September 20, 2019

MIT Essay 3


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)

Be careful not to do the humblebrag thing here. Don’t talk about the way you improved the lives of others, based on some amazing quality of yours (if this were a business school application, that WOULD be how you’d want to approach it – kind of).

But here, your focus has to be on what it was that made you act in the first place, and it should be the case that not everyone would have sprung into action at all, or in the same way. If a nearby child fell onto train tracks, presumably ANYONE AND EVERYONE would quickly leap into action to rescue the child, no? So, to claim that as a time when you “stepped up” and did something (brave) for the betterment of the community, falls a bit flat. “Who wouldn’t have done that?” The cooler version is the one where others, if given the same circumstances, might have either NOT THOUGHT to help, or would have thought about it but not acted. And perhaps you fought some demons in the middle of it as well, the more conflict the better. But ultimately you decided to do something. Walk us through it. Why was it difficult? What made it “questionable” or “not an obvious” thing to have done?

It should be clear that you didn’t NEED to do this. That no one was looking, and that you didn’t do it out of obligation, or guilt, or because you knew you’d be measured by others in this moment. That you “acted, even though no one was looking, and no one might ever even know” … is the truest evidence of genuine morality.

  1. So, to structure this, you’ll first wanna establish the status quo, the way things were BEFORE you did whatever you did. Take yourself out of it, what would have continued to happen? What was the normal way of things? Set it up. Establish the normal. [50 words]
  2. Next, lay out the choices you felt you had. One of those choices MUST have been not to act at all. And surely there were other options available to you as well. Walk us through what the tricky ones were, and why it wasn’t an obvious/easy decision. Explain what might have caused another otherwise ” decent” human being NOT to have acted in the way YOU ultimately did. What were the stakes? What would happen if you didn’t do anything? Who would care? [75 words]
  3. Walk us through what you did, whom it affected, how it all went down, the impact of it (so far as you could tell/measure). [75-100 words]
  4. And finally, why did you think about THIS moment in particular? What’s the significance of it in a bigger sense? [25-50 words]

You can also read through our team’s analysis of the rest of MIT’s application essays.

Learn more and explore each step of MIT’s undergraduate application process here.

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