Sunday, March 25, 2007

Congratulations, Soon-to-be MITians from Malaysia

[Note: This is a re-post. The first one on March 23, 2007 seemed to have a slight problem in that the comment button did not show up even though I did not do anything differently. Hopefully this one will correct the unintended error, and it did. So I've removed the above earlier post.]

Mention MIT and most people’s eyes will lit up, conjuring up images of a great institution where only the elites among the cream of students are admitted, a haloed ground for world beaters, the academic kind.

It’s one of the toughest, if not the toughest, university to get admitted. Even a perfect high school GPA and SAT score is no guarantee as there are other non-tangibles that enter into the admission decision such as excelling in extra-curricular activities that demonstrate patently a passion for learning, a knack for creativity, and a good fit of what the MIT ideals stand for.

For international applicants, the odds are even higher still. So I was elated to learn that this year, four Malaysian students will be MIT-bound.

It goes to show that talents will be recognized wherever they are. As I said in a congratulatory message to one of the four:

“Your hard work has paid off handsomely. But more of the same will pay great dividends while at MIT.

Now you are like a big fish in a small pond that has been thrust into the vast ocean. But you're not alone.

I recommend highly the book, The Idea Factory: Learning to think at M.I.T.
by Pepper White.

And above all, be yourself.

So gaining a foot into MIT is only the beginning. More great things await from what I could surmise from the Opencourseware website of MIT, and a brief visit I made there in June of 2005. But I’m sure if one is determined enough and have the brain to gain admission into MIT, then surely one would not fritter away the opportunity. Here a female student counselor (yes, girls are brainy too, contrary to the opinion of one former Chancellor of the Harvard University) is seen conducting a campus tour for would-be applicants. Wonder how many of those listening intently got in.

For non-MITians (that sound much better then MIT rejects), do not despair too. Here are some snippets of what I’ve offered in the MIT admission blog last spring in that regard:

Deep in our hearts we know that you and your colleagues [the admission officers who bore the brunt of the rantings from the non-MITians] have done your best to pick the best match for MIT. And therein lies the operative word, best match, which in no way imputes on the academic capability, or the lack thereof, much less the future performance, of those in the rejection pool. And that's all anyone can ask for under the circumstances.”

“As is the common thread in most previous dispensations of advice, many roads do lead to academic success as attested to by the many Nobel laureates who are non-MITians.”

That rejection is part of the learning process - part and parcel of life. One door closes, another one opens."

When the pangs/throes of the rejection are over (the sooner the better), the episode will fade into memory and remain there as one of life's many lessons learned.”

"The dwindling posts indicate that most people have gotten over the initial shock of rejection but should anybody still harbor self doubt, know the important thing that: They didn't reject you. They rejected your resume.

This reminds me of what Marilyn vos Savant once said in the PARADE that her answer was wrong, but never she was wrong. Perhaps we need to instil this kind of detachment when handling rejections and defeats in life. But by all means, be passionate and celebrate success."

So let’s move on, MITians and non-MITians alike.

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