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MIT student blogger Bryan O. '07

A Tale of Two Majors by Bryan

Trying an Evel Knievel approach with my studies.

I am double majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Biology, with a double minor in Biomedical Engineering and Economics.

Who does that?!?!?

Yours truly.

Well, not anymore but that’s how I used to be. When I first started off at MIT, I thought that the only way to learn was to take a bunch of classes and try to get as many degrees as humanly possible.

My grandpa shared an anecdote of his childhood with me that I think really captures my story the best. When he was young, he would buy shoes that were larger than his shoe size. “Small same price. Big same price. Buy big.” At MIT, 1 major is the same price as 2 majors and 2 minors, so why not?

Reality check: There are only 24 hours in a day, and 7 days in a week.

When I first came to MIT, I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but who wants to make a decision like that assuming that it would determine the rest of my life. So why not try to hedge my bets and try to do everything instead. (That made a lot of sense.)

The reality of it all was I got tired very easily and was running out of time to do the other things that college life afforded me. I was what some people call a “workaholic.” I think the reality check came about two years ago this time when I went home for Thanksgiving and was so tired that I slept straight through dinner.

So fast forward two years, I’m graduating in about 7 months, and I think scaling back was a good idea for me. I was able to devote a lot more time to my 1 major and 1 minor. It turned out that with more time on my hands I devoted more time in lab, more time with friends, and I think I’ll remember those things moreso than the extra equation that I missed by not taking that class. So I guess, this little soapbox is dedicated to everyone who thinks that the only way to learn a lot is to take a lot of classes. I’ll leave it up to you to make the final decision.

And I mean, there’s always OCW.

7 responses to “A Tale of Two Majors”

  1. Sarab says:

    I have plans of doing that as well. In fact, I even have palns of going in for a 4 year combined UGrad-MD program. I am pretty aware of the chances of blowing out, but still I feel like trying my luck!

  2. anita says:

    Hey Brian just wondering… im an applicant to mit fornext year fall.. just wondering would it be a loss to not attend the interview session?? i know its not required but wud it be a significant loss???

  3. Mitra says:

    My friendship with you has taught me enough bioengineering that I feel like I deserve a minor in it.

  4. Hi! Perhaps I shouldn’t be on this blog, but I’m an MIT Alumni Interviewer (aka “Educational Counselor”) responding to Anita’s question RE The Interview. Since I hope what I’m doing is useful, I hope that it IS a significant loss if you don’t have an interview. What is easy to forget in all of this is that it’s not just about brains; there has to be a human element to this, too. I know that the admissions office wants to take that into consideration in making their decision — and they should. My first interviewee may or may not have been an academic superstar, but I really liked her. The last sentence of my interview report was “No doubt you have many outstanding applicants — Intel Science Talent Search winners, Olympic athletes, concert pianists, etc. — but I wish that a place could be found for someone who is merely poised, personable, and smart.” Don’t you think that a) this is useful to Admissions and b) that my comment definitely gave this candidate an edge?

    Then there’s also the fact that by simply HAVING the interview, you show an interest in MIT that others don’t necessarily show.

  5. Brandy says:

    Your grandpa sounds like my parents. When pots and pans go on sale, they’ll buy the biggest pan because it’s the same price as the small pan. Do you know how unnecessary it is to cook one fried egg in a 20 inch pan? Very! =’)

    They do that with bedding too. I have a full size platform bed and I do not need a king size comforter thank you very much! Do you know how hard it is to make my bed? Every day I have to pick up the entire right side of my mattress and stuff the comforter in as far as it will go. Then, I go to the foot end of the mattress and start stuffing, then I go to the left side pick up the whole left side of the mattress and stuff some more, then (yes then), I go back to the foot end and re-stuff the portion that keeps on coming out every time I lift up the mattress! I think I’m going to ask for a twin size comforter this Christmas! =’)
    (smiley looks like Pinnochio doesn’t it?)

    I’m glad you fine tuned your schedule to fit your needs. Perhaps, we can do it all, but we don’t have to do it “now”, or within four years. Pacing yourself is the most important. We’re all unique and we all have a unique pace with everything we do. We all walk our own pace, we all run our own pace, we even eat our food at a unique individual pace (really we do) and when we think and learn we all take in the information at our own unique pace. I guess there are people out there who can do a triple major and a triple bypass at the same time and do it well, and that’s great for them, but if you are not one of those individuals (like most of us are not), then we must do the most we can at our own unique individual pace which is comfortable to us, and when we do this the excellent quality of our work shines through.

    So which major and minor will you complete in seven months? Mechanical Engineering and Biology are so different, which one did you pick and why?

    I want to major in physics and minor in aeronautics, astronomy and Spanish. Depending on the school I go to, aeronautics might have to wait.

  6. Guyomar says:

    Thanks for sharing your perspective with us. I was considering a 2 majors and 1 minor (if I do get in), but perhaps that would be pushing it. Interesting to know about the cost though.

  7. Thank God, I logged onto your blog. The EC,s advice has been really helpful. I also planned on triple majoring but I may reconsider it again.
    I am from Ghana and what really are my chances of getting into MIT. I hope my scores in the 2000’s will help.