Petition Statement Guidelines

The CAP reviews each petition individually in the context of MIT’s policies. It seeks to make consistent decisions while remaining sensitive to individual circumstances. Because the CAP is entrusted with upholding the integrity of Institute records, it is important for the Committee to confirm (as much as possible) the events you set forth in a petition. That is the purpose of statements from your advisor, instructor, and possibly other Institute personnel. 

Writing Your Personal Student Statement

When reading student statements the Committee looks for honest evidence of your intention to meet the deadline. It recognizes that circumstances beyond a student’s control (illness, family issues, etc.) sometimes prevent students from meeting deadlines or fulfilling an academic obligation. 

Be concise; write only a paragraph or two. State the facts of your situation, then explain how the requested change would benefit your education. Refer to external circumstances in general terms (“I was ill on Drop Date”, “My mother was hospitalized”); omit irrelevant details.

If your extenuating circumstances are of a personal or medical nature you should consult with a dean in Student Support Services (Room 5-104, 617-253-4861), before submitting a petition. The deans can offer guidance with your petition statement, and they should receive any medical records you have authorized for release. The deans will not discuss your situation with the Committee without your permission. The Committee holds all student information in the strictest confidence.

Statements from Advisors and Instructors

Because your advisor approves your initial registration and any changes to it, the CAP needs to hear her or his understanding of what led to a missed deadline or a request to exceed a credit limit. Similarly, instructors are asked to document your participation in their subject, to help the Committee make an informed decision on your request.

Advisors and instructors submit statements for late registration petitions (e.g. Late Add, Late Drop, Late Change of Status) online via Student Forms and Petitions. Although they are notified automatically when you submit a petition, you should contact them directly to make sure they have all the facts to write an informed statement.

For other petitions (such as Exceed the IAP or warning credit limits, drop a subject with a grade of Incomplete or register following a hold), you must ask advisors and instructors to write a statement on the applicable PDF petition form. Alternatively, they may email their statements to

Statements must be received by the CAP directly from the author; the Committee will not accept a statement forwarded by you or someone else. If you have asked for emailed statements, please note this on your petition form. You may then submit the form without signatures from your advisor and/or instructor. 

Questions for Advisors

The CAP asks you to explain your reasons for supporting or not supporting your advisee’s request. Specific questions are listed on petition forms; in general, they ask whether you can confirm facts given by the student and what educational benefit would be served by approving the request.

Statements are submitted online for late registration petitions, and provided on PDF petition forms or emailed to

Questions for Instructors

The CAP asks you to provide data about the student’s participation (or lack thereof) in your subject. For example, “This student has attended class from the first day of the term,” or “This student stopped handing in psets after the sixth week.” Specific questions are listed on petition forms. An indication of support (or lack thereof) alone is not sufficient for the Committee to make an informed decision.

Statements are submitted online for late registration petitions, and provided on PDF petition forms or emailed to

Substitute Signers/Online Approvers

If you have tried several times but failed to reach an advisor or instructor, the CAP will accept substitute signatures and statements from certain individuals. These people must both have permission to act on behalf of the individual in question and be able to comment knowledgably on the petition. Substitute signers include:

The Committee will occasionally table a petition, pending receipt of additional information that a substitute signer cannot provide.