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March 23, 2021

3 Minutes Read

Hi friends,

The recent hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have highlighted the anti-Asian racism and discrimination that exists in this country and around the world. We are horrified and deeply saddened by the acts of violence and stand in solidarity with the AAPI community. As educators, we are committed to working towards a more informed, inclusive and just society.  

Last Sunday was Pi Day which invariably meant MIT released its admissions decisions. On trend, a large increase in applications resulted in an all time low acceptance rate. Despite this, MIT's application remains exemplary in the way it forces students to reflect on their values (more on that below). 
With the exception of the ivies—Ivy Day is pushed back to April 6 this year—many selective colleges will release their admissions results in late March. We'll be watching closely, but it is almost certain that a lot of schools will aggressively use their waitlist.
📝For 11th graders, our email series focused on the personal statement starts March 29. Think of it as a mini-course to jump start the college essay process over spring break.
To receive the 5-part [How to ACE Your Personal Statement] series simply email me with "ACE" in the subject line— I'll personally add you to the list.

If you want a sneak peak you can read part I, Finding Gold. For those that want further help telling their story, the spring session of Write Your Way Into College starts the week of April 12. 




🏆Less is More

Back to MIT. Over 33,000 students applied to join the Class of 2025 compared to just over 20,000 last year. Given that they kept their class size relatively constant, MIT's admit rate dropped from about 7 to 4 percent. Savvy applicants are not alarmed by this however.
Rather than the 4 percent admit rate, students should focus on the 4 spaces for extracurricular activities on the MIT application. That's right, MIT is very clear that for the purposes of evaluating your application, they are only interested in your 4 most meaningful activities.
This is instructive for students thinking not just about MIT, but all selective colleges. While the Common App allows space to list and describe 10, you don't need to fill them all out. MIT is just being more transparent about the fact that your application is not judged on how many activities you do. Colleges prefer to see a few activities that are significant in terms of the time you spend, the impact you make, and what you learned.
MIT is also transparent about the fact that "activities" is defined broadly. It may include things like family responsibilities or hobbies you do just for fun.  MIT's own example of this is "hanging out with my little brother." 
Remember that your personal brand is a beacon for making authentic choices. If you want an admission officer to remember a particular character strength, you have to communicate it clearly. That includes which activities you choose to highlight and how you explain their significance. 

Here's what else we want to share with you:


  • 🤔Misrepresentation Skills: The Fiske Guide to Colleges is dropping the reporting of average SAT and ACT scores for colleges it reviews Because less than 50 percent of students applying through the Common App submitted scores, the most prominent college guide felt that continuing to publish score averages in the 2022 edition would be proliferating inflated scores


  • ✍️Write Your Truth: A college essay is one of the best opportunities for students to work through who they are and who they want to be. Sometimes connecting those dots comes through a story about major current events like the pandemic, but sometimes—to stand out—it's through a story framed by more everyday activities like grocery shopping, or baking a cake. 900 students recently shared their college essay with The New York Times. A few are excerpted in this article.

  • ⌛Mind Your Time: 4.7 hours. That's the amount of time the average person spends looking at their phone each day. Platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram leverage the very same neural circuitry used by slot machines to keep us using their products as much as possible. This TED-Ed video explains how our phones are changing us.  Take a closer look at the underlying science here: Dopamine, smartphones and you: A battle for your time.


Many of our students have been doing zoom interviews with admissions officers. While they are a slightly different experience than in person, many of the same principles for success apply. Watch this short video of Peter explaining how to prepare for an upcoming college interview