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MIT student blogger Snively '11

A Word of Warning (Pay Attention) by Snively '11

A guest entry by Kelsey Kennedy '12

[Guest Entry from Kelsey Kennedy ’12]

When I sat down late last April in front of my computer and went through the process of telling MIT that I would, in fact, be attending their school in the fall, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. MIT is, well, MIT, right? After reading the blogs for years and visiting campus during CPW, I thought I had MIT figured out.

Uhh, yeah.

Not so much.

I mean, reading the blogs and all that certainly helped. There are just a few things I learned this semester that make me wish I had paid a bit more attention when I was warned about them.

1. The weather in Boston is mildly ridiculous.

And when I say “mildly ridiculous,” what I actually mean is “incredibly fickle and annoying and COLD.”

I remember my parents jokingly asking me to consider Stanford a little bit more seriously so they could visit me in a warmer locale than Boston. Unfortunately for them, I am currently sitting in my room in Simmons, and it’s about 22 degrees outside. Ultimately, weather shouldn’t make or break your decision!

When I arrived at MIT, I knew it was going to be cold. I had packed my tried-and-true winter gear (a wool coat and an insulated Carhartt jacket) that had kept me warm and toasty back home in Oregon. I remember my first night walking back to Simmons after hosting my radio show at 2:30 AM – I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to get out of the wind more in my life. While my thick, wooly pieces of outerwear had been fine at home, they don’t cut it here. There’s one reason why: wind. No matter how thick your jacket may be, or how many sweatshirts you have on, they are no match for the terrible wind that whips through Boston and Cambridge. I’m not lying when I say that the best purchase I’ve made in the last year is a wind-proof jacket from Eastern Mountain Sports. Now, I’m no longer a shivering mass of frozen-ness whenever I go outside. Moral of the story: wind-proof jackets are your friend.

2. You actually need study skills at MIT.

Okay, so this is kind of a given. I just don’t pick up on this stuff.

When I was in high school, I was able to get by without actually having to do work. At the time, it felt like I was doing a lot of homework. Looking back, I rarely used any sort of study skills. Little did I know that would come back to haunt me.

Small things add up here. Where you study can make a huge difference, for instance. At the beginning of the semester, I dutifully sat at my desk in my room, or in the study in the hall. After a while, I realized that I was not accomplishing anything – it was far too tempting to just sit and socialize. Eventually I learned that if I went to the library and worked in complete silence for several hours straight, I could actually knock out huge chunks of problem sets in one sitting. I’m not saying that this is the way to go – you certainly have to figure out what works for you. The faster you can determine that, the better off you’ll be.

3. A social life is important.

Work-play balance is actually legitimate!

I will admit up front that there were portions of this past semester where I was completely miserable. So miserable that I even uttered the word “transfer” in a phone conversation with my parents. My dad’s response was, “… make sure you schedule in some time to have fun.” At first, I didn’t really listen – I had so many p-sets to finish! After a while, I realized that my dad was on to something. Ice skating, going to the movies, and grabbing lunch or dinner were simple things I started to do with friends that made me dramatically happier. Evidence of this came in many forms: higher p-set grades, increased productivity, never uttering the word “transfer” again, and happier phone calls home. Sometimes, it’s too easy to forget that you need to be happy with life in general to be happy with your work, and MIT is a place where this effect seems to be amplified!

60 responses to “A Word of Warning (Pay Attention)”

  1. Hi
    temperatures in bahawlpur never come below 40 degree celcius during the day.

    …thought that may I add some warmth to chilly boston:)

    by the way during nights in this desert region temperature does fall to 16.
    this adds snow to already freezing boston(but makes MIT even more cool indeed!)

  2. @Ruhban Shah
    do you live in kashmir? Jammu or azad?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Azad Kashmir does not exist.

  4. deng says:

    oo are there ice rinks on campus opened to students?
    I’m not a very good skater, but it’s such a cool feeling, especially when the ice is new ^_^

  5. Jesse says:

    Nice Warning =) Its a good heads up!

  6. Ruhban Shah says:

    I live in kashmir, India

  7. Matt A. says:

    Ohhh the weather, fickle is something I know well (as in sleet one day then a high of 70 two days later), but the cold…

    even if I don’t get in to MIT, I’ve got some other cold choices.

  8. Sheila says:

    Wow, awesome post, Snively…

    I got into MIT EA, and I really like MIT a lot, but I wasn’t so sure if I can survive there and still be able to graduate.

    Hmm…study skills, wind prooof coats, and more fun….hmm…..that’s surely something to ponder for awhile when thinking about MIT. lol

    just how much you study per day or what?

  9. Ilyanep says:

    Ah yes, I’ve seen fickle (I live in Chicago, so I see high of 50 one day and almost a foot of snow the next, as well as wind).

    I think I need to look into a windproof jacket though.

  10. Reena says:

    In all fairness, those of us who have lived in Mass all our lives can and do sometimes walk around out there in sweatshirts. It just takes some getting used to. wink
    But, I suppose if you’re coming from Southern California, you should take a Southern California kid’s opinion about the weather, and if you’re coming from Chicago, you should take a Chicago kid’s opinion, etc. I’d imagine the responses vary from “oh, it’s not that bad” to “aaaaah! DEATH!”

    p.s. Hi Sheila :D

  11. Kevin says:

    does it snow a lot?

    I don’t suppose the concept of a snow day still exists at the college level?

  12. Paul says:

    Ha ha, Complaining about Boston’s weather. I live in Wisconsin, 22 degrees is nice out, because then salt would actually help melt the ice.

  13. KelseyK '12 says:

    @ deng – they set up an ice rink in the Johnson Athletic Center every year around October or so (I forget the actual date). There are PE classes, and open skate times. Sometimes, events are held as well, such as Spooky Skate, which was ice skating on Halloween.

  14. akhila says:

    That was a great blog snively. Thanks for that.

  15. Suman Barua says:

    Hey Michael!
    After running a quick search at I totally understand ur pain! I mean, (3,-7)(2,4)(0,-4)… that’s like.. HOLY MOLY cold raspberry
    about the studying thing, i am quite excited about I really look forward to finding new tactics…(if i get in, that is…)
    Socializing…that’s gonna be one of my favorite parts smile

    Thnx man!

  16. Anonymous says:

    It’s appalling how many people apparently can’t read.

  17. MIT'11 says:

    The second point is very important and the earlier you realize it the better. I sailed through my freshman year really smoothly – even in those so-called advanced classes. It has really hit me in my sophomore year that study skills do make a lot of difference.

  18. Narce says:

    I got this kind of info from my dad who went to MIT far in advance. I love the cold, but even though I say that, I visited Boston once in the winter just to make sure that it’s as bad as he said, so I accept it is. I’ll die. But at MIT, I think I’ll love dying to the cold.

    Study skills? Like most people at MIT, I don’t have to use them in high school. But hearing how important they are just to pass, I’ve practiced my study skills JUST TO MAKE SURE that I can study. For example, AP Gov was my hardest class last semester, and I always got very low As, and was content since it’s the same GPA as regular As, but I buckled down and studied for two tests throughout the year and got 100s on both.

    I already utilize many techniques for balancing a healthy, social lifestyle with school and other work… so this isn’t a problem for me.

    I know it won’t be enough, and I still have lots more to learn, but I think I’ve prepared myself as much for MIT life as anyone can who hasn’t gone yet ^.^ There are many other aspects I’ve spent time thinking about and dealing with, as well.

    (PS, hi Snively, sorry I got so many emails sent to you from Facebook XP)

  19. lives in nw says:

    Snively, since you’re from Oregon, I’m sure you’re pretty accustomed to our Northwestern weather. How different is Cambridge weather compared to ours, wind and rain wise? Thanks in advance.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Hey Snively –

    Somewhat related to the “word of warning idea”… I read an extremely upsetting article on Slashdot that mentions MIT. I wanted to know if it’s true and if there’s another part of the picture, so I wanted to ask you since I’m sure you’ll give an honest response.

    Here’s the quote I’m referring to:

    “Working as a NASA intern, grad student Erez Lieberman had a eureka moment, resulting in an algorithm that detects whether a person is standing correctly or is off balance. Unfortunately, MIT liked it so much they decided to patent it. Seeking permission to use his own idea for his iShoe startup, which develops products like insoles to address the problems of seniors, Lieberman was told no problem — as long as he promised a hefty royalty and forked over a $75,000 upfront payment.”

    Should I expect this kind of behavior from MIT if I am eventually offered admission? Needless to say this is very discouraging.

  21. Snively says:

    @Appalled Anonymous

    I wholeheartedly agree

  22. Snively says:

    @Patent Anonymous
    There was probably a bit more to it than that, but yes, that sounds about right.

    When I looked into getting a patent through MIT the terms were pretty straightforward. They get a huge chunk of everything you earn but will file the patent and do all of the legal work for you. More than likely, the iShoe startup idea came from research he was doing at MIT and, therefore, they had the rights to it.

    Again, there’s more to it, but MIT is very protective of what it owns. Intellectual property here is a business.

  23. Hey sniv…I thought you lived in BC?!?!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Hey, KELSEY who is not Snively (XD)

    You talked about a lot of things that are concerning me.

    1. Weather – If I were to get into Stanford, I’d be given the choice between sunny perfection and the conditions you described above. D: I’m from Houston, which is I guess, to heat and humidity what Boston is to cold. You said the weather shouldn’t be a huge factor in the end, but has any ever–I dunno–hated MIT simply because it was too cold?

    2. Studying – Gaaaah. I’ve been told studying in groups is the way to do PSETs? Or does this depend on the subject and person? I really love studying and groups, but now I’m afraid I won’t get anything done.

    3. I’m glad fun is required! smile

  25. Nicole '10 says:

    Snively – why don’t you stick Kelsey’s name somewhere on this page so people will actually give her some credit? The blurb on the front page doesn’t show up for people who read your blog on RSS… plus it’s easy to miss even if you don’t.


    Very informational post though.

  27. Varun says:

    First for the first time to an MIT blog! Cool.

    Study skills huh? I’ll keep that in mind. I usually adapt fast enough.

    Weather? Anywhere I go, it’s going to be different from the constantly pleasing and highly humid atmosphere in Chennai, India!

    Socializing – I’m glad to say, I’ve figured out that part already from my experience in class 12!

  28. Ruhban Shah says:

    Lets see

    Already in a place where temp goes in minus

    Study skills–Enough to make me look studious class while partying, surfing n every inch of fun

    lov to do tat

    Hey i fit in all these three-

    So when should i be expecting my acceptance letter

  29. Wow i cant agree with how everything you said is true. These are the types of questions that i thought about when applying to colleges. This explains why when i went to visit 1/3 of the students wore the north face jackets/backpacks/sweaters etc hah.

  30. Zak says:

    Yeah, I know about the cold part, and the study part. I do realize how studying in MIT is different than other colleges (I’ve always been more into research anyway). The socializing part is the akward corner: I’ve never really got to any socializing, although I can analyze social networks and webs very well. Where I’ve gone to high school, its hard for them to understand me when I talk in my usual way. I sure hope it’s better at MIT but actually participating in a social network seems far away. I’m not a loner though. Any recommendation as to how to strike up/ carry on a conversation (I always run a blank on all my notes when the thing actually hits you in the face)

  31. Person says:

    Carhartt ftw

  32. Chris says:

    haha, i can say the weather in Boston probably isnt any different than how it is in Central NY. Snow is fun. And saying MIT is my dream college, im glad that the social aspect blends in nicely. Being social def cuts out all the school stress, at least most of it

  33. a says:

    It’s winter,whether is cold

  34. Am I the only one who likes cold weather?

    I would never consider living anywhere that doesn’t have four seasons.

  35. Anonymous says:

    In the end, these 3 things are probably not the only things that will come as a surprise to people.

    Every person is different, every person will have a different set of things that throw him/her off smile.

  36. Ahana says:

    Hi Kelsey/Snively: I have a supplemental recommendation from an online program that I need to send to MIT. Is it acceptable to email the PDF or must I fax it?

  37. another reason, why MIT is the right place for me. i love cold!!!!!!!!!!!! go MIT, go winter!!

  38. Anonymous says:

    Hahaha, never underestimate the strength of the wind chill factor

    Great advices, thanks!

  39. Anonymous says:

    Kelsey, I asked Snively because he’s also from Oregon, and because I didn’t think you would reply. Anyhow, thank you for answering my question. =)

  40. want to read my MIT essay? follow the link:
    please do comment!

  41. Banerjee says:

    Wow, Kelsey, you’ve got a lot of responses to this =]

    Currently living in Singapore, I think, like many others, a four season climate is really neccessary in life.

  42. Anonymous says:

    NARCE…I recommend that you tone down the arrogant attitude if you want a healthy social lifestyle

  43. KelseyK '12 says:

    @ lives in NW: so I’m not Snively, but I am from Oregon… The weather isn’t too terrible to deal with after a while. It’s just the wind. Otherwise, the only other thing I hate is when it’s warm when it rains sometimes, which is annoying compared to rain back home.

    @ Anonymous that recognizes who wrote the post:
    1. I can’t say I’ve met anyone who hates it here because of the cold. In fact, a lot of my friends are from Texas or the warm parts of California. In the end, if you really want to be at MIT, you’ll just deal with the weather.
    2. How you study really depends on the person. A lot of people I know work in groups, but I can get really chatty so I have to make sure I do the bulk of my p-set alone. You definitely decide how you work!

    @ Nicole ’10: thanks. smile

  44. Charlie says:

    @ Anonymous 6am jan 6
    Maybe your post did not go through, or an administrator is very competitive.
    @13 deferred, everyone has there own study habits, read the thing through again, have fun

  45. '13 deferred says:

    @ Snively
    What are some of your personal best study tips? I’m not a genius, I work myself to the bone to do well and wish there was more time for sleep.

  46. milena '11 says:

    the weather is honestly not that bad, once you go through it the first winter here. i grew up on a sunny, tropical island, and i’m used to the cold now.

  47. The application tracking system is down till late January! Winter has arrived in Bahawlpur and the temperatures stay in 15-27 degrees range.

  48. arims says:

    nice to hear. I experienced this when I got to Norway from 30 degrees as well. Hope it will be better this time round.

    I need to consider this social life seriously oh.
    I got study skills for every place as long as its quiet

  49. Eric says:

    Hey everybody I was wondering if someone could tell me about the final submission. I had finished all of the application I could (Finished part 1 and 2 and my SAT scores had already been processed, but the teacher evaluation forms and mid-year grade report were mailed seperately by my counselor. Was I supposed to hit a final button despite those parts not being submitted online? Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

  50. zhiren says:

    I lived in Boston many years ago, and the weather didn’t turn out to be that bad …
    even if it is bad, I guess it’s worth it.

  51. Anonymous says:


    I was the first person to comment on this blog, but somehow somebody has removed my post for some reason. I didn’t except that person to be so rude/mean.


  52. Anonymous says:

    A word of warning would have been a single word.

    -Open blog-


    -end blog-

  53. Florida says:

    that something to look forward to… I ve never seen snow.

  54. Anonymous says:

    I now want to get to MIT even more.

  55. AK says:

    I am in the 1st year of my college and thus I choose to apply as a transfer student.But my 1st term results won’t be available till late March 2009 and the application requires my 1st term grades.What should I do?

  56. Pffftt… WIND… try living in Canada… when you said “22 degrees” I laughed… and then I converted it to REAL TEMPERATURES (Celsius) and still laughed… I wear a t-shirt in that, mwahaha

  57. AK says:

    Hi,I am applying as a transfer student.
    Do I need to enroll myself in the MyMit account as well?

  58. SRV says:

    @ Snively

    wonderful post….m loving it……..

    jst waitin 4 the day for my acceptance letters to arrive……!!

  59. Ashwin says:

    Looking forward to points 2 & 3.

    The wind can’t be that bad?

  60. Kelsey Kennedy is amazing.

    So, I know we’re on the debate team together, but since I don’t know Kelsey that well, I think I can say that I read this as an impartial arbiter. Yes, I know big words and I go to MIT–that’s not a fallacious statement.

    Where is this leading? Well, I think my prodigious vocabulary suggests what a command of the English language I have. And I do command it. I am quite authoritative. But what’s important here is not my massive skills at maneuvering those words right where I want them. It’s KELSEY KENNEDY’S skills. (She is a Kennedy, after all. Shouldn’t that alone explain it?)

    Can I please be you, Kelsey? And go to MIT? Oh, wait, I do go to MIT. Why do I want to be you? Because you should be a blogger and I wish I were that good.

    I’ve read the other blogs and never felt as connected to those bloggers as I do to you. I totally agree about the jacket thing. Although I would like to add, that they should also be WATER-PROOF rather than water-soluble. Or water-soggy. Yes, I go to MIT. I know about solubility.

    Alright, so I have something to say to the powers that be. Why is Kelsey a guest? She should be a permanent resident. Not just of MIT. But of the MIT admissions blogs. Why, you ask? Because I bet a lot of people can relate to her. Especially the debate freaks and word freaks and humanities freaks–and the normal people who also enjoy those fun subjects. I don’t even think this will accomplish anything, but I wish it would. I just want my admiration for Kelsey and her writing to be made public. You should hire her.

    Also… My email is [email protected]. I go here. Email me if you want me to prove it.