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MIT student blogger Bryan O. '07

A Parent’s Perspective (Guest Entry) by Bryan

A Parent's Perspective of MIT

by Donald Guy’s Mom

Almost exactly one year ago, on a Junior year college tour trip during Spring Break, we were strolling the gloomy length of the Infinite Corridor, admiring the cracked Terazzo floor and the pipes hanging from the ceiling, when my son looked over with a smile and said “this feels right.” My aesthetic sensibilities were honed amid the mellow brick and expansive green lawns of my and William Barton Rogers’ alma mater (10 points to anyone who knows without looking at the link), so I was somewhat skeptical. But I am nothing if not supportive of my children’s right to choose, so I bought him a “Nerd Pride” shirt at the Coop, went to the MIT Admissions Road Show featuring Bryan Nance when it rolled through town during the summer and, as promised, celebrated his admission in December by running around the yard waving sparklers (thankfully, this hasn’t found its way to YouTube). I was impressed by the effort made by the MIT admissions staff: the personal notes, the long awaited “tube,” and the holiday cards. But some part of me remained unconvinced; was this cold, stark, urban enclave of technocrats REALLY the right place?

Well CPW quieted all my doubts. MIT is amazing. Let me count the ways:

  1. At MIT students change the world

    Everywhere we went during CPW, we were regaled with incredible stories: Donald Sadoway’s students working on a new process to make steel with oxygen as a bi-product instead of carbon dioxide; Amy Smith’s students creating charcoal out of waste material to prevent deforestation in the third world; UROP presentations from students who had worked at CERN (yeah, that place in Geneva with the particle accelerator that might create a black hole); CSAIL presentations on developing new microprocessors and robots; Dean Vandiver’s presentation on the MIT “vehicle summit” which resulted in student designed and built passenger vehicles with ridiculous fuel efficiency (did he really say 200 miles per gallon?) and so many more. It quite literally boggles the mind.

  2. At MIT the faculty and staff sincerely care about the undergraduates

    It isn’t what you would expect at a premier research facility. Surely there are anti-social, nose to the grindstone researchers tucked away somewhere?? Well, if there are, they were well hidden at CPW. President Hockfield herself assured me that all the Nobel laureates actually teach, hold office hours and involve students in their projects. And everyone was so NICE – President Hockfield, Stu Schmill, Daniel Barkowitz, (who handed out a 100 Grand to every parent who registered for a Financial Aid session – okay, it was the candy bar variety, but it is the thought that counts!) of course the crowd in Admissions, and every professor, administrator, and dean we met. And the Housemasters. Like in Harry Potter! Full professors who live in dorms with their spouses, and their children and even their dogs and actually keep an eye on the students. They had open houses on Saturday and fed the parents brunch. Plus there are Graduate Assistants who live on every hall. Anyone who, like me, has had to drop a child at a large state university in a high rise dorm presided over only by an undergraduate “R.A.” a year older than her charges, would certainly be reassured by the quality of the safety net at MIT.

  3. At MIT the students are multi-talented and fun loving

    Admittedly, they are not normal… But they are still fun. I mean, Snively really does wear a binary watch, but he was still charming. The Logarhythms dressed a member in balloons … but their concert appearances were still amazing, as were all six a cappella groups who sang, – and the mariachi band, – and the salsa dancers – and the Steel Orchestra – MIT students all. The parents were excluded from the really fun stuff. I thought it would cramp Donald’s style if I showed up for the bouncy ball drop at Senior House, or the human hamster wheel at East, or the liquid nitrogen ice cream at Random, and he expressly forbade my going on the unofficial tour named after a certain citrus fruit… I did snag a hot dog at Theta Delt (thank you for your kindness to a starving parent) and some regular ice cream at the Meet the Bloggers party and got a feel for the warmth and camaraderie that permeated every corner of campus during CPW. After all, no one could do it all. The schedule of events was 87 pages long!

  4. The aesthetics of MIT do grow on you

    Stata included. It does look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, but it is bright and open, and airy and, if you try you can convince yourself it is “whimsical” rather than “weird.” I did look up too long while sitting in 32-449, and it made me dizzy as my brain tried to make the panels straight. If you leave the corridors and tunnels and walk outdoors along the Charles River, the view is quite lovely. And when the weather turns to *#%& as it did without warning on several occasions (the Weather Machine must have shorted out) then there is something to be said for being able to get from Mass Ave to Kendall Square while still indoors. I got caught out twice and bought not one, but two MIT umbrellas at two different Coops. I also bought decals for my car’s window and a “MIT Mom” sweatshirt. Yep, I’m ready. MIT is amazing.

19 responses to “A Parent’s Perspective (Guest Entry)”

  1. Finaly…a mom blog! Hi Donald’s mom!
    I’m glad you had so much fun at CPW. I had a blast last year! It’s such an awesome event.
    Love the sparkler idea…you and I would get along great…I got balloons, made banners and ordered personalized m&m’s!
    It is just wonderful hearing all of the great stuff Michael (aka ‘Snively’) is experiencing! Makes him being so far away a bit more tolerable!
    Donald…I wish you the best! Have a GREAT time at MIT and soak it all in!

  2. Rena says:

    Great post! I enjoyed hearing about CPW from a different point of view. Yay for MIT moms!

  3. Donaldzmom says:

    @ Paul, Hi back at you!
    @Snively’s Mom, Are you coming to parent weekend next fall? We’ve already made reservations. We should try to meet. I begged the Admissions folks to make Donald a blogger so that, like you, I could keep up with him. (Hint, hint to Matt and company!)

  4. This was great. After reading so many student guest blogs, having a parent’s perspective is a nice change of pace. (Not that I’m not enjoying all of the student blogs…)

  5. @Donaldzmom!
    Not going to be able to make Parent’s Weekend. We’re headed out the end of July since he’s working in RI (Hasbro Toys) this summer! I’m hoping for a tour!
    Have a GREAT time! Maybe another time…an excuse for another visit!

  6. Judy '12 says:

    Haha, this was really good ^___^

    Hmm, I should get my mom a “MIT Mom” sweatshirt for Mother’s Day.

  7. Piper '11 says:

    Brilliant! I love that there’s a parent blog now. A parent was asking a while ago about what CPW is like from their perspective, so this is cool =D

  8. Snively says:

    Alright, that was sufficiently embarrassing. Perhaps the moms should start a chatroom elsewhere so that Donald and I don’t have to cringe knowing that the entirety of the MIT prefrosh think we’re doted on by our mothers.

  9. Judy says:

    @ Snively – if they make a parent’s chat room, I don’t think my mom will put down her computer -___-;;; (she’s already addicted to Facebook… as awkward as it is)

  10. donaldzmom says:

    Sinvely, you silly boy, virtually all MIT students are doted upon! Why else would their parents empty their bank accounts, curtail their retirement savings program and use up the equity in their homes to pay to send them there?

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is the best post yet! Donaldzmom, great job.

  12. Isshak says:


    You have a strong point here…

  13. Li '12 says:

    This puts my Mom to shame tongue laugh

  14. Paul says:

    Hi again, Mrs. Guy! *waves* I like this entry. :D

  15. Judy '12 says:

    lawl Snively, she’s got you there raspberry

  16. Gabi'smom says:

    To Donald Guy’s Mom
    As a new pre-frosh mom (I think that’s what they call it) it was wonderful to read your post. I too did have my aesthetic concerns when I visited MIT last summer. I kept asking is there an actual campus? I guess I was expecting a little more architectural cohesiveness. Nonetheless, I have never seen Gabi’12 so excited about any school. She visited some of the Ivy Leagues but they didn’t offer quite the right Feel. However, at MIT she just felt right, as if it had always been waiting for her. I am so excited and proud of Gabi and all our MIT kids.
    I am still trying to find the MIT mom t-shirt alternative. I just feel I need something more adequate since I always thought that the infinity symbol ∞ was just a typo of a sideways 8. Don’t cringe I went to art school. It is obvious Gabi didn´t get her mathematical skills from me I have to give that one to her dad; it is my only concession. Thanks again and good luck to your son and all the wonderful students at MIT.

  17. donaldzmom says:

    @Gabi’s mom
    The Coop has the more formal “Massachusetts Institute of Technology Mom” in a T-shirt, “MIT Mom” was only in a sweatshirt. It is a very cool design with just MIT in big letters and “Mom” embroidered inside the “M.”

  18. Gabi'smom says:

    I did see some nice ones when I went to the Coop.
    I’m definitely going to stock up in September and hopefully find a pretty interesting one. Thanks again