A really clever exchange between an MIT Director of Admissions and a prospective student has recently been making the rounds on Facebook. Surprisingly, the correspondence is over 20 years old, but still highly amusing and relevant, especially for teens and parents stressing out over the college admissions process:
MIT’s Initial Letter
April 18, 1994
Mr. John T. Mongan
123 Main Street
Smalltown, California 94123-4567
You’ve got the grades. You’ve certainly got the PSAT scores. And now you’ve got a letter from MIT. Maybe you’re surprised. Most students would be.
But you’re not most students. And that’s exactly why I urge you to consider carefully one of the most selective universities in America.
The level of potential reflected in your performance is a powerful indicator that you might well be an excellent candidate for MIT. It certainly got my attention!
Engineering’s not for you? No problem. It may surprise you to learn we offer more than 40 major fields of study, from architecture to brain and cognitive sciences, from economics (perhaps the best program in the country) to writing.
What? Of course, you don’t want to be bored. Who does? Life here is tough and demanding, but it’s also fun. MIT students are imaginative and creative – inside and outside the classroom.
You’re interested in athletics? Great! MIT has more varsity teams – 39 – than almost any other university, and a tremendous intramural program so everybody can participate.
You think we’re too expensive? Don’t be too sure. We’ve got surprises for you there, too.
Why not send the enclosed Information Request to find out more about this unique institution? Why not do it right now?
Michael C. Benhke
Director of Admissions
P.S. If you’d like a copy of a fun-filled, fact-filled brochure, “Insight,” just check the appropriate box on the form.
May 5, 1994
Michael C. Behnke
MIT Director of Admissions
Office of Admissions, Room 3-108
Cambridge MA 02139-4307
You’ve got the reputation. You’ve certainly got the pomposity. And now you’ve got a letter from John Mongan. Maybe you’re surprised. Most universities would be.
But you’re not most universities. And that’s exactly why I urge you to carefully consider one of the most selective students in America, so selective that he will choose only one of the thousands of accredited universities in the country.
The level of pomposity and lack of tact reflected in your letter is a powerful indicator that your august institution might well be a possibility for John Mongan’s future education. It certainly got my attention!
Don’t want Bio-Chem students? No problem. It may surprise you to learn that my interests cover over 400 fields of study, from semantics to limnology, from object-oriented programming (perhaps one of the youngest professionals in the country) to classical piano.
What? Of course you don’t want egotistical jerks. Who does? I am self indulgent and over confident, but I’m also amusing. John Mongan is funny and amusing – whether you’re laughing with him or at him.
You’re interested in athletes? Great! John Mongan has played more sports – 47 – than almost any other student, including oddball favorites such as Orienteering.
You think I can pay for your school? Don’t be too sure. I’ve got surprises for you there, too.
Why not send a guaranteed admission and full scholarship to increase your chance of being selected by John Mongan? Why not do it right now?
P.S. If you’d like a copy of a fun-filled, fact-filled brochure, “John Mongan: What a Guy!” just ask.
Michael C. Benhke also issued a response, the text of which is hosted on John Mongan’s website. It probably comes as no surprise that John Mongan, an author and programmer, did not get his degree at MIT!