When Makers Apply to College

If you’re a maker applying to college, you should be bragging about what you make in your application. MIT’s Assistant Director of Admissions, Dr. Dawn Wendell, explains why, in this talk she gave at Maker Faire Bay Area 2013. Bottom line: When you talk about what you love to make, you’re sharing your passion, and that’s really what college admissions officers are looking for. Makers often possess desirable qualities like curiosity, problem solving, brainstorming, and other skills that aren’t necessarily learned in a normal school curriculum, so it’s important to communicate in your application what making has taught you.

A college application is a very short summary of yourself, Wendell says. At MIT, an application reader has only about 15 minutes to look at each application. So:

  • Don’t repeat yourself. Maybe one of your essays is about making, but the next one can be about how you play the viola.
  • Include supplemental info, like websites, photos, and videos. Don’t send a 30-minute video, either! Three minutes or less is ideal: a “highlight reel.”
  • Keep your answers short and focused. If you’re talking about a project you built, make sure you provide context, and be sure to include information like your favorite and least favorite parts of the build.

Watch her whole talk for more helpful suggestions.


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The Road to Maker Faire Challenge will award $2,500 to one winner to bring his or her project to World Maker Faire on Sep. 21 & 22, 2013 in New York. Use the funding for materials, transport, or anything else you might need to get to Maker Faire. Applications are due by 11:59pm PT on August 5, 2013.

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"To oppose something is to maintain it." –Ursula Le Guin

Currently: NEO.LIFE Alum: Instructables and MAKE

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