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MIT Accepts 16 Percent of Class of ’08 Applicants

By Waseem S. Daher

ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR

Letters of acceptance and rejection for MIT’s Class of 2008 were mailed on Friday, with 16 percent (1,664 out of a total of 10,464) of applicants having cause for celebration.

Of those admitted, 897 are male and 767 are female, or 54 and 46 percent respectively, according to an e-mail written by Edmund Jones, an administrative officer in the Admissions Office.

The 46 percent female number is a decline from the Class of 2007’s 49 percent. “It depends on the year,” said Marilee Jones, dean of admissions.

The Admissions Office expects a 61 percent yield on admissions offers this year, Jones said, which would lead to a class of roughly 1,016 students.

The predicted yield is an increase from last year’s of 58 percent, which ultimately proved lower than the true yield, in part leading to crowding in dormitories this year.

Jones said that these calculations were also made with the intent to admit students from the waiting list as well. “We made a calculated decision that we wanted to go to the waitlist this year,” she said.

The list of admitted students will be available for review in 10-100 starting Thursday, March 18, Jones said. An MIT ID is required to view the list.

’08 admits are top of class, diverse

The students admitted for MIT’s Class of 2008 are at the top of their respective classes. Forty-two percent of the students admitted are valedictorians, and 91 percent are ranked in the top 5 percent of their high school classes, according to Jones’s e-mail.

The SAT I means for the verbal and math sections were 724 and 759, respectively. Seven percent of accepted students received 1600 on the exam, and 62 percent had at least one 800, according to the Class of 2008 Web site, at http://web.mit.edu/admissions/inside.

MIT has also made progress on the front of diversity, with 283 admitted students, or 17 percent, classified as under-represented minorities. “A few years ago, that number had dwindled to 11 percent,” Marilee Jones told The Boston Globe.

More ‘MIT-like’ applicants

There was a slight drop in the number of applications this year, compared to the 10,547 applications received last year.

Harvard, Stanford, and Yale all switched to single-choice early action admissions policies earlier this year, and Jones suggested that this change, as well as economic changes, may have decreased the number of applicants to MIT.

However, the students that did apply to MIT are a very good fit, she said.

“We have more of our kinds of students in the applicant pool this year than we had in a long time,” she said, “and we are expecting a higher yield because of that.”

In addition, Jones said that the admissions process had been refined over the past few years.

“We’ve really focused in on the basics, who really makes up the pulse at MIT,” she said. One criterion that used to be selected for was national and international recognition. However, upon review, the admissions department decided to focus more on “self-initiative, a certain real self-reliance, willingness to take risks, and emotional flexibility,” she said.

The change was made to find students that are “good MIT people and also really highly creative, that might not be recognized because they’re not in competitive venues,” she said.

Perceived low ‘quality of life’

On a somewhat different note, Jones said she has noticed a new trend in the Admitted Student Survey data, a survey asking why students chose to come to MIT or to attend another institution.

The response of ‘quality of life’ as a reason for not attending MIT has increased substantially over the last several years. “The difference between [the data for] 1990 and 2000 is when I first noticed that,” Jones said.

“Every year since, it’s increased in importance,” she said.

Jones said several explanations were possible, the first of which is that over the past few years, MIT has undergone a number of changes: the campus was and is undergoing construction, and students were displeased with the recent decision forbidding freshmen from residing in fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups.

In addition, Jones said that society has changed, as well, and that it’s not necessarily an indicator that MIT is doing something wrong.

“The population of students now really are looking for services,” she said. “They’re looking for high-quality living groups and good food, they’re looking for camaraderie with college students, and it’s just very different from the way it was ten years ago,” she said.

In light of this, Jones said that while the issue is one that does not necessarily deserve to be ignored, MIT should not rush to conform to society’s popular image of the perfect campus for everyone.

“MIT is what MIT is. MIT just needs to stay authentic. That’s it, and that’s who we are,” she said.