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MIT student blogger Paul B. '11

Walk around the blogs by Paul B. '11

Think of it as summer reading.

There are currently a little over 2,500 blogs entries on this site.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a lot to take in all at once. I still haven’t even read all of them. Which is my loss, really. Maybe someday I will.

With over 2,500 blog entries, you might think that finding the information you’re looking for is like searching for magnetic monopoles. Fortunately, the blogs also come prepackaged with a convenient way of navigating to just the topic you want. You know that bright, rainbow-colored bar a the top of every page? It’s not just for decoration – it’s your key to the rest of the site.

Each page of the site contains, first and foremost, the wise words of the MIT Admissions staff, explaining the facts about MIT: the majors available, student organizations, the tradition of hacking, the near-infinite research opportunities, MIT’s mission in the world, and so on. Pretty much all admissions sites I’ve seen have this sort of structure.

The awesome thing about MIT’s admissions site, though, is that you’ll also find a bunch of related blog entries hanging out on the left side of each page. So if you’re checking out the page on student life and culture, for example, you have almost instant access to real stories from real students about what being a student at MIT really means to them.

All the entries on these blogs are good. But time is precious, and no one really does have time to read 2,500-plus entries (especially if you’re new to the site – hi, new people!). So I’ve spent the past few hours going through the blogs and pulling out some of the entries I enjoyed the most when I was a prospective student (back when, you know, Pluto was a planet). I’ve also tried to include some entries to help you out a little bit in the application process, as well as to provide a basic introduction to life and academics at MIT.

And for the record, this entry is mainly aimed at the prospective Class of 2013 – yes, the Admissions Office is already getting ready for you! But rest assured, 2012ers, that I have not forgotten you. And, who knows, you may find a few of these entries interesting as well. ;)


Ben: It’s More Than A Job
One of the most touching, meaningful things I’ve ever read. (It’s first for a reason.)

Matt: Supplemental Materials
Everything you needed to know but didn’t know how to ask.

Paul: Top Ten Common-Sense Application Tips
Some advice from me.

Snively: Discovering Yourself
Some advice from Snively. (Plus a spreadsheet!)

Anthony: We Wear Matching Hats
This entry is worth it solely for the photo at the bottom.

Nance: “I’ve Got 99 Problems… Admissions Is Not One”
52 things not to do.

Chris: Notes on the Interview
It’s a long one, but a good one.

Ben: Many Ways to Define the Best
Ben offers a reflection on AP classes.

Meet the Admissions Office
Stu: Reflections
Words of wisdom from MIT’s very own Dean of Admissions, Stu Schmill ’86.

Paul: Birthday Boy Ben
Some friends and I invade Ben’s office.

Ben: I Am Not As Lame As I Appear
This entry still makes me laugh.

Daniel: MIT’s Financial Aid Enhancements are Released!

Melis: A Day in the Life
Semi-charmed life. :)

Bryan: A Tale of Two Majors
You can’t do everything at MIT. But you can do enough.

Laura: Tests @ MIT
Rule number one: DON’T PANIC.

Keri: Well, at least you didn’t fail, right?
A blow-by-blow look at being a second-semester freshman.

Chris: Mini-Guide to the GIRs
An introduction to MIT’s core curriculum for freshmen.

Paul: What Though the Odds
My experiences with MIT’s freshman physics.

Advice you’ve heard before and a story you haven’t

“Instead of saying, ‘go to class,’ my advice will be as follows: pick classes that you’ll want to go to.”

Sam: It’s bigger than you, and you are not me
Sam was quoting song lyrics before I was even reading these blogs.

Student Life and Culture
Mollie: Who we are
This is the best place in the world. And it’s been worth every second.”

Ben: Welcome Susan Hockfield
MIT celebrates the inauguration of its sixteenth president, Dr. Susan Hockfield.

Derrick: Sometimes we have fun
No, really. =)

Lulu: Desired things
This is, really, one of the most beautiful things I’ve read.

Mitra: Nightmarket
A delicious tradition.

Melis: 10 things I love about MIT
Reason #11: MIT students make awesome lists.

Bryan: Making the Switch
Bryan talks about making friends at MIT.

Laura: Knife fight with a biker gang
Just what it sounds like. ;)

Jessie: I?TFP
“The people who hate it the most, love it the most, and it’s not contradictory.”

Mollie: Choice and the MIT Lifestyle
Why yes, we do have parties at MIT.

Karen: Bread at Desk
Late-night reflections are the best kind.

Lulu: Come Together
The power of people.

Anthony: Avoiding moonlight on an empty stomach
An introduction to MIT’s famous tunnels.

Ben: Driving on the Infinite
A guide to MIT’s equally famous Infinite Corridor.

Paul: All these days I spend away
Making MIT my home.

Snively: The Coop
MIT’s very own bookstore. (It rhymes with “hoop.”)

Sam: I don’t know where we’re going
Getting lost on MIT is easier than you’d think. It’s also kind of enjoyable.

Residential Life
Jessie: “Why does my kid have to move again?”
An introduction to MIT’s uniquely amazing housing system.

Paul: Simply Brothers
A reflection on being initiated into my fraternity.

Melis: Sororities @ MIT
A very thorough introduction to sorority recruitment.

Jessie: Beyond the Iron Cur…I mean, Mass Ave
Thoughts on the two sides of MIT’s campus.

Jess: College Shopping List
A slightly unconventional but totally awesome guide to moving into MIT.

Karen: Inbox Insanity
This entry is so true. And kind of sad.

Snively: Laptops!
Some thoughts and advice on personal computing.

Evan: The Zone Cell Challenge
Evan has fun hacking other peoples servers – with permission!

Snively: ROFLCON!
The internetz come to Boston.

Matt: The Years of the Rat
An introduction to the lore of MIT’s famous class ring, the Brass Rat.

Matt: The MIT Spring Concert
Famous bands rock out at MIT.

Keri: Steer Roast 2008
‘Nuff said.

Paul: Takin’ My Time
Piano Drop. It’s kind of a big deal…

Laura: Mechanical Sense of Humor
Sometimes engineering can be fun. ;)

Seriously, just read it. (KTHNXBAI!)

Jess: Benzene Back
“Being aromatic is where it’s at…”

Sam: Love, organically
“Cyclobutene is NOT FLAT.

Keri: Trans-Consciousness Messaging Protocol!
xkcd is almost required reading for MIT students. (By the way, I lost the game…again.)

Jess: For love of Baxter

A Little Advice
Ben: 50 Things
Ben’s advice to Class of 2010 when they were prefrosh, this post is still relevant today.

Mitra: The most important blog entry ever
More helpful links you could have ever wanted.

Jess: Our mother shoulda just named you Laika!”
No really, there is some advice in here.

Jessie: It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right
“Keep MIT special.”


Any other awesome entries I accidentally overlooked?

Perhaps even more importantly, any questions we can help with? That’s part of why we’re here, after all.

38 responses to “Walk around the blogs”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Remind me why there’s any point of you guys applying when the world is going to end before you can graduate?

  2. Jess says:

    I like how I never make any of the important lists like Academics or Student Life, but instead I get advertised as the chick who wrote about a fake kidnapped cat and a song about benzene.

  3. Keri says:

    My posts in combination give the following description of me (is that grammatically correct? no? Didn’t think so):

    “Hi! I’m Keri! I’m a failure at life blah blah blah I hate first post blah blah blah MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT”

    This is surprisingly accurate. Good job, Paul. ^_^ (This list has most of my favorite posts on it, by the way)

  4. … there goes my nice productive Saturday in which I was going to go job-hunting.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I also loved a lot of Mollie’s blogs. From cooking meat cubes, to her research, to taking many classes, to her cheerleading practice, to a tour of her dorm, gives a good feel of life at MIT.

  6. Paul says:

    @Jess: You’re on Res Life and Advice! Those are important! smile

    @Keri: Thanks, I think. wink

    @Omar: Actually, as soon as I finished this entry, I conked out and slept for the next ten hours. It was delightful. :D

    @Noelle: My referencing “the game” in my posts is either a bad habit or a running joke, depending on how you look at it. smile (Shoot, lost again!)

    @Anon1: Thanks – fixed.

  7. Piper says:

    Ah, I remember last year thinking, “Preparing for the Class of 2012? But I’m not even on campus yet!” Heh.

    Shiny post =).

  8. Dima '12 says:

    Awesome entries, thanks Paul!
    We’re already talking about the class of 2013 and the class of 2012 hasn’t set foot on campus yet.

  9. Oasis '11 says:

    That 50 items list by Ben is like THE best blog I’ve read on MIT blogs so far. Can’t believe I’ve never seen it till now!

    (But at the same time, I wish I still haven’t read it. It would be cool to read it and think back to it as a senior =p)

  10. Tanmay '12 says:

    “It’s not just for decoration”. . . LOL

    “Class of 2013”- makes me feel ‘old’ already. wink

    Seriously, this entry is great for the Class of 2—. smile

  11. Omar '12 says:

    OMG THis is such an amazing list Paul. Kudos man. I think this should be linked to on the home page under “get started here” or something haha. So…what you up to this late at night?

  12. Oasis '11 says:


  13. Cams says:

    Wow, awesome entry. I’m a class of 2013 hopeful and an international, and I have a question about standardized testing. I just took the SAT’s this month, and I’ll be taking the subject tests in october/november. Do I need to have my june scores sent to MIT now, or will they be sent along with my subject test scores in a few months? Any help would be great!

  14. Reuben '12 says:

    I just spent the last two hours or so reading all of these (and the blogs they linked to, and those links, and…). Now it’s 2:51. I guess it’s good practice… Thanks for an excellent compilation.

  15. Ivan says:

    Hey Paul, great post.
    Im going to use this post probably till the admission process is over, or more if I get in. smile

    What about your research at the lab and your plans to learn CS hows that going?

  16. Noelle says:

    “this entry is mainly aimed at the prospective Class of 2013 – yes, the Admissions Office is already getting ready for you!” YAY! (Wait, summer’s not over yet…) Ha, I think I’ve read a good portion of those 2,500 entries over the last two summers.

    Sidenote: Thanks to this post I will forever associate MIT Admissions with the game…great.

  17. Dima '12 says:

    @Cams, wait till November/December to send all your scores.

  18. And now I just lost the game…. again.

  19. Anonymous says:

    “A Tale of Two Majors” is incorrectly linked.

  20. I’m totally going to refer back to this post throughout the summer. This post was seriously like the most helpful ever! ^_^

    Hooray for the prospective Class of 2013!

  21. MIT Parent says:

    I’d like to second Omar ’12’s suggestion of linking this list on the home page under a “Get Started” heading. Thanks so much for doing this, Paul.

  22. Paul says:

    @Cams: Just put down MIT as one of the default (free) recipients when you take the Subject tests in October/November. MIT will automatically get the scores from the Subject tests as well as all your old scores. Easy! smile

    @Ivan: My lab work is going well, I’m about to move into the more serious phase of my project. I’ll definitely be writing more about it, so don’t worry. smile As for learning some CS-related skills, I’m starting with TeX and a little Python…we’ll see what happens by summer’s end!

  23. Yiwen '12 says:

    You’re awesome! I’m bookmarking this page, so it’ll be easier to find my favorite entries. Over the past two years, I’ve read some of them more than a couple of times…*a little obsessed*

  24. mohit says:

    Great post and thanks for the help!!

  25. Ilyanep says:

    Thanks so much for the list!

    I’m going to apply for c/o ’13 and I definitely spent midnight to about 3 AM reading the articles that sounded interesting off that list, and that’s probably not even half!

    It at once freaked me out and calmed me down about the admissions process and everything smile

  26. Ilyanep says:

    Oh and thanks for making me lose the game Oh and thanks for making me lose the game <_<

  27. Sam '12 says:

    Man, for a good time, I’d recommend the entirety of Sam Maurer’s MITblog.

    For realsies. No offense to the >10 other bloggers.

  28. Chris B. '12 says:

    I second that. Everyone should read the blogs of Sam. THey make my life, they are so funny. And they showcase some of the random stuff you can do in Boston. *coughRockyHorrorPictureShowcough*

  29. Astounded says:

    Thanks Paul, for uncovering some amazing blogs! I’ve read a portion of these, but others I have not.

    A random comment (that does relate to admissions):

    If anyone watched the Today show this morning, they featured a student who was admitted into all the Ivy schools, including some other really amazing institutions. Obviously, admissions competition at these institutions was more than cut-throat, and his accomplishment of being admitted to all of them (except one) is quite outstanding. Out of all the wonderful places he was admitted, he ended up choosing Harvard. However, of all the schools he applied, only one single school did not admit him. That school was MIT.

    It’s easy to see that he was a potentially great candidate to be admitted at MIT. Why do you think MIT admissions chose not to select him? Just curious as to what your opinions are, bloggers and blog-stalkers.

  30. Nicole '10 says:

    @Aditya – MIT has Advanced Standing Exams that you can take when you get here if you want to try to place out of 5.111 (chem), 8.01 and/or 8.02 (Physics) and 18.01 (single variable calculus) or 18.02 (multivariable calculus). If you just want to show admissions that you know the material, I wouldn’t worry about taking the AP tests if they’re not available in your country – the admissions officers are probably familiar with the school system in India (we have a lot of international students) and will understand.

  31. Thomas says:


    A quick question to you-I’ve taken a gap year after high school and have got into some activities, one of them being playing guitar.

    So, do you think a letter of recommendation from my music teacher will help?

  32. Aditya says:

    I have a few questions:

    1. I’m study in the Indian CBSE board (it’s one of the two main boards in India). CBSE offers 3 subject options in 11th and 12th: Science (with one optional subject), Commerce, and Humanities. So as such I can’t choose a difficult stream. (Everyone who takes science has the same difficulty level). So this won’t count against me, right? Right?? =/

    2. AP classes aren’t available in my school, nor any other school in India, as far as I know. I’ve studied AP Chem, Physics and Calculus, though I can’t give the test. Is there any other test I can give, which is at the same level?


  33. Paul says:

    @Aditya – MIT is very good about understanding the academic context of applicants, especially for internationals. As long as you’ve pursued the most difficult curriculum you can, no, it won’t “count against you.”

    As for your second question – if you want to show that you have a grasp of the material for the Admissions Office, you can take the SAT II (Subject) tests for Chemistry and Physics. If you want to pass out of classes when you get here, like Nicole said, you can take Advanced Standing Exams.

    @Astounded: Although I do not watch the Today show, I did read the article about Lukasz. I don’t really think it’s my place to speculate as to why he wasn’t admitted – after all, MIT, by its very nature, has to turn down many astounding applicants each year (and, conversely, so do Harvard, Yale, and all the rest).

    For what it’s worth, though, I will say that MIT is like no other school on earth. The Admissions Office doesn’t focus on accepting students with the highest test scores, the most awards, etc. Those are all important, of course; but the most important thing is finding students who “match” MIT.

  34. Kevin R, '11 says:

    Great job, Paul. I could’ve really used this 2 yrs. ago. kudos to snively for the discovering yourself blog entry too. For those reading this, I also want to put in that Matt Mcgann’s blog entry entitled

    Build Awesome

    which may have been published around 2005-06, maybe 07

    REALLY helped me and inspired me to write about certain things in my app. If you’ve been reading about new tech. lately you’ll notice that Ben Gulak ’12 took this approach, and actually took a yr. off to finish his project. Not suggesting you postpone education (though, if accepted/not, a yr. off can be a GREAT opportunity, just don’t forget Taylor series smile but seriously, if you’ve got an awesome project,

    SHOW IT OFF! Matt even remembered my project kind of… and he didn’t really read my app. Amazing! It really counts. You can check Bryan O.s blog entry’s from around April 2007, Kid makes trek to MIT with mother

    or something like that for a full descrip. of what went down as I inquired if Matt really knew the admittees that well.

    Otherwise good luck! Don’t freak out, just take a deep breath, know you’re awesome and let it flow.

  35. Paul says:

    @Kevin: “I could’ve really used this 2 yrs. ago.” Alas, I wasn’t a blogger two years ago. wink

    @Aditya: You have as good of a shot as everyone else! Best of luck. =)

  36. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Nicole and Paul. =D
    I’ll take the Advanced Standing exams. If I get in.
    (Yea right. Who am I trying to kid?!)

  37. Aditya says:

    Thanks Nicole and Paul. =D
    I’ll take the Advanced Standing exams. If I get in.
    (Yea right. Who am I trying to kid?!)

  38. Aditya says:

    Thanks. =)