Mar 13, 2015
to the 2019s in anticipation of pi day
it’s 3:14 am, and i'm sitting in a smoky kitchen with friends. there’s coffee and crepes with nutella and romantic spanish music and a breeze of spring from the courtyard. i’m talking to a classmate about the class of 2019, and we agree that college acceptances have no role in a student’s success. “you can make it anywhere,” we want to say to you. it’s true. i have proof from an admissions officer (from 50 reflections):
"6. I have a list of all the applicants whose stories really changed my life. Every so often I google them to see what they're up to. I have yet to be disappointed.
7. Some of them didn't get admitted to MIT."
the 2018s were all in your place last year. i spent the whole of decision day jittery, restless, and trembling. i kept reloading the page i was certain would change my life, whatever the first line said.
but actually, whatever the header on decisions.mit.edu displays tomorrow, you’ll do awesome things. i wish i'd known earlier that good colleges aren’t prerequisites to success. in the end, you’ll be yourself wherever you go.
mit is, well, just a college. and don’t get me wrong, i love it here, but ultimately, mit also has classes, homework, paperwork, and radiators that clunk so loudly in the wee hours of morning that sleep is an impossibility. we have cockroaches and parties and odd sleep schedules, and we don’t always make smart decisions. we compete for free food and not for a high class ranking. we procrastinate. sometimes a lot.
every college is a community, and if you’ve been observant on your college visits (virtual or real), you’ll notice how radically colleges vary. spend some time on campus, and you’ll either bloom or wilt within the community. somehow, by some magic psychic powers, the admissions officers know which will happen to you.
the most important aspect of a college is how well you fit in with the students and their ideals. college admissions may feel like a toss-up, a wild game of chance with thousands of lives. but it isn’t so.
you’ve probably thought a hundred times about your application’s weaknesses and strengths, re-counted your test scores and gpa, and wondered about the merits of your extracurriculars. now that it doesn’t matter, think instead of the self-reflection you did for all those college essays. think of fit, not merit. i’m not an expert, but i think that matters more.
i’ve heard many of your voices over the past semester, and i thank you for your hilarious and heart-warming comments on the blogs. when the ea decisions came out, i searched for those who commented on the discussion threads, and hoped that each one of you got accepted.
i thank you also for all the support you’ve given each other in the comments to the drone video (which is incredibly superbly awesome). remember that you are always welcome on the mit blogs.
to distract and enliven you, the students here have offered some serious and/or fun resources. below is our list, composed collaboratively and in no particular order.
- a treasury of erasure poetry
- rejected princesses, stories of “women too awesome, awful, or offbeat for kids’ movies”
- sir isaac newton vs bill nye epic rap battle (with a surprise appearance by neil degrasse tyson)
- humanoid history, “strange history, ancient wonders, interstellar delights, and other adventures in space and time”
- thisissand, "a unique playground for creating and sharing amazing sandscapes"
- science out loud, the science show produced with love at mit
- mini metro, a minimalistic subway layout game for lovers of train systems and 2D games
- froggy fresh rap, a first east favorite: "baddest" and "christmas" (the one that taught us an important rule)
- winterbells, a game of bunnies, bells, and distraction
- true facts about… by ze frank, for those curious about wildlife and all its oddities
- do an exercise in breaking normal with ze frank (and share in the comments below)
- 30 second sci fi, “a very short story for every day of the year”
- daily science fiction, a slightly longer story for every weekday of the year
- green is not a creative color, a video that escalates quickly
- writing prompts, for when you want to put feelings into words
- tales from retail, from reddit
- dash cam confessional (shake it off), a video for a smile
- from organelle.org (home page here)
- silly buzzfeed quizzes you need to take: on college choices, your type of bae, and ink blots
- gizoogle for a gangsta translation of your favorite scientific articles (some good ones are about nasa, mit, dat moon, and the translated mit blogs)
- zmescience, “not exactly rocket science”
- cookie clicker, another game of endless distraction
- on the powerhouse of the cell (which is, by the way, a great party theme)
- become a fractal master: how fractals work, chaos theory and the butterfly effect, the mandelbrot set (with an mit professor!), earth's fractal brain, the ultimate fractals quiz
- the most astounding fact from neil degrasse tyson
- the nicest place on the internet, for those who just want a hug
feel free to add your favorite resources in the comments, or share any concerns, questions, reflections, and experiences. i’d love to help with any last-minute inquiries.
i challenge you now to have fun and not let decision day affect you too much.