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MIT student blogger Melis A. '08

10 things I love about MIT by Melis A. '08

and hopefully you'll learn to love them too.

Congratulations! You’ve probably gotten into more than one college and now it’s time to decide which offer to accept. As a senior blogger, I’ve written about this before (here , here, and here), but I thought I’d offer a list of 10 things that I love about MIT (in no particular order.)

1. The students
This one is a no-brainer. Thanks to the Admissions people, my classmates are a ridiculously talented bunch with the most diverse interests. There are the pre-meds and the hackers, the thespians and the band geeks, the gear heads and the tissue culture nerds. Everyone is involved with a million activities, which can be frustrating when you’re planning a meeting, but is generally amazing to witness. Additionally, no matter where you live or what your major is, MIT students can always bond over how much work that they have to do. It’s an instant conversation starter. I’m surprised that the song, “It sucks to be me,” isn’t more popular (maybe because not enough people have seen Avenue Q.)

2. Rooms with a view and living in Beantown
I love the river. The majority of dorms are by the Charles River and in Baker, for example, 80% of rooms have a river view. I also can’t imagine a better a college town than Boston. For more about the community service and fun opportunities in Boston, read one of my previous entries here

The view from my sophomore year room in Next House (my Baker rooms have better views but I don’t have pictures):

View from Baker roof:

3. Nobel laureates are a dime a dozen
According to the MIT website: “Seventy-one present and former members of the MIT community have won the Nobel Prize, including seven current faculty members: H. Robert Horvitz, medicine/physiology (2002); Wolfgang Ketterle, physics (2001); Richard R. Schrock, chemistry (2005); Phillip A. Sharp, medicine/physiology (1993); Samuel C. C. Ting, physics (1976); Susumu Tonegawa, medicine/physiology (1987); and Frank Wilczek, physics (2004).”
These Nobel laureates do not sit perched in ivory towers, there are many opportunities to meet them. Just a few weeks ago, I saw a talk by Carl Wieman (Physics, 2001).

Also, thanks to the UROP program, you can do research for all four years of college and who knows, maybe you’ll get to join this elite Nobel club one day!

4. It’s a meritocracy
It doesn’t matter who your great-grandfather was or what year you are, as long as you’re qualified you’ll get a UROP as a freshman, become editor-in-chief of an MIT research journal as a sophomore, and become president of your dorm as a junior. This is a beautiful thing, and not one to dismiss quickly.

5. You have freedom to choose your classes
It is so cool to be able to take pretty much any class, in any department, at any school (MIT, Harvard, Museum of Fine Arts, Wellesley.) There are a few classes that are notoriously difficult to lottery into (like some Management classes offered through the Sloan school and some of the pre-med lab requirements), but in general you can’t whatever interests you. If you don’t feel like working too hard in the class, you can take it on pass/no record or as a “listener.” You can play a fun game by going to the subject listings and making a hypothetical schedule for yourself on WebSIS.

6. Freshman 1st semester pass/no record and IAP
This is proof that MIT is not out to get you. They’re so kind, in fact, that they give you an entire semester to acclimate to the pressure-cooker of MIT. For more info, read the entries on: “Why You Can’t Fail A Class Freshman Year.”

I’ve probably talked your ears off about IAP, but it’s such a fun time to do whatever you want. This IAP, I worked on my senior thesis, explored Boston, took a wine tasting class, worked out at the gym, and saw several movies. My classmates traveled around the world, got experience in companies through externships, and shadowed doctors in hospitals. To read more, click here.

7. The professors care about you
One of the reasons that I didn’t go to University “X” was because I heard that the professors were much more concerned about their graduate students than the undergrads. At MIT, I would definitely say that this is not the case. When professors are teaching an undergraduate class, they really dedicate a lot of time to preparing the lectures (I heard that it takes ~10 hours to prepare a 1 hour lecture) and they hold weekly office hours where you can just walk into their office and barrage them with questions. Additionally, you’re automatically assigned to a professor who serves are your advisor, and they’re a tremendous resource.

8. People will assume you can fix their cars and build the next space telescope
This comic, from the Feb. 29, 2008 issue of The Tech, says it all…except the attention is not always negative (especially when it gets you a job)!

9. Everybody loves a nerdy joke (or at least they won’t pellet you with rotten tomatoes if you make one)
Re: my entry on math jokes: here

10. There’s always too much to do: the work hard/ play hard mentality
Sometimes, I’ve had so much work to do that it made me cry. That’s the reality. When it’s 2 am on a Thursday night and you still have half a problem set to do, it’s nice to know that the weekend is just a day away. I’ve never taken the time to count up how many emails I get about events on a particular weekend, but I’d venture a guess that the number is around twenty. There are hundreds of student groups that get money from MIT to host cool events. Consequently, the choices are dizzying.

50 responses to “10 things I love about MIT”

  1. Anonymous says:


    I have no life…

  2. Melis says:

    If you’re going to post a “first” comment, at least make sure you’re actually first!

  3. Omar '12 says:

    Hey Melis. Since you did the premed track, which medical schools like to see first semester grades? I’m planning to do Course 2A and go to med school after so I was just wondering if that means I really do not have the leeway that a Pass/no record first semester gives you.

  4. Snively says:

    Sucka sucka sucka sucka sucka sucka sucka sucka sucka sucka sucks to be me!

  5. Tanmay says:

    I like 5th, 7th and 8th ones the most. grin

  6. Chris says:


    Love the Avenue Q reference, I never would’ve thought you guys had heard of that, I thought it was only for us theatre nerds. At least I know I won’t have a BA in English! wink

  7. Dima '12 says:

    I can’t wait to get to MIT, the opportunities are really endless. Melis, the link you provided for your entry on math jokes directs to a 404-“The Page You Have Requested Does Not Exist.”

  8. Aditi says:

    I love them all just the same I think

    I’ll bet you had a tough time picking just ten


  9. Snively says:

    Click the link and then delete the ” from the URL of the non-working page. It should work then (Melis accidentally added a ” to the end of the URL)

  10. Melis says:

    I fixed the link, thanks for brining it to my attention.

    Omar: Yea, you’re right that two schools (Johns Hopkins and Wisconsin, as far as I know) do ask to see your 1st semester freshman grades. I don’t think they weigh them very heavily, though. While you shouldn’t shoot for a barely passing grade if you’re interested in these schools, you also don’t need to stress about getting As. Everyone knows that 1st semester freshman year is a transition period.

  11. a new admit says:

    One more, you are in a pool of people are like you…

  12. Chris B. '12 says:

    Oh Avenue Q, it is a thing of beauty. And if we want to talk about people feeling happy about pain, lets go onto Schadenfreude!

  13. That is so cool! But, could anyone provide a blog about the research opportunities for undergraduates? I need to know more about that!

  14. Melis says:

    Zeina: That’s pretty much what my blog is about. Here are some entries that you might find helpful:
    UROP 101
    UROP openings
    Then, just look at any of my early entries to see specific students’ UROPs. This is a link to a list of my entries, scroll to the bottom

  15. Kelly says:

    I love Avenue Q! I saw it when I was in Boston two weeks ago.

  16. Steven '12 says:

    I I <3 Avenue Q, I saw it a few months ago.

  17. Melis says:

    OK, Mgccl, I have removed the joke from the math entry. I had received your previous email and didn’t remove the joke at the time because I thought that it was clear that these were jokes and therefore not factually accurate (I hope you don’t take everything in xkcd as true. Helicopters don’t get cancer.) While it is admirable that you took the time to correct the joke, for everyone’s future reference, it’s advisable NOT to use jokes as your source of knowledge on tests…textbooks are more reliable.

  18. Steven '12 says:

    lol, well, what I MEANT to say was that I love Avenue Q.

    Also, can you do a paid UROP all 8 semesters you are at MIT?

  19. Snively says:

    Steven, you tried to use a < didn’t you? Those tend to erase the rest of your comment because the comment thinks you’re trying to use HTML. You’ll have to use the HTML character code instead of the actual symbol. For < just type [ampersand][l][t][;] (without the brackets of course, and use an ampersand instead of writing it out)

    <3 HTML

  20. Melis says:

    Steven: It depends on the funding situation. The UROP office has a limited budget, so they try to give priority to new UROPers. There are UROP funds, where alums give a donation, and I’ve gotten some of those. Some labs will also pay you directly from their own budget. When funding isn’t available, you can always get credit!

  21. Judy H. says:

    I cracked up at #8, because it has been happening to me a lot.

    One teacher asked me to fix her laptop and I seriously had no idea what was going on besides the fact that it could have been uber old and defective. Then she says, “You’re going to MIT, you got to know how to fix my computer!”

    =__=;;;; *sweatdrop*

  22. Judy H. says:

    Avenue Q is t3h best (after Spamalot and Young Frankenstein)

    I have the most of the songs from the soundtrack memorized…. aside from the few awkward ones

  23. Minac says:

    I love MIT because Melis is there!
    Good post.

  24. Steph says:

    Your blog makes me envious, Melis.

    Since you’re now a senior, what classes did you enjoy the most over the past semesters?

  25. Davorama says:

    #8 = my english teacher – “c’mon guys, you know math” *looks down* “You! You got into MIT…”

    She has also mentioned “What do you do with a BA in English”

    Makes me glad I like science.

  26. How did you possibly manage to single out ten you love about MIT? Neat! I used an HTML tag!

  27. Melis says:

    By being very vague… =)

  28. Rachel says:

    I’m going to continue the trend of loving Avenue Q!
    We did everyone’s a little bit racist for thespian competition and clobbered. Good to know I can still be a drama kid at MIT.

  29. '12 says:

    In English class – “The TV is broken! MIT kid, come fix it.”
    At orchestra rehearsal – “Hey, you got into MIT…you can conduct, right?”

  30. Rock on, obscure yet awesome shows. And let’s face it–there are TOO MANY things to love about the ‘Tvte to name in any worldly list. ‘Twould have to be an immortal list, transcribed in the stars. Or in a DNA strand, we’ll be flexible here…

  31. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the top 10. I agree.

    Yes, it is very true that the view from the dorms is great. I think most MIT students never realize how nice the real estate is since people dont go outside campus enough. But if you take a stroll along Storrow Drive alongside the Charles River on the other side, you’ll see the wonderful view.

    Often it is easy to take for granted the things here, many of which were listed on the Top 10.

  32. Mgccl says:

    That’s basically what I said in my blog post.

    Joke are not suppose to be correct, but if a joke depend on the correctness of another part of the joke, it is required for the other part to be correct. Like

    “I wish I’m a tangent, so I can touch your curve at 2 places”(let’s suppose you are a polynomial)
    This is wrong… it should be secant.
    It’s not likely someone get it wrong but I’m always confuse tangent with secant when they are expressed in Chinese, so it’s possible I say that incorrect joke in Chinese. and people will find it unfunny.

  33. Anonymous says:

    number 8 is halarious!

  34. As a theater geek and (former?) nerd myself, I can vouch for the theater presence at MIT. Last year, 5 of my 6 advisees were theater geeks!

  35. Allison says:


    That’s not how the joke generally goes anyways. It’s “I wish I was your derivative so I could lie tangent to your curves!”

  36. Anonymous says:


    Toolbag. It’s a joke.

  37. Melina says:

    Yay! Avenue Q!
    I love telling people I got into MIT then telling them I’m going to major in theatre. Not really, but I love seeing the look on people’s faces, like my mom. I think I’ll double major.

  38. Basant says:

    I love all integral powers of 2 and 3! smile

  39. Its a sinh says:

    > “I wish I’m a tangent, so I can touch your curve at 2 places”(let’s suppose you are a polynomial)
    > This is wrong… it should be secant[…]it’s possible I say that incorrect joke in Chinese. and people will find it unfunny.

    Dude, people find that joke unfunny because it IS unfunny, correct or not! That’s the whole point — math jokes aren’t funny. We laugh not at the jokes, but at ourselves for laughing. It’s theraputic. Your obsession with correctness in math jokes is completely missing the point of telling the joke anyway.

    Read this one on MathWorld:
    Q: What’s the value of a contour integral around Western Europe? A: Zero, because all the Poles are in Eastern Europe.

    Har har.

  40. Mgccl says:

    you are referring to another joke.
    I’m talking about “I wish I’m a secant so I can touch you at 2 places.”

  41. #11 – You’ve got Snively to carry on after u graduate.

  42. Mgccl says:

    Thx smile
    I don’t take XKCD as true.
    But that joke implies that the first statement is true, so the 2nd statement is funny.
    Since the first statement is obviously wrong, it made the 2nd one not funny anymore.

  43. z12 says:

    You know that a simple fix to the joke would satisfy everyone. Just put a superscript + after the 8 in lim[x->8] and after the 5 in lim[x->5] to denote a right hand limit. It doesn’t ruin the punchline but it’s also mathematically correct!

    And it’s not like these jokes are supposed to be correct anyway. Most mathmagicians know that we can’t cancel the n in “sin x”–and yet that’s probably a bigger (and more common!) mistake than the limit.

    Conclusion: Bring back the limit joke!

  44. José P. says:

    “MIT, come here, I need some help with this math/chemistry problem.”

    This would be fine, save for the fact that I haven’t even applied yet. O.o

    Nobody has asked me to bring puppies back to life yet, though, so I’m better off than the rest of you. raspberry

  45. Jalpan Dave says:

    “Also, thanks to the UROP program, you can do research for all four years of college and who knows, maybe you’ll get to join this elite Nobel club one day!”

    I’m JEALOUS!!!!:):)

    In my university, you mostly get to do research only for 2 years because in your final year, you already have your senior year thesis to write so you’re NOT ALLOWED to do UROPs and in your first year, you are considered fledgling by most profs.

    Melis, just for my knowledge, does MIT have the highest number of Nobel prize winners?