It’s CPW week!!!!!!!!! (What is CPW? It’s Campus Preview Weekend, or as I tell all my friends back home who don’t know MIT lingo, Admitted Students’ Weekend. Admitted high school seniors flood MIT for 3.14 days and all of campus puts on a bazillion fun events for them!) I wanted to write to all of you who will be coming to visit very soon. You might be super excited, or kind of nervous, or maybe you’ve already comMITted and so you’re honestly kinda meh. And that’s all okay! I definitely can’t hope to answer everyone’s questions and echo all of your feelings, but I’ll share what advice I have, and hopefully it can be useful to some of you. (If you want more good good CPW content, check out posts from previous years, like Yuliya’s, Selam’s, Jack-William’s…)
For me personally, CPW was a way to decide where I wanted to go for undergrad. I hadn’t comMITted yet (and although I don’t know the stats, the people I met seemed pretty 50-50 with regards to if they had or not). CPW was the first admitted students’ weekend or day I had been to. I didn’t know what to expect at all — but wow, did it end up setting the bar high for every school I went to afterwards.
My parents didn’t come with me; they stuck me on a plane by myself. It wasn’t quite my first time flying alone, but it was my first time exploring a new city on my own (I’d always been picked up at the airport before). There are plenty of events for parents at CPW, and lots of them do come, but my parents and I agreed that I should experience the schools I was visiting alone, since that’s how I would be experiencing them for the next four years. (Also, they had jobs.) ((If anyone else out there really likes Taylor Swift, it felt very “So here I am in my new apartment in a big city, they just dropped me off“))
I had no clue what I was getting into. For me, CPW was a Complete tangent, but I will never be able to use this word again without thinking of the incredible song from the movie Boy Erased. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkbdUPKD8ek I came in stressed out to all hell about decisions and left with a certainty, even if I wasn’t fully ready to admit it, that MIT was the place for me. So many things helped me gain this knowledge — the campus, the events, the city — but most of all it was the people I met. They ranged across such a spectrum of passions and majors and hobbies, but they were all kind and interesting and so. freaking. nerdy. (and unashamed and exuberant and beautiful in their nerdiness!) in a way that made me want to stay here forever.
So, given all that, what advice do I have for you?
- Don’t worry if your CPW doesn’t look exactly like someone else’s. Your parents came with you, or your younger siblings, or you’re all alone? You end up falling asleep at five am in a lounge somewhere far away from your host dorm room, or you go back to your room to get seven hours of sleep each night? (That was me, by the way. Take care of yourselves everyone!) You go to a new event every hour, or you go to a couple each day and then spend some time chilling with the new friends you’ve made? You want to hang out with as many groups as possible, or you’d rather have meet a few people and then take time to reflect on your experiences alone?
All of these ways to “do” CPW (and the ∞ other ones I didn’t mention) are completely legit; don’t feel shamed for doing what you know is right for you. In particular, don’t feel pressured to go to tons of events or stay up really late if you don’t want to — CPW has a lot of stuff going on, but that’s so that everyone can go to things that are fun for them! (This sentence is also true about MIT in general, but CPW is definitely more overwhelming.) You don’t have to do every single thing, and in fact, if you did you would probably die.
- On the flip side, do make sure to go to at least some different places! Visit multiple dorms, don’t just stick around one; don’t just go to burger grilling events (although those are great), but also check out something academic, something from an extracurricular group, etc. There are literally hundreds of events; like I said, this doesn’t mean you have to go to hundreds, but make sure to explore at least a little! Go around campus itself, physically, and get a sense for how you like it. And, be honest with yourself. If you like one vibe you run into but not another, or if you’re generally not liking something, don’t feel the need to force yourself to enjoy it. CPW is a great time (as is the rest of undergrad) to learn more about yourself, and you’ll need to be able to ~listen to your heart~ to do that.
Two things not to miss, imo:
i) The academic fair, where you can see all the courses MIT has to offer and talk to professors who do everything. (I talked to: computer science, mechanical engineering, French, Latin, and literature professors. And there were so so many more!)
ii) The activities fair, which is equally fantastic and overwhelming except that it’s full of upperclassmen and extracurricular organizations and clubs. These are great places to see, very concretely, the huge range of opportunities that are on offer here.
- Talk to people! Talking to people is hella scary, tbh. I am still working, very much so, on the whole talk-to-people thing. Honestly, the best friends I made at CPW came up and talked to me, for which I am eternally grateful. 😅 But still, the people are fundamentally what make every college its own unique place, and they will be what makes your experience a blessing and a curse (no offense, but sharing a kitchen with 40 other people, in my mind, can only be described as a curse. Even if you love those people to death and they make the rest of your day a blessing).
Talk to your fellow prefrosh; talk to the professors you see at academic things; talk to upperclassmen, who are on the whole so ready to talk to you. We’re so excited to have you, and to tell you about this place we love! Don’t be afraid to ask honest, blunt questions (“what don’t you like about MIT?” “what’s the most underrated thing about MIT?”). This is the time for you to figure out if this environment and these people are right for you. (However, if you don’t find your bffs, that’s totally okay! Tons of people don’t immediately click with anyone at CPW, and that definitely does not mean you will be forever alone at MIT.)
I’m so excited for you all to experience the magic that I felt while at CPW. I don’t think that I will ever be able to forget it… seared in my mind is the stars and the lights in the night sky the moment I jumped the fence to Briggs Field, running from Simmons to MacGregor. My friends were holding my backpack for me and I felt so light and free, like I was moving so fast that I had shed all the constraints that bound me before. Like I could be anyone and the darkness would still hug me back.
Have the most wonderful of times*, kiddos, and I’ll see you soon <3
*and if you don’t have the most wonderful of times? That’s okay too. Go where you’re happy, because that’s really all that matters.
- Complete tangent, but I will never be able to use this word again without thinking of the incredible song from the movie Boy Erased. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkbdUPKD8ek back to text ↑