Yesterday evening, 898 high school seniors found extra reason to celebrate, besides the inherent mathiness of the date. As per tradition, MIT released admissions decisions for the fall’s incoming freshman class on Pi Day at precisely 6:28 p.m., or “tau o’clock,” in honor of pi’s bigger cousin constant.
Over 18,989 students applied this year, yielding a record-low acceptance rate of 8.2 percent (650 were admitted under early action), compared to 8.9 percent last year and 9.6 percent in 2011. Simply because of the higher number of applicants and lower acceptance rate, which was partly influenced by MIT’s unexpectedly high yield last year, Dean of Admissions Stu Schmill ’86 emphasized the admissions office’s regrets at needing to turn away more excellent students. However, he mentioned that the admissions office will try to admit students off the waitlist due to the low acceptance rate, unlike last year when no students from the waitlist were admitted to the class of 2016. A final decision on the waitlist has not yet been made.
The admitted Class of 2017 hails from all 50 states and 58 different countries. 48 percent of the students are women, and 16 percent are first generation college students. Rounding out the diversity, 24 percent are underrepresented minorities — 9 percent African-American, 15 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Native American — plus 36 percent Caucasians, 30 percent Asian-Americans, and 8 percent international students for the remainder of the class. In comparison, the class of 2016 is 8 percent African-American, 15 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Native American, 37 percent Caucasian, and 28 percent Asian-American; 46 percent are women.
Interestingly, a number of the admitted students noted that they had explored classes on edX, an online system of free courses from MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley. In its inaugural year, edX turned out to be a great extension for students to go above and beyond their high school curriculum. The classes expose and give students a preview of the depth of academic material they will encounter at a school like MIT, Schmill said. That experience can be very different from, say, taking classes at a local community college, which many previously have done for enrichment.
Based off the high number of interested applicants, Schmill expressed pleasure that consciousness about MIT seems to be growing, both domestically and internationally. “Young people today are growing up with a greater appreciation of science and technology, more so than just about any other time,” he said.