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How to write the 2020-2021 MIT supplemental essays

by Rebecca Acree, on Sep 28, 2020 12:00:00 PM

If you’re applying to the illustrious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, you may be more focused on your math and science grades than your writing skills. But MIT admissions officers want to admit students who are the whole package! MIT’s supplemental essays are your chance to show admissions officers just that, while giving them more insight into who you are and why you’re a great fit for MIT. 

MIT requires five supplemental essays in total — four with a maximum of 250 words, and one with a maximum of 100 words. As always, we recommend that you stick close to the upper limit, in order to give yourself plenty of room to tell your story! 

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Read on for our tips on answering the 2020-2021 MIT supplemental prompts! 

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)

Knowing where you came from helps MIT admissions readers know where you’re going in the future. Start by thinking about your dreams and aspirations. How did your dreams and aspirations grow over time? What influenced you to want those particular things? Work backwards to show readers how your world has shaped you into the person you are today, and the person you will be in the future. It’s best to be as detailed and descriptive as possible here, so choose one goal to focus on, and bring it to life by telling the story of a moment in which that goal was shaped. 

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) 

This prompt offers a chance to demonstrate how your academic interests match up with the programs available at MIT. Admissions readers don’t necessarily expect you to know exactly what you want to study in college, so just focus on whatever appeals to you the most right now. If you’re having trouble choosing just one, think about the rest of your application. What field of study best fits into the overall story you’re telling about yourself with your entire application? You only have 100 words for this question, so get right to the point! 

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)

Admissions readers want to know who you are as a complete person — not just as a student and college applicant. Use this chance to tell them something about yourself that isn’t strictly related to your goal of attending college. What’s something that you do just for fun that will help readers gain more insight into who you are? Don’t worry about what they might want you to say; there is no right answer. (The only wrong answers are those that are offensive, provocative, etc.) Just be honest, and show readers the activity instead of telling them, allowing your character to shine through. 

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) 

This is a classic community question, and it’s designed to help MIT admissions readers understand what you’ll be like as a student on the MIT campus. The best way to do that is to show them, using a real moment from your life, what you’ve been like as a member of another community. Feel free to get creative with the idea of “community” — you are a part of many different communities, even if that’s not what you call them! What role do you play in your community, and what have you done to make it better? Be sure to show the action you took and the result of that action. 

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)

You can choose to talk about a challenge from your personal life, your school, or your community, or any other type of obstacle. It can be something more personal, or less — whatever you’re most comfortable with. Just remember that your focus should be on how you grew and learned from the experience, not on the difficulty of the experience itself. What was the situation before and after you dealt with the challenge? What actions did you take to overcome it? How has overcoming it prepared you to succeed in college? 

Ready to perfect your personal statement next? For tips on crafting a great personal statement and examples of what that looks like, check out our guide to personal statements

Topics:college admissions

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