MIT Offers Students $20,000 to Defer

$20,000 MIT ScholarshipAccording to a Wall Street Journal article, too many students enrolled in MIT Sloan this year, forcing the Sloan admissions committee to ask for volunteers to postpone their studies for a year.

What went wrong? How did the school get the numbers wrong?

The article goes on to explain the concept of “summer melt,” a term used in admissions circles to describe the dropping out of students from the pre-summer pool of incoming students. This year, according to Rod Garcia, senior admissions director at Sloan, “a higher-than-expected number of students stuck with their plans to attend.”

To balance out the numbers, the program, just weeks before school began, sent out letters to the members of the incoming class offering guaranteed admission to the following year’s class.

When that didn’t work to get the number of incoming students down, the school offered students a $15,000 scholarship if they postponed their studies a year.

When pre-term classes began on September 21st and there still weren’t enough takers, Sloan upped the offer to $20,000. Only four students took the bait – including one woman who had already quit her job, sold her car, and rented an apartment in Cambridge – bringing the class down to 413 students, up from last year’s 404.

Other programs have offered money for deferrals in the past, include MIT’s masters in finance program last year, and Yale SOM in 2006.

Implications

  1. MIT will be a little stingier with offers of admission.
  2. MIT’s admissions office did a great job in selecting students who really want to attend MIT. While this “mistake” may be mildly discomfiting, it really reflects an admissions office that’s doing a better-than-expected job. Kudos.


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