The following application was submitted to MIT in 2019 by Reddit user u/Waubles. Please note that these essays are likely above average in quality, even for MIT. Click here to view more examples of college applications that worked.
Please tell us more about your cultural background and identity in the space below (100 word limit).
As I step into my room, my eyes fixate on the harlequin tapestry of ornaments adorning the wall: handcrafted sailboats from the Adriatic coast and warrior masks of the Fante tribe. To some, the stark contrast of friendly ships and war façades may seem like a bizarre display. But to me, they’re complimentary; entwined. As they stand side by side, the ornaments on my wall remind me that I’m not divided between two families, nor am I merely a set of labels: Not just Ghanaian or Croatian, nor black or white, but a brand new flavor: simply, and uniquely, me.
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. (Response required in 100 words or fewer)
I love Rubik’s-cubing on the morning subway: not just the challenge of 43 quintillion colorful permutations, but the little moments I share with other riders. I catch a glance of the businessman peeking over his phone, observing the shifting squares, or a preschooler gazing at the cube, bubbling with curiosity. I confide in a stranger the secret strategies behind each twist and meet the rivalrous eyes of another cuber across the aisle: an unspoken invitation to competition. My Rubik’s cube isn’t just a puzzle. It’s a bridge between riders; a shared escape from the monotony of the dreary morning hours.
Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words or fewer)
My aspirations of growing up to be an astronaut were always at odds with a laundry list of sicknesses and syndromes. But no matter how disappointingly impossible my ambitions seemed, I always found joy in tinkering with robots late into the night, invigorated by MIT tech videos Mom showed me online. By studying Course 16 and working with the Robust Robotics Group, I can create robots that work in synergy with astronauts. I’ll unite my ardor for space with the thrill of robotics to empower the next generation of spacefarers, even if I won’t be able to stand among them.
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. (200-250 words)
I like to skip free periods and sneak into physics class as an ‘unofficial teacher’s assistant.’ See, my physics teacher likes using programming as a visual aid, meaning students often have to build simulations in Processing3. It’s not exactly an elementary task for the majority of people, whose experiences with code amount to NCIS hackers whispering “I’m in” after ten seconds of fervid typing. Students often sought me out during free periods to ask for help, and one afternoon, a friend even convinced me to slip into his physics class to meet. After answering his questions, I began to dart around the room, assisting others who quietly called me over. No doubt, Dr. Henry quickly became aware of my company, but I suspect she didn’t mind the helping hand, considering the sixteen questioning arms furiously waving in the air.
Since then, I’ve volunteered in other physics classes more times than I can count, my title shifting from ‘very unofficial TA’ to just ‘slightly unofficial TA.’ Dr. Henry has her workload cut in half, and I venture from friend to friend, drifting through color-coded lines and functions as we troubleshoot bugs, or brainstorm how to translate their ideas into code. Sure, I might be sacrificing a few free periods, but as an avid programmer myself, I know the incredible rush of watching the fruits of my labor come to life. Sharing that sensation with my friends as I watch a glowing smile creep across their face is certainly worth that much.
Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations? (200-250 words)
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? (200-250 words)
It’s not always the physical pain that hurts most. You quickly become accustomed to nights of twisting and turning, trying to find a position that eases the dull ache. But what truly stings is the shame of being mockingly christened “the Hunchback of New York” by a couple of cruel teenage neighbors, or the pain of having to give up tennis because rapid movements irritate your back.
Afflicted by both scoliosis and severe kyphosis, I had two options: a potentially dangerous eight-hour operation, or months of physical therapy. I chose the latter, determined to fix my spine without risking the side effects of surgery. Four times a week, I rushed across town for an hour and a half of arduous exercise, only to dash back down to the 6-line afterwards, spending the train ride with one hand on a subway pole and the other on a calculus textbook. When I arrived home, I immediately continued my schoolwork, interrupted only by a stint of stretches before heading straight to bed. In the end, with a bit of effort and resolve, I managed to beat the odds, finishing therapy three months ahead of schedule. I may have entered my ordeal crippled, but I emerged with a straight spine and an unwavering resolution to always fight for success. The memory of countless hours of onerous workouts still burns within every muscle fibre of my being, but it also serves as a reminder of just how far I can go through tenacity and willpower.
GPA and Test Scores
- GPA: 3.93 Unweighted
- SAT: 1560
- Intended Major: Aerospace Engineering
- No MIT Legacy
- Both parents went to college
- Attended a private school in New York City
- Completed college-level math and physics courses
- President of the Robotics Club
- President of the Math Club
- President of the Global Concerns Club
- Tutors 2nd and 3rd grade students
- Math tutor for students at school
- Writing Advisor for students at school
- Personal Robotics Projects
- Programming as a hobby
- National Merit Scholarship Competition Finalist