CPW was a lot of fun, and it was great meeting so many of you in person. The fabled Weather Machine did its job on Thursday, so at least you guys got to see some of the nice weather we have hidden around here. :)
okay, maybe not… [that’s Gullfoss in Iceland]
We did a skit at the welcome ceremony on Thursday night — the “top 10-ish reasons to come to MIT.” If you went, you saw me and the other bloggers in all our glory. It was cool! Then you got to see us again the following night in the Student Center, at Meet the Bloggers. I hope you guys liked the root beer. My twelve hours at Registration desk were rewarding as well, even if I was grumbling for part of them because of having to wake up at 7am. ;-)
April 21st is the deadline for freshmen to declare a major. Technically, it’s the deadline by which we must file the form, which doesn’t mean much since you can declare yourself “undesignated.” I’ve done a lot of thinking and soul-searching lately, as well as a lot of chatting with current students and faculty in various departments, and I’ve decided that my best path is through Urban Studies and Planning. I previously thought I might want to make that my minor, with a major in management, but I’m going to try to flip that around. I really don’t want to major in management, not that it would be a bad way to get where I’m going in transportation, but it’s just not the path I want to take.
A couple of years ago, the Sloan faculty heard the desires of the MIT community for a recognized undergrad course of study that was less intensive than a major. The minor in management was born, requiring four core classes (14.01, 15.501, 15.668, 15.812) and two electives. In the first four years the minor is offered, it’s limited to 100 students in a lottery. So, we’ll see if I can do it. I’m still sticking with the program in Applied International Studies. I look forward to telling you all about my fall classes and the sorts of things one does in Course 11 as the calendar year progresses.
I found myself mentioning a lot of good things about our faculty during CPW. I think it’s pretty awesome that during your freshman year, you can have a world-renowned, esteemed faculty member as your advisor. And through a freshman advising seminar, you can maintain weekly contact with your advisor in a classroom setting with other students. While seminars only take place during the fall semester, you keep your advisor throughout your freshman year. You can read about advising at MIT as the freshman year comes to an end.
I asked many folks during the weekend what they think they want to study when they come here. I heard a lot of “I have no clue,” “I have no idea,” and “I want to study bioengineering/biomed/[insert road to becoming an MDPhD here].” The great thing about MIT is that while many people come in with strong passions, the influx of amazing things to study helps better direct you as you come into contact with mounds of things you’ve never even seen or heard of before. If you’re undecided, don’t despair! I know many freshmen who still don’t have any idea what they want to do with their lives.
If you’re like them, and haven’t yet chosen a major by the end of your first year, declaring yourself undesignated allows you to choose an advisor from any MIT department except Course 6 (Electrical Eng & Comp Sci). You can either keep your freshman year advisor, or select a new one. When you’ve chosen a field of study, you then get a new advisor in that department. All students must choose a major by the end of the sophomore year.
The cool thing about MIT faculty is that more often than not, you can simply drop someone an email expressing interest in their work and department, and arrange an appointment to go pick their brain. Of course, that’s a bit generalized, but usually professors and other faculty are happy to chat with freshmen who show initiative. That’s the key, though — freshmen who show initiative: you’ve got to make a little bit of effort — go knock on their door, send an email, go chat with the secretary. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
More later about Course 11, the advising process, and the second half of the second half of freshman year.