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MIT student blogger Anna H. '14

A Letter to CPW Prefrosh by Anna H. '14

let the onslaught of CPW-related posts continue

My family is here!

Yesterday and today, my parents and my little sister Lisa sat in on my classes – they got a crash course on galaxy classification (my dad will remember that “spheres=hot gas” and “disks=cold gas” for the rest of his life), Middle English and the Canterbury Tales (they even got to hear me read out loud in Middle English), the art of writing a science essay, and impact crater formation. Lisa is here early for CPW, since she’s a prefrosh (YAY!) and on spring break; my family lives in London, so decided to make a trip out of it.

Unfortunately, I’m not going to be here for CPW itself – ESP is flying me to California, to teach for Stanford’s Splash. I’m super lucky, though, and got to send an e-mail to ALL THE PREFROSH! passing on personal advice and some specific messages from the MIT admissions office.

I wanted to re-post the e-mail here, so that pre-prefrosh, parents, etc can see it.


*        *        *

Dear Prefrosh,

In a few days, over a thousand of you will descend on MIT campus, from all over the country and all over the world.

4,503 undergrads are here already. Together with you, we represent gadgeteers, poets, travelers, cellists, jugglers, math wizards, teachers, writers, explorers, software developers; we build bridges, satellites, telescopes, robots, software, and turn buildings into live Tetris games. The lengths of these lists are almost as impressive as the lengths of our conversations will be!

We take CPW very seriously. We consider it one of the highlights of the academic year. We have been preparing in earnest over the past few weeks, and are nearly ready for you. While we all wait, a few words to help you prepare:

CPW will overwhelm you. There is no other way to put it. There will be many things to do, and you will not be able to do everything. This is on purpose! College – MIT in particular – will overwhelm you; there are cool things to do all over campus, all the time. You will have to make heartbreaking decisions.

How to spend four days?

For some, the answer is: go to as many events as possible. For others, the answer is to go to one event, and forge deep connections that will carry through one’s undergraduate years and beyond. Some people don’t sleep. Others prefer to. You know yourself better than we do.

My personal advice: don’t bother scheduling every minute of every day. By all means, yes: attend a class in a major you’re interested in, visit the dorms and living groups you might want to live in. Go through the CPW booklet with stamina and a highlighter.

Make plans – but don’t force yourself to follow through with them. Be flexible! You might meet a future best friend over dinner; you should make new plans together. You might find yourself in a living group that makes you feel at home: adjust your schedule so that you spend more time with them. Allow yourself to be pulled in different directions; that’s what will happen when you get to college. Very few of us end up doing exactly what we expected to.

Also, realize that the MIT student body represents an enormous spectrum of personalities and lifestyles. Try to see more than the sliver you are naturally comfortable with. The rest will be your classmates, lab partners, and pset buddies, too.

Now, a couple of reminders from MIT admissions:

-Hopefully your CPW host (the undergrad you will be living with) has contacted you. Please respond to him or her, if you haven’t already!

-If you have a smartphone, you should download the MIT Mobile app, to access campus maps and track campus shuttles

– For your chance to become Internet-famous, e-mail your pictures throughout the weekend to [email protected] These will be incorporated into the CPW tumblr, that you can find here ( There will be some mysterious fun game (I have no idea what it is) once you get to campus, related to the tumblr.

A personal note from a junior: three years later, I don’t remember much of what I did at CPW, but I do remember whom I met. You should be excited to do exciting things, but more importantly you should be excited to meet exciting people.

Over the next few days, feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns that you have – or just to say how excited you are. We can’t wait to meet you!


Anna (otherwise known as Anna H. ’14 from the admissions blogs)

Anna Ho
MIT Class of 2014
Department of Physics