Over these past couple of weeks, I’ve had the absolute privilege of working closely with MIT Admissions to help organize CP*, MIT’s virtual take on Campus Preview Weekend. Who knew that the years I spent wasting away on Discord would one day come in handy for something as important as this?
During this time, I’ve been able to talk and spend a lot of time with 2024s and it’s been an absolute joy. I somehow convinced the admissions team that I was trustworthy enough to a) run my own CP* events b) have my own channel to livestream to adMITs and c) host my own Q&A session on MIT Admissions’ official Instagram account.
Running these events and interacting with the prefrosh has been so incredibly rewarding, and it reminds me a lot of my own CPW, though it may be taking place in different forms.
But as CP* rolls to a stop, I really wanted to write a kind of dedicated letter of sorts to the prefrosh since I’ve had a lot of questions in my DMs and asked publicly and on the IG live that I really wanted to address and I guess this is something I really want all of you to read and understand. I would give you all a big, big hug if I could.
Firstly, congratulations on being admitted to MIT. I always say this, and it sounds super obnoxious, but you’ve literally been accepted to one of the top universities in the world. My freshman year is ending in a couple of weeks, and I still have moments when I walk past little Dome and feel this tightness in my chest because I’m still in awe that I’m attending MIT.
I’ve talked with many of you, either on the Discord or on Instagram or maybe even Facebook, but I really wanted to sit down and write something that was meant for all of you to read. I’ve been getting a lot of questions and concerns regarding MIT, like:
- how do I know MIT is right for me?
- how hard is MIT *really*?
- i dont know if i’m smart enough to go to mit.
- how do i cope with impostor syndrome??
And a lot of things within that vein. I thought it might be good to try and write down my responses in one document so someone can read it.
MIT is stressful and I don’t know if I should go because of this. I don’t know if I’m smart enough for MIT.
So, this was something I was really concerned about when I was choosing MIT over USC. I was really concerned that I’d be sacrificing fun and friendships for a degree, but I think you have to understand there’s much more to MIT than its rigor. MIT, yes, is one of the most difficult schools in the world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean these next four years are going to be constantly filled with stress.
I had a prefrosh ask if MIT was four years of stress with spurts of fun scattered somewhere in between. I argue that in fact it’s the opposite. Super duper fun, great people, encouraging environment, with moments of stress and doubt and those all nighters you have, etc.
I chose MIT not for its academic rigor, but for the people. The people are what make it absolutely worth it because I guarantee you you will not meet a smarter, more passionate, and diverse group of people. During my CPW, I was hovering between USC and MIT, but when I just started talking to faculty, other adMITs, and upperclassmen, I realized that there was a lot more to MIT other than just this prestige. In fact, while the prestige was nice, that was kind of a minor part of what was attractive about MIT. MIT was the first place I’ve ever gone to where I felt like I could fully just be myself.
I’ve always described MIT as having this specific energy, something you can just feel on campus. It’s this feeling of people at work, constantly thinking and creating and working towards their passions. Every single person on campus I’ve talked to has a passion, and it’s something I really admire about MIT students. And it isn’t always STEM related. While yes, MIT is a very STEM heavy environment, we also have incredible humanities and people who are passionate about the humanities. We have talented musicians, dancers, artists, writers, and many more who find ways to demonstrate their creativity and love for art in so many ways on campus.
The people are what make it worth it and you have to understand that MIT is a collaborative environment. It’s incredibly difficult so you understand that you need to collaborate, work with others, and rely on your peers and classmates to succeed. It’s a way to teach you that you aren’t alone and that your weaknesses can be someone else’s strengths, and your strengths can be someone else’s weaknesses.
I want to remind each and every one of you that MIT accepted you because they know you can handle the rigor and are up to the challenge. And please remember that no one ever has to go through MIT alone. It’s just not how the school works.
I was someone who entered MIT expecting to struggle a lot. And, in fact, I ended up struggling way more than I originally anticipated. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it — there were nights where I’ve stayed up staring at code because I just didn’t understand, or days where I’ve just thrown my pset at the ground and just started crying. But in these moments where I’ve struggled, I was never alone and I was able to push through it.