Application Guide

Guide to the Junction Student Application

Your application is our chance to get to know you and, hopefully, allow you to work on a cool project with us this summer. Please read all instructions on the application carefully. If you have any questions or even just want to say hi, feel free to e-mail us.

Admission to Junction classes is somewhat selective. Former Junction students, admitted MIT pre-freshmen, children of MIT faculty or staff, and siblings of MIT students do not receive any advantage or special treatment in the application process. Thus, every student must submit a high-quality application in order to be considered for a spot, regardless of past association with Junction or MIT.

There are five parts to the application:

Additionally, you may find the following helpful:

Part A: The Really Easy Stuff

This is where you tell us your basic biographical and contact information. Most of these fields will automatically be filled in for you based on the profile you create when you register an account. (If you already have an account on our website, you don’t need to register a new one.) In addition, we ask for your current grade level and academic experience in order to get a sense of your preparedness for Junction. Some Junction classes do assume knowledge of topics usually taught in high school; additionally, succeeding at the program requires social maturity, thoughtfulness, and study skills. However, we will not automatically disqualify you based on your age, grade, or academic background.

We do not ask for your high school transcript, test scores, or teacher recommendations.

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Part B: Independent Study or Project Proposal(s)

This year, Junction has been redesigned to give 30 students a chance to work on individual projects with a mentor of their choice. You may submit up to three separate independent study and/or project proposals to three different mentors -- if your first proposal isn’t chosen we may consider your second and third ones, in that order. For this reason you should only submit proposals for which you feel strongly enough that you would not mind working on them all summer.

Mentor bios can be found here. Additionally, you have the option of allowing other mentors to choose your project by checking the appropriate box found just underneath the dropdown menu for selecting your mentor -- if you propose your topic to Mentor A, for instance, and A is unable to take you, checking that box will allow Mentors B through F to look over your application and consider taking you under their wing.

For each independent study and/or project proposal you submit, you will be asked the following questions:

  • Which mentor would you like to work with? (Again, mentor bios can be found here, and you can check the box below the dropdown menu if you don’t want that specific project constrained to that one mentor.)
  • Field(s) of study or investigation (Is it math or science-related? Engineering? Sociology? Some cross-discipline hybrid that you’ve just recently come up with on your own?)
  • Describe in a few sentences what you want to do in your independent study or project. (What exactly are you doing? What do you want accomplished by the end of Junction? 3-5 sentences is probably good.)
  • How did you become interested in this topic? (Where did this idea come from? What are your motivations for proposing this topic? We’re looking for ~200 words that explain why you want to spend your summer break on this project.)
  • What past experience do you have in this subject area? (Having little to no experience in the subject is fine -- we just want to get a sense of where you are so we can both decide how feasible this project is and know how much guidance we should be giving you. ~200 words)
  • What steps might you take to help you reach your goal? (Just give us a general outline of what you think might be involved in your proposal. ~200 words)
  • What kind of guidance do you seek from a mentor? (Will you need help finding references? Someone to bounce ideas off of? Again, don’t worry about needing too much help with your proposal. ~200 words)
  • What are some challenges that may arise in the process of this independent study/project? How might you mitigate these challenges? (Are there any specific references that might be hard to find? Any steps in particular that might be difficult? How would you get around these problems? ~200 words)

If you’re still really stuck, we’ve compiled a list of sample proposals here. You should also feel free to look at our list of Tips for Writing Proposals, written by the mentors themselves to help you along with your proposal(s).

Additionally, we are allowing the possibility for pair work at Junction this year. Keep in mind, however, that since Junction focuses on independent work and learning any pair proposals will be at a slight disadvantage, and that since we are evaluating all applicants on their own, we reserve the right to accept only one member from a pair proposal for Junction. If you really want to submit pair work, you should both be open to the possibility that one of you may have to work on the project alone should the other one not be accepted, and plan accordingly.

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Part C: Short Responses

These short response questions are meant to help us get to know you. As part of the application, you are asked to respond to the following questions:

  • Why do you want to attend Junction this summer? (~100 words)
  • What is the most optimal learning environment for you? Do you prefer working through problems on your own or with your peers? Are you a theoretical or more hands-on learner? Why? (~200 words)
  • Reflect on a time when you worked on an independent project or class assignment that did not go as planned. What were the challenges, why did they occur, and how did you resolve them? (~200 words)

Don’t spend too much time overthinking these questions or your answers to them – there is not one “right” answer, but rather many valid ways to approach them. You can also check out our list of Tips for Writing Short Responses if you’re really stuck.

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Part D: Past Work

Here you have the opportunity to show us something that you've created before, e.g an essay, a poster, a movie, etc. This can be anything you’ve ever made, either by yourself or in a group project, independently or as a class assignment.

If you find that you cannot upload your submission through our web form, you can upload it to a cloud service like Dropbox and provide us with a link in the text box. Alternatively, if you feel like your submission does not fit either of the two types we have provided, feel free to select ‘Other’ on the form and email us to explain your situation further. :)

(This part is optional, but submitting something can only help your application.)

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Part E: Final Logistics

  • What other plans, if any, do you have this summer?

  • If you have anything else you want to add, you can tell us in this section, though we aren't looking for anything in particular.

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Tips for Short Responses

Here are some tips for writing good answers to our short response questions:

  • Take your time to respond to the questions thoughtfully.

  • Write a good amount. If your answer is only a few sentences, it's almost certainly not substantial enough. However, there's no need to write an 800-word essay either (unless, of course, the question explicitly asks you to). If no other guideline is mentioned, anything from one long paragraph to three short paragraphs is usually appropriate.

  • Check your spelling and grammar. You won't be rejected for spelling and grammar mistakes alone, but using correct spelling and grammar makes your application look well-polished and tells readers that you care to make a good impression. Consider writing a first draft of your responses, putting it down for a few days, and then revising before submitting the final version.

  • Don't feel like you necessarily have to write about dramatic or life-changing events. Many good responses describe simple, everyday situations, but get their strength from doing so in an insightful way.

  • Do showcase your best qualities, but be honest, and be yourself, not who you think we want you to be. Weird or kooky is totally fine; the people reading your application can be pretty unusual themselves. But “normal” is fine as well!

  • We're primarily looking for mature, thoughtful students who love learning and are excited about the classes they're applying for. You can tell us about awards or competitions you've won if they were meaningful to you, but this probably isn't an effective way to impress us. Your best chances at a spot in the program are earned by writing a well-thought-out application; as long as you are prepared to work on your proposal, your prior grades and accomplishments will neither help nor hurt you.

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Tips for Writing Proposals

Along with all the general tips found above, here are some tips for writing a good proposal:

  • Have a clear goal in mind. Even if you don't know exactly what you will be doing, you should still be able to give us a general image of what you envision for your proposal.

  • Be specific. We don't expect you to have everything already planned out, but you should try to go into as much detail about your proposal as you can.

  • Be concise. You only have ~200 words to play with in each box -- how can you maximize your use of that space? Get rid of unnecessary words and clauses. Get straight to the point. Your ideas should be strong enough that you don't need flowery prose to make them seem more impressive.

In case you are still stuck, several sample proposals can be found here. Note that your proposal does not have to look like any of the samples however -- they are merely there to help you get unstuck.

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See Also

Apply for Junction 2016!

Last modified on April 13, 2016 at 09:15 p.m.