You’ve got questions. I’ve got answers.
Anonymous asks: “Why is it necessary for girls wanting to stay in all-girls dorms to ask for orientation?”
Well, you see, of the 11 undergrad dorms, only one, McCormick, is all female (and then there are the five sororities and the Women’s Independent Living Group). With most of the options being coed, the powers that be need to know if you want to stay somewhere that’s not so that they can put you there and not someone who’d rather be in a coed living group.
Anonymous asks: “How many people on the waitlist actually get to go to MIT?”
Michael Borohovski helped me out by answering: “Anonymous (re: waitlist), in the past two years they haven’t had a chance to go to the waitlist due to overenrollment (i.e. they admitted more people than they thought would enroll, percentage-wise), but generally it ranges. I’m sure they would LOVE to go to the waitlist this year; they’ve been trying to. (As always, correct me if I’m wrong, Jessie).” Thanks, Borski. :)
Emily asked: “What made you decide on MIT in the first place, and what are the major reasons you have stayed at MIT?”
Nothing too exciting, I’m afraid, for the first half of the question. It’s a good school, and I like science, and when I came to Campus Preview Weekend, I liked the place. I liked the way students seemed to have a lot of control over their own lives. I liked that the people, even in the more “mainstream” parts of campus, were a little weird and offbeat. As for why I’d have stayed…well, it’s been tough (I am not, for the record, a star student at MIT), but I like that I am being challenged and forced to grow. I like the opportunities I have here. I like that I have learned how to do a lot of things, especially technology and engineering-related, that I personally would not have done other places, like design and build a vision-capable robot. I love my friends – undergrads, grads, and alums – and I have a lot of them. I love the activities I do here. I love my UROP. I can’t imagine how my college life would have been anywhere else, but I think it would have had a lot less challenge and a lot less color.
Roli asked: Hi Jessie, I haven’t followed your blog so I was just wondering what your major is and why you chose to come to MIT?and…how stressful does it get on an average day? thanks!”
Roli, I hope I answered the “why” part above. :) As to the rest…My major is course 9 (Brain & Cognitive Sciences). Even within course 9, which is a pretty interdisciplinary major, I’m kind of an academic grab-bagger – I’ve dabbled in computational, systems, cognitive, cellular, and molecular neuroscience, and taken non-required classes in biology, electrical engineering/computer science, chemistry, linguistics, and math. My humanities concentration is in political science.
With the stress…there is no average day. Some days are pretty stress-free. Some have driven me to visit MIT Mental Health or the counseling deans. Look here for my account of a relatively stressful (but ultimately fulfilling) night.
Kith asked: “One of my crazier relatives (who may have gone to MIT; I don’t recall) insists that it’s much easier to get in than stay in. Thoughts?”
Once again, Borski ’09 answered. “Kith, I disagree. If you get in, you can handle staying in, for the most part. There are cases in which people have trouble doing the work here, but the majority is okay. And MIT does everything it can to try and help you and support you if you’re having academic trouble. We have something like a 98% matriculation rate to sophomore year and a 97-98% graduation rate (I don’t remember actual numbers), and that’s for a reason. Admissions picks and chooses members of the class for that reason.”
Borski, I partially agree with you. :) The vast majority of people at MIT are intellectually capable of doing the work. And MIT does a lot to help people who are struggling. Believe me, I know, I’ve been there. However, I can make a logical case that it’s harder to stay in than to get in. 100% of MIT students were able to get in to MIT, but only 90-something % are able to graduate. I guess that demonstrates that it’s harder to get in and stay in than just to get in. *grin* My point here is, don’t worry too much about flunking out unless you’re actually in danger of doing so. But don’t get cocky either. It’s not a cakewalk.
Olga asked: “What are all the cool free things MIT students get? Matt mentioned the free BSO tickets, anything else? Red Sox, tours, opera, Blue Man group?”
I’m going to have to do more research on this, but I’m pretty sure that we don’t get free Sox tickets, and I know that we do get free Museum of Science membership (of which I’ve taken advantage several times). We can also get discount T (subway) passes.
Sanja asked: “Can international students apply for Early Action?”
I think the answer to this is no. But ask an actual admissions officer to be sure.
“If I decide to pay the $5500 self-help only from my earnings from my work, will this be possible considering the academic workload, if I decide to go for a)single b) double major?”
Yes, depending on where you work, how many hours, what your major(s) is (are), and what your academic strengths are. There’s actually a proposal out right now to lower the self-help to $4500, which I support, but I don’t know what will come of it.
“And one more… whatever my financial situation may be, MIT does not ‘waive’ the self-help of $5500 requirement, does it? I mean, the maximum possible financial aid that one can receive is (total costs) – $5500. Am I right?”
I’m not entirely sure what you just asked, but as far as I know, MIT won’t waive the requirement that you pay the self-help, and it won’t increase the amount of self-help that you have to pay.
“When do accepted students receive their course catalog?”
No clue. But there’s an online course catalog for you to check out.
“Regardless of major(s) chosen, does MIT award only ‘Bachelor of Science’ degree?”
Yes, at the undergrad level. If you major in Literature, you will receive a Bachelor’s of Science in Literature.
Oakland mom asked: “Our family has to start planning vacations for this year now – with that in mind, when is freshman orientation? Is there a family weekend sometime after the first semester begins? Thanks!”
Bryan helped me out on this one. “Orientation begins on Sunday August 27. There are also preorientation programs the week prior. Family weekend is October 13 – 15, 2006.” The only thing I would add to that is that I believe that this year freshmen are supposed to show up by Saturday so that things can get started as soon as possible. Bryan, you’d know, has that changed in the last couple of weeks?
Another Anonymous asked: “I’m wondering about the Freshman year courses. By the time I start in the fall, it will have been 1 year since I studied physics and 2 years since I studied chemistry. How hard is it to jump into (what I expect to be) very rigorous courses? (Maybe even assuming you didn’t learn very much to begin with?)”
Some people come in never having had physics before. It’s hard, but it’s definitely doable, and MIT understands that people have all different backgrounds. There are resources specifically for frosh, and upperclassmen who will help you, and if you are struggling in the 5.111/2 version of chemistry they’ll provide free tutoring. You’ll have a slightly harder time for the first term or year, and then you’ll be on pretty even footing with everyone else.
Anonymous asked: “If I can’t make it to CPW, how out-of-the-loop will I be in the fall? I’m afraid I’m going to miss a great opportunity to meet my future classmates. :(
Well, it’s a shame (and I encourage anyone who can make it to come), but don’t worry too much, a lot of people can’t make it. You’ll have plenty of time to meet classmates in the fall, and in my experience most MIT students identify more strongly with their living group than their class anyway.
And finally, Ricardo asked: “First of all, I wanna know what the nightlife is like on the MIT
Second, is there any mexican or latin comunities??
I would also like to know what your opinion is about the school and how do you spend your free time?”
MIT is a very noctural place. Nighttime is prime time for both tooling (studying) and socializing. A lot of people just like to hang out and talk late at night. Most weekends feature several parties at various living groups on and off campus. There are numerous clubs in the area, both typical ones and stuff like goth clubs. Sometimes there’s late-night Capture the Flag or other group activities or games.
The school is hard, but I enjoy it and its culture very much. For more details about how I spend my time, read through the archives of my blog. :)
Hope you found this entry useful.