Admissions, the bloggy way at MIT

By vigorous blogging and an online community for incoming students, Ben Jones is putting a face on the admissions process.

Students used to apply to college by sending off a hand-written or typed application to some faceless bureaucracy, never knowing if their essay really got read. But if you're applying to MIT, you can read all about the admissions process on Room 3-107, the blog of Ben Jones, the communications manager for MIT's Admissions Office and a very sensitive fellow.

On today's post, he offers the following unconventional advice:

At least a few times in your college career, do something fun and irresponsible when you should be studying. The night before my freshman year psych final, my roommate somehow scored front row seats to the Indigo Girls at a venue 2 hours away. I didn't do so well on the final, but I haven't thought about psych since 1993. I've thought about the experience of going to that show (with the guy who is now my son's godfather) at least once a month ever since.

Profiled in a story from the MIT News Office, Jones says he has been personalizing the admission process for about two years, and speaks openly to the applicants on his blog. He is very candid and philosophical about his work in admissions in his blog which he updates several times a week.

Jones knows that incoming students are used to blogs and they are a great way to reach students. He's receive hundreds of comments posted to the feedback section.

"The online community that forms between applicants is amazing. At my first CPW (Campus Preview Weekend) in 2005, there were packs of kids traveling around together who already knew each other from the blogs," said Jones."

"I am close enough to the experience of applying to college to remember the stress and how it felt," said Jones, who graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1996.

Another recent post describes his advocacy inside Admissions:

"When it's all over, about 13 percent of my top picks are offered admission. I beg, I plead, I make ridiculous promises (just ask the senior staff), but at the end of the day, a committee decision is a committee decision," Jones said in a March posting on his admissions blog, or Internet journal, that lives on the MIT admissions web page.

"I couldn't do this job if I disconnected myself from the human component of it. It's my job to present (the applicant) to the committee; if your dream of being at MIT didn't become my dream on some small level, then really, why am I doing this at all?" Jones said.