Admissions Outreach to Low-income Prospective Students

Kris Guay, Communications Manager, Admissions

The Admissions Office is testing out a new pilot outreach mailing to be sent to low-income prospective students. 

Several admissions officers and members of the admissions communication team, along with Boston-based Moth Design, developed a small booklet based on the themes of affordability, culture and value at MIT. The booklet and a personalized notecard signed by a current MIT student will be sent out this fall to a small cohort of 314 prospective students.

“Because of the nature and culture of the Institute, MIT has long been a very welcoming destination for students from low- and middle-income families,” said Matt McGann, Director of Admissions.  “Our current outreach efforts are designed to inform students about the mission and environment of MIT so that they can better determine whether MIT might be a good match for them.”

The 314 high school seniors were chosen because they have grades and scores that would make them competitive in MIT’s applicant pool, and because they attend schools with high levels of poverty (as measured by percentage of students who qualify for the federal free/reduced price lunch program.)   The idea for the project was influenced by the work of Caroline Hoxby, Christopher Avery, and Sarah Turner to use proxy information like free/reduced lunch percentage in school to help target students for additional outreach.

All 314 notecards were handwritten with a personal note and signed by a current first generation MIT student. Student volunteers took an hour or two between classes to attend a card signing lunch event organized with the help of the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming. “When we asked first generation MIT students to volunteer, they jumped at the chance to give back, and reach out to other low-income students like themselves,” said Miri Skolnik, Assistant Dean of Student Support Services. “They expressed a deep sense of gratitude that MIT was made affordable for them. They wanted prospective students to feel the same sense of opportunity.”

Mailing Booklet