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MIT student blogger Ahmed H. '12

Seminar Advising by Ahmed H. '12

There is nothing funny about this entry...but please read anyway.

Alright, folks. Let’s get down to business. Buying cookies and arguing about peanut butter are frivolous, if funny, activities. I’d like to dedicate this post to my experience so far with academic advising at MIT, which is totally serious, all the time.

I live in Nest House, which is one of the few living groups that has Residence Based Advising, or RBA. As a Nextie, I had a choice between traditional and seminar advising. As I understood when applying for housing, traditional is exactly what it sounds like. You’re assigned a supervisor, you schedule meetings, discuss classes, etc. Seminar advising is all this, and more! You meet with your advisor every semester to talk mano-a-mano about which classes to take, and then every week you meet for an hour and a half with the advisor to discuss some subject in a group of around 8 housemates in a relaxed atmosphere. Oh, and you get academic credit for this, and the seminar group does things like watch movies, go out for dinner, or see comedy shows.

Of course, I entered the seminar lottery, and there were plenty subjects to chose from. I was assigned SEM.151, the Masculine Identity. At first I didn’t know how to take the news. This placement was smelly for a couple of reasons:

A) I didn’t know I needed a seminar on masculinity. I reread my application essays to see if something gave it away.
B) I didn’t know there was a seminar on masculinity. To be fair, by the time I got my seminar assignment, I had forgotten my entire lottery preference order. I don’t actually remember which ones I listed, so I just told my advisor that masculinity was my first choice. My integrity is so worth brownie points with the leader of a 6 unit seminar during pass/no record.

I really didn’t know what to expect from the advising system. Near the end of orientation, I met with my advisor, Mr Kennedy, to choose my classes. All was good until a few days later when our schedules were posted online. My humanities class conflicted with my chemistry lecture, so I had to shop around for a new one. At first I was actually pretty worried. Class conflict. Sounds serious. I emailed Mr Kennedy and he guided me through the process of adding and dropping classes.

The first meeting with the seminar was at a restaurant where we dined on MIT’s bill. A good sign, for sure. And Mr Kennedy is hilarious. He should be, too.

He’s a standup comedian.

As you can imagine, our seminar meetings have been equal parts discussion and hysterical laughter. We meet every Monday in the Next House dining room before meal service starts. Each week, Mr Kennedy (although he prefers we call him by his first name) assigns a journal entry. He basically asks us to tell him our opinions on a certain subject, for example, the different expectations of the genders when it comes to partying. We discuss our journals during the seminar, with everyone cracking jokes every now and then. I really look forward to our meetings. It’s a great way to start off the week. How are your Mondays? Mine include talking with a real-live standup.

As a group, we have outings planned to see films that deal with gender roles. Also, Amanda ’11 helps out with the seminar as a Resident Associate Advisor. She does cool things, like leaving bags of chocolate at our doors the night before our first 8.01 exam. She also sent us all emails wishing us luck about an hour before the test.

In addition, Mr Kennedy kindly agreed to be my reference for MedLinks, a student organization that gives medical help and counseling to students who need it. Their application was due right after Hurricane Ike hit Houston, so naturally it was imprudent to ask anyone there to speak on my behalf. This instance and the class conflict problem really make me confident in knowing that he’ll be there whenever I have a serious issue.

A month into school, and I’m on a first-name basis with my academic advisor (who moonlights as a standup comic) and my RAA is leaving candy for me before tests. At risk of sounding cheesy, they’re almost family now.

So, as you can see, RBA seminar advising is awesome.

PS Pre-frosh, applicants, I work for you! Tell me what you want to know, I’ll blog about it. Divine Blogging Inspiration at 5am sucks, because I should be in bed. Every single post I’ve written so far (yes! all three!) I completed at about 5am on a weekend morning before going to sleep. Not surprisingly, the [email protected]@! comments have been from IP addresses in India and Singapore, where 5am Eastern time is not an obscene hour to be checking the blogs. So, this post, though completed at 6am, will be published at 5am Mumbai time (7:30pm Eastern), to give the North Americans a fair chance at being first!!!!!!!

38 responses to “Seminar Advising”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Yay for the east-coasters!!=P However, I am very curious to know how Anon @ 8:40 is first if the first comment was at 8:09…

  2. Ahana says:

    Bah humbug :p
    But thank god someone turns the attention to us poor pre-frosh! Fire away about every conceivable topic on the application and interviews, Ahmed!

  3. Ahana says:

    Bah humbug :p
    But thank god someone turns the attention to us poor pre-frosh! Fire away about every conceivable topic on the application and interviews, Ahmed!

  4. Ahana says:

    Bah humbug :p
    But thank god someone turns the attention to us poor pre-frosh! Fire away about every conceivable topic on the application and interviews, Ahmed!

  5. Ehsan says:

    Oh Really?
    Then where am I from?

  6. Ahana says:

    Wow…the perils of commenting by a cell phone!

  7. Ahmed says:

    Ehsan: You comment from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Your approximate latitude/longitude coordinates are 43.6670, -79.4170, which places you just off the famous Bloor St, near UofT.

  8. Ashwath says:

    What is very interesting is your careful scheme to reduce inequality in favor of Indians. Careful Ahmed, I warn you… smile. Yeah, I echo Ahana on posting more on the applications process.

  9. Ashwath says:

    What is very interesting is your careful scheme to reduce inequality in favor of Indians. Careful Ahmed, I warn you… smile. Yeah, I echo Ahana on posting more on the applications process.

  10. Ashwath says:

    Loads of Indians are awake at crazy early hours, so your plan might just bomb!

  11. Piper says:

    Note, IP addresses aren’t always that accurate. Once I had an address that showed up on my blog – according to one source, it was from San Francisco, and another source found it was from El Monte (in Southern California, near LA). There’s not a really accurate way to know where the address comes from wink.

    (Though most of the time, IPs will trace to the same approximate area – ie, a cluster of cities.)

  12. Muz says:

    Oooh.. this calls for a proxy when trolling raspberry Heh, I love IP tracking. I’m sure any MIT geek would love it too. I suppose it’s a bit too much to expect it to also track my application status and stuff, though. Not surprised if the admissions officers use it for that purpose 0_ô

  13. Brian says:

    I would be interested to see something having to do with AP Credits/Classes..

    For example, I would like to know whether or not MIT accepts AP credits. If so, is it a good idea or a bad idea to use them to get out of introductory classes. However, if they don’t accept AP credits what is the advantage/disadvantage to taking AP classes in high school. What is the difference between introductory MIT chemistry and AP Chemistry? If there is no difference will retaking it be mind-numbingly dull?

  14. Ahmed says:

    Ah, great questions Brian. Will address them soon.

  15. Ahmed says:

    Anything in particular about the process? I’m working on an entry about my experience with applying, but that doesn’t really touch on the actual mechanics. I could go over references, essays, supplemental materials if that’s what you want? Or the differences between EA and RA? Just let me know.

  16. Ehsan says:

    @ Ahmed!

    Grrrr!!!

    Oh and please write a step by step manual of how to get into MIT. I have this year (grade 10, next year (grade 11) and the year after that (grade 12) to prepare.

    Let’s see you answer that one!

  17. Ahana says:

    Sorry to be shameless enough to post again:) I would love it if you do something about the essays… I absolutely despise them!

  18. anonymous says:

    Hmm. I’ve got one question- if we take courses (AP, French, etc) outside our school, besides listing that on the self-reporting coursework form, would you have to send another transcript or something?

    Thanks.

  19. FIRST! (I think).

    I also hate first post but you gave us permission to do it so…

  20. Claire says:

    Wow.

    You tracked down the ip addresses of first posters? That’s waaaaay above and beyond the call of duty.

  21. Ahmed says:

    Haha, well, every comment gets emailed to me with the poster’s name, email, and website (if they are given), and their IP address. All you have to do is enter the IP in an online locator and your work is done.

  22. Anonymous says:

    FIRST!!
    EAST COAST!!
    we’re still up!

  23. Brittany says:

    Hello, Ahmed!!

    Fabulous posting; MIT’s RBA definitely sounds like the way to go.

    Posting-wise, I would love to hear you share wisdom on the interviewing process of applications. I am scheduling my session soon, and I am unsure of how to “prepare” for this, if you know what I mean. What was your experience? Did you feel you needed to come across as a superb genius, or was the whole conversation light-hearted/casual?

    Thanks so much!!

  24. Adilio says:

    Please help

    Anyone can help me I need to know what i have to do to enter in this college MIT.
    please

    my e-mail and msn: [email protected]

    I´m from Angola (Africa)

  25. deng says:

    can you talk specifically about the application essays?
    also, do you know anything about the sports (namely, tennis) or choir programs at mit?

    thanks :-D

  26. Shreya says:

    Dammit. The more I read about this place, the more I fall in love with it. I won’t be applying to MIT because I wont be taking up Science in 11 and 12. So there go the high school requirements. But then, I shall keep stalking you bloggers, no one has ever taught me as much as you guys have. Admission Officers, you shall be receiving my application for MIT Grad School.

    -Shreya (Hopefully, Harvard Class of 2015)

  27. masab says:

    Please help….
    i’m a US citizen but i’m doing my “A” levels and not the American school system,so i wanted to know if i would need a high school report or something to apply?

  28. carmen says:

    elephants…and procrastination =)

  29. Martha says:

    Hey Ahmed!

    Ahhh. the stand-up. hes seriously funny smile i guess masculinity talks always require a bit of lightheartedness.

    Um, could you blog about…. actually getting in. What kind of people get into MIT?

    great blog btw! Hey Ahmed!

    Ahhh. the stand-up. hes seriously funny smile i guess masculinity talks always require a bit of lightheartedness.

    Um, could you blog about…. actually getting in. What kind of people get into MIT?

    great blog btw! <3

  30. anonymous says:

    hey ahmed,
    Plz do something for essays and the letters of recomendations, will the 2 teacher evaluations be enough for it or can we submit supplementary reco. from other people as well.

  31. Kevin says:

    Hmm… Masculinity, eh? That could signify something on either end of the spectrum.

  32. Monorina says:

    Oh God!
    You guys make me fall for MIT even deeper in love everytime I read any blog.I swear,I’ll stop before I end up marrying the university!!;)
    Anyway,I’ll fire a question:
    For the (Completely optional) essay about something I created,may I write about a sci-fi story I wrote(needless to say,it did not win a Pulitzer Prize)? However,my english and physics teachers told me it was pretty good.The other option I have is writing about a program,which again,I might add,did not revolutionise the world.
    Please suggest.
    One more thing:I’m suffering from a complex.I haven’t even done any research in HS(I’m int’l from India:as you have doubtless realised by now smile) and have not won any International Maths Olympiads or anything.The closest I got to IMO was being second in a National Maths Olympiad administered by the Teacher’s Association of India.Do normal people like me who may not have done something amazing/invented something/are a certifiable genius stand a chance at MIT?

  33. Monorina says:

    Oh God!
    You guys make me fall for MIT even deeper in love everytime I read any blog.I swear,I’ll stop before I end up marrying the university!!;)
    Anyway,I’ll fire a question:
    For the (Completely optional) essay about something I created,may I write about a sci-fi story I wrote(needless to say,it did not win a Pulitzer Prize)? However,my english and physics teachers told me it was pretty good.The other option I have is writing about a program,which again,I might add,did not revolutionise the world.
    Please suggest.
    One more thing:I’m suffering from a complex.I haven’t even done any research in HS(I’m int’l from a small town in India:as you have doubtless realised by now smile) and have not won any International Maths Olympiads or anything.The closest I got to IMO was being second in a National Maths Olympiad administered by the Teacher’s Association of India.Do normal people like me who may not have done something amazing/invented something/are a certifiable genius stand a chance at MIT?
    I have okay SAT(2200ish) scores.

  34. Monorina says:

    Sorry for the double post : (

  35. Piper says:

    Real men wear kilts. That’s all I’m saying.

  36. Muz says:

    “Um, could you blog about…. actually getting in. What kind of people get into MIT?”
    Geeks raspberry Just kidding! Don’t hurt me! I’d bet that if that wasn’t a joke, there’d be 4 bloggers writing about how un-geeky they are and 2 others showing off their geekiness.

    Hmm.. here’s something I’d like to know. Stastically, is doing charity work as important as having good grades when it comes to getting accepted? And what about the people who filled in the optional essay?

  37. Trevor Gau says:

    It’s been a while since I read these blocks (specifically since the day my admission to MIT was rejected), but I had to come read what a (really) old school friend had to write smile

    Hope all is well for you!
    -Trevor