Over the top on overachievers

Before applying to MIT, the Associated Press reports, one young man "built a working nuclear reactor in his garage." While no doubt intriguing to terrorists around the world, MIT's Dean of Admissions, Marilee Jones, was unimpressed. She finds such applicants just a tad run-of-the-mill. "You don't see a lot of [the] wild innovation from individuals you used to see," says Jones, who worries that the so-called teenage resume rat race "is making our children sick," and sapping their creativity and youthful exuberance. Clearly the SOS for upper-middle class suburban kids weighted down by stuffed backpacks (see here and here) has reached her Ivory Tower. So she's making big changes at MIT. While the school's new application forms still ask about extra-curricular activities, "there are fewer slots to list them," and there are not as many "lines for students to list Advanced Placement exams so as not to signal any expectation." So MIT hopefuls: put away your nuclear reactors, shelve those AP syllabi, and just chill. Oh, and make sure you apply to a safety school, because we find it hard to believe that MIT is really going to pass on its most qualified applicants, no matter what Dr. Jones tells the newspaper.

"Taking aim at admissions anxiety," Associated Press, September 18, 2006