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MIT student blogger Cristen C. '10

Ask Yourself by Cristen C. '10

Can you really LTFP?

I know I haven’t written anything lately. Portraying MIT feels a bit weird now because my boyfriend, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, has just taken a leave of absence.

Taking a break from the Institute is not unheard of here. I can think of several people I know who are currently taking time off, have recently come back, or have returned, realized MIT was still not what they wanted, and left again for good.

So there’s something I want to convey to you. MIT is not for everyone!!

It’s not that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with the Institute. But it’s just impossible to satisfy everyone, you know? For example, if you really wanted to pursue a career in advertising, then you might be able to find someplace better.

A lot of emphasis in choosing colleges goes towards student life. Are there enough places to eat? Do our traditions seem cool to you? Can your dorm/FSILG make you feel at home? While these are all extremely worthwhile questions, they shouldn’t overshadow the most important question of all:

What are you going to study?

Would a degree from MIT really be worth it if you spent the years unhappily toiling through a course of study that’s not even vaguely within your interests? I don’t think it is (but I’m sure there are people who’d argue..). You can stay undecided for a certain amount of time, but there comes a point in time when you need to decide on a major (sometime during sophomore year) and then study the heck out of it with awesome MIT skill.

Most areas of study here revolve around engineering. Anything else besides science/engineering tends to feel like some “other” major (I’m in such a major!). That said, the other programs here range from amazing to fantastic (I really really love my major). But there are only a finite number of them.

My point is, think long and hard about what you want to study before deciding where. Ask yourself questions — enough to make yourself see your own personal truth. Here are a few to start off:

    • Do you enjoy being worked (read: challenged) over and over again? At least you’ll be happy while you’re hosed.
    • Do you despise the thought of working through *Magic Algebra* repeatedly? Then you probably don’t want to become an engineer.
    • Do you prefer hands on work or theoretical studies? You’ll want to figure out how MIT’s department learns a given subject.


This is not to say that answers are absolute. People change over time. MIT is especially great at showing you just what unbelievable feats you are capable of. But in the end you are you, learning is not one-size-fits-all, and your studies are a central part of your college life, wherever you choose to pursue it.

My next entry will probably be about MIT’s School of Architecture + Planning (yes, with the plus sign). Stay tuned!

21 responses to “Ask Yourself”

  1. wendi says:

    This is a really good question to ask! I like the questions that you posted – it really gives you something specific to think about whether it’s really worth it rather than just asking you “is it worth it?” =).

    I look foward to your next post :D

  2. Student '11 says:

    Isn’t it IHTFP?

    So LFTP

    Love This Place?

  3. cristen says:

    oh. haha. a hilarious, but completely unintentional typo. fixed. ^_^

  4. Anonymous says:

    LTFP = Leave this place

  5. Anonymous says:

    wow this is exactly what my application essay was about…strange coincidence

  6. Ehsan says:

    This isn’t related but check out this site that ells you when you can get free food at MIT!

  7. Monorina says:

    I’m going for comp and electrical eng.(that’s course 6(a)/6(b),right?)
    That’s been fixed for a long time now.In my mind,that is.

  8. Reena says:

    YES. :D
    what I want to study made me apply to MIT.

  9. Reena says:

    Oh, and “Anonymous” up there must be some strange, strange sort of genius.

  10. Anonymous says:

    For extreme academic sense and hardcore NMS type students, MIT is not as good as IHTFP type of publicity conveys, for undergrads. The institute has its merit for course 6, graduate division, no questions on that. In other departments, regrettably, to say the fact, its way below average. And this’s why it fails to retain genuine students. One of prime factors among others.

  11. lulu says:


    what does NMS stand for?

    You can’t be citing about “national merit scholars” as the apex of academic achievement.

  12. Eric Carlson says:

    Is MIT a good school for a guy with “Magic Hands” that let him figure out how anything works by taking it apart?

  13. K says:

    Hi Cristen. If I remember correctly, you’ve posted that you went to Stuy…I’m wondering how much harder MIT is than Stuy. I’ve applied early, and I think MIT seems like a nice school (I especially like the blogs xD). However, I’m don’t know how much of a fit it is for me. I’m already working near my limit (and I’m not one of those students who have taken 12 APs while balancing it out with massive hours into extracurriculars; I’m not sure if I can make it at MIT. Moreover, my undecided-ness regarding my major/future career isn’t any more comforting. Be frank, please: how much of a difference has it been for you? How was the transition? Thanks.

  14. Mgccl says:

    I love to be a tool.
    MIT is just the place for me to study stuff…
    someday I will find out a way to RULE THE WORLD…

  15. Anonymous says:

    A lot of time, a lot of opportunities, including MIT, awaits you all. It’d be worthwhile watching, where it’ll land you all.

  16. Chris O says:


  17. Reena says:

    …oh, is that what NMS meant?
    because I know kids who were acing calc when they were 14 who did worse on the psat than kids who are getting C’s in calc now
    though I’m no MIT student, I think I can pretty safely say that
    1) MIT does not “fail to retain genuine students.”
    Heck, they’d definitely retain me if I went there, and I consider myself a genuine student, though not exactly in the classical straight-A sit-at-your-desk-and-do-homework-all-day sense. I think anyone who studies really, really hard at what they care about can be called a genuine student.
    2) With that, there are many, many genuine students who don’t get national merit.
    When I was a sophomore and took the psat, I got an 80 on writing. The year it counted (junior), I got a 65. Other sections were similar.
    3) Even if I’d scored in the 50’s both times on every section, I still don’t think that’d automatically make me not a genuine student.

    Standardized testing is only so reliable, y’know?
    just fyi smile

  18. Victor says:

    Looking forward to your next post. I am intending to major in urban studies and planning, and I would love some more information on it.

  19. Arpit says:

    ooooooops i never thought about this….. the question is more interesting and tough than those of calculus