Massachusetts Institute of Technology

46 Essays that Worked at MIT

Updated for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle.

About MIT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a world-renowned research university based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Known for its prioritization of intellectual freedom and innovation, MIT offers students an education that’s constantly on the cutting-edge of academia. The school’s star-studded roster of professors includes Nobel prize winners and MacArthur fellows in disciplines like technology, biology, and social science. A deeply-technical school, MIT offers students with the resources they need to become specialists in a range of STEM subjects. In many ways, MIT is the gold standard for creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving.

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Cambridge, MA

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Real Essays from MIT Admits

Prompt: 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.

Last year, my European History teacher asked me to host weekly workshops for AP test preparation and credit recovery opportunities: David, Michelangelo 1504. “*Why* is this the answer?” my tutee asked. I tried re-explaining the Renaissance. Michelangelo? The Papacy? I finally asked: “Do you know the story of David and Goliath?” Raised Catholic, I knew the story but her family was Hindu. I naively hadn’t considered she wouldn’t know the story. After I explained, she relayed a similar story from her culture. As sessions grew to upwards of 15 students, I recruited more tutors so everyone could receive more individualized support. While my school is nearly half Hispanic, AP classes are overwhelmingly White and Asian, so I’ve learned to understand the diverse and often unfamiliar backgrounds of my tutees. One student struggled to write idiomatically despite possessing extensive historical knowledge. Although she was initially nervous, we discovered common ground after I asked about her Rohan Kishibe keychain, a character from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. She opened up; I learned she recently immigrated from China and was having difficulty adjusting to writing in English. With a clearer understanding of her background, I could now consider her situation to better address her needs. Together, we combed out grammar mistakes and studied English syntax. The bond we formed over anime facilitated honest dialogue, and therefore genuine learning.

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Essay by Víctor

i love cities <3

Prompt: 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.

Jump. Pull. Prepare for landing.

These steps race through my mind as I brace myself for my first skydive, 14,000 feet above the ground. Jumping into new activities and venturing outside of my comfort zone brings me incomparable pleasure.

For years, undying curiosity and bold ambition have dared me to make these jumps. I chose to jump out of that plane just as I chose to fling myself across the flying trapeze rig, pick up dropped tangerines until I finally taught myself to juggle, or hop back on my unicycle, persisting until I found my balance. Whether it’s being the first in my family to play an instrument or leading a state championship cheer team, waking up at 4 am to try crabbing in the Pacific or leading discussions on unfamiliar topics like combinatorics and game theory with fellow math enthusiasts, I’m grateful for the way my upbringing has allowed me to cultivate a spirit of tenacity and grit as I seek new jumps of aspiration.

I didn’t go skydiving with the mindset that it would be my only jump, and I don’t face life’s challenges that way either. Whether it be tackling an unsolved Millennium Prize Problem in the math department, improving life for the Wounded Warrior community, or even making an appearance at the Collegiate Skydiving Championship, I’m ready to jump into college and pull the cord on new experiences. While I don’t know where my landing zone will be, I’m confident the sky isn’t the limit.

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Essay by Gabrielle W

Math + Bioengineering @ Stanford!

Prompt: 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?

I was 23 minutes into my First Affirmative Rebuttal—a speech that’s supposed to take only four. But I couldn’t sit down mid-speech in my first-ever practice round.

“Now, uh, let’s move on to my opponent’s second contentio- oh shoot I messed up again.” I wanted to scream. I questioned why I was even doing debate—I’d never been good at public speaking.

“Don’t worry. Just keep going, get the words out.” Easier said than done.

But I also couldn’t just stand there forever.

So I started saying words, stumbling, pausing, and speaking in cycles. I forced myself to spit out sentences, accepting my circumstances and moving forward. In that moment of low-stakes desperation, I told myself, “Just full send it.” I had already crashed and burned, what’s the worst that could happen? All I could do was try my best.

After another agonizing five minutes, I finally finished. I turned around, wiped my pre-tears from my eyes, and sat down.

Pushing through that mortifying experience (and later realizing it wasn’t that bad after all), something changed. My confidence grew. Since then, my roles in various parts of my life—from a leader in [Organization Redacted], debate, and Student Council to an avid dinner-table debater—have required me to speak with conviction, whether I’m leading a Zoom Bootcamp event or starting off icebreakers to a group of new students. Four years later, those waves of anxiety still wash over me when I step up to speak, but each time I tell myself, “Full send it.”

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Essay by Elaine

Electrical Engineering and CS student interested in Management, Public Policy, and Political Science

Prompt: What field of study appeals to you the most right now? Tell us more about why this field of study at MIT appeals to you.

Last summer, I volunteered in a vascular bioengineering lab at the [School Redacted] Boulder. Making and testing vascular grafts, I became interested in biological engineering. In MIT’s Course 20, courses such as Cell Biology and Biological Engineering Design, would lead me back to hands-on research. Having had experience microspinning grafts, I am particularly interested in Professor Laurie Boyer’s work developing 3D cardiac organoids. At Boyer Lab and other similar biological labs that are working to understand the systems of the body, I hope to contribute to knowledge that can make a difference to patients.

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Essay by Hannah

Premed studying Bioeng. + CS @ MIT!

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

The fragile glass beaker shattered on the ground, and hydrogen peroxide, flowing furiously like lava, began to conquer the floor with every inch the flammable puddle expanded. This was my solace. As an assistant teacher for a middle school STEM class on the weekends, mistakes were common, especially those that made me mentally pinpoint where we kept the fire extinguishers. However, these mishaps reminded me exactly why I loved this job (besides the obvious luxury of cleaning up spills): every failure was a chance to learn in the purest form. As we conducted chemical experiments or explored electronics kits, I was comforted by the kids’ genuine enthusiasm for exploration—a sentiment often lost in the grade-obsessed world of high school. Accordingly, I tried to help my students recognize that mistakes are often the most productive way to grow and learn. I encouraged my students to persist when faced with failure, especially those who might not have been encouraged in their everyday lives. I was there for students like Nathan, a child on the autism spectrum who reminded me of my older brother with autism. I was there for the two girls in a class of 17, reminding me of my own journey navigating the male-dominated world of STEM. I wanted to encourage them into a lifelong journey of pursuing knowledge and embracing mistakes. I may have been their mentor, but these lessons also serve as a crucial reminder to me that mistakes are not representative of one’s overall worth.

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Essay by Sarah J.

CS @ Stanford. Lover of all things STEM, Taylor Swift, and dogs!

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

For as long as I could remember, my grandmother lived with my family up until her passing in April 2020. I vividly recall as a kid how she would walk around the house, laugh, and watch her Mexican soap operas. However, I will never forget the gradual diminishment of her vibrant personality and level of interaction with my family. By the last few years, her medications became less effective, and she would simply just sit in her room, gazing at nothingness; at night, I would hear groaning and near-yelling coming from her room as her schizophrenic episodes worsened. Additionally, within the past year, my sister was unfortunately diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder, marking the continuation of my family’s battle with mental illness. Therefore, my first-hand accounts of these illnesses have, without a doubt, inspired me to want to take action by engineering refined medications and revolutionizing medical treatments. Having to experience the despairing feelings that come from witnessing loved ones suffer is absolute torture, so if I can enhance the efficacy as well as reduce the side effects of even ONE drug, I will be able to protect countless families from agonizing pain. Furthermore, although my family is fortunate enough to have had insurance to cover the costs of my grandmother's numerous medications, not everyone is as lucky. With my work in the pharmaceutical industry, I would advocate for reducing the unethically high costs of drugs that plague the United States.

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Essay by Gabriel

Percussion-lover studying Chemical-Biological Engineering at MIT

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