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MIT student blogger Melis A. '08

Decisions, decisions by Melis A. '08

Now that you've been accepted to college, you have to decide where you'll spend the next 4 years. Hopefully, CPW will help you decide.

Congratulations! You have finally been accepted to college! 4(+) years of hard work in the classroom, and months of filling out applications and studying for APs/SATs, have finally paid off. At Campus Preview Weekend (CPW), you will have the opportunity to experience what life at MIT is really like. You’ll get to stay in a college dorm, go to college classes, and (best of all?) go to college parties! You will roam the Infinite corridor with the satisfaction that you could return to the campus in 4 months as a real, live MIT student.

As a high school senior, I was already pretty convinced that MIT was the place for me. I was assigned to Next House (I still run into my host, and I ended up living in Next for my first two years) and I tried to do as much as possible during my short 3-day stay. I already knew a bunch of people and hung out with them for most of the weekend. (Pictures are at the bottom of the entry…awww, we were so young!) I also still have the notes that I took when I followed a friend to attend a 2.006 (Thermal Fluids Engineering II) lecture. They’re pretty cute, since I had absolutely no idea what was going on, or even how to write the Greek letters that filled the board.

Let’s say that you’re not completely sold on MIT yet. Perhaps a friend of a friend told you that MIT is filled with nerds who are ultra-competitive and just study all the time. Maybe your friends are all going to school X and want you to go there, too. Or maybe, you just don’t think you’re smart enough to survive at a place like MIT. I’ll try to resolves these common problems/misconceptions one by one:

Misconception #1: MIT is filled with nerds (yuck!)
To be fair, this depends on your definition of nerd. Everyone I have met at MIT is extremely passionate about something. If you think that makes a person nerdy, then, yes, we’re all a bunch of nerds. Don’t despair, you honestly do not have to go out and buy a “Nerd Kit” (pictured on the right) to fit in. The Admissions folks spend months crafting a class that is diverse in their interests and backgrounds. Yes, there are people who appear to fit the stereotypical definition of “nerd” because they own binary clocks and have memorized the first 100+ digits of pi. But, if you take a second or two to talk to them, you’ll find out that they have applied their knowledge to do awesome things like building a wooden roller coaster and designing nifty electrical circuits, and their hobbies include dropping pianos and pumpkins off of roofs. Best of all, they probably would be willing to teach you how to do those things, too. It’s a very collaborative environment with seemingly endless opportunities. Just like any school, we have students who could fit into the classifications of jocks, geeks, fraternity boys, drama queens, etc…

Misconception #2: Your best friend or boy/girlfriend or mom or dad or sister or brother or grandma want you to go to X University, so while you may think MIT is cool, you’ll go to X because it will make them happy.
Ah, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this happen, I could at least buy a candy bar. You are the person who will have to spend four years at X University, and if it’s not a good fit, those four years are going to be miserable! It’s absolutely possible to maintain relationships with friends who go to other universities. The magic of the Internet, cheap airfare, and school vacations make it possible. I also know plenty of people who are into their third or fourth year of MIT and they are still going out with their high school sweetheart who lives halfway across the country. Similarly, I know even more people who followed their significant other to a school, broke up after a few months, realized how much they hated the school, and transferred out. Bottom line is, don’t let other people make your college decision for you. It’s supposed to be the best four years of your life, and you deserve to be happy!

Misconception #3: You got into MIT, but you don’t think you’re smart enough to actually survive here.
Perhaps this ties to misconception #1. The MIT admissions process is incredibly competitive and you were accepted because the people in 3-108 (Admissions Office) thought that you would be a perfect fit. Your acceptance is not a mistake; do not doubt yourself! Everyone at MIT did not get a 1600 and 4.0 GPA. But, as I said before, everyone is talented in their own special way (am I starting to sound like Barney now?) Since you’re special, you have nothing to worry about. MIT is hard, but as long as you ask for help and work hard, you will graduate with an MIT diploma and the confidence that you have learned “how to think.”

With that in mind, enjoy CPW! It’s in a week, hurray! Come with an open mind. Meet new people, soak up the MIT vibes, and ask us questions. If something is bugging you, ask a student for their opinion, and they’ll tell it like it is. Hopefully you will leave on Sunday head-over-heels in love. If not, that’s ok too, but try to figure out what went “wrong” and maybe we could help you out (e.g. was the dorm that you were housed in totally incompatible with your preferences? did you not get along with your host?)

Also, if you want to meet all the Bloggers, please come to the Meet the Bloggers event on Friday (the 13th!) from 8:30-10 pm in the Student Center’s Mezzanine Lounge. Without you guys, it’ll just be me and Mitra sulking awkwardly in the corner while the ice cream melts and Sam entertains everyone with funny anecdotes… There will be food, I think, and we would love to meet you all!

Pictures from my CPW:

29 responses to “Decisions, decisions”

  1. Kari says:

    Thanks…do you know anyone who’s interests have shifted to include more humanities than tech-y stuff? have they managed at MIT? or are they transferring/unhappy?

  2. Ruth '07 says:

    Also to Anonymous,
    It’s a little out of the box thinking, but I was in a similar (albeit not quite as bad) situation when I was accepted. My folks basically told me we couldn’t afford MIT, even with financial aid. But word got out about my case to some local service groups at home – Rotary, Kiwanis, the like. It was such a good story – first student ever accepted to a school like MIT in the area, hard-working parents, couldn’t afford to go. I got a lot of help. It might be worth trying.
    Good luck

  3. (Ahh, had to take advantage of that perfect opportunity.) Awesome post Melis! I had never heard about MIT until I actually accidentally heard about it through an Anime/Manga podcast I listen too. After searching the site, and reading the admissions blogs, I was immediately sold on MIT. Little did I know how competitive the Admissions were. Hope I can be privileged enough to come for CPW next year, lol I’m ready to add that ’12 to the end of my name.

  4. Melis says:

    Hi Kari,

    I have a ton of friends (including myself) with a strong interest in the humanities. One of my friends is even writing a sci-fi book on the side! I’ll be blogging about her soon…. But in the meantime, our humanities department is small but terrific. There are plenty of faculty members who are passionate and qualified, and would love to help anyone! For more info about the humanities classes, click here:

  5. CambridgeBoy says:

    I have a question to pose about “surviving MIT” because that is my number one fear.

    I plan to enroll in MIT’s premed program and you know how obsessed premed students are in striving to achieve the perfect 4.0 GPA and excell well in academics stuff. Do I need to kill myself, work my butt off, and have no social life in order to attain this goal or are my fear of not being able to do good in classes not justified?

  6. Yoshi says:

    I am so sorry guys to ask you this but this has been in my head in a while, it has nothing to do with the subject but what is the derivative of x^y=y^x
    I think is just one but I just dont know.

  7. Melis says:


    Being Pre-med is difficult at all colleges. You will need to work hard, but it’s not necessary to “kill yourself and have no social life.” Medical schools know that MIT is hard, and they don’t expect you to have a perfect GPA.

    Also, you may think you want to be pre-med now, but it’s possible that you’ll come to MIT and realize that you’re really passionate about x or y. So, keep an open mind, and don’t give up the MIT experience because you’re afraid of getting a B.

  8. Erick says:

    Derivative of x^y=y^x
    y*ln x=x*ln y
    y/x+ln x=xy+ln y
    y/x-x/y=ln (y/x)
    (y^2-x^2)/(xy)=ln (y/x)

    I think that is right…

  9. Erick says:

    Oh Noes! I forgot my dy/dx >.Oh Noes! I forgot my dy/dx >.<

  10. Melis says:


    I’m sorry to hear about your situation, but I would encourage you to speak with Daniel Barkowitz , he might be able to give you some advice.

    As Ruth said, you should definitely search for scholarships. They’re a little more difficult to get at this point, but they do exist!

  11. anonymous says:

    correct the hyperlink
    places outside US don’t have really good internet.
    so if you want to discover an MIT kid out there, that kid might not have time for correcting the hyperlink by removing a comma.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I am an unhappy kid from a middle-class family and have been admitted for class ’11 since 12/09/2006. The money needed to pay for the $48,800+ at MIT this coming school year is a big problem to my parents. Without any hesitation they told me at least 3 months ago that they can not afford the flight ticket for me to go to the CPW. We are even thinking to completely forget about going to MIT this fall but to attend the University X that offers me huge scholarship for the next 4 years to come. I don’t know what to think now. I just want to cry!

  13. Ram says:

    I was addicted to these blogs last year when my daughter was in the race to get into MIT. I still visit these pages even now for the awesomely interesting reading your blogs provide. Keep up the great work!

    A parent from the wild west

  14. Hey, anonymous above.
    I daresay it sucks to be in your situation. But at least you got into a splendid university, and you can actually go to another university cheap if you choose to. I was rejected from both MIT and my dream school, and shed some tears over the latter. I did get admitted to a good university that is supposed to offer good education cheaply, but I don’t know if I can even afford that.
    This probably doesn’t sound much like a consolation, but please. At least you know your achievements are acknolwedged.
    Best of luck. I do hope you can attend MIT this fall.

  15. milena '11 says:

    Hey anonymous, did you send in all your finaid papers? and most importantly, did you get your finaid offer? If you did receive your offer but it’ not enough money, maybe you should call the finaid office and talk to someone there.

  16. Tina says:

    And if you DO know pi to 100+ places, don’t feel bad.

    Because I still think you’re cool. smile

  17. Vytautas says:

    Tina, I have 20 in my head right now, so it’s 80 more to go for me to the coolness :D

  18. Anonymous says:

    WOOT CPW! this is gonan be sick^(the extreme)

  19. Vishaque says:

    Alright, it seems that at least some people got off the block, by getting their names in “lucky-lucy-draw” or “MIT-admit-procedure”. I remember last, I got same kind of starry eyed, when I have first read these blogs. The reality is awesome. If you can afford $65, then I think you all guys should see it for yourself.

    Melis, lovely post; just as you helped others by providing hyperlinks for their respective queries, you should also give me some hyperlink from which I can get the track record of those students who has been admitted with full financial aid. If you havent any, then I think you can ask for some, from [email protected], for you are an official student. By the way Melis, what is your parents’ combined income, annually? At least you can answer this.

    And please, tell those guys it is futile to send viruses, since I do not have any computer; all these responses are sent from cafes of Developing Nation.

  20. MH says:

    Is that … SHAYE and BORIS?

  21. I have 91 digits memorized, and I used to have 180. It’s really not all that useful except in winning pie for pi memorization contests.

    Question: MIT is my number two choice for a college, but I’m also interested in drama and athletics. How big is the MIT Track & Field Team?
    And how many people work in the Drama Club (or whatever you people call your ensemble).

  22. Halle says:

    Melis, I see that you are doing 2A, something I was thinking about, except for product development. Is there a lot of flexibility in the major, because I am interested in design, psychology, and business as well as engineering. Thanks in advance

  23. Anonymous says:

    To the anon way above, you may want to consider giving the finaid or admissions offices a call. I was in a similar situation last year; my mom had left her job and my parents were divorcing, so I didn’t know if I’d be able to afford coming here (as compared to a full ride at University X). The finaid department was very helpful for me (and gave us an extension on the paperwork since my parents were separating at the same time) and they even reimbursed us for the travel for CPW.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Hey anon way above, just so you know, two years ago i was admitted to my dream school (MIT) and a couple other big name institutions..only to recieve NO financial aid. With siblings still in high school, who will also be going to college, my parents could not afford the $45K out of pocket per year. I decided that it would be financially irresponsible of me to go into $200K of debt to attend MIT, and thus turned down the offer. Don’t get me wrong, I was heartbroken/devestated–MIT had been my dream for many years, especially after I attended the WTP program and spent the summer on campus. Two years later, (my brother was also recently accepted to MIT–with a little bit of financial aid, as there are now two kids in college in our family– so I still regularly check the blogs for information), I attend a state school (a fairly good one at that) and LOVE it. The programs are awesome, and nationally recognized–one of the top schools in america for the number of dollars spent on scientific research, as well as an awesome honors program–and has been a great place to get an education. Although, I always wonder what would have happened if i had gone to MIT, I know that in know way has my future been compromised/my opportunities limited. In fact, one of my profs this semester was a guest lecturer at MIT for all of last semester. So my point it, for you, and for anyone else who is dissapointed in their financial aid offer–there are many affordable and financially viable options for college out there, and many, many opportunites that rival those found at MIT.

  25. Ali says:

    Merhaba Melis i’m from Turkey while i was peeking the website of mit, i saw ur name how is it going?

  26. Anonymous says:

    Hey, Another Anonymous,
    Milena ’11,
    Anonymous Right Above,

    Thank you all so much for sharing your ideas and experiences to alleviate my pain of being short of fund to go to MIT this year. I haven’t check on Mymit blog for a few days because I semingly have given up my last hope on MIT. I too have two younger siblings, who are one and three years younger, (Both are academically stronger than I) and are heading to college very soon. I did not get financial aid from MIT but get almost all bill paid to another very good private university, which is also quite famous for its engineering programs. I can either take the scholarship from this university and excel at it or quit school, go out there to make money in this coming year, and then go to MIT as a’12, if I am sure I can make 200k in this year to pay for MIT in the next 4 years. I no longer feel that bad that I might need to give up on MIT. I still have about 20 days to explore the money possibilities before I completely give up on MIT. Thank you all!

  27. Anonymous says:

    that is the exact same “nerd set” that i bought for halloween for years back yonder…

  28. V. says:

    Hey Tina I am flattered.