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MIT admits 650 talented and diverse students through early action

Changes in admissions process keep pace with rise in applications.

Last weekend, 650 students were offered early-action undergraduate admission to MIT’s Class of 2017. The 6,541 students who applied to MIT during the early-action period represent a 9 percent increase from the previous year.

MIT’s nonrestrictive, nonbinding early-action program attracts a large number of excellent applications; the Institute tends to be conservative in the number of students it admits early.

“Our admitting of less than 10 percent of our early-action applicants this year is unprecedented, and speaks to how many students appreciate and value the kind of education MIT offers,” says MIT Dean of Admissions Stu Schmill. “The students who were admitted are exceptional. It’s an exciting time for MIT.”

Those offered admission to the Class of 2017 are talented and diverse: Almost one-third have won academic national or international distinctions. Admitted students come from 48 states and from diverse backgrounds: More than one-quarter identify as members of underrepresented minority groups, and roughly 15 percent will be members of the first generation in their family to attend college.

“The selection process was extremely difficult, as we had so many excellent applicants,” says Mikey Yang, associate director of admissions and director of the selection process.

MIT continues to partner with QuestBridge, an organization dedicated to helping students from low-income families gain access to the nation’s best universities. “We admitted 48 QuestBridge finalists this year," Yang says. “Their achievements and accomplishments always amaze me.”

The Admissions Office’s Workflow and Assignment Revision Project (WARP) — an 18-month-long project with MIT Information Services and Technology to digitize and automate application case assignment, review, and workflow progression — was instrumental in making the admissions review process completely paperless. The changes also make possible real-time tracking and audit capabilities and have allowed significant flexibility in applicant review and workflow.

“While it’s still too early to know the full impact, WARP has been a key factor in our ability to adjust quickly to a large increase in early action applications without compromising on the thoroughness of the process,” says Kirsten Derrickson, senior assistant director of admissions.

Another change this year was the addition of an optional application question asking students to describe their sexual orientation and gender identity. MIT is now one of just a few schools to offer this question on its application; Elmhurst College, a private liberal-arts school near Chicago, became the first to do so last year.

“I am thrilled about the addition of this question and believe it sends a positive and affirming message to our prospective students,” says Abigail Francis, director of LBGT services at MIT. “The question also highlights MIT’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and nondiscrimination, and validates our efforts to create a supportive and welcoming environment at MIT.”

Online decisions were released Saturday, Dec. 15, at 12:15 p.m. Students were able to share their elation, or their disappointment, by posting in the Admissions Office’s open blogs for admitted, deferred and denied students.

“Our blogs continue to be the best way for us as an office to connect prospective students to our community here at MIT,” says Lauren Avalos, director of recruitment. “We work together year-round to recruit the best students for MIT. Seeing it all come together as we admit students in early action is an exciting moment for us all.”

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