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First, some background. I got my degrees, SB, SM and PHD, all from MIT 1964-72. My freshmen advisor turned into my PHD advisor. I am grateful to MIT for getting me out of Kansas and helping me get where I am today. I love the place and care for it a great deal. My son is presently a Junior at MIT. From listening to him over the last nearly 3 years, I don't get the impression that MIT pays much attention to undergraduates. There seems to be a lot of bureaucratic inflexibility that does not support education. However, although I could run on about that, I'd rather focus on one issue that I think could really help MIT: admissions.
I wish MIT would decide admissions purely on the basis of academics and stop trying to be social engineers. Just take the best students. Professors will be happier, students will be happier, and better prepared. As Caltech says, "we try to make an orchestra out of students, not students out of an orchestra." Get over this fetish with round students and just take the best. If we want the next cure for cancer or the next Nobel prize winner, we just take the best students. Let MIT be a school for nerds and think it is a good thing instead of a bad thing.
I have seen truly special students get turned down by MIT (and have to go to Caltech and flourish). I think this is part of MIT ignoring its undergraduates. MIT students do contribute to the reputation of the institution, if not while they are students, later in life when they are successful. This issue of ignoring undergraduates, especially by the admissions, dilutes the fame and fortune MIT gets from its graduates down the line.