Some MIT (Undergraduate) Admissions Interview Advice

July 4, 2018

I’ve been doing MIT admissions interviews for two years now and I’m planning on doing a third this Fall. So far, I’ve had a fun time talking to about 15 high school seniors about their interests and college plans. I’ve noticed a few common themes in interviews:

  1. Students are pretty reticent. Although nervousness is certainly a contributing factor here, it’s hard to have an interesting one sided conversation.
  2. Students say they have interests in some subject area but when asked to go deeper, to explain what about an area interests them, or how they’ve scratched their interests by investing time learning about their interests, they don’t have many examples. Of course, not everyone is afforded opportunities that match their interests, and it’s much easier to demonstrate interest in something like computer science than nuclear engineering. However, saying that one is interested in something but not doing anything about it doesn’t give much credence to the former.
  3. Many students concentrate too hard on either just academics or have participated in way too many extracurriculars. Either way, both extremes limit real exposure to different ways of thinking and as a side effect creates pretty cookie cutter stories during interviews.