MIT Admissions

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Quinton McArthur

Jul 22, 2010


Posted in: Prepare for MIT

School is out and many times high school students struggle to find things to do with their time. I know that after such a long school year with tough academic classes, sports, extracurricular activities, and whole bunch of other responsibilities, it's tempting to just veg out on the couch and watch Gossip Girl, Degreassi, and OchoCinco: The Ultimate Catch reruns for 14 hours a day. You could easily become a Facebook addict and surf your friends' profile pages for 14 hours each day. (I know, I feel like this sometimes too.) But don't fall victim to the TV or FB this summer! You can resist. You have many more options of things to do with your time than you realize!

One of the things that I have learned about MIT students is that (generally speaking) they are good stewards of their time. Students here work hard and play hard. During the year, they certainly get their fare share of study time, but they also do everything from taking cool photos to attempting to break the world record for mattress dominoes. The same philosophy holds true during the summertime as well. Over the summer, MIT students do a whole host of interesting things with their time. (You don't need links to find out what types of cool things students are doing, just go back and check out some of the recent blog posts.) But they didn't start making good use of their summer months when they came to MIT, it started way back in high school.

So here are a few suggestions of things that you could do with your time this summer. From me to you. Why? Because I care.

1. A Summer Program – Summer Programs are a great way to make good use of your time. You can investigate an interest, develop a new skill, or learn about different careers. Students always have a really great time meeting new people and doing exciting projects with other motivated kids. Here are a few that I know about; RSI , WTP , MITES , Duke TIP , The Bridge Program, John's Hopkins Center for Talented Youth , and many, many more.....

And don’t underestimate the importance of being away from home and on your own for a few weeks. It’s a good thing to know that you can take care of yourself in a new environment without Mom and Dad around to solve every challenge that may come up. You can do it! Go ahead and fly little birdie!

2. Travel (Locally or not so locally) – In today’s world of work, you will probably not have just one job in the same location for 35 or 40 years. It is more likely that you will have a bunch of different types of jobs in a variety of places. You will certainly have the choice of working in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, or San Francisco. But if you have the skills to pay the bills, you will also be able to have international options like London, Mumbai, or Shanghai. Getting a chance to see what different places have to offer can open your mind to new opportunities (and it plants the seed for study abroad)!

3. College Road Trip! - Summertime is a great time to visit colleges. You can go to information sessions, tour the campus, and even though most students will not be on campus, you can still get a general feel for what the place might be like when it is fully occupied. Start with campuses that are close to you and then venture further out. Visiting colleges over the summer is a smart move.

4. Get a Summer Job- Camp counselor, grocery bagger, retail, restaurants, lifeguard....It really doesn't matter the nature of the job, as long as you get a chance to begin learning what it means to have the responsibility of having people depend on you in a professional setting. It's also nice to learn what it means to earn your own money.

5. Get an internship! - You aren’t going to be a high school student forever! One day you too will have the joy of paying bills, taxes, and have a mortgage (this is sarcasm). In order to do these things you will have a job. With luck, it will be a job that you enjoy. Start now and get a sneak peak into what an engineer (or any other profession of interest for you) does on a daily basis. If there is an official internship program where you get paid, GREAT!!!! If not, don’t be afraid to do an internship for free. The experience that you get is well worth the investment of your time even if you aren’t getting paid.

6. Take a class- I know, I know…. Just hear me out. Just because the school year has ended, doesn’t mean that learning has to stop! Summertime is a great time for you to take a class in something that you have been interested, but may not have had the actual time during the school year. It’s also a time to take a class to get ahead for the upcoming school year. Your local community college is a great place to find fun classes. But if cash is a little short or you don’t have transportation to the community college, there is always OCW!

7. Join your library’s book club – Over the summer, your local librarian should be your new BFF. Reading is a great way to learn about the world, while learning about yourself. AND you can read one of my favorite books of all time, The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, by MIT's own Junot Diaz.

8. Write a letter (and mail it!!!) – In this day and age of instant messaging, texts, e-mails, and cell phones, the art of writing a letter has been virtually abandoned. Go ahead and test your penmanship out. If you’re lucky, you may even receive a response back. When you’re in college it’s always nice to get a letter from home reminding you that people are thinking about you. Sometimes the letters even have pizza money enclosed ;-)

So what are YOU doing with your time this year? (Aside from reading the MIT blogs.) Let me know in the comments.

Comments (Closed after 30 days to reduce spam)

Great advice!!

Posted by: Anurag on July 22, 2010

Work Hard Play Hard link is broken.

Posted by: Friendly Grad Student on July 22, 2010

Thanks "Friendly Grad Student"! That was really friendly of you wink

Posted by: Quinton on July 22, 2010

I feel the need to point out that in many places it is actually illegal for employers to have "unpaid internships" if the intern is not being taught a trade but instead is doing actual work. This is not as widely known as it should be. I believe the New York Times recently had an article about this.

Posted by: hcs on July 22, 2010

I especially agree with the last part, that the art of writing a letter has indeed been abandoned. I was surprised stores still sell stamps... Maybe I should send a letter to my family and friends some time. Great post :D.

Posted by: Jake on July 22, 2010

One thing I might add is to get out there and do the things you love and enjoy!! If you don't want to take a class, don't! If you really don't want to get a job, then don't! But just be sure you enrich your time with an activity that truly makes you excited about. I love programming and circuits, so I'm taking my summer to program a obstacle avoiding vehicle by programming a microchip. other project include embedding a speaker in my pillow and program it (using microchip again) to play songs from my mp3 player wirelessly.

Posted by: Zuney on July 22, 2010

- Working raspberry
- Attempting to get my private pilot written test done. Not to mention making time for actual flying!
- Getting my amateur radio license.
- Getting more familiar with my new major, EECS! I'm learning to program and do other computery things, as well as reading EE stuff and soldering stuff together :D
- Teaching myself banjo, poi, memorizing some poetry, and trying to teach myself how to rollerblade*.

* I don't need to make it back to MIT in one piece, do I?

Posted by: Piper '12 on July 23, 2010

"One of the things that I have learned about MIT students..."this line makes me feel strange, it makes people wonder are you a MIT student.

Posted by: ceci on July 23, 2010

Hi Ceci. I am not an alum of MIT. I began working here 2 years ago and I must confess that I did not know much about MIT or its students before starting my current job. My view of MIT was largely based on hearsay and pop culture. However, over the past 2 years, I've learned quite a bit about MIT students!

Posted by: Quinton on July 23, 2010

- Working full-time over the summer.
- Taking a summer class at Boston University, specifically CAS MA 581 (Probability), which can count as transfer credit for MIT's 18.05 or 18.440.

Summer is a great opportunity to get some transfer credits in, particularly in regards to math classes.

The Math Department has a list of local schools with summer classes that can count for 18.01 thru 18.06, 18.062 (6.042), and 18.440.

Additionally, I found that the cost of these summer classes is significantly cheaper than MIT's rates. For example, the BU class I am taking costs about $2200. Considering MIT's $20K tuition per semester, you'd have to take 9 classes a term to get that effective per-class cost.

I figure, by taking summer courses at local schools and get them counted as summer credit, I can graduate a semester early and save quite a bit of money.

My 2 cents... that I'll be saving!

MIT 2012

Posted by: Kim '12 on July 23, 2010

i complet my b.pharm i wan go to higher education.
Thank's a lot.
Hemant gupta

Posted by: hemant on July 24, 2010

Im doing Project Interphase :D

Posted by: Nathan on July 25, 2010

I am tempted to add to the list:

9. WATCH INCEPTION - then analyze it.

Posted by: Banerjee on July 25, 2010

Thanks for the advice

Posted by: Daphne on July 25, 2010

there's an unopened HTML tag on top left corner of the page smile

Summertime " >

Posted by: zuney on July 25, 2010

Degreassi! I hope that was just a typo Quinton & not a lack of reverence for the awesomeness that is Degrassi.

I wish I'd spent some of my time this summer watching Degrassi.....sigh

But yeah get a job, research, pursue knowledge & travel the world with a frequent sides of relaxation when possible

Posted by: Victoria'13 on July 28, 2010

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