Admissions says yes to 9 percent of early applicants

More apply early, but most must wait until March; application debuts ‘Maker Portfolio’ section

6456 earlyaction
Infographic by Will conway and Arica Wyche

MIT admitted 612 students for the Class of 2018 under its early action program this year. This number represents a record low early acceptance rate of 9.0 percent, a decrease from the 9.9 percent admittance rate last year.

Of the 6,820 applicants, 4,538 students were deferred, and 1,403 were rejected. The rest of those not admitted either withdrew before decisions were released or submitted incomplete applications.

Hundreds of applicants showcased projects done outside of school in a new optional section of the application, the “Maker Portfolio,” according to Dean of Admissions Stuart Schmill ’86.

MIT’s early action applicant pool has grown over the past few years: slightly over 6,000 students vied for an early spot in the Class of 2016, 6,500 for the Class of 2017, and now almost 7,000 for the Class of 2018.

Unlike the eight Ivy League institutions, MIT allows students to also submit early applications to other institutions with no penalty. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton all saw slight increases in their single-choice early action acceptance rates this year — Harvard admitted 21.1 percent of its applicant pool; Yale, 15.5 percent; and Princeton, 18.5 percent.

On the other hand, Stanford’s early acceptance rate of 10.8 percent was the lowest in several admissions cycles.

According to Schmill, women make up 49 percent of this round’s admitted students, while underrepresented minority students make up 26 percent. Thirteen percent would be the first in their families to attend college. Seventy-four percent of the admitted come from public high schools.

“Our Early Action admits hail from 49 states and 486 high schools,” wrote admissions officer Chris Peterson in a blog post on the MIT admissions website. “Though they all do different things — crafting and cartography, stargazing and sous vide, waltzing and welding — they are united by an academic record, a high caliber of character, and a strong match with MIT’s mission to make the world a better place.”

According to an MIT press release, more than a third of the accepted group have won a national or international award.

This year marked the first time that MIT added the option of submitting a “Maker Portfolio” as a supplement to an application. Students could choose to showcase one project that was completed outside of a structured environment. Projects that were done as part of school, work, internships, or extracurricular activities were not eligible.

In an email to The Tech, Schmill explained that the admissions office wanted a way to standardize the process by which students could document projects that they have undertaken.

“We received hundreds of [Maker Portfolio] submissions, which is probably on par with other years, although we have no way of counting previous years’ submissions,” noted Schmill. “There were two benefits to this new process: First, we were able to provide a scaffold that helped students create the portfolios in ways that were meaningful for us to review. Second, the review process was streamlined, allowing us to be more efficient in reviewing the many responses we received.”

In addition, Schmill pointed out that merely including the option of submitting a Maker Portfolio brought “making” to the attention of many people.

“Making is a great thing for students to do,” applauded Schmill. “It does not have to be part of a formal activity, and it can take many forms. We want to celebrate and encourage all of it.”

Although MIT has been increasing the size of the freshman class over the past couple of years, Schmill stated that this would no longer be the case for the Class of 2018.

“We have no plans to increase the size of the freshman class, and, in fact, as our yield has increased, we have been steadily decreasing the number of students we have admitted,” said Schmill. “We are fortunate to have such a strong applicant pool overall, and the challenge is to be able to only select such a small number from that large group.”