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MIT staff blogger Bryan G. Nance

How A Blog Became A Community by Bryan G. Nance which The Nance waxes philosophic about The Nance Effect.

Happy New Year to everyone! As you may have noticed I’ve been absent from The Nance Effect. As hard as it is to believe, even I needed to take break. As my wife so ably put it, “Back away slowly from your job, and no one will get hurt.” (By “no one,” she meant me.)

For all of you who call the “Nance Effect” a home of sorts, thank you for your continued insight, wisdom, humor, patience and dedication. Much to my surprise this blog seems to really resonate with many in cyberspace. It is hard to believe that I’ve only been at MIT since July of 2005 and this blog has only been active since late August 2005. It is no exaggeration when I say that The Nance Effect has become a true on-line community.

What does that really mean? Everywhere you look you see the word “community” casually bandied about. To me there are few concepts more sacred than that of community. What is more important that community? It’s the place where you commune with family and friends. It’s the safe and supportive place from which you embrace the learning process. It’s the place from which you venture out to spread your wings and go about the often-tumultuous process of learning and growing physically, mentally and emotionally. Most importantly, it does not rely any one individual for its success.

Everyday I see signs that The Nance Effect is great community. I watched as total strangers met at my blog for conversation, fun and intellectual discourse. I saw you joke with each other about your favorite movies and music, and you even weighed in with clever suggested names for my soon-to-be-born son. (YES, WE’RE STILL WAITING FOR HIM & NO; WE AREN’T GOING TO NAME HIM PROMEITHESIS!)

I saw you cheer those who were tubed; and I witnessed many of you struggle to make sense of the pain and disappointment of being deferred or rejected in the Early Action pool. I watched as many of you asked difficult questions of me and of each other, all the while respecting points of view that were counter to your own personal philosophies. In particular, I was very proud of the way the vast majority of you handled yourselves when responding to the “Deferred” and “Welcome MIT Class of 2010” threads. It would have been easy for you to post comments that had a mean or negative tone. Even when baited by comments that were clearly out of bounds, you did not fall for the Jedi mind tricks. In fact, many of you went out of your way to remind us that mutual respect is the community norm and anything other than that would not be tolerated.

Why is finding and forming this kind of community so important? Simple. It’s exactly what you hope to do when choosing where to attend college. The same principles and intrinsic qualities that you find appealing in this community are the same ones you should seek out when deciding which college communities to join. Remember, you are not attending a college simply to study, you will also live in that community for at least four years.

It did not take long for me realize that I was onto something special with this blog. As Paris Hilton would say, “that’s hot!” It is very important to me that this blog be a conduit for useful tips on the admissions process for students of color. But honestly, the posts that I’ve enjoyed the most are the ones in which I get to dispense laughs or in which I get a chance to learn from you. It was great to confirm my suspicions – in addition to being WICKED SMART, you are a witty lot. I am pleased that you continue to ask your friends to join this community. I am constantly amazed that you quote me or reference The Nance Effect on your personal blogs.

I am humbled that you have continued to keep this community alive and vibrant even when I needed to “back away slowly” for a few weeks.

Before we return to the regularly scheduled soapbox, I call for a moment of reflection. Let the community know:

– What worked?
– What did not work?
– What would you like to see in print in the coming year?
– What do you never want to see/discuss ever again?
– Where did I drop the ball?

As we forge ahead into the ’06, I offer this quote from one of my favorite writers: “no man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” -John Donne, Meditation XVII

12 responses to “How A Blog Became A Community”

  1. thekeri says:

    An excerpt from John Donne’s Meditation XVII was on my AP English midterm earlier today. It made me happy.

    I loved your post on 52 things not to do if you want to be admitted to MIT. True, that was hilarious, but it was also really helpful…

    …to a point. That was the end of MY Crayola-written app. ^_^

  2. Jenny says:


    Should I be worried if I sent my scores two times and called the admissions office to hear they didn’t receive it? All of my other schools received my scores in early december. I didn’t have a december score.


  3. Mia says:

    Hey Nance, I especially liked the “52 things…” and the baby names/music/movies post. For me at least, it lightened the stressful applying-to-college-making-important-decisions mood.
    Lately, I’ve been wondering how the bloggers for each class were picked. Did you, Ben, and Matt pick them? Is there an essay contest? How do you think you’ll go about choosing bloggers for c/o 2010?

  4. Julia Yoo says:

    One thing that sets MIT apart from other top schools is that MIT makes the application process so personal and humanized. THANK YOU and the rest of the admissions committee for treating each student, regardless of whether we were accepted, deferred, or rejected, as individuals with dreams and talents…not just another statistic in a huge applicant pool.

    Anyways, I’ll get back to your topic smile I def. enjoyed your 52 list and this entry! I amazed at how much I feel like I know you guys through reading your blogs for months…we truly are a community! And I think it’s neat how you let us post about our interests and non-college application related stuff!

    During the stressful six-week waiting from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, I found comfort and reassurance through your blogs. It’d be awesome if you continue to give us cool post topics such as fav. books, movies…etc every now and then.

    Congratulations on lil Nance’s birth!

    P.S. Btw, did you notice that there is girl admitted EA who’s name is Julia Yu? which is freakishly close to my name…hehe…

  5. shen says:

    Hi Nance!

    Congratulations on your baby’s birth and hope you have a nice, smooth time transitioning in and out of the times. smile

    I think all of your posts were very insightful and so I don’t think any of them that didn’t “work.” Like most of the commenters, I agree that your list of do’s and don’ts of admissions was BRILLIANT because we all need some humor to treat the application as a way to talk to the admissions committee and also to put things into perspective.

    Keep emphasizing the “be yourself” thing to prospective students–it really helped me when it came to writing essays.

  6. star says:


    I especially liked the post on affirmative action.

  7. First: Congratulations!
    Second: Many thanks for every single post that you have posted in here. It helped me a lot during the admission process, and I think that you made a very good work in keeping the process as human as possible (Ben did a great job too) and I would say that every post was worth it, so everything “worked”.
    Also I have to agree that the post of the 52 things list was awesome! I even printed it and showed it to my mother who was laughing with it. It was very funny and at the same time a good warning! Anyways, what I don’t want to discuss ever again? ….mmmm I don’t know… I guess everything was just fine and I can always read a little more about MIT.

    So in general, everything has been just fine and I congratulate you for the GREAT job!

    Many thanks for everything.

  8. I completely agree with Omar. I really want to thank you, Ben, Matt, and all the bloggers for making this a human process. Through these blogs, you guys made me LOVE x 10^200 MIT. Muchas gracias!!!

  9. Justin says:

    The 52 list was definately one of the funniest things I have ever read. The Halo one was great especially the “your mastery of said game is not a skill”. However, there is still one loose end from that post. What are the three things that havent been done? You said that I getting 2 of the 3 things wasnt bad, but my teachers would disagree and say that a 66% is a failure. As for the 2 I got right, they would have to be the wiggles and the spandex. While the DH rule is awful for baseball, somehow some people like it. Come on, the greatest thing in baseball is when the pitcher hits a home run. So for the third thing that hasnt been done, I am going to guess that the uncle whose car broke down on Mass Ave hasnt been done yet. (And if thats wrong, using my unlimited number of guesses (well maybe I will limit it at 52 (hmm a parenthetical inside of a parenthetical inside of another parenthetical)) and guess that the photoshop one hasnt been done yet. (And if thats wrong… well since I have no idea after that what, I will refrain from making any future guesses(for now).))

  10. s says:

    Heck, It’s THE Nance Effect- the blog had to work. It’s very nice of ALLL you guys- Ben, Matt, Marilee and you- to take the time out to calm our frayed nerves. (Some of us were really freaked out!)
    You were absolutely frank with us and let us see the human side of the admissions process and were even gracious enough to admit a mistake. So much so that I think even rejection will hurt an awful lot. I really trust you to do the right thing and you’re too COOL. smile)
    Thanks a ton!

  11. Anonymous says:

    It has truly become a community. Even some people that aren’t applying to MIT (not me, I’m applying!) are frequently here.
    Thanks for being a father to your new blog and new baby. (Blog comes first as it came first… I think…)
    And those of us who are accepted will undoubtedly seek each other out on campus. After all, we already know each other. In a manner.
    I think I’ve sent six people to the 52 reasons post alone. And they’ve stayed.
    Everything worked.
    Ways to get in. I think everyone would like to see guaranteed ways to get in. It’s impossible, but nonetheless,…
    How about a way to get world peace, cold fusion, and a solution to world hunger? (Besides not eating, I mean.)
    I never want to see people in spandex.
    I love John Donne!

  12. am i allowed to cry, or would that be considered “girly” *shudders*..^^

    <3 MIT, the nance effect, mymit, and oreos