfer students. We do not require the ACT writing section or the SAT optional essay. We accept both the paper and digital SAT. While MIT does not require the ACT writing section or SAT optional essay, MIT does value writing and communication highly. We believe that students in ...

  18. MIT Supplemental Essays 2022-2023

    The MIT supplemental essays 2022 are designed to give all applicants an equal opportunity to showcase their background and personality, so when it comes to how to write MIT supplemental essays, it's really about reflecting on your values and priorities. At AdmissionSight, our goal is to help you with every step of the college admissions ...