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MIT student blogger Jessie L. '07

A follow-up by Jessie L. '07

You’ve now had a chance to post lots of questions. Now it’s my turn to answer them.

From Amelia: What fields does course 9 include? Primarily biology? Chemistry? Mathematics? A little bit of everything?

It includes a little bit of everything, and because it’s such a flexible major, you get a lot of choice in what you want it to be. Former blogger Mollie, for instance, took a lot of cellular and molecular neurobiology classes. I’ve taken, among other things, a functional and evolutionary neuroanatomy class (9.14), a developmental neurobiology class (9.18), a systems and computational neuroscience lab (9.02), a bioelectrical engineering elective on sensation and perception (9.35), and a class on what functional neuroimaging tells us about high-level vision (9.71). You have to take 9.00 (Intro to Psychology), 9.01 (Intro to Neuroscience), and a probability/statistics class.

From Anna: Do you know anyone at MIT who came from a rural area or a small, noncompetitive high school? I’m a little worried about how difficult it might be to catch up academically!

Oh goodness, yes. Contrary to a common misconception that I remember coming up pretty often on the “not admitted” thread on Ben’s blog, this school is not a bastion of socioeconomic elitism. I’ve known people from rich prep schools, people from parochial schools, people from magnets, people from vocational schools, people from run-of-the-mill public schools, people from the middle of nowhere, people from urban slums, people from ranch communities, people from Appalachia, people who were essentially homeless when they were accepted, people from mining or factory towns…you’ll see all sorts of people with all levels of preparation. I’ve known people whose schools didn’t offer calculus, people whose schools didn’t offer physics…obviously the people with worse preparation start out behind, but there’s nothing wrong with taking 18.01 (Calculus 1) and, say, 8.01L (Physics 1 at a slow pace, for people who have never seen it before or struggle with it) during your first term if you feel like you are not up to speed. After a few terms you will have learned the basic required material and will be in upper-level classes with material that almost none of your classmates already knew.

From Jinjin: I don’t know how much you know about this, but can you please tell me about the music program? Especially for pianists.

I know very little about the music program. I will point you at the relevant website, and say that if you send me your contact info I can put you in touch with a friend who’s a real live music major.

From Abhishek: Hi. I feel sad to say but its reality that i am a loser who failed to got in. But i have decided that now my only aim is to get in MIT so i need your little bit help.
I am an international applicant from India and i will be taking admission in IIT Bombay this year. I dropped my one year after school to get admission in 1 of the best college like MIT. Do you think that besides high end academics in college MIT give preferance to college reputation for transfer students?

First of all, you’re not a loser. Plenty of great applicants got turned down, and getting in as an international student is particularly difficult. And based on what I’ve heard about IIT, that’s a pretty good school too. I don’t know how much college reputation helps in the transfer admissions process. If you are intending to go for transfer admission, I’d say do well in your classes, do some research – stuff that will indicate that you are a fit for MIT.

From Anonymous: Did you want to go to those 3 schools you got rejected from?

Some more than others, but I didn’t have my heart set on any particular school. I thought and think that the admissions process is way too fickle for that to be wise.

From Kate: Sorry to be a pain, but would taking Music instead of Chemistry hurt my application at all? I enjoy music (I’m a violist) an infinite amount more than Chem. But then, other universities might look down on it for an engineering applicant. Not everyone can be so lucky as to be admitted to MIT.

On one hand, you should be taking academically challenging classes, and if your school offers the basic sciences, you should be taking them. On the other hand, a consistent passion for and dedication to music is helpful on an applicant. I can’t give you a definite answer, and don’t know your specific situation.

From Devil’s Advocator: I wasn’t one of the applicants this year nor do I know any rejected applicants so please do not take my comment as an attack of any sort (because I really do think it’s extremely difficult to decide who takes spots in MIT’s classes). But I really don’t think it makes rejected applicants feel any better when you say you got rejected by 3 schools out of 10, that’s only a 30% rejection rate. Also, you got accepted to MIT! Something these students will most likely never experience. I’m not sure if your way was the best way to go to sympathize with rejectees.

I would not be surprised if some of the applicants who didn’t get into MIT have a lower rejection rate than I did. And being accepted to MIT is not the be-all, end-all of life.

For the record, the three schools that rejected me were Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Apparently my application did not appeal much to the Ivies (I didn’t apply for any other Ivies besides those).

Everyone is going to experience rejection during their lives. Some of you have never experienced it before, and it hurts. There’s nothing that I could possibly say that would make it not hurt, but please don’t presume that because I got into MIT, I don’t know what real rejection is like. Right now you’re being rejected from undergrad programs, and later it will be grad programs, professional schools, and jobs (I’m job-hunting, remember?). Somewhere in the interim you’ll probably ask someone out and get rejected, too. ;) It happens to most people, I think.

From Kasienia: Why is MIT better than CIT?

That depends pretty much entirely on the person considering the two choices. You are not going to draw me into making some sort of “MIT rocks, Caltech sucks!” statement on here. :)

I hope those of you who came to CPW enjoyed yourselves (despite the crappy weather). I saw quite a lot of you, one way or another.

8 responses to “A follow-up”

  1. mitch says:

    mit rocks, caltech sucks!

  2. Abhishek says:

    You didnt answer one of my question. And also my life ends if didnt got chance to attend MIT. As its not college but a passion for me.

  3. Daniel '12 says:


    I know how you feel, but you cannot let MIT be your life’s goal. Life is too good (and too short) to let one event (or school) define who you are.

    MIT doesn’t just admit the smartest applicants – they build a class with “the match” in mind, making sure that the school will be perfect for the applicant and vice versa. Could it be that even though your heart is set on MIT (for whatever reason), your real potential might be better realized somewhere else?

    Yes, deep down, there will be that fallacy of a thought that you were “not good enough” to get into MIT, but the truth is that you are defined by what you do, not by what anyone (even MIT) thinks of you. So wherever you end up, do something great! Change the world for the better, and you won’t regret the path you’ve taken.

  4. Anonymous says:

    MIT rocks, Caltech sucks!

  5. jenn '11 says:

    hi, I’m not jinjin, but i’m also very interested in pursuing music (piano) at MIT, and I’m not really sure how to do that, and to what extent. do you think you could put me in touch with that music major that you’re friends with? my email is [email protected]

    thanks so much!

  6. abhishek says:

    what is the age limi,if any,for the admission in an undergraduate course atMIT

  7. Melissa '11 says:

    MIT > CalTech

    Atmosphere, education… everything.

  8. To Devil’s Advocator mentioned in the post, I actually had a 0% rejection rate! Haha! But that’s mostly because I stopped applying to schools after I got into MIT, so I only applied to 4.