From Quora: My Answer to "Will starting a product, winning a science fair, making an app, getting a high degree black belt, being club presidents, and national merit for a male Indian guarantee a spot at MIT?"
Nothing guarantees any applicant a spot at MIT, or any other university. Making an app and starting a product both help, but the degree to which those things help relies on how original they were, how much science and math expertise you needed to make them, and if they were commercially successful or if they are widely used if you were nice enough to make the app and product free or very cheap.
Karate and school club officer status are all wonderful, but again, the degree to which those things help is directly related to how much work you can show you put into those things. A black belt seems like proof you put forth a great deal of effort into karate, but you’ll need actual proof of what you did as president of various clubs. What projects did you handle? What problems did you solve? Did you have to resolve or mediate any disputes between members? In other words, how do I know you did more than attend a few meetings and basically do nothing?
Finally, none of those things excuse you from the requirement that you be really good at math, science, English, a foreign language, etc. Obviously, math and science matter the most, but you’d better also be pretty good at English, etc. The smartest scientist in the world can’t get anything done if he can’t express himself in plain and simple English so others know what he’s discovered.
Also, study for the SAT, and plan to take at least two SAT IIs (probably Math II and at least one science; English or a foreign language would also help). Spend time on writing good essays, and start asking your teachers, employers, etc. about recommendations now. Don’t wait until the last minute. Good luck!
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Author: John Linneball Who did you think? ;-)
I'm the proprietor and only tutor for this business; that's why I named it after me.