MIT Admissions

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Qiaochu Y. '12

Apr 26 2012

Decisions, Decisions

Posted in: Freshman Applicants

CPW has come and gone, and now you're deciding where to spend the next four years of your life. It's a big decision. And whether you know it or not, you've almost certainly already made it.

Cognitive psychologists Dale Griffin and Amos Tversky (one of the discoverers of cognitive biases along with Daniel Kahneman) asked 24 of their colleagues choosing between jobs to estimate their probability of making each choice. Their average confidence in their choices was 66%, but 96% of them ended up choosing the job to which they had assigned a higher probability. 

Isn't that terrifying? If you can guess where you're most likely going to college, you're almost certainly going there. We change our minds less often than we think.

Last semester I applied for an NSF Fellowship. Part of the application required that I give the name of my graduate institution. Of course, I didn't have a graduate institution yet; I wasn't even done applying! I knew that I was applying to MIT, Harvard,... read the post »


Feb 8 2012

The Cloud

Posted in: Miscellaneous

I just restored my laptop to factory condition to get rid of an annoying virus or something that was preventing me from seeing my desktop and taskbar. Here's what I had to back up before doing this:

  • My documents (mostly math papers and math notes)
  • My music (mostly old and kept for nostalgia value)
  • My pictures (mostly nice desktop backgrounds)

Here's what I didn't have to back up before doing this:

  • My bookmarks (synced by Chrome)
  • My Chrome extensions (synced by Chrome as of 2010; I distinctly remember this not happening before)
  • My contacts (stored by Facebook and/or Gmail)
  • My calendar (stored by Google Calendar)
  • My other documents (stored by Google Docs)
  • My other music (stored by Spotify)
  • My other other documents, including all of my homework and applications to various things (stored by Dropbox)
  • My games (stored either by Steam or online at the Humble Bundle

I love living in the future, you guys. 

Comments (15)

Jan 28 2012

Things That Have Happened To Me Recently

Posted in: Miscellaneous

  • The other day I tried to hard-boil eggs for the first time. The first batch came out underdone, but a friend gave me a different method and the next batch came out fine. But then I ruined them by trying to turn them into egg salad. See, what I really wanted was an egg salad sandwich (I can't seem to find a place that makes good ones in the area). I had a vague idea that egg salad was egg plus mayonnaise plus maybe other stuff, but I'm not a huge fan of mayonnaise so I figured I could ignore that, and probably all the other stuff. I was so, so wrong. 
  • I have this friend who, lately, will not stop replacing lyrics in random songs with the names of Pokémon. 
  • Right before Wikipedia blacked out, my friends and I celebrated by playing several rounds of Wikipedia golf. I don't know what rules people normally play by, but we decided to forbid the use of Ctrl+F, which made it difficult to find good links in huge articles. I wish I could tell you what articles we used, but I... read the post »

Comments (12)

Dec 29 2011

Ask Me Anything

Posted in: Miscellaneous

My grades for the semester have finally all appeared on WebSIS, and I've passed all of my classes, so that means I am officially done with my undergraduate education! Phew. 

What does that mean for you? Well, it means I not only have a lot of free time for writing blog posts, but I'm also feeling reflective. I have a lot of wisdom to share with you all, but I'm not really sure where to start, so I figure this isn't a bad way to find a starting point: ask me anything in the comments.

Go ahead. Don't be shy. This is a judgment-free zone.

To give you some ideas, here are some things you could ask me about and expect a reasonably intelligent answer in return:

  • Me (my 3.5 years at MIT, how I feel about them, what I loved, what I'd do differently)
  • Math (my experiences with it, anyway; for actual math questions, you should probably go to

I don't feel terribly qualified to talk about anything else, but if you'd like to ask anyway, I'd be happy to... read the post »

Comments (262)

Nov 14 2011

What Should I Do Next Semester?

Posted in: Life & Culture

Okay, so I'm sort of cheating - I already wrote this post on my math blog, but I thought it would be interesting to write it again for a different audience and see a different set of responses. 

Here's the deal: I'm having a pretty boring semester academically. After spending a year at Cambridge taking amazing classes that didn't fulfill any graduation requirements, every single class I'm taking right now is a class I absolutely need to graduate. (I won't bore you with the list.) Fortunately, that's it; after this semester, I'll be done. I am graduating in February. I will be spending the Spring semester at MIT but not taking any classes. How awesome is that? I know someone else who did exactly this, and he had the time of his life. 

I fully intend to have the time of my life too. But I need your help! What are some awesome things I could be doing?

We spend so much time on these blogs telling you about all the awesome things we're doing, but if you're prospective MIT students,... read the post »

Comments (18)