HackMIT no longer admits all MIT students

At least 50 percent of admits will be guaranteed to be MIT students

Beginning this year, the HackMIT team will only guarantee admission to first-year MIT students, according to a blog post by Jessica Sun ’21, co-director of the 2019 HackMIT organizing team. At least 50 percent of participants will still be MIT students, but they must apply alongside applicants from other schools. In the past, MIT students were automatically admitted to the two-day hackathon. 

The HackMIT team will read all applications, in contrast to the past, where admissions were decided by lottery, Sun said in an interview with The Tech. The application has also been modified so that students do not need to answer with responses about programming, Hannah Liu ’22, a HackMIT board member, said in an interview with The Tech

Additionally, workshops and talks will be open to the entire MIT community, Sun wrote. The HackMIT team has “admitted about 90% of the MIT students who have applied,” Jack Cook ’22, a co-chair of HackMIT, wrote in an email to The Tech. 

“Our decision was largely motivated by statistics from our previous events. [Last year], 70 percent of HackMIT attendees were MIT students, [leaving] fewer than 300 spots for over 5000 applicants from other universities,” Sun wrote.

Additionally, MIT students in the past had not had a high percentage of “measured commitment” to completing a project, Cook wrote. Sun wrote, “By the end of the [2018] hackathon, only 20% of MIT hackers had submitted a project, compared to 90% of non-MIT students.” 

In response to student concerns about negative effects on minority admissions, Sun said, “We read apps completely blind.” Compared to past years, “We’ve admitted way more people who are minorities,” Sun continued. 

Liu added, “Our outreach has done a great job in reaching out to underrepresented minorities.”

Bryan Padilla ’22 said in an interview with The Tech that he believed that since only first-years will be automatically admitted, “We will be losing out on an opportunity for relationships to form between graduating classes.” 

Other students were more open to the change. Daniel Liu ’22 said in an interview with The Tech that many previous hackers likely “picked up their free stuff, networked a bit with the sponsoring companies, got their free lunch and left.” He proposed that HackMIT should “first admit all MIT students who show genuine interest in hacking, then fill in the rest with non-MIT students.”