As a freshman in college, one of the most important things I do is reflect on my experiences here at MIT. How am I doing in my classes here? What could I be doing differently? Am I asking for help when I need help? Do I leave my dorm room enough? Am I taking the most advantages of the opportunities I have here? Am I happy here?
During one of my reflection times, one thing that dawned upon me was the concept of “average.”
Being average is a strange idea. No one ever wants to be average. Society says that we should try to establish ourselves as individuals by being the best in something or by defining ourselves with certain characteristics. For example, I remember being average was “BAD” in high school because you needed to be different than everyone else to get into a good college. You needed to be a leader with drive to change something about your community, an academic scholar with good SAT scores and solid grades, and an individual with spunk and character. As a result, I strived for A’s, worked hard to become really involved in different clubs, and tried to establish myself as an individual at my school. Simply put, I wanted to be the best in everything I did.
Then, I came to MIT. Here, everyone is the best of whatever high school that they went to or the best in an activity or the best in some competition. I’m not saying that here at MIT, we don’t strive to be the best we can be (because some of the people here are probably the hardest workers I know). But I am saying that striving to be the best of the best will definitely cause some serious burn out. Accepting that it’s okay to be average (academically) is something that’s hard to grasp, but a part of being a student at MIT. Being a freshman, my initial mindset was “I have to get As on everything, I need to be involved in everything, and I need to try hard to be different than everyone.” But let’s be honest, this is Sparta MIT. It’s physically exhausting to get A’s on every test, paper, and problem set. Plus, there’s not even enough time in the day to really get everything done and be involved in everything. Now, I know it’s actually okay to be average sometimes.
But don’t think that this means that everyone here is the same. This would be a bad misconception to make about MIT. As a school, we consist of some amazing, high-achievers who are extremely talented in a wide range of different subjects and activities. Yet despite our differences in the passions we pursue, we all share the same dedication to our passions, which creates a diverse but unified culture here on campus.
All in all, I just wanted to end with a message to all the high school students out there reading the blogs: Strive to be the best you can be in high school. Take the hardest classes you can take, get involved, and love what you’re doing. People at MIT love a good challenge. Obviously, we wouldn’t have come to MIT if we weren’t up for a battle over the next four years. Taking challenging classes in high school is one of the best things you can do to prepare for college. Not only does it keep your mind sharp, but it actually does prepare you for what lies ahead. Although I can’t say I remember everything from every AP class I took in high school, I do feel like I’ve learned the problem solving and studying skills that I needed for classes that I’m taking here. But you only go to high school once, so academics shouldn’t be the only thing that defines your high school career. Get out and try new things!! Get involved! In high school, I tried robotics and science olympiad for the first time and got hooked. Those two clubs were easily the defining activities of my high school experience. Through those clubs, I was able to learn what I loved to do. Lastly, the path to getting into a good college isn’t about filling out the lines in your resume, but rather finding what you’re really passionate about doing. The college activities and essays will come easily once you’ve spent four years doing what you love.
Best of luck to the seniors applying for college!