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MIT student blogger Snively '11

Finals Week, from my perspective by Snively '11

My finals.

It’s over. Dear god, that was rough. Seriously. Freshman year I thought MIT was tough, and it was. But that’s all it was, it was tough. It required some extra work, some time management, and it was different than I was used to. I complained about “drinking from the fire hose” since that’s what everybody else was doing. “I’m doing it!” I thought, “I’m doing MIT! It’s hard but totally doable! I could actually be ok in this place!”

I was wrong.

Well, not about doing ok, because MIT hasn’t completely broken me yet, but this last semester was when I realized that MIT actually was hard. We’re talking miserable hard. It was a test of will, to be sure. For example, on my first test of the year I got two standard deviations below average (7/20). That’s bad. That’s solid F territory. My second test wasn’t much better (9/20) but was within a point of average. Third test? 10/30, 1.5 standard deviations below. Third test? 9.5/20, half a standard deviation below.

I didn’t actually score average on a test until late November, my very last test of the semester. It’s one thing to say that MIT is hard and that bad test scores will happen, but having to actually try to recover from bad test scores and working at it all semester actually wears on you. Really wears on you. Ask anybody who knows me, I came out of the summer all happy from working at Hasbro and building toys all summer and within a two weeks I was run ragged. Add compounded failed tests and you had a pretty rough semester.

My demon was 2.005, Thermal Fluids. That class is the most information intensive class I’ve ever seen in my life. Seriously, you can’t imagine the amount of material they expect you to absorb, and not just that but also the extent to which they expect you to be able to use and manipulate it. It’s one of the (if not the) most failed class in Course 2 (Mechanical Engineering). After my first test I was pretty screwed, it’s hard to recover from two standard deviations below average. After that moment it was just a constant struggle for life.

That struggle for life culminated on Wednesday last week with a 3 hour, Katy bar the door, hold me tightly sweet Jesus, weep for me, *sob* final that could be equated to being repeatedly paddled in the face. Honestly, nobody walked out of that exam feeling good. I don’t think anybody actually solved any of the questions on the last page. Honestly, it was bad.

It’s not like I wasn’t prepared, I worked my butt of studying for that final. I locked myself away for entire days to study, but there was just SO MUCH to study. Oh, wait, quick sidetrack. On the first day of finals (Monday) I was heading to a lecture hall early to study all day and lo’ and behold, a hack! I didn’t have my camera (I was going to study, no distractions) so the pictures here aren’t actually ones I took, but check it out! Barrel of Monkeys hanging from the Lobby 7 skylight!

Complete with barrel

Apparently I was one of the lucky few who saw it because by 8 o’clock AM it had been taken down. This is one of my favorite pictures (as sad as it may be) of the monkeys. It’s very foreboding.

Anywho, 2.005. I walked out of the final at 4:30 PM on Wednesday and went straight back to the dorm for a nap. I slept until 8 o’clock and then packed up to study for my next final. You see, I had one more final and I hadn’t even begun studying for it yet. I was so focused on 2.005 that I neglected almost everything else. The plan was to study from 9 PM all the way to 9 AM, which is when my next final (2.003) started. I threw up a quick blog entry at the start of the study marathon, and then set to work. I was actually very productive. 12 hours is a surprisingly useful chunk of time. NEVER do it, it’s miserable, but I did learn a lot! The only issue was that at about 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning I was absolutely exhausted. We’re talking tired. It was really miserable there towards the end, but I kept studying, and then it was time for my last final. I took it and felt quite good about it (not 100% definitely class average).

After that I was done. Done. Done with the hardest class of my life (unless I had to retake it, a very likely situation) and done with 2.003. I didn’t quite know what to do, so my body just gave up, caved in, and I fell asleep. I woke up later, watched Flash Gordon, and then passed out on the couch. My body had simply given up, I had expended every ounce of everything (something that you will do if you go here).

Today some grades were published. I got A’s in Digital Poetry and Advanced Toy Design. I got a B- in my HASS class, Forms of Western Narrative, which I’m totally cool with because I actually enjoyed the class. It was a lot of reading and a lot of writing, but it was good, I learned a lot. Then they published the 2.005 scores.

I got a B.

I freaked out. Honestly, getting B in that class was just about as exciting/unexpected as getting into MIT (I know what it feels like, I’m allowed to compare the two). I didn’t fail, and not only didn’t I fail but I also got a B! Oh my god! I did better in 2.005 than I did in my HASS class! That B has made the last, oh, 16 hours I’ve been spending in this airport TOTALLY worth it.

So now I’m waiting. My flight leaves at 6:00 AM (I’ve already been on two canceled flights, I’m hoping this one doesn’t get canceled. If it does then I may be stuck in Boston for Christmas because the airport I’m trying to fly into is about to get buried in the worst snow since 2003. Here’s hoping I make it back.

So that’s it, I survived. I’m still waiting for my 2.003 grade, but I’m not nearly as scared of that class. Next semester I’ll do it all over again and the year after that and the year after that. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try to get a quick nap in before my flight. Ciao!

36 responses to “Finals Week, from my perspective”

  1. Reena says:

    Oh man, congrats!!! I took a physics midterm a bit back (doing physics outside of school) that I was sure I failed, and got an A (maybe everyone else just failed worse, I dunno). It was the best feeling ever. Like “Whoa, I actually learned as much as I was supposed to.”
    Alas, after this year I’ll probably have to give up the hope of ever getting A’s in physics again. :p

  2. Shreya Vora says:

    Congratulations.
    Not for the B, but for surviving.

  3. Colton says:

    Congratulations on surviving!

  4. Jacob '13 says:

    The barrel says “Hacking, more fun than.” More fun than what?

    Congrats, Snively.

  5. Anonymous says:

    @Jacob ’13

    … more fun than A BARREL OF MONKEYS, silly boy!

  6. Vaibhav says:

    @Snively
    Nice one! Wouldn’t coffee have been a good caffeine source?
    How did you manage to stay awake for the whole night though?? – and this is the condition when you study for the exams during the term too… – is that only for 2.005 or is preparing for all subjects well before advance essential? (if so – about how long before the exams do you start your prep.?)

    Lastly – what IS thermal fluids about? (you see – I’m in 11th grade – and we’ve just started learning Thermodynamics right now…)
    Enjoy your break!

  7. MIT '11 says:

    2.005 is A-centered? I never would have guessed.

  8. :EMAIL: says:

    You know, I didn’t think 2.005 was that bad. I thought 2.003 was miserable…except I don’t think they’ll be as forgiving in 2.003. :[ Sadness. I guess I’ll be holding my breath waiting for those grades to come out.

  9. Anonymous says:

    wish my school had finals you could actually freak out about

    *sigh*

  10. Snively says:

    @Vaibhav
    2.005 is this lovely little gem that actually combines three classes: Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer, and Fluid Dynamics. There are three tests, each one over each of those topics. But, since this is MIT, you don’t just get a cursory introduction to each of those three things, you get the full blown deal. I’ve uploaded the outline from the final review session and also the equation sheet we were allowed on the Final Exam.

    Final Exam Outline
    Final Exam Equation Sheet

  11. Anonymous says:

    ^ Tha’s some scary s*** right thar!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Glad you got a B Snively.

  13. When you go to college it is not the norm of trying to make good grades. Trying to past the class is! That is how I felt about my Chem class this semester but I got an A. I wish classes could be as simple as Calculus. Good luck with your other classes!!!

  14. Oasis '11 says:

    Your review sheet was only one page? pfft. our review sheet was like 11 pages ahahaha.

    jk smile

    tho your equation is some scary stuff. O___O i would feel intelligent if i knew what all those symbols meant.

    (and navier-stokes! oh wow i’m excited to discover that it actually has a practical application lol =p)

  15. '12 says:

    Congrats on the B, that’s awesome!

    So I have a question, if grades are missing from Websis for freshman, does that mean we failed (aka no record) or are some grades just not posted yet?

  16. D says:

    You have pretty handwriting 0.o

    Congrats on the B =)

  17. Reena says:

    @ Oasis
    …Your statement about Navier Stokes just made my inner atmospheric-physics-major-to-be start quietly sobbing raspberry

    You wouldn’t have weather forecasts without Navier-Stokes.
    I think that’s huge.
    And I could go on for pages about the rest of Navier Stokes’ EAPS applications.

  18. well the satisfaction you get when you stand back to admire your hardwork greatly outweighs the pain that went into the process!
    congratulations!Snively for surviving a tough season at MIT.

  19. Oasis '11 says:

    @ Reena –

    I’m sure it does, but when I learned about Navier-Stokes back in the day (at Mathcamp and AoPS) I learned it without its associated uses. I also just wikipedia-ed the theorem and realized that the theorem was actually fairly important lol.

    oh well, goes to say i’m hopeless except life sciences =p

  20. Anonymous says:

    So, how did you do in your 2.003 class?

  21. AK says:

    I am in the 1st year of a college in India.Can I apply both as a freshman and as a transfer student?I ask this because I really wish to restart at MIT.If that is not possible now,then I will apply as a transfer student.
    Please reply.

  22. tree says:

    @Snively
    Congrats for getting through the semester. Seriously. Halfway through you sounded so weary in your posts.

    I heard you had trouble reaching home ’cause of the snowstorms. Best of luck with that.
    Oh and 2.005 looks scary. Eleventh grade thermodynamics seems so pretty in comparison; it was barely anything.

  23. Snively says:

    @Anonymous
    I don’t know yet, they haven’t posted grades for it yet.

  24. Reena says:

    @ Oasis
    Ahahahaha, mathcamp.
    A few of my best friends were/are mathcampers.
    But I’m horrible at math when it’s not applied to anything, so I would probably die there.

  25. Steph says:

    Congrats on the B! I’ve had one of those moments. It’s such an exhilarating feeling to find out that you got a higher grade than expected.

    Good luck on year 2.

  26. Vaibhav says:

    @Snively
    Sweeeeet!
    I’m quite surprised to find out that from the review you posted – we’ve actually got the Heat engines and refrigerators (as well as the closed system the 2 laws and convection…)
    But I suppose I’m right when I say they’re in HUGE detail for you??
    As for the Navier Stokes eqn.- “What the hell??”

  27. Ehsan says:

    Atleast it’s all over now. Time to unwind, relax and get ready for another semester.

  28. Vinay says:

    Good job man! My high school sucks and the board decided it would be a good idea to have finals AFTER Christmas break! I would rather get them over with….. But I guess this does give me more time to study. :-(

  29. MIT '11 says:

    You know what really sucked about the 2.005 final? The equation sheet didn’t even have all the equations we needed…

  30. Anonymous says:

    Good luck Snively.

  31. Justin says:

    Hi Snively, it must feel good to be through that all and on break! I am an EA accepted student, and I didn’t know where else to ask you this, so I decided to do it here. I self-identify as pretty “normal”- not particularly nerdy, not hunched over not making jokes about pi, etc. I do want to study engineering and business, like working on cars, used to do lemonade stands and legos, etc etc etc.

    I saw a blog you wrote a long time ago about the show Beauty and the g33k, (http://snively.blogspot.com/2007/01/beauty-and-g33k_07.html) and I noticed that you wrote this:

    “MIT Guy – I would like to say right now, to defend my honor, I am NOT like him at all! In fact, as I watched him I looked over at my mom and said “Seriously, MIT accepted him?” and she replied “Michael, a lot of people, the majority of people, at MIT will be like him.” I think that was the first time I didn’t look forward to MIT. Please, I put out a plea, PLEASE be some normal people at MIT. Please?!”

    Well, is it true? Are there a good number of “normal” people at MIT? Please be honest, because I really just don’t know if I will fit in and I want to make the right college choice. Any input you may have to offer would be great.

  32. Snively says:

    @Justin
    Yes, there are “normal” people at MIT. There are definitely people who fit the MIT stereotype perfectly but there are also others that you’d expect to see at any random public high school doing totally normal high school guy stuff. There will be enough people for you to relate with that it won’t be a problem.

    Also, while we’re on the subject, did you know that Chris is a bartender?

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