The Educational Council: An Important Part of the MIT Admissions Process

Kim Lesly Hunter, Associate Director of Admissions, Director of Educational Council

The use of “Honorary Secretaries” to help the Admissions Office find great applicants for MIT in far flung locations began over 80 years ago but was formalized into the Educational Council in 1950. Since then, thousands of alumni/ae have served the Educational Council and the Admissions Office. This body of volunteers has grown in just five years from 2400 volunteers to nearly 4000 members and comprises over one-third of the active alumni/ae volunteers according to the alumni association.

ECs staff a booth and a high school event Glastonbury, CT

Educational Counselors (ECs) sign up for three-year terms of service often as early as their graduation and will stay active throughout their lives with the current oldest volunteer hailing from the Class of 1940. Interviewers are divided into geographic regional groups with more experienced members serving as Regional and Vice Chairs to help co-ordinate the local volunteers.

An EC’s main role is to interview applicants each year meeting with them for about an hour and following up the contact with a report to the Admissions Office that becomes a part of the student’s application for admission. ECs also lend their support at public meetings when admissions officers are in their region, visit local high schools, and host spring yield meetings prior to Campus Preview Weekend (CPW) each year for admitted students in their area often in collaboration with local alumni clubs.

New graduates are encouraged to become ECs before they ever leave campus at an event held during Senior Week and all ECs are invited to return to campus during the Alumni Leadership Conference (ALC) each fall to reconnect with the MIT campus and current student life. Training sessions for ECs are provided on campus during ALC, CPW and Tech Reunions and additional training materials are provided via a website, through webinars, the staff of the Educational Council Office, and starting this year, an online training module.

Last year ECs interviewed 15,034 applicants to MIT and without question their contributions were tremendously valuable in the selection process. While there is great anecdotal evidence to support this point, the numbers say it all. With an overall admit rate of 8.9% last year, the admit rate for students with an interview was 10.8% and for those students without it was just 1%.

Recent training workshop at an EC’s home in Washington, DC

Of their EC this year one admitted student commented, “I realized I learned a lot about  myself during the interview, just as I learned a lot about myself during the application process. I think it was a very incredible experience that I will definitely remember and one that I would eagerly do again. My EC was very friendly and listened to me talk on and on about myself, my life, and the things that are important to me. I'm definitely glad I did it since I learned a lot about MIT as well.”