Our friends at Art of Problem solving hosted a Math Jam interview with Matt McGann, Associate Director of Admissions and Kiran Kedlaya, Associate Professor of Mathematics at MIT. Here are a couple of highlights and a link to the full transcript:
Q: What is MIT’s admission rate?
A: Last year, if memory serves, we received 13,396 applications and admitted 1589 students, for an admission rate of about 11.9%. But remember, just the admission rate tells you very little about the admissions process or the quality of the school.
Q: Where are the math major students go and what do they do once they graduated from MIT?
A: Our math majors choose a variety of career paths. Some pursue PhDs in math and continue in academic careers; some do likewise in related subjects (physics, computer science). Finance is a popular option, as are various IT-oriented careers.
Q: What are some of the research opportunities available during the vacations?
A:MIT has an extensive Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), through which undergrads can get funding to do research projects with faculty either during vacations or academic terms. The burden is on the student to find a faculty mentor, but many faculty participate in the program. (I’ve advised maybe 10 students in this way.)
Q: What kinds of things make an undergraduate application “jump off the page” during the MIT admissions process? In other words, what makes someone’s application stand out from the rest of the applicants who are most likely very studious as well?
A: I know you’re very anxious to have this question answered! It’s a tough question, and one that doesn’t have an easy answer. Lots of things can make an application stand out. A 42 at the IMO would be great, but it can be many, many things. Some students stand out for their personality, or their extra-curricular accomplishments, or for overcoming a challenging situation. But all of these students must have strong academics and an alignment with MIT’s mission and culture. For more detailed thoughts on this, I’d read the blogs at our website, http://mitadmissions.org
Q: Not everyone gets to IMO. Are USAMO qualifiers also considered for admission?
A: Of course! And even non-USAMO qualifiers!