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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

First day of classes by Matt McGann '00

What some MIT freshman schedules look like.

Yesterday was the first day of classes at MIT. I remember the excitement and anticipation I had on my first day back in 1996; I wish I could go through it all again!

You might be wondering, what would I take as a first term freshman at MIT? What you’ll generally see is something like this:

That’s a general framework, but because MIT provides a good amount of flexibility, some students do other things that best suit their needs. And even within the courses that are required, there are many different options: some with large lectures from noted professors, others with small classes lead by strong teachers; some focus on theory, others on application; and so on. Also, remember that all freshman come in to MIT “undeclared,” and use the entire freshman year to explore MIT before choosing a major.

In order to provide some real, concrete examples, I went to the Facebook and looked at the class schedules of some of my “friends” (names removed to protect the innocent). Here are a few representative schedules:

Student #1

Student #2

Student #3

Student #4

And what did I take, back in the fall of 1996?

Student #Matt

  • 18.02: Multivariable Calculus (taught by my beloved Hartley back then)
  • 8.012: Physics I (taught by the awesome Nobel Laureate Wolfgang Ketterle that year, who I should note is teaching an 8.012 recitation section this year!)
  • 5.11: Chemistry (back before they had both a 5.111 and 5.112)
  • 9.00: Introduction to Psychology (with Stephen Pinker)
  • “The History of MIT” Freshman Seminar (no course number anymore, though it was a great seminar)

Coming soon: a more in-depth look at freshman advising seminars. For more information about other exciting classes at MIT, cruise on over to Mollie’s latest entry. Finally, for those of you in Central Florida, I’ll see you tonight at 7pm in Winter Park!

9 responses to “First day of classes”

  1. MJ Kamalov says:

    that’s right Matt smile

    I’m taking 18.01, 8.01 (TEAL, which is so cool), 5.112 (mosachist chemistry smile) and 21F.222

  2. MJ Kamalov says:

    oh, i forgot about my freshman seminar smile 5.A17: Chemistry and Art

    and i have a post about the first day of classes on my blog too smile

  3. Jessie says:

    My first term at MIT, I took 8.01 (normal physics, I wanted to take TEAL but there was a conflict), 5.112 (masochist chemistry), 18.01A/18.02A (combined single/multivariable calc) and 17.40 (US foreign policy).

  4. Math and science schedules, huzzah!

    Another question: Today my college counselor said that an MIT rep comes up to Exeter to interview all early applicants. But I’m a day student, so it’s no problem for me to meet my EC. Which would be better? And if it’s better for me to interview at Exeter, should I let my EC know?

  5. Saad Zaheer says:


    Im studying my 8.03 Physics reading assignments!

    This is the first time in nine months that I have NOT visited Matt’s blog for four consecutive days!

  6. MIT is tough. On that note, I’m taking 3.091, 8.01 (it’s all teal now), 21M.611 (foundations of theater practice…basically theater tech, should be fun), and 18.01a/18.02a.

    18.01a psets will be the end of me.



  7. Leon Liu says:

    Hi, Matt

    I’m currently taking AP Calculus BC as a senior at my high school. Last year I have taken Calc AB and got a 5 on the AP test. If I get a 5 on the AP Calc BC test (which I am very confident that I will), do u think I will be able to take multivariable calculus in my freshman year at MIT if I will be accepted? I ask this because some people told me that no matter how well I do on some APs MIT would still make me retake the classes.

  8. Go says:

    This page is very helpful! Thank you very much!