The world’s premier engineering school the Massachusetts Institute of Technology just welcomed its class of 2021.  In true MIT fashion, applicants were alerted on March 14th (Pi day) at 6:28 PM (Tau Time) that they could join the illustrious ranks of MIT students.  While MIT graduates such as Buzz Aldrin and Richard Feynman are known for their achievements in science, its alumni have gone on to play prominent roles in everything under the sun ranging economists like Ben Bernanke and Paul Krugman to heads of state like Benjamin Netanyahu.  But before any of them altered the course of history, they were high schoolers, taking standardized tests and penning application essays.  The classes of 2021 and beyond is sure to include many similar figures years down the line, so let’s look at what it takes to get into MIT.


While many elite institutions have off the charts SAT scores, MIT’s breaks new ground.  Their SAT Math score range was 770 to 800.  At most universities, you can pinpoint the average SAT score of a student by taking the midpoint of the 25th and 75th percentile.  However, MIT’s range is so small that we can’t assume a normal distribution – some MITish talk meaning that the average student scored an 800 on their Math SATs.  To even be remotely competitive, you must score at least a 750 on the Math section: fewer than 100 students were accepted beneath that threshold.  And, despite the myth that engineers don’t write, the score on the Reading range wasn’t too shabby, going from 730 to 780.  Additionally, 97 percent of admitted students were in the top ten percent of their graduating class.  It’s hard to understate the academic rigor needed to get into MIT.  In addition to all being excellent students, the MIT class of 2021 comes from both across the United States with all 50 states being represented and across with the world from 62 different countries.  Of these students, eighteen percent are the first in their family to attend college and twenty-five percent are under-represented minorities.  To support such a diverse class, MIT has had to make strides in affordability.  This year, the students are expected to pay 1,400 dollars less than they were the previous year.


The attitude of many MIT students could be summarized as “work hard, play hard.”  Everyone there got in due to their exceptional academic talents and is nothing to scoff at.  So, when you aren’t in class with Nobel laureates like Bengt Holmström or critically acclaimed authors like Sherry Turkle, you can enjoy Boston and Cambridge’s great night life where you are surrounded with students from colleges across the area.  The University also invites tons of guest lecturers including the world famous polymath Noam Chomsky, who was a professor there until one year ago.


Additionally, MIT has a number of traditions which are truly singular.  At the start of winter semester, students can attend the Bad Ideas Festival which promises to relieve students from the fetters of “silly requirements and ‘good engineering practice.’”  Winners of the festival have made everything from a temporary roller coaster to a James Bond-esque laser maze.  On a similar note, every Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the school hosts the MIT Mystery Hunt, a massive scavenger throughout campus.  Each year, the previous victors design the subsequent puzzle.  The themes have varied from musical theatre to Super Mario Bros.  If scavenger hunts aren’t your thing, there are a variety of idiosyncratic clubs on campus such as the Quidditch Team – which has competed at the national level – and the Laboratory for Chocolate Sciences which hosts everything from “tastings, truffle-making seminars, lectures on fair trade [to] scientific demonstrations.”  How many schools can claim to have a dedicated club for chocolate connoisseurs?  As silly as that sounds, that gets to the heart of MIT’s ethos.  The campus is packed with extremely intelligent, passionate people who aren’t afraid to dedicate those traits to the pursuit of knowledge in all its forms – including the confectionary.


The attitude towards using your intelligence in every domain extends to academic life.  MIT is perhaps the only school in the country to offer a course on toy design or one which tasks you with a simple, yet impossible challenge: “Design and build a robotic system for putting a round peg in a square hole, while a competing system tries to put another peg into the same hole.”  Everything at MIT is an offshoot of the student body’s brilliance, something you will have the opportunity to bask but, but also create as a student in their class of 2022.