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How to Respond to the MIT Supplemental Essay Prompts

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private, four-year university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The MIT supplemental essays are a great way to show the admissions professionals what kind of person you are rather than just what your grades look like on a page. Let’s dive into what each prompt is asking of you so that you can feel even more confident submitting your application!

Before you start writing

  • Each of the MIT supplemental essays should be approximately 200 words
  • Remember to do some reflection on your skills and experience – these essays are meant to communicate a portrait of your authentic self
  • There is a final, additional information box where you can write anything that you want the admissions professionals at MIT to know about you

Prompt #1

“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.”

As busy high school students, this is a question we don’t often think about. Your response is a nice way to show who you are as an individual. While 200 words may seem like a lot for this prompt, if you choose  something that you are passionate about, the words will flow. You might even  have to cut back on what you wrote! We always recommend free-writing, and then going back to edit once you are done. 

Questions to ask yourself

  • What is your “go to” hobby when you have free time?
  • What do you do to relax and rewind? 
  • If you could spend a week doing absolutely anything, what would it be?

Prompt #2

Describe the world you come from (for example, your family, school, community, city, or town). How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations?”

This question can be answered in more than one way. Maybe you come from a community, family, or school that uplifted you and helped you find what you are passionate about. Or, you might have come from a community, family, or school that affected you negatively. Whichever is the case for you, this prompt is an amazing opportunity to dive into how those experiences and people shaped you as a person and how that helped you to formulate your dreams.

Questions to ask yourself

  • How did your family or community contribute to who you are today?
  • Can you find something positive that came out of living in a less than desirable community?
  • Is there a person or group who influenced your future aspirations?

Prompt #3

“MIT brings people with diverse backgrounds and experiences together to better the lives of others. Our students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way you have collaborated with people who are different from you to contribute to your community.”

Whatever it may be, big or small, there is some way that you have contributed to your community. Your community could be your state, town, school, or your family. No matter which community you choose to talk about, be as authentic as possible. Think about an experience that shaped who you are as a person or how you changed someone else’s life for the better. 

Questions to ask yourself

  • Who makes up the community you spend the most time with (remember, this can be one person to an entire group!)
  • What challenge did your community face that you helped improve?
  • How did you work as a team member to better a certain community?

Prompt #4

Tell us about a significant challenge you’ve faced (that you feel comfortable sharing) or something that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation?”

This is a “getting to know the real you” question we occasionally see in the college admissions process. It is a good question to know how to answer, as you might be asked to answer it in interviews throughout your career as well (regardless of the path you take). It is important to find an answer to this question and keep it in your back pocket for when you least expect it. 

This also is a good time to think about stress management, and how you can improve on it before getting to college. It is important that you keep a level head and not overwhelm yourself in your first year of college– MIT asks this question because they want to see how you do when you are under a lot of stress. 

Questions to ask yourself

  • What major stressful event  have you prevailed over?
  • When did you “fall” and successfully pull yourself back up?
  • What did you learn from your experiences?

Final thoughts for students

All of these prompts are very open-ended because MIT understands that not every student can fit into a typical student mold. This is a great opportunity for students to write their truth in each of these essays and be honest about responding to what MIT is  asking. 

There are a great number of additional things that must be submitted with your application to MIT. This includes, but is not limited to, letters of recommendation, creative portfolios (depending on your major), tests scores, activities, and academics. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to prepare and submit your very best application. 

Also see: How to respond to the Common App essay prompts

Additional resources

Once you are all finished up with your MIT supplemental essays, give yourself a pat on the back! But don’t rest for too long – once you send in your application, it’s time to get started looking into financial aid. At Scholarships360, we’ve got your back with tons of scholarships that are tailored specifically to you in our scholarship database

If you’re thinking that maybe the Massachusetts Institute of Technology isn’t the right fit for you, that’s alright! We also have more articles on supplemental essay prompts, from Boston University to Wellesley College. On top of that, we can help you fine-tune your college applications with guides on whether to send test scores to test-optional schools, how to write an essay about yourself, and what looks good on a college application. Good luck on the rest of your admissions journey!

Also see: How to choose a college

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Additional supplemental essay guides