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MIT student blogger Mollie B. '06

Class-tastic by Mollie B. '06

In somewhat sharp contrast to previous terms, I’m taking only three classes this semester — and so far, it’s been great! I only have one class on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and two classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. My classes don’t start until 11 AM each morning, and I have plenty of time to work at the lab — I’m scheduled for 16 hours per week this term, although I may end up working a little more or a little less, depending on what’s going on that week.

A typical MIT courseload is 4 classes (48 units), although people typically take anywhere between 3 classes (36 units) and 6 classes (72 units). I’ve known people who have taken between 90-100 units, but they’re few, far between, and amazingly brilliant. As a double-major, I’ve generally had to take between 60 and 75 units every term since sophomore year, and taking 36 units this semester is a huge vacation for me.

I thought today I’d share a few class schedules, just to give you an idea how a few of my friends and I are spending our academic energy this semester.

Me ’06, course 7 (biology) and course 9 (brain and cognitive sciences)

  • 7.27, Principles of Human Disease. I’m actually taking the class on junior/senior P/D/F, so I’ll just get a passing or failing mark on my transcript.
  • 7.28, Molecular Biology.
  • 9.24, Diseases of the Nervous System.

Adam ’07, course 16 (aeronautical and astronautical engineering)

  • 16.05, Thermal Energy.
  • 16.621, Experimental Projects (the first part of a senior capstone class).
  • 16.901, Computational Methods in Aerospace Engineering.
  • 21W.785, Communicating in Cyberspace.
  • STS.014, Science Communication.

Jason ’09, course 10 (chemical engineering)

  • 5.12, Organic Chemistry.
  • 18.03, Differential Equations.
  • 14.01, Principles of Microeconomics.
  • 8.02T, Physics Electricity and Magnetism.

Mark ’07, course 6-3 (computer science)

  • 6.022, Quantitative Physiology: Organs and Tissues.
  • 6.034, Artificial Intelligence.
  • 6.042, Mathematics for Computer Science.
  • 21W.785, Communicating in Cyberspace (he’s in Adam’s group).

Kjell ’09, course 6 (electrical engineering/computer science)

  • 6.001, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs.
  • 8.02T, Physics Electricity and Magnetism.
  • 9.00, Introduction to Psychology.
  • 18.02, Multivariable Calculus.

8 responses to “Class-tastic”

  1. M says:

    4 classes per semester… It does not look strikingly difficult to me, but maybe because I haven’t had any experience with psets.

    Mollie, I’m doing the IB course with HL Math, Chem ang Bio. Say if I get admitted to MIT, I will probably have covered classes like introductory statistics. Can I get credit for those classes and ‘bypass’ them? My teacher says if I’m going to schools like MIT, I should probably not bypass any classes, especially if that class is lab-based. What do you think?

  2. thekeri says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever get over the whole Course 9/Course 7 double major. Because really, that just sounds so cool.

  3. Ben says:

    Rumor has it that you hooked BCHB up with the Atari watch. I need to see that in person, so you’d best bring him around sometime soon.

  4. What is up with the whole abstract course nomenclature? Im sure this is great for MITers, but it seems rather arcane to the outside world. Why not call Course 9 ‘Biology’? Why not go the full distance and dispell with names, each student can be RFID tagged? This is all in jest, I really could care less.

  5. Just wanted to add my $0.02 for ‘M’: 4 classes may not sound like a lot, but it is. The vast majority of us at MIT took a bazillion classes at a time at AP/IB levels in high school and didn’t find it all that difficult. But MIT is different: 48 units is plenty. 60 units is hard.My advice to you, if you end up going to MIT, is start out w/ the typical 48-60 units and see how that goes. Who knows: maybe you’re an ubergenious who can do 100units at a time. But as Mollie said, there are very few people who can do that. (There used to be a cap on the amount of units a first-term freshman could take, and I think it was 60 units, but I don’t know if that’s still in effect.)

    And your teacher is right: unless the MIT class offers an advanced-standing exam and you pass out of it, it’s better that you take the class again at MIT. MIT usually does not offer credit for classes taken elsewhere, and for good reason: MIT classes are extremely demanding and often are not matched in rigor and content by other institutions.

  6. Dan says:

    What’s the difference between organic chemistry, molecular biology, and biochemistry? They all sound so darn similar. I may sound dumb to some people for asking this, but who cares, right?

  7. Sam says:

    Mollie, it’s a little strange that I don’t know one senior Course 7 major who is taking more than 3 classes this term. Your achievement of this with a second major is, of course, doubly impressive, though.

  8. They can be organized in terms of content and abstractness. Organic Chemistry deals with the chemistry of carbon containing molecules. While some focus on biologically relevant reactions, it principly the study of a class of chemistries rather than biology. Biochemistry deals with chemical processes ocuring in living things (i.e. catalyzed by enzymes) like the reactions of metabolism; biochemists break down biological pathways to chemistry that is actually occuring in a particular process (eg. what amino acid residues in the active site of an enzyme catalyze a given reaction). Molecular biology typically looks at biological pathways from the macromolecule level (proteins, DNA, RNA), typically central molecular processes such as transcription, translation, cell cycle…etc.

    In other words: Organic chemistry is chemistry, biochemistry is chemistry that pertains to biolgy, molecular biology is molecular scale biology.