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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology supplement consists of 5 short-answer essays. Here are our tips and tricks to note when completing MIT’s supplemental essays:

In the MIT application, they are not looking for one long, highly-polished essay. Instead, interspersed throughout the application will be short-answer questions designed to help MIT get to know you. Just be yourself.

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? (250 words or fewer)

Think about the way you were raised. What has shaped your beliefs, faith and/or morals? In what way has your family or community had an impact on you? Be honest about the world you come from, whether it was good, bad or a combination of both. Be sure to highlight your future goals and how your past has led you in a certain direction.

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. (100 words or fewer)

Think about which high school subjects you enjoy most and how that might translate into an area of study in college. If you have a clear academic focus, be sure to elaborate on why you plan on pursuing it at MIT and how the program will help you develop as a student.

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)

Here’s a chance to describe an interest or endeavor outside of your primary activities that you genuinely enjoy. Be honest in describing what about the activity is appealing to you – why were you drawn to it originally? What about it is indicative of your personality?

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)

Admissions officers work each year to fill an incoming class of students who will have a positive impact on one another over four years. (For those who enjoy taking part in community service, here is your chance to mention which activities you’ve participated in.) As the question states, communities come in many forms, both big and small. Describe your impact on others and how you hope to have an impact on the MIT community.

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)

Challenges and conflict affect everyone, and admissions officers understand that high school students are not perfect! You should feel open to describing a moment of failure. Be sure to stay focused on the outcome of your challenge: How did you grow, change, improve or react to setbacks? Showing an ability to manage and ultimately learn from failure is important. Side note: we recommend avoiding a COVID-19-related response here if you’ve already answered mentioned how the virus has impacted you in a separate part of your application.

About the author
Marc Zawel

As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.

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