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MIT student blogger Mollie B. '06

An MIT FAQ by Mollie B. '06

Because it's better to laugh at blatant stereotypes than to let them make you angry

Recently, in my wanderings around the internet (that is to say, the College Confidential message boards), I’ve noticed an abundance of ridiculous stereotypes about MIT and MIT students. I’m a little touchy about things like this, but my boyfriend is trying to make me into a better person and keeps telling me to “find the good”. I decided to “find the good” in blatant stereotyping by creating this FAQ.

Q. Are all MIT students typical nerds?
A. Definitely not. Many of us are very atypical nerds.

Q. No, seriously. I bet you all go to Star Trek conventions all the time. Do you know how to talk about anything but science?
A. Well, most of us don’t. But so what if we did? There are worse things to be. But anyway, MIT is host to a wide variety of versions of campus life — from the typical (intramural sports) to the “only at MIT” (hacks). Check out our list of student groups. We’re a collection of 4000 unique people with abnormal interests, and we’re proud of to be a little offbeat. Around here, “nerd” isn’t an epithet.

Q. (related to previous) Do you spend all your time studying?
A. If we spent all our time studying, how would we have time to be in all those student groups?

Q. MIT has sports teams?
A. Um, yeah. MIT has 41 varsity sports teams (tied with some school up the street, I’ve heard, for the most in the nation) and 35 club sports teams, plus a thriving intramural sports and physical education program.

Q. Doesn’t MIT have a really high suicide rate?
A. Statistically speaking (which is really the only way one can speak about this sort of thing), no. The MIT student suicide rate is consistent with the national average for 18 to 22-year-olds — any analysis which suggests otherwise fails to properly account for the extremely small sample size.

Q. I don’t need good extracurriculars to apply to MIT — MIT only admits people with perfect test scores, right?
A. Actually, you’d be better off applying with decent test scores and stellar extracurriculars than with perfect test scores and mediocre extracurriculars. MIT likes to admit people, not cardboard cutouts.

Q. I heard MIT is super-competitive and cutthroat.
A. Actually, MIT is a very collaborative place, and it’s normal (and expected) that students will work together in groups to complete their problem sets. MIT is hard for everyone, and the difficulty inspires a great deal of cameraderie among students. We’re all here in the trenches together…

Q. If I apply to MIT and tell them I’m going to be a humanities major, won’t it be easier for me to get in?
A. Nope. Wouldn’t that be a little too easy? The major you write down on your application might help the admissions committee understand why you’re applying to MIT, but they won’t admit you just because they want to admit a music major this year.

Q. I’m not a super-genius. Can I still survive at MIT?
A. With the grueling coursework every MIT student has to complete, it’s often better to be hard-working than brilliant. Being brilliant helps, I’m sure, but passion and motivation are the real necessities.

Q. Isn’t MIT’s campus really ugly?
A. I’ve heard this one a lot, and I still don’t understand it. I mean, MIT has an urban campus, so we don’t have the plethora of quads typical of the more suburban campuses, but I still think Killian Court is beautiful. Who cares if a campus is beautiful anyway? Last time I checked, college was about learning, not foliage.

Q. You guys are all nerds.
A. Thank you.

13 responses to “An MIT FAQ”

  1. Laura says:

    Yay thank you Mollie. I’ve spent so much time yelling at guys on collegeconfidential with their “female engineers are ugly” routine and I was getting really tired of doing it. Thanks for stepping up. =)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hehe, I like it!

    I hear the “campus is ugly” thing a lot too…I even talked about it in this entry.

  3. Jessie says:

    Oh, bloody hell. The previous “Anonymous” comment was supposed to have my name attached to it, and was supposed to contain a link to (I put the HTML tag but it didn’t show up).

  4. People actually think that? That’s horrible! Well, I guess that just proves your point Mollie, not everyone that applies to MIT are brilliant geniuses.

  5. Ajit says:


    it’s good post are absolutely right.every thing has its own bads and should have a positive attitude towards these things and need not to get bothered/angry.

  6. Melda says:

    :D MIT pride! thanks for writing that up, Mollie.

  7. Psh, stereotypes.

    I, for one, think female engineers are hot. Like…sizzling.

    Mollie, awesome post. Props.



  8. Omar says:

    Hey I love the FAQ, it is pretty nice and a good way of making people know what MIT Students can say about it and not just know the “Official” Information wink

  9. cx says:

    Epiphany during summer visit to MIT:

    the limit of infinity is mass ave!

  10. the limit of infinity is mass ave!

    Posted by: cx on August 8, 2005 07:32 PM

    Actually, I’m afraid that the proper equality (ish) would be that “the limit of infinity is Google,” because Google equals infinity plus one.

    As to nerds, I believe that Urban Dictionary’s definitions are rather apt.

    And…are there any (generally negative) preconceptions or stereotypes about MIT that are true? Of course, you always hear a lot of undirected and unfounded rumors, and, of course, they’re almost always all adamantly abrogated (heh), but surely at least some of them have something of insight.

    To tell you the truth, I think that most of the people for whom MIT is looking–the passionate, distinctive, hard-working, real individuals–will have, by now, figured out that MIT, like their (nerdy) kind, is far from what everyone says about it, so those people shouldn’t be fazed by these rumors and hearsay.

    I, for one, know enough about the school to count it among the hardest for me to which to be actually accepted, but it’s unquestionably one of my top choices. Everything that I read in the letters, site, and blogs don’t actually do much to change my opinion, they make me hope all the more that I get in (but the, that’s what all of the colleges try to do with that kind of stuff, eh?). Something different would be negative stuff from the inside. After all, extremely, extremely few good arguments consist of solely positive points; they have to at least acknowledge some shortcomings to be taken seriously, and even the best of schools can’t be the best at every last thing.

    Well…so I think, anyways. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe MIT is just, plainly and simply, the absolute best. But absolutes take some serious proof.

  11. Oh…sorry…I guess I should preview posts before submitting them, eh? Well…maybe I failed to html it up back there–neither italics nor links showed. Hmm…well, the UD link was this one:

  12. Leah says:

    “Actually, you’d be better off applying with decent test scores and stellar extracurriculars than with perfect test scores and mediocre extracurriculars.”

    Ohdamn, HELP. That is definitely the top thing I have read at these blogs to make me nervous. I have some extracurriculars, but I’m not sure if they’re terribly impressive, and there aren’t a ton of them like I seem to see other people do. Aah…

  13. almighty better know human chemistry we only work