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MIT student blogger Jess K. '10

Burn Out or Fade Away by Jess K. '10

Suggestions for second semester seniors: don't take either for an answer.

Around the world, college students are going on hunger strike in his memory.

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve had anything substantial to say; finals hit a few weeks ago, after which I flew home immediately and completely lost all control of any higher brain function. I’ve spent the last two weeks hooked up to a machine with my tongue hanging out of my mouth. By a machine, I mean my television. Oh, the movies I’ve missed since I’ve been at school.. I watched Say Anything for the first time and have decided a better course of action for my life would be to leave MIT and follow John Cusack around until he holds up a boombox outside of my window.

(It’s only my first paragraph, and I’ve already given my mom about five heart attacks! Sorry, Mom.)

So your applications are already in; you’ve already compressed your life into four lines on a piece of paper and sent it out with your heart to a bunch of strangers. A little scary, isn’t it? But you’re a second semester senior! It’s widely advertised as the best time of your high school career, much like being a first semester MIT freshman on pass/no record is flippantly thrown around whenever work is mentioned. “I have a fourteen-page paper on the development on 16th century wart-elimination creams due tomorrow.” “Eh, you’re a second-semester senior/first semester MIT freshman on pass/no record.” “You’re right! Want to go to the museum instead and check out the hot docents?”

The one thing I would say to this is be careful; it is so, so easy to burn out.

You’re closing the door on everything you’ve known so far, but it’s just the beginning of the rest of your life. I know that when I sent in my apps last year I kept thinking that this was it, my journey was almost over. And when I was accepted, it was the prize, it was the end of the road that I’d been working towards for so long. I’ll be the first to admit that I lost sight of that amazing education I was really working for, and while it’s perfectly acceptable – even expected, at 18 years old – for me to have no idea what I’m doing with my life, I’m having to take a lot of time to figure out where I really want to end up. I’m actively seeking out the multitude of opportunities that are available to me as a MIT student and it’s unbelievable and strange and amazing, but if I could start this part of my life over I’d have started much earlier.

You’ve all already turned in your applications. And yes, you will be accepted to college, and yes, you should celebrate your awesomeness for the rest of your life. But don’t let that inhibit you from recognizing this is a big step, not a finish line, in your life (and especially don’t let it inhibit your schoolwork!). Because eventually, you’re going to get to go to that college, and you’re going to get to (not HAVE to!) kick up a storm again and change some lives, your own especially, so if you treat this like the end, it WILL be the end for you.

(Okay, I didn’t mean to sound like I was going to come to your house and punch you in the face if you don’t listen to me, but you get what I mean, right? I was trying to use parallel structure.. perhaps the key word here is “trying”..)

Or you could look at it another way. Ben wrote a post about “The Match” that got a lot of you talking about how to judge whether or not you’re suited for MIT, and vice versa. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s another chance, because it covers a lot of bases and a lot of the attributes aren’t simply starting a chapter of Treehuggers United or winning the European Young Scientist award. That’s not to say that some people are born to go to MIT, but high school has always been so much of trying to be something you’re not, from just putting on too much makeup to joining a club to enhance your applications. So maybe instead of using it as an excuse to sleep through your classes, look at your second-semester senior status as a break from all that. Learn how to watercolor. Test the levels of bacteria on dropped food to find out whether the ten second rule is actually valid. Start a band. Wear purple sweats. Come to school in the purple sweats your aunt bought you because she forgot you’re past puberty. You’re leaving this place soon enough, anyway, right? Might as well make your mark!

I’m writing (and trying to decide if I can make the hurdle over the guy sleeping in the aisle seat with his mouth open to go to the restroom) from some 30,000 feet over Wyoming as I’m flying back to MIT for IAP, during which I’ll be training to be an EMT. It starts tomorrow, so you’ll definitely hear from me again soon.

By the way – I’ve noticed a distinct lack of questions over the past few entries. Bring the questions back. Them other bloggers don’t know how to act.

20 responses to “Burn Out or Fade Away”

  1. Carmel says:

    Josh V: what on earth are you talking about, senioritis started junior year

  2. Josh V says:

    “…Want to go to the museum instead and check out the hot docents?”

    HAHAHAH. I almost choked on my apple reading that line (not that there’s anything wrong with docents or anything).

    You give some good advice. I definitely think “senioritis” is going to be the little devil on my shoulder come spring…Going to have to watch out for that!

  3. Anonymous says:

    hahaha senioritis started freshman year when all my friends were graduating and i was getting ready to spend a year abroad in europe.

  4. Josh V says:

    hey jess,

    so i just read that you’re a swimmer…on a team? what do/did you swim?
    its all about the 100 fly for me (and unfortunately somtimes the 200 im-ugh!)
    do you swim for mit? varsity? do they have club or jv teams at mit? (because i’m def no varsity swimmer)

    also, what’s it like being asian at mit? do you not even think about it? do you just go with the flow and chill like everyone else? and i only ask because my elementary/middle school was pretty much an all filipino (maybe like 70-80%) school, and when i moved to seattle prep (my hs), it was like 70% caucasian so it was kind of a big change and major deal to me and i noticed it not frequently, but often. and because i’m also in the multicultural club and i think about things like that.

    and i know i’ve written so much already, but i just found out–like just a second ago i hung up my phone–that i was accepted to go with my school to new orleans this spring break to build houses! whooo! yayerz! i’m hella excited–thought i’d share! k i’m done.

  5. Melissa H says:

    Ahh, I’ve been living with senioritis since I was a “senior” in junior high. wink

    I’m going to work just as hard this semester, but I’m not going to stress about the grades as much as usual. Do the same work but without the worries – use that worry time towards something useful. There’s so much I want to do, and I can start doing it without feeling guilty =)

  6. Good advice, Jess. I’ll try to explore a little this semester.

  7. Jess says:

    Ritchie – you’re totally right; I meant feet. My bad!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Oh, senioritis. I often get criticism from my friends for being too hard on myself and not letting up now that second semester is approaching. All I can say is…you don’t need to be in contention for valedictorian or worried your chances are poor for college acceptances to work hard THROUGHOUT highschool. Senior year is supposed to be a challenge! (Dispite what some people think…) It’s a springboard into next year and the rest of your life, so keep on working!

  9. Meara says:

    Ah, senioritis… If I can figure out Green’s theorem in time for the evil math final of doom I will feel totally free to take up underwater basket weaving next semester. Too bad it’ll be too late to put that on all my college applications. *grin*

    Yay for IAP! I wish we had that. Sounds like way more fun than finals…

  10. Meara says:

    Ah, senioritis… If I can figure out Green’s theorem in time for the evil math final of doom I will feel totally free to take up underwater basket weaving next semester. Too bad it’ll be too late to put that on all my college applications. *grin*

    Yay for IAP! I wish we had that. Sounds like way more fun than finals…

  11. Laura says:

    So all these people I know when and applied to the EMT class and then got accepted but never told me so I only found out by convincing one of the officers to show me the class list.

    Geez. Anyway. Since current student EMTs are the only other ones who’ve been through the class, I’ll be a TA. (When I finally get back…) See you in class, JKim. wink

  12. Ritchie says:

    “I’m writing (and trying to decide if I can make the hurdle over the guy sleeping in the aisle seat with his mouth open to go to the restroom) from some 30,000 miles over Wyoming as I’m flying back to MIT for IAP”…

    30,000 miles over Wyoming is ridiculously high for commercial aircraft haha. That’s higher than geosynchronous satellites (22,300 miles), which would probably mean that your plane, which is traveling slower than the speed of sound, is actually flying backwards relative to the earth. I think.

    Sorry, but that was just really funny. But this is good advice. I’ll keep it in mind as I try not to sleep through school, waiting until the day I start classes at MIT.

  13. Josh V says:


    pshhhh. hahaha. senior year is hella hard and i def am not letting up any time soon.

    ps: yay for my integration test on weds and semester finals next week! not really.
    pps: the new season of the hills starts next monday! yesss. hahahah.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It is usually called the five second rule and I am sure you know the answer to the validity of the rule. Many years of travel lead me to armrest walking to bypass the droolers.

  15. Sam says:

    Ha, when I saw the tagline for the entry, I thought you were offerning me advice as a second-semester senior. Actually, I think you should offer me advice anyway. I’ll be your Linus if you’ll be my Lucy.

  16. Trevor says:

    Hokay so… I am waiting. (Er, here’s the earth. Dem, that is a pretty sweet earth you might say. ROUND.) Frankly, I expected a much quicker turnaround time on that new blog entry you promised.

    But more relevant to this blog post: I remember senioritis. Haha, it kind of felt like IAP does… For example, that pset due tomorrow afternoon that I haven’t started… Except that procrastinating psets is nothing new!

  17. Ashley says:

    Hi, I am a high school junior who’s planning to apply to MIT next year.

    How is food in MIT? I remember you writing about that amazing sandwich, but you can’t eat that sandwich everyday for 4 years.

    Do you cook/make your own meals?

    Do you have time to fit all your extracurricular activities and workload in your schedule? You did write about tons of activities, but are you still involved in those activities while finishing up your problem sets?

  18. Amy says:

    Post idea: I was just curious – a while ago you posted about getting a new Macbook. What’s it like switching from a PC to a Mac and how does it fit into an MIT-style life? Are you liking it so far? Do computers play a big part in life in general at MIT, or just for Course Six-ers?

  19. Elizabeth says:

    Wow, I hadn’t posted since about when this blog was posted, so now I’m reading it. Too late! Senioritis hit me last week since that was the first week of the second semester. I’m with Josh in that senior year is way too hard to have started last semester…and really about the only way it actually affects me now is that, when we have an optional homework assignment, I choose NOT to stay up to 3AM doing it like I would have last semester. So that’s about it. Otherwise I still have to stay up till 1AM with normal HW etc.
    Josh- Having read that you go to Seattle Prep, I can breath a sigh of relief- we don’t play you guys in sports, so there’s no animosity there! Hah! So that starbucks party is still on! w00t!

  20. Elizabeth says:

    and OMG, i just found a post from Victoria ’10 (Seattleite, posted in December) from when she was waiting for her early action letter (a deferral. She sounds JUST LIKE ME in December!)

    here it is:
    I live in Seattle and I haven’t gotten anything yet. The other EA applicant at my school hasn’t either.

    Posted by: Victoria on December 14, 2005 11:21 AM