I’m going to MIT!!

Last year, I did something crazy, that I’ve been wanting to do since I was little: I applied to MIT’s PhD program in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

One of the letters

It was not only crazy because I have been working for several years already, but also because I only applied to MIT, as I decided I did not want to go to any other university, both for pragmatic and emotional reasons. As any prospective grad student will tell you, applying to only one top university is recipe for failure. I didn’t tell many people, but everyone who knew thought I’d get in — except me. You see, I wasn’t a typical candidate. Sure, I have done lots of things I’m proud of, but I didn’t have an amazing GPA or publications in prestigious academic conferences.

It felt like a very long shot, so you can imagine my excitement when I received the letters of acceptance, about a week ago. I will remember that moment forever. I was watching Breaking Bad, feeling miserable over a breakup that happened only a few hours earlier. About a minute into the episode (s05e09), I saw an email notification titled “Your application to MIT EECS”. My first thought was that there was some problem with my application. And then I read the first few lines:

Dear Michailia Verou:

If you have not already heard from them, you will shortly receive a letter from the EECS department at MIT, informing you that you have been admitted to the graduate program in Computer Science at MIT next fall. Congratulations!!

WHAAAA? Was it a scam? But then, how did they have all my details? Holy mother of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I got in!!! Soon thereafter, a letter from CSAIL followed (where I said I wanted to work, specifically in the UID), and then even more letters. I started calling everyone who knew I applied to share the news, though it proved quite hard to form sentences instead of uncontrollably screaming in joy. I was (and am!) so excited about the future, that it completely overshadows any other life problems (at least for the time being).

Of course, my happiness is mixed with sheer terror. I keep worrying that I will be the dumbest person in the room, or that I don’t remember as much from my undergrad studies as the others will. I’m even terrified of meeting my future advisor(s) in case getting to know me better makes them wonder why I was accepted. But I try to remind myself about impostor syndrome, and from what I’ve read in forums & blogs, it seems that I’m not alone in having such fears.

I held off blogging about it until I felt I was able to write something coherent, but I can’t wait to share my excitement any longer.

To the future!

To real life plot twists!


Boy, I’m thrilled. 😀

  • http://partleecloudy.com Shawn King

    Congrats Lea! Proceed with being your awesome self :)

  • amy

    Congrats Lea, it will be so wonderful to have you here :)

  • mpaiva

    Congrats Lea!
    As one of your many followers in US, I’m very happy for you and will look forward to seeing you speaking in Boston/New York area.
    Well done!

  • http://www.labnol.org/ Amit Agarwal


  • anonymity86


  • chinchang

    Congratz! You would be the coolest open source geek I know which will be from such a big university.

  • http://www.josiahsprague.com/ Josiah Sprague

    Congratulations! And if you (somehow) are the dumbest person in the room, that’s a great opportunity to learn and grow.

  • Nadim

    Congrats !

  • http://www.ihisham.com/ Hisham Sadek

    Congratulations, Lea !!

  • RC Lopez


  • http://rtcamp.com/ Rahul Bansal

    Congrats! :-)

  • Sergio Daniel Lepore

    😀 may the force be with you!

  • Vaibhav Kanwal


  • Benjamin Gandhi-Shepard

    Congrats! That’s awesome!

  • Oleksandr Polishchuk

    Congratulations and good luck!

  • Aaronn Dai


  • OfcaPL


  • Daniel Furze

    Congratulations! :)

    Also, “Holy mother of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” made me laugh out very loud in front of a silent room!

    Well done!

  • Cristian Andres

    Congratulations, Lea!

  • Rasmus Fløe

    Like a boss!

  • http://eriwen.com/ Eric Wendelin

    Congratulations! Very interested to see your publications in the future

  • http://www.mmocker.com lumio

    Perfect spot to grow! Good luck and congrats!

  • remotesynth

    Congrats Lea! That is a fabulous achievement! So this means you are moving to the Boston area? Feel free to contact me when you get here and looking to get to know the area.

  • http://drupalmotion.com/ David Corbacho

    Congratulations, you did it !

  • toth

    Congratulations! I know several people from CSAIL, they’re great people. That’s awesome!

  • http://heliosstudio.ca/ Paul d’Aoust

    Whoa, nice job! I can definitely relate to impostor syndrome; get it all the time. I reckon, though, that if they even took the time to review your application, let alone approve it, you probably have what it takes. So what prompted the change in career?

  • http://prismic.io/ Rudy Rigot

    CONGRATU-FREAKING-LATIONS!!! So excited for you!!
    And if you do end up being the dumbest person in the room (which I personally seriously doubt!), do remember that this offers infinitely more learning opportunity than being the brightest person in the room. :)

  • http://porcupinecolors.com/ porcupine

    Bravo Lia! Though we’re not close friends I’m proud of you!

  • http://dannybd.mit.edu/ Danny First Names

    Congrats! We’re lucky to have you over here at MIT. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about acclimating to campus 😀

    • http://lea.verou.me/ Lea Verou


  • Greg Whitworth


  • MaxArt

    My sincere congratulations, Lea!

  • http://www.gonzodesign.nl/ gonzodesign

    .. wow, that’s pretty awesome! Congrats Lea!

  • Taki
    • http://lea.verou.me/ Lea Verou

      Given that I was contacted by faculty members later and arranged to meet, and that I already sent in my reply form and it was ok, I doubt this was the case here. Not to mention that the email they describe there is not among the ones I got. I guess that one was about undergrads?

  • Marvin Ryan Vista

    Hell yeah! Congratulations!

  • Eric A. Meyer


  • http://www.friv2.org/Flappy_Bird.html flappy bird

    Hey, I didn’t know there was someone operating a grocery store in my garage. The nerve of some people,I hope they find them.

  • http://www.der-eremit.de/ dereremit


  • der-On

    Congratulations! This is awesome. I’m wishing you enlightment and much fun.

  • Kris Van Herzeele

    congrats! you will do great!

  • volpav

    Congratulations/Tillykke/Поздравляю! 😀

  • alex

    Lea this is great! Let your dreams be bigger than your fears. Wishing you all the best:)

  • Angry Mr-T

    Grats! That’s awesome.

  • http://PresWatch.com/ S.B. Pickering

    Big congratulations! They should give you credit for the fine material you’ve provided on this blog over the years… (really)

  • Saulo Vargas

    Quoting @josiahsprague:disqus “Congratulations! And if you (somehow) are the dumbest person in the room….”, remember: there’re a lot of dumbest person than you outside the room!!!!

    It will be an amazing experience… I wish the best for you!

  • Natalia

    Congratulations!!! We here in Montreal are very happy for you! Keep us posted with your achievements! ))

  • DanOwen

    Couldn’t happen to a better. Congratulations. Don’t forget the rest of us when you become an official cream of the crop MIT propeller head. 😉

  • zzzzbov

    “I keep worrying that I will be the dumbest person in the room”

    If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. You’ll be fine, and if you’re really lucky, you will be the dumbest person in the room, which would mean that you’d have the awesome opportunity to learn more stuff (and more importantly, teach us all about it with more cool demos and stuff).

    We’re all rooting for you. Congratulations!

  • http://tcelestino.com.br/ Tiago Celestino

    yeah!!!!! Congratulations Verou!!

  • Peter Gal

    Συγχαρητήρια Ρεα! Καλή Σταδιοδρομία και μεγάλες επιτυχίες.

    Να σε ρωτήσω κάτι, πάνω σε τι θα κάνεις διδακτορικό; θα συνεχίσεις με αυτά που ασχολείσαι ή θα ξεκινήσεις κάτι διαφορετικό.


  • bkrall4


  • kkatusic

    I wish you luck

  • quartzcity


  • Mehdiway Ar

    Have a great life :) You deserve it

  • Md Samiul Huq

    “but I didn’t have an amazing GPA”. Probably a 3.8 lol
    Congratulations anyways!

  • http://www.ashishdesai.com/ Ashish Desai

    Congratulations, and very nicely written article.

  • fs

    Congrats! Good luck!

  • dapinitial

    fucking awe-some.

  • sanaz

    we lost our mother

  • johnny

    Waaw Congratulations! Wish you the best

  • Scott Wade

    That’s awesome! For those of us with similar dreams — and if you find a few minutes of sparse-to-non-existent free time once your classes begin — could you blog about the experience? What a day is like, what courses and topics are focuses on, and types of assignments, etc. It would be enormously helpful and otherwise allow us to live vicariously through your experience.

    Best of luck!

  • brunops

    Congratulations, and thanks for sharing this, it’s inspiring :)

  • NataliePatriceTucker


  • http://thiha.me Thiha Tin Maung Aye


  • riclf

    Congratulations!!! Just watched your Fluent talk on Border-Radius. I was thinking, this woman is ready for something big. Then I drifted to your website here and it had happened. MIT! Good-For-You Lea !

  • kevdog

    Being the dumbest person in the room is a good thing. It means there’s some awesome people to learn from. When you look around and you’re the smartest person in the room, it’s time to find a new room.

    Good luck!

  • Aaron

    Congratulations! I hope you’ll be participating in the Boston web dev scene :)

  • Horacio Nuñez

    Muchas felicidades Lea! Looking forward to read about the amazing things you will do there!

  • http://fedojo.com/ Piotr Sikora


  • x10

    omg I just discovered you and found some of your awesome CSS stuff… and now I find out you’re coming to my campus! Big congrats!!

  • frank

    4 month to go for MIT..
    I did notice this:

    LV: Feb-2014 >>I keep worrying that I will be the dumbest person in the room,

    LV: April 2014: >>Today, I was giving the opening keynote at Codemania in Auckland, New Zealand


  • raydaly

    You’ll teach your professors too. This is a wonderful challenge. Congratulations.

  • greenido

    Congrats! Enjoy the ride!

  • http://www.friv2gaming.com/ Friv 2

    That is very good information, and you did the right thing when it comes to bringing everyone

  • http://perry.ch Maurice Perry

    Congrats. You don’t need that though…

  • banlay

    Friv 2 site for everyone to play! Ever gotten bored while playing online games? Well, that is understandable if you are on a site that doesn’t give you what you expect. For that reason, it is good to try http://www.friv2friv4.com like.

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  • Kaka

    If you dont mind telling your age for my self comparison (.)V(.) Thanx.

    • http://lea.verou.me/ Lea Verou

      Just became 28 today :)

  • http://sivaganesh.com/ hiswat

    Congrats :)
    How’s America? 😀

  • http://artanddesign.us/ lori


  • Stefan Ritter

    congrats! well done!

  • abhaymicrofinance

    Congrats … What do you plan to do your Phd on ?

  • ashish sharma

    congratulations !! :) 😉
    Please let me know the procedure of applying to MIT EECS department

    • personal

      Did you get the details of applying to mit?

  • personal

    Please let me know the procedure of applying to MIT EECS department

    And also about SOP,

  • wayne

    Hi Lea, I stumbled across your blog while looking for information on CSS animations and found some very useful information. Thanks.

    However, the main reason for this comment is to belatedly congratulate you on getting in at MIT. When I read your blog post this morning it made me smile. Enjoy your time there.

    • http://lea.verou.me/ Lea Verou

      Thank you!

  • Timothy Gu

    Congratulations! You are definitely one of the best candidates for an MIT grad degree, Be proud of yourself, remind yourself that not everyone can write Dabblet, plus a 2.0-KiB js syntax highlighter, plus being in the top 3% of the class, plus writing everything else on this blog, all in an overlapping period of a year!

    But anyways, I wish I could go to MIT after I finish high school in 2.5 years…

  • steve ssh

    I just wanted to say (albeit late–I just found your site) how inspirational this post is.

    Congratulations and very sincere thanks for sharing.

    Your talent, creativity and mastery are all clearly totally off-the-hook, and it’s really inspiring to see someone with such qualities go for it and have the sun shine on their endeavors. Way to go!

  • ijuhytr

    “dumbest person in the room”?

    From what I have seen of your work, you’re far more likely to be the SMARTEST person in the room!

  • http://tanujnamdeo.wordpress.com Tanuj Namdeo

    Hello mam. You have became an inspiration for me. I am a high school student. I also want to get into MIT EECS program. For undergraduates I am admitted to Queen Mary university of London.

  • Anna

    Wow, Congratz! ^^ I just found your blog, I needed some patterns and then… what a professional blog!
    I hope you would learn a lot in MIT and catch all opportunities coming around you, leading you to revolutionize web graphics (or whatever you’re wishing to). Another creative and intelligent woman like you, another lesson for every girl.
    Good Luck!

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  • http://www.yuyanping.com Jeffrey Yu

    Congratulations ; )

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  • Tosetas

    That is really a good opportunity for a person to study on this kind of school and improve their knowledge as they continue to learn from a course that they pick. Congratulations by the way.

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  • Hannan Ali

    Good Luck Lea!

    How’s the MIT going these days though?

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