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Chris S. '11

Jun 10, 2008

Mini-Guide to the GIRs

Posted in: Academics & Research

I feel slightly weird to be typing away on the MIT blogs again, when the farthest thing on my mind right now is MIT. BUT - I feel like if I don't write this entry now, when I have so much time on my hands, this blog would never get written - so here goes.

I'm also going to stray from the conventional path of telling you what options are available to you (I'm sure you know that already, being the zealous beavers that you are), but rather I'll base everything on my own personal opinions and observations from freshman year. (Also, this is conveniently before you have to choose your courses for frosh year =p)

Again, this is only my interpretation of the GIRs, so please ignore them if you think I'm just being woozy in the head. :)

2. Chem fall, bio spring.

This year, I went for Professor Lander's 7.012 class in the fall - being the awesome lecturer that he was. I learned a lot; Professor Lander was great, but we didn't have very many people in the class (it was ~200, at a time when 3.091 had so many people that the lecture was even broadcast into another room). A few inconveniences presented themselves as well - the curve could have been a bit better with more people (intro bio assigns grades almost completely on a bell curve), and 3.091 got the lectures recorded on video (for the overflow room) so a lot of people didn't have to go to class (humph*) - the same applied for 7.013 in the spring.

Alright - to be honest - it isn't THAT inconvenient, but I always get this naggy feeling that intro courses are better if you do them with the big crowd, and for me, given a chance to do it again, I would do 5.111 in the fall and 7.013 in the spring. Professor Lander was great; but for me, I felt that it wasn't completely worth taking bio early (other than gloating at helping my roommates with their biology queries second semester =p).

Also, I really want to address something about my 5.111 class in the spring.

5.111 in the spring, as you may have predicted from the size of 7.012 in the fall - is small. We had perhaps no more than 70 students in the class. Contrary to what I've been reading in the certain thread at College Confidential back in April, the class isn't notoriously instructed. Really, I don't know where that came from. Our two instructors had distinctly different teaching styles, but I didn't feel that anything was wrong with the class. There's a lot of controversy about our second professor not assigning "reading assignments" - just allow me to say that I feel if you are a student at MIT, you should be capable of divining a chart known as "The Table of Contents" and finding the relevant sections yourself. To take this as a sign of instructional negligence is - in my humble opinion (IMHO) - very excessive.

< /rant>

To be fair - I did feel that 5.111 was a bit too small of an intro class for my liking. I would have preferred a much bigger chem class, and would probably have preferred taking 5.111 in the fall instead. This also frees me up to take 5.12 directly in the spring, and 5.13 sophomore fall. Given the current circumstances, I would have to postpone 5.13 all the way to junior fall.

Oh - and take 5.111 (or 5.112!) if you're interested in Course 5 or Course 7. I did peruse the 3.091 course content, and no offense to the people who took 3.091, but I feel 5.111 has a more comprehensive and "useful" chemical introduction if you feel like you're going to take additional chemistry courses in the future. (3.091 is a good course if you don't plan on seeing chemistry ever again - like the way I am with physics, muahaha).

5.Not knowing calculus at MIT is like a fish not knowing how to swim.

For the math requirement, please refer to This Meticulous Chart.

I've highlighted the common courses I see in pinkish magenta.

The three most common paths I see for the Math GIR at MIT is:
-If you've seen Calculus in high school and took Calc BC - 18.02
-If you've seen Calculus in high school but isn't entirely comfortable with it (or didn't take Calc BC or the Calc ASE) - 18.01/2A (the flip side - to finish 18.02A you have to stay at MIT during IAP)
-If you've never seen Calculus or isn't comfortable beyond basic integration/derivation - 18.01.

Either of these three paths have quite a decent number of people doing it, so there's no shame if you come in doing 18.01 when your friends might be doing 18.02 or (gasp!) 18.03/18.06 immediately. However, it IS important for you to get your Calc GIR out of the way as soon as possible, rather than prolong it till the very last moment (like what some people do with 7.01x or 8.02 - taking it in their senior year). The main reason for this is that there's almost always some level of calc required in science/engineering courses at MIT (even in "humanities" courses like economics!), and you'll be doing yourself a favor understanding 18.01/2 before going into those courses (unless you're planning on majoring on the humanities =p).

Also - Auroux for 18.02 in the fall is AWESOME! Do try to take that class unless you really have some pressing reason not to =p

10. Try to take a HASS class that's both CI-H and HASS-D in the fall.

You need 2 CI-H classes to graduate, and you must take one during your frosh year, so why not make the best of it and kill two birds with one stone by taking a class that fulfills both requirements? (you need three HASS-D classes for the HASS GIR)

Besides, you're on pass/no record first semester, so what do you have to lose?

17. On classes with extra decimal places... (like 5.112, 8.012 (the "advanced version")...NOT 7.01x or 5.111, for example)

The short and simple of it: Take as much "advanced courses" as you are able to handle.

Before I launch into my rationale, I think it is important to note that I didn't take any advanced classes for my GIRs, and so you may take my treatise with a grain of salt (it's from my observations of my peers who took advanced classes).

MIT courses, to be simple, would probably be unlike anything you've seen in the past, especially if you didn't come from a very prestigious high school or a magnet science/tech school (at least it was that way for me). Also, college isn't like high school - you would soon discover that a regular high school courseload of 7 courses isn't a feasible schedule at MIT unless you're superhuman (and they also exist at MIT, but in very small quantities =p).

It's very much the same way with classes like 5.112 and 8.012 (sorry to mention them constantly, I'm just using them as an example - this also applies to courses like 8.022, 18.022). When people suggest that you should have a high level of chemistry coming in to 5.112 or be comfortable with calc coming in to 8.012, they do really mean it - it isn't like your high school teacher saying "Make sure you know Algebra 2 before taking Physics!". If you take those advanced courses - be prepared to work - there's no way that you can breeze through them like what a lot of people do first semester with their GIR courses (since it's P/NR). Along with work comes, inevitably, some sacrifice with fun and social time.

But on the flip side, as the blogger Paul probably realizes now, there's great rewards to have weathered a difficult class. Intellectual triumphs aside, there's the memorable communal-bonding pset sessions, a better grounding of the subject for subsequent courses, and "bragging rights," to mention a few. =p

Pass/no record exists as a smoother transition for an incoming frosh to the rigors of the MIT curriculum, living away from home, and making new friends. Yes - it can also exist for academic masochism, but I have no doubt that you'll see more than your share of it in the coming semesters. Personally, I didn't take any of these advanced courses, and I felt it WAS the best balance for me (even though I still had that naggy voice left over from high school in the back of my mind, "You should be taking the MOST RIGOROUS courseload available!"). Your balance may be taking both 5.112 AND 8.012 - or it may simply be the same as mine. As you will quickly see after you get here, being at MIT is already privilege enough - once you get in, it isn't like high school where all the brightest and greatest rush to fill up their schedules with AP classes. There's no shame to be taking 18.01 when others are taking 18.02 - you'll all get to where you want to be in due time. You will undoubtedly find your own chord here, the same way that I did - the same way that we all do.

Interesting fact (confirmed by Mr. Matt McGann):

Whether you take 8.01 or 8.012, it all shows up on your official transcript as "Physics I".
(so let the love of physics be the motivation of taking 8.012)

Oh, one last note:

DON'T TAKE 8.012 just because you hate TEAL.

I know, we preach about the evils of the Satan, also known as TEAL, but don't go for 8.012 just because you don't like 8.01T. It isn't worth it. :)

28. PE requirement

Take PE courses during your frosh year! The last only one quarter each, and you only need 4 of them for your PE requirement (yes, there's a PE requirement at MIT!). You also should do it during your frosh year cuz it's so much more fun taking PE courses with your friends =p. I recommend Sailing and Pistol. :)

Also, do your swim test during Orientation and get it out of the way! You'll get a nice white T-shirt as a souvenir too =p

41. Suggested schedule

Classes you should definitely ASE or AP out of (or take at earliest opportunity):
8.01, 18.01, 18.02.

Suggested Schedule, assuming you have credit for 18.01 (as a lot do from the Calc BC exam):

FallSpring
8.01x8.02x
ChemBio
18.02MAJOR
HASSHASS
Seminar9-unit class

Note: During the spring semester, there are a number of 9-unit classes that are almost targeted directly at freshman, which conveniently fills the gap of your 9 credits and are very interesting (one such class was Snively's toy design class). It may be worthwhile to shop around during Christmas/IAP to find those classes.

Also, by MAJOR I meant that if you have 18.01 credit, you probably can begin taking your first class of your major as soon as the spring semester rolls around. If you don't have 18.01 credit, it only means that you should take 18.02 second semester instead of your major class.

Moreover, the HASS spaces above aren't completely rigid. You can opt not to take a HASS class second semester and take another class of your interest, but either way, I strongly suggest taking a CI-H+HASS-D HASS class first semester. Use P/NR to your advantage.

Moreover x2, you don't have to fill up all 54 and 57 credits if you don't want to. Quite a few people just took 4 classes both semesters - so suit yourself and do whatever is comfortable for you.

---

Whew, that is a LOT of discourse on the GIRs. Hope you find it useful. =D

And to prove that I'm not completely boring, check out this awesome act from my high school's talent show (yes, I got to go to school for the last two weeks of my high school's spring semester and attend the seniors' graduation! CONGRATS to all '08's that graduated!)

Before you ask - yes, this is an American high school in Taiwan. =p

Comments (Closed after 30 days to reduce spam)

yay, more updates. I am so excited! can't wait to get to campus and start picking classes.

but internship, reviewing for ASE, and FEE first!

Is TEAL class the one with the funny remote things?
Are there plain physics classes that are not TEAL?

Posted by: Yuzhi '12 on June 10, 2008

Thank you so much...bookmarked to read again later smile

Posted by: Ahmed on June 10, 2008

...thank you. So much.

Posted by: Karen '12 on June 10, 2008

NO MATTER WHAT! DO NOT TAKE BIO IN THE SRPING! TAKE IN THE FALL OF FRESHMAN YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DON'T LISTEN TO CHRIS ON THIS ONE.

Posted by: 0 on June 10, 2008

@ Anonymous - why shouldn't we take it in the Spring??

Posted by: Judy '12 on June 10, 2008

@ Yuzhi -
Unless you take 8.011 in the spring, you either have to take 8.01T or 8.012 - there is no lecture-recitation based intro physics classes, even though they always ask us whether we would prefer such a class on the end-of-course surveys.

And yeah, TEAL is the class with the clickers =p

@ Anonymous -
I think you'll make your point clearer if you use fewer exclamation marks smile

But seriously, to each his own. I took bio in the fall and I don't think it was worth it for me. If you really love having a famous professor that's an amazing lecturer (which Lander and Weinberg both are), it may be worth it, but for me, taking bio early made me ineligible to take 5.12 in the spring, and I had to have a tiny class for 5.111, which I didn't like. I really don't have much against 7.012 in the fall. It's more about the implications for later on.

Posted by: Oasis '11 on June 10, 2008

... with Anonymous above.

The 7.013 class this past Spring was supposedly the largest class MIT has had in its history. I would have DIED to have been in a class that huge; don't you think small classes are worth the harder grading curve given the greater intimacy? I'm sure you've heard of parents' concerns about their kids being in classes that are too huge and thus impersonal.

Posted by: I kinda agree... on June 10, 2008

Take bio AND chem in the Fall! :p

Posted by: There is a simple solution... on June 10, 2008

@ above -

What you're saying is right, except the 5.111 class wasn't worth the "greater intimacy." Although I still stick to my claim that there isn't anything fundamentally wrong I see with the instruction of 5.111 in the spring - it isn't a spectacular class either. It's just a very mediocre class.

Let us assume 7.013 in the spring is mediocre because of the large size as well. Choosing between two mediocre classes, I'd rather choose the one with the bigger class with the better curve.

And I thought about taking both of them in the fall - but if you look at the schedule above, I couldn't take a HASS then, and I liked getting the CI-H+HASS-D out of the way.

If you got credit for 8.01 as well as 18.01, then take both in the fall! It's the best win-win situation.

Posted by: Oasis '11 on June 10, 2008

IS it a bad idea to take bio and chem in the fall? I want the class with Eric Lander and I also want to take 5.112. I plan on taking 8.011 in the spring and then 8.02 the fall of my sophomore year. Is there some reason I shouldn't do this? I plan on being course 20, 5, or 7, and taking 8.02 a semester late doesn't interfere with anything.

Posted by: Steven '12 on June 10, 2008

I have to agree with anonymous about not taking biology in the spring. It was a pretty intense class when it came to the exams. The first two tests had averages in the 50's, take it fall on pass no record. My suggestion to all of you is to take bio in the fall and chem in the spring, unless you are pursuing a major where you have to take 5.12 (Organic chemistry). In that case do chem in fall and bio in spring.

Posted by: Michael 11' on June 10, 2008

@Steven '12

It's not a bad idea to take them both in the fall - I did just that, and I don't regret it. However, I did placed out of a few classes through ASEs and APs to be able to do so. I think it's a good idea, because it gets you ready for your major (I think I'm going towards course 20).

However, I do feel that it is not a good idea to take 8.011 in the spring and 8.02 in the fall, because they are GIRs and you should really take those classes within the first year. You should stick to 8.01 fall semester and 8.02 spring semester.

If you can't work out your schedule with 7.012, 8.01, and 5.112 for your first semester, you generally have two options:

one is to take 5.112 fall semester of freshman year and 7.012 fall semester of sophomore year. this will allow you to take 5.12 spring semester freshman year (which will give you the option to take 5.13 the following semester if you plan to go premed). however, this means that you cannot take classes with the biology GIR as a prereq until your sophomore year second semester.

the second option is to take 7.012 fall semester of freshman year and 5.111 spring semester of sophomore year. This will allow you to take 7.03 spring semester, and 5.12 fall semester of sophomore year.

out of the two options above, i would pick choice two (unless you want to go premed). i personally feel that the chemistry GIR classes arent that great (including 5.112).

Posted by: Patrick '11 on June 10, 2008

I think the best thing to do is take 7.012 AND 5.111 in the fall (I too did 7.012 and 5.111 in that order, and I wish I had taken them both in the fall). This track will mean you have to take a CI-H in the spring - but you can do that in the form of, say, project classes like 2.00B (Toy Product Design - see Snively). Or you can push 7.012 off until fall sophomore year - you can even do this track and do something biology-related (10B, for instance) on this track.

Also, you don't HAVE to take 18.02A during IAP - you can take a 6 unit course in the spring to finish it up and take 18.03 at the same time. But then you wouldn't be able to take some neat spring stuff. It's all up to you.

Don't feel too pressured to get ahead, take harder classes, get sophomore standing, etc - this is all about you, not anyone else. No one else going to really care either way, anyway =D. Just do what you feel like.

(Small note - some HASSes are 9 units, like Intro to Acting... this may make some things easier for some of you.)

Posted by: Piper on June 10, 2008

I agree with what Piper said - don't pressure yourself. However, if you are looking for sophomore standing, be sure to take a CI-H HASS during the fall semester; I forfeited sophomore standing by taking a HASS that, while very interesting, wasn't a CI-H, and I've always sort of regretted it... except not really, because 9.00 w/ Prof. Wolfe was awesome*.

*He only teaches the Concourse version of 9.00. I joined Concourse just to take that class, but since you have to take two Concourse classes to be in Concourse, I missed out on having 18.02 with Prof. Aroux. Ooops. Not sure what the moral of this story is - maybe join Concourse because you really want to be in Concourse, not because you don't want to wait to take 9.00 until the spring?

Posted by: Nicole '10 on June 10, 2008

Oh, 9.00 = Intro to Psychology, for those of you who haven't memorized the Course numbers yet. ^_^

Posted by: Nicole '10 on June 10, 2008

Really nice flowchart, Chris! Just please, for the love of God, nobody take 18.014. E-mail me ([email protected]) if you need some counseling. I've heard it's actually a well-taught class, but it doesn't really fit in well with the MIT curriculum and frosh credit limit, and it makes it hard to change majors if you end up deciding you don't like math.

Sorry, I'm kind of on a never-ending one-man crusade against 18.014 and feel compelled to mention it whenever somebody brings up GIRs.

Posted by: Sam on June 10, 2008

@ Michael '11 -

The fall average was around the high 50's to the low 60's - but I don't attribute this to the class being easier. It was because we had a smaller spread with more intelligent people (or at least IMO, since I knew a couple of biology olympiad people in 7.012 - seems like they're all attracted by Lander/Weinberg). Either way, low grades with bio would be a problem, and I don't think necessarily taking it in the fall would alleviate the problem of a low average. I must admit that P/NR may help, though.

I still think the best idea to go is to take bio and chem both in the fall, but then I would also say that 8.01 is a necessity to take in the fall semester (8.011 = ewww), and 18.02 with Auroux is too good to miss. Anywhoo.

Posted by: Oasis '11 on June 10, 2008

About 5.111: "Contrary to what I've been reading in the certain thread at College Confidential back in April, the class isn't notoriously instructed. Really, I don't know where that came from."

Your class lucked out - the longtime spring 5.111 instructor (and my freshman advisor) left MIT last year, so you got two new instructors. Everything you read about her, though, was absolutely right. She was terrible.

Also, there is no real right way to take the GIRs, especially when it comes to chem and bio, as I said in my post last year. I've always been a proponent of taking chem in the fall and bio in the spring, though.

I AP-ed out of 7.01x and never had to fit it in my schedule, though, so you don't have to listen to me.

Posted by: Keri on June 10, 2008

Thanks! This was very informative
P.S. The flow chart is amazing

Posted by: Li'12 on June 10, 2008

Pass out of 8.01 and 18.01. It makes deciding on classes MUCH EASIER.

Posted by: 0 on June 10, 2008

Er, don't stress out about not passing out of classes, though ('cause some of you, like me, don't really have that chance).

Posted by: Piper on June 10, 2008

How does all this work with 12 unit intro major classes like 6.00/6.01? I thought these were supposed to be taken Freshman year...? With 4 other 12 unit classes (chem/bio, physics, calc, HASS), that doesn't seem practical, or even possible.

Posted by: Lainers on June 10, 2008

@General audience - I just want to clarify. Project classes like 2.00B aren't listed as CI-H, but can count towards CI-H OR CI-M (it's up to you). Snively, for example, may have taken it for CI-M.

@Lainers - Intro major classes CAN be taken freshman year, and it's awesome when you can fit them in freshman year, but it's certainly not a requirement or even "supposed" to be that way =D. The idea is that you take 3 GIRs + 1 HASS each semester freshman year and then start your major sophomore year. But if you get through GIRs quicker one way or another, you can start your major early =). And you're right, you can't take 5 12-unit classes as a freshman.

Posted by: Piper on June 10, 2008

You can take 18.02A-2nd half over the first half of the Spring Semester instead of over IAP, but the downside is that you have to take it ABC-No Record as opposed to Pass-No Record.

Posted by: Ashley on June 10, 2008

If any of you are planning to do 10/10B, 7, 5, or pre-med (or anything that requires 5.12--check on the website) DO NOT TAKE 3.091. My TA this term told me that 3.091 students scored well below those from 5.112 on average. So if you know you have to take course 5 classes, don't take the easy (easier?) way out. In fact, I'd even go as far as to suggest taking 5.112. Sure, it's kinda hard, and if you get Cummins, well, good luck... but the truth of the matter is that it DOES help a lot when you have like 5 seconds to make sense of something in your 5.12 lecture before the professor moves on to the next topic.

As for 18.01/18.02, I knew my math well enough to test into 18.01a, but due to extreme laziness, I didn't take the exam. I don't regret it though. I fully suggest starting with the basics (18.01) unless you're a math superstar and you're 100% sure you know your calculus. Some people I know did not have that great of a grasp on 18.01 material and they struggled hardcore during 18.02. And for me, knowing 18.01 inside out made it pretty easy to breeze through 18.02.

Also, one important piece of advice that nobody has mentioned yet: Be realistic when choosing your classes. Know yourself and your limits. Don't sign up for a class you know you might fail, even though you're on P/NR, because you'll just waste your time. And it'll just stress you out, and first term is no time to be stressing. And don't sign up for a 9am lecture if you know you won't make it. I took 9am classes both terms, but I also live in Senior House and I can literally wake up at 8:55 and make it on time.

Good luck choosing your classes!

Posted by: milena '11 on June 10, 2008

Do any of the Course 2 classes have bio or chem as pre-reqs? I kind of planned out a possible schedule and I am thinking of putting off one until fall sophomore year.

Posted by: Becca '12 on June 10, 2008

How can you take a CI-H that is also a HASS-D if I want to take a language too... Not possible?

Posted by: yukiko on June 10, 2008

"Whether you take 8.01 or 8.012, it all shows up on your official transcript as "Physics I".
(so let the love of physics be the motivation of taking 8.012)"

Oh maaaaan... PHYSICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! =)
Physics Physics Physics ^^

Posted by: Ty'12 on June 10, 2008

Avoid Chem. 5.111 in the spring. Despite Chris's graciousness to the professor concerned, it's a lot easier taking a course where assigned readings are given. Of course everyone at MIT is capable of looking at a table of contents -- to suggest otherwise would be silly -- but having only a general idea of what to read sometimes means wading through many more pages than might be necessary. With other course demands, plus sports/music/community service/social life to do, it's helpful when a professor gives SPECIFIC assignments. Most do. When a prof. cannot be bothered to give assignments I still maintain that says a lot about his/her level of care about undergraduate education. Did I survive the course -- yes, and I did well. But would I sign up for that professor again -- of course not.

Posted by: 0 on June 10, 2008

@yukiko - unfortunately, there's no great answer to your question. Levels 3 and 4 for all foreign languages are considered HASS-D, but not CI-H. (There are also some more advanced foreign language/literature classes that fall in the HASS-D category 1) As far as I know, the only classes in the foreign language department that are CI-H are actually classes taught in English but about foreign literature/culture - I've taken two of these so far and they're a lot of fun, but I'm not sure if that's what you're looking for. However, there's no rule saying that your first HASS at MIT has to be both a HASS-D and a CI-H - it's good to get some of these requirements out of the way, but as long as you have one CI-H covered by the end of your freshman year (or first semester, if you want sophomore standing), you're set.

Posted by: Nicole '10 on June 10, 2008

"Don't sign up for a class you know you might fail, even though you're on P/NR, because you'll just waste your time. And it'll just stress you out, and first term is no time to be stressing."

Maybe it's unorthodox and a bit risk-happy, but I always suggest at least initially challenging yourself to the fullest extent possible under P/NR. Case in point, I dislike/am bad at math, but I still signed up for 18.022. My reasoning is that I would feel a helluva lot better barely passing a "hard" course than I would have felt if, in some likelihood, I ended up barely passing in an "easier" course instead. Of course, at every point along the semester, I felt as if I could still pass 18.022, even if I did do "horribly" (squeezed by with a C at the end). It would have been easy for me to know when 18.022 really was over my head and that I should drop to 18.02.

That choice, in addition to the one I made to take 5.112 at the same time, also made second semester seem much more relaxed in comparison.

Posted by: Efolse '11 on June 10, 2008

I want to emphasize that taking both 5.111 and 7.012 in the fall is probably the best thing to do. But there are a few things you should think about. If you also take a math class and a physics class (as most freshmen do), you won't have any room to take a HASS class. This will disqualify you from sophomore standing in the spring semester as you must have completed one HASS class (CI-H, I think) to be eligible. Although this isn't important for the sake of being a sophomore, if you were planning on taking 5 or more classes in the spring (basically going over the freshman credit limit), this is something to consider.

Also, you'll have 4 finals at the end of first semester, which is a lot. But then you can take 2 math/science classes and 2 HASS classes spring semester, and you might only have 2 finals in the spring. Then you can rub it in your friends' faces.

Posted by: '11 on June 11, 2008

For people who didn't take both chem and bio freshman year, is it kind of demotivating to have to take one, instead of something else?

Posted by: Becca on June 11, 2008

@Becca'12 - I'm Course 2 and I actually put off Bio until spring of sophomore year - I took it with a bunch of my other Course 2 friends. (So no, neither bio or chem are pre-reqs for any Course 2 classes except perhaps some more advanced electives that you wouldn't get to until at least your junior year, most likely!) I took 3.091, 8.01L, 18.01A/18.02A, Intro to Fiction (HASS-D) in fall of freshman year, and 2.001, 18.03, 8.02, 14.01 (HASS), and SP.778 (former name/number of Toy Product Design) in the spring. It worked out great for me. If you have any other Course 2-specific questions ask away! smile

Posted by: Mech E '09 on June 11, 2008

the idea behind taking 7.01x and leftover HASS's senior year is to be able to hit on freshman girls by impressing then with job offers and status on-campus. "Hey, I have a job at Lehman/Google/Goldman/McKinsey/Toyota/Merck/whatever, I only need a C in Biology to graduate" or "I only need to take these five HASS's to graduate" etc.

I'm only half kidding.

Posted by: not a '12 on June 11, 2008

So for people who've taken a lot of chemistry in high school (either AP, or, like me, close to the equivalent), taking 3.091 is actually not a bad choice... there is much less overlap between the AP curriculum and 3.091 than with 5.111 and 5.112. So 3.091 is taught be a more interesting professor on new topics; I went on to take 5.12 and 5.60 (and no, I'm not course 5/10/7) and did fine. So if you are interested in chemistry and want a new perspective on it, I would definitely recommend 3.091.

Posted by: ceem on June 11, 2008

@MechE '09: Thanks! I guess I was just a little worried about being the only non-frosh etc, but I'd really like to take some other classes spring freshman year, rather than just GIRs. I don't have any other questions right now, but if I think of some, I'll post.

Posted by: Becca '12 on June 11, 2008

@ Keri -
I don't really believe in a strict "chem fall, bio spring" rule either, since I'm cognizant that some people may like 7.012 and want to take it in the fall. However, after this year and seeing the broad trend of students' course choices, I still would push for more of a chem fall, bio spring course selection if 1) you have no preference when you take those courses and 2) you can't take both first semester (which again is the ideal situation - if you discount the HASS problem).

In short, I just thought I would make your suggested freshman schedule on your old blog a bit more "specific" =p

And we're the first class which a 5 on the AP Bio isn't taken for credit! (sadness)

@ Anonymous re: 5.111 in the spring -

I would NOT recommend our class anyway, since I felt that there were some fundamental flaws with the course, namely:

1) the second professor didn't prepare test prep materials or even past test questions for Test 3 and the Final, 2) the clicker system is a big joke, and 3) there were a lot of problems with significant figures that even the TAs were confused about, especially in the answer keys.

It's fair to say that although I sound defensive about the course, I didn't enjoy it particularly either (despite having gotten a very satisfactory grade). However, I still have a lot to say about "not assigning reading assignments."

Even if a student is very involved in his numerous activities, I think finding relevant reading sections in the textbook should take no more than 10 minutes. Do you really think 10 minutes per night is too much to ask? My 14.01 class this term didn't assign reading assignments either (we're given a course schedule with "Chapter X" for each day of lecture) and I take it that we're supposed to just go home and read the entire portion of Chapter X. As we quickly realized, the professor doesn't even test over the entire content of Chapter X, but rather highlighted on specific portions of the said chapter in lecture. Thus, you're supposed to go to lecture, pay attention to the areas that he focused on, and study the relevant sections in the textbook for the exam (as opposed to reading the entire textbook from cover to cover).

In essence, 5.111 was very much the same. I'm sure you have noticed that the second professor focused a lot on his own lecture notes when it came to homework assignments and test questions. He didn't expect you to read all of the relevant sections in the textbook, and he almost referred to the textbook as supplementary material (although he stated that that his lectures follow closely to the text). This is almost the same system as 14.01, and I don't see the 300+ students in 14.01 complain about "not getting specific reading assignments."

Truth be told, if we review the 7.012 reading list that I got fall semester, I thought that it was pretty unhelpful as well, since the exam clearly requires you to have a deeper knowledge of the course content. I ended up reading through the entire chapter even if only a portion of the chapter was assigned, since I discovered that it was not possible to do well on the exams if you just read the portions highlighted by the 7.012 staff (at least for me).

I just feel that if you're at MIT, the staff feels that you are at a level of intelligence that you'll do whatever is best for you to do well on the exams, whether it's reading the textbook from cover to cover, or not reading the textbook at all. Given this assumption, I feel like it's fair to say that the second professor for 5.111 isn't negligent - it's just a different teaching style. However - did I personally like his teaching style? No, I did not - but I wouldn't say that his instruction (namely, his lectures and his preparation for his lectures) was poor - it's clear that he knew a lot of about chemistry and was eager to share it with the class, despite the fact that the course had some logistic and coursework flaws like the ones I pointed out above.

I apologize in advance if I sound really aggressive, and sorry for making this such a long explanation - it's just I've been thinking about this for awhile.

Anywhoo. I strongly suggest everyone to not take 5.111 in the spring. smile

Posted by: Oasis '11 on June 11, 2008

Don't take his/her advice unless you want to follow a particularly unusual path.

There's a reason 3.091 is called "slacker chem" and "chem for people who never want to see chem again."

Posted by: ceem is apparently an anomaly on June 11, 2008

Ceem - have you considered that perhaps your high school prepared you better for 5.12 and 5.60? Overall, the average is still that the 5.11x group does better than the three-oh-nine-fun group.

Posted by: Piper on June 11, 2008

So somebody mentioned getting HASS-D credit for level 3 and 4 language courses, does this still apply if the course was taking at Harvard? I want to take a language that MIT doesn't offer but Harvard does, and it would be nice to get a HASS-D credit for it while I'm at it.

Posted by: Star on June 11, 2008

"Subjects taken under the Harvard Cross-Registration Program will never count as HASS-D, except for intermediate level language classes, which may be petitioned to count as the HASS-D Language Option."

I think you're in the clear. From my understanding, petitions are generally taken...

Posted by: Piper on June 11, 2008

Awesome, thanks Piper!

Posted by: Star on June 11, 2008

Speaking of language classes, is it possible to cross register at Harvard during first semester to get a head start on a language not offered at MIT? Is it a good idea to do so if you're set on learning a language?

Posted by: viccro on June 11, 2008

Cross-registration is normally limited to upperclassmen, but freshmen may be allowed to enroll as an exception (particularly for languages not offered at MIT, as is your case).

Check here for more info.

Here's betting I totally screwed the above link up.

Posted by: Response on June 11, 2008

lol yep, that totally didn't work. Well, God gave you fingers to Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V. :p

Posted by: Response on June 11, 2008

yup, that's why I tried to make the comment specifically for people with a strong chem background from high school who still can't necessarily ASE out of intro chem. Yes, 3.091 was pretty easy, but it also covers a lot of very different material than what you would see in 5.11x or a high school class. If you have a strong hs background, you're probably reasonably prepared for later chem classes without 5.11x; in my view, freshman year is a time to explore a bit, and 3.091 lets you do that. Especially if you're interested in taking say, 8.012, 8.022, or 18.022, all of which are classes which generally have better reviews than 5.112.

If you don't have a strong high school chem background and want to major in something chem related, 5.11x is totally the right choice.

Also at MIT one of the most important things I've learned is that how "difficult" a class is doesn't necessarily correspond with how much I learn. Because a class is well-taught, it may seem easier than a class that is badly taught, yet you learn more in the former. Some of the classes in which I think I've learned the most have been once-a-week seminars on different professors research; it really opens your mind to the applications of everything you're learning in your other classes.

Posted by: ceem on June 12, 2008

that was ridiculously helpful. thank you so much !

Posted by: viva on June 12, 2008

thank you!

most useful post of all time. It came right when I was starting to freak out about what classes I'd want to take.

Posted by: Aditi on June 12, 2008

If we get a HASS-D through the lottery, are we required to take the course? Or would it be better to skip the summer lottery and take bio and chem concurrently? Will our advisor help us pick courses during orientation?

Posted by: 0 on June 12, 2008

question: does 8.01L also show up on our transcripts as Physics I?

Posted by: Shamarah on June 12, 2008

@ Anonymous -

No, you're not. And also, it doesn't mean if you didn't get a certain course through the HASS-D lottery you can't take the course. You can always show up the first day of class and ask the professor whether you can be added to the course (a lot will oblige). The HASS-D Lottery just exists to prevent people from randomly registering/going to classes and forming ridiculously large classes.

You don't HAVE to take a HASS first semester if you don't want to. Again, you only really have to take a HASS if you want to declare sophomore standing (make sure though, that it's a CI-H). Bio and chem together first semester is good if you want to take 5.12 spring term and like a good bio lecturer. Also, you're on P/NR, it may be a convenient plus if you need it for bio and chem. But really, it's all up to you.

As for advisers, it depends on what kind of adviser you have. There are some pretty hands-on advisers/associate advisers (who's an upperclass student) that give pretty good advice, but there's also some others who function only to sign your registration form.

@ Shamarah -
Yes.

Posted by: Oasis '11 on June 12, 2008

Kudos to you Chris!, GREAT entry, this totally would have been useful info back in the day. I'm sure the class of 12 apprec. it. Otherwise, TEAL wasn't too bad. who doesn't like a little mastering physics now and then.

Note to prefrosh/frosh, for TEAL get DOURMASHKIN for physics (8.01 mech. in fall) (8.02 eand m in spring) He's the course admin. amazing at explaining physics, and a really nice guy.
there's also fisher, who was on letterman. i hear he's funny and posts audio tutorials. Look forward to meeting you guys.

Chris, catch on you on the flipside

DO FLP!!!! Good times

Posted by: Kevin R., '11 on June 12, 2008

According to the transcript website, the course number will show up on your transcript, as well as the course name. All three of those courses are called "Physics I" officially, so unless some employer/admissions dude really wants to look into it, it'll all look the same.

Posted by: Piper on June 12, 2008

Slight modification: According to the catalog, 8.01L is designated as 8.01 on your transcript. So it's not going to hurt you to take 8.01L because the transcript won't tell =D.

Posted by: Piper on June 12, 2008

Thank you for all the useful info smile

Stupid question: If we pass out of Bio/Chem in the ASEs, we never have to take those two subjects again, right? Just checking I'm not doing that then having to take another course anyway (which would make studying in the summer COMPLETELY pointless lol)

Posted by: Enas Alkhudairy on June 12, 2008

Correct, passing out of bio or chem with an ASE fulfills your bio and chem GIRs, so you aren't required to take any chem or bio class at MIT unless one is, for instance, required by your major or minor.

Posted by: 0 on June 13, 2008

@Response (or anyone else...)

How much time should be permitted between a class ending at Harvard and beginning at MIT (or vice versa)? How long does it take to get from one to the other, and what are the options for doing so during the week?

Posted by: viccro on June 13, 2008

You should ask blogger JKim. She took a course at Harvard this past semester (and blogged about some of those experiences, I think).

Posted by: Response on June 13, 2008

I think I saw in the course catalog that 3.091 is being offered in both semesters next year, but by a different professor in spring...does anyone know if is this true?

http://student.mit.edu/catalog/m3a.html

Posted by: Sarah '12 on June 13, 2008

@ Sarah -

Well, if the course catalog says so, it's probably true. =p But you won't get Sadoway in the spring, and that would probably be a bummer.

Posted by: Oasis '11 on June 15, 2008

Hiya Chris,

man you get a lot of comments.

My personal suggestion, and this may only apply to a few people due to transfer credit variations. Works especially well for premed, in my opinion.

Fall: 7.012, 5.111 or 5.112, HASS, 8.01T
Spring: 5.12, 8.02T, HASS, 18.02

So...I had credit for 18.02 coming into MIT and I took 7.02 (course 7 lab) in the spring instead, but I think this schedule would work as well. This way you get to have Eric Lander AND a large chem class. And grading for the fall is pass/no record, so it's not a disaster if 7.012 is a slightly smaller class (I never once thought that 200 people was a small class).

Have a good summer!

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy :) on June 26, 2008

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