For the past six years or so, I’ve been a desk calendar addict. You know, the ones that have something to read every day, and you rip them off every day, leaving you with 1) an invariable daily sense of satisfaction and 2) way more scratch paper than you’ll ever need. I always get them as presents at New Year’s now – I’ve gone through The Far Side, George Carlin, Word-a-Day (that was junior year, when my mom was sure they’d raise my SAT verbal scores through the roof – to this day I can’t remember a single word), Sudoku, and so many more. Sometimes I even have two at a time (I think my mom got me Word-A-Day for my senior year as well, to which I retaliated by going out and getting Daily Paperfolding or something like that).
This year, it’s Worst Case Scenarios, those little orange books that tell you everything from how to do a 360 with your car to how to escape from a well. Today’s lesson? How to Foil a UFO Abduction.
1. Control your thoughts.
Do not think of anything violent or upsetting – the extraterrestrial biological entity (EBE) may have the ability to read your mind.
2. Resist verbally.
Firmly tell the EBE to leave you alone.
3. Resist mentally.
Picture yourself enveloped in a protective shield of white light, or in a safe place. Telepathic EBEs may get the message.
4. As a last resort, go for the EBE’s eyes – you will not know what its other more sensitive areas are.
This entry is all question-and-answer, and I know you guys have been holding back on me, so I just wanted to answer that one burning question you’ve all been holding back: how to foil a UFO abuction. Oh no, folks, it’s not just EBEs that are telepathic. Don’t tell me you weren’t wondering. Well, now you know. Don’t you feel better and ready to apply to MIT now?
BananAPPEAL quandries: 1) Is MIT a place for academic masochists?
2) What’s your major, and how is the work treating you?
3) Are you getting paid for working for the Admissions office? Or is it fulfilling some sort of community service requirement?
1) We prefer the term “pedantic self-torturers”. No, but seriously, MIT is a hard place. It isn’t for people who are afraid of hard work, and it can get a lot more difficult if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. But at the same time, because it’s such a challenging environment, we stick together. It is very common for people to stop and help you out when they have a million things to do themselves, especially upperclassmen, because we all know what it’s like. So while we live in demanding conditions, we do it together, which is really important.
2) MIT students don’t declare majors until the end of freshman year, at which point we can declare “undeclared”; we then have until the end of sophomore year to declare an actual major. I’ve been thinking about my options and keeping them open, and I’ve eliminated some courses that I know I don’t want to pursue, but as far as my official major, it’s pretty much what it says on my blog home.
3) I’m paid by comments, actually. $5 per comment, $10 per compliment and $15 per question. Not really, but yeah, I’m getting paid. BUT in my defense, I blogged all through high school, and when I applied for this position I didn’t know it was a paid job. I’ve just always loved doing it and I would definitely do it for free. I’m not just saying that. Really. This is one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, and I only say “one of”, not THE best, because my summer job was decorating cakes. It’s pretty hard to beat that.
Deb catechizes: I was wondering if low SAT II scores would hurt me, since none of them are over 700 (there was a huge stress fiasco last year, and it wasn’t pretty). It’s not that I’m a horrible student, I still have a fairly high GPA and I take a crazy courseload, and I’m got this unhealthy relationship with my research lab. But would disastrous SAT II scores be a huge end-all or something?
The words “crazy” and “unhealthy” are a little frightening. Don’t overexert yourself – this is just the beginning of the rest of your life! And the rest of your life is going to be so much more AWESOME than worrying about SAT scores! It sounds like you’re enjoying your lab, so that’s awesome, but don’t tell me you’re living in your bacteria samples (it’s not healthy in a variety of ways). And no, SAT II scores < 700 are not going to destroy you. You’re getting into some pretty major extremes when you’re looking at anything classified as an “end-all”, and less-than-perfect SAT scores aren’t in that category. Karen answered this pretty well:
“I was admitted to MIT with much less than perfect SAT scores. They were in the 680-700 range (well, with the exception of writing).
I haven’t really decided whether I’m proud of this or not, but it does answer your question. Last year when I visited, there was one person I talked to who had a 500-something on one of the sections. And he seemed to be doing fine. However, it can’t hurt to retake them for a better score if you feel they didn’t reflect your abilities well enough.
Don’t panic :)”
I’d also like to quote Laura without her permission, but it’s on the same site so I’m hoping she won’t sue me:
“Because the truth is that your SAT score, no matter how high it is, is not enough to get you into MIT. Invariably, someone takes that statement and decides that it means I think you should retake the SATs until you get a perfect score. And that’s not what I mean at all. If you’re stressing over 20 points on the SAT, I will guarantee you that there is something cooler you could be doing with your time that will do far more to help your application than to sit in a classroom for 3 hours on a Saturday and pay someone to let you take a test.”
I know this is like a glorified “what they said”, but really, I couldn’t’ve said it any better. I hope that helps.
Sean ponders: Just one question though, do you know of anyone at MIT who was a member of FIRST, or recieved a FIRST scholarship?
My roommate, for one. Mr. Neha (which I’d like to re-emphasize, stands for My Roommate Neha, and does NOT mean that Neha is a male) was the team leader of FIRST at her school, and basically took care of every aspect of her team. Laura is a FIRST mentor. Quite a few people on my hall were members of FIRST, especially Course 2 majors, and I’m sure there are plenty who received FIRST scholarships; I myself never built a robot until the first week I was here.
Sam Jackson scrutinizes: Get out and enjoy the head of the charles any?
I myself did not – crew is definitely not as big where as I come from as it is here- but I did see some boats go by during the bbq (Next House is right on the side of the Charles River; you can actually see it from my room’s window). My buddy Stephane took some better ones, so major props to him. (For everyone else, Head of the Charles is a huge annual regatta held on the Charles every year; it’s a pretty big festival, from what I saw.)
You can see more of his pictures here.
Rose reflects: I am hoping to apply to MIT a year from now, and I was wondering whether or not I should take BC Calculus. At my school, they don’t offer the class, however I can take it as an independent study course with a teacher as an advisor. Is the class an important component in being academically able to succeed at MIT?
No, it isn’t. You can come into MIT without AP credit for calculus and be perfectly fine, but if BC Calculus interests you, and you think you can handle it without stressing yourself out too much, go ahead and take it! If you do decide take the AP exam for BC Calculus, you can pass out of 18.01, the first level of calculus, and take any of the 18.02 classes (18.02/18.022/18.023/18.024). But if you don’t think it’ll give you a strong enough background in single-variable calculus since you’ll be taking it independently (I know I never had enough discipline in high school to focus on courses I tried to take on my own), it might not be the best idea for you. Either way, it won’t affect your performance at MIT later – I have a lot of friends who came into MIT without taking calculus or who only took the AB level.
Tina implores: Do MIT students drink? ON campus? At the off-campus party? Sharing a communal bathroom? You mean between male and femle? I don’t think my parents will like this idea. Most of your dorms have this kind of communal bathroom? My dad will like me to go to Wellesley then just because the communal bathroom matter.
It’s no secret that college kids drink, and MIT is a college environment like any other. MIT’s policy is focused mostly on eliminating dangerous drinking, rather than eliminating the act entirely. Having a completely strict zero-tolerance policy can often times be more harmful than acknowledging that drinking happens, because the truth is, college kids are exposed to new freedoms and are going to experiment no matter what the school’s policy is. (A friend of mine at RISD, where they have a very firm no-alcohol policy, tells me that her friends just go to Brown to drink, at which they have no protection from their school). We do have a very strict policy about registering parties so that MIT knows what is going on and where.
As for the bathroom question, my dorm (Next House) has co-ed bathrooms. If you come to MIT, Simmons and Burton-Conner both have smaller bathrooms between a few rooms, and at both dorms you can request to keep your bathroom same-sex. You and your parents should know we also have an all-girls dorm, McCormick, if you are uncomfortable with the bathroom situation of other dorms. It’s actually one of the most beautiful dorms on campus – it used to be a hotel! – and is in a really convenient location. So we have something for everybody!
Josh reminisces: Dude, I completely forgot the 4th grade writing stuff. It’s all coming back to me now. Like the time I got banned from the computers because I was having too much fun mashing the keyboard.
And I remember you typed really fast.
I still type really fast. Something like 95 WPM, last time I checked. I could totally take Mavis Beacon any day.
Parents, high school students, and EBEs alike – keep asking those questions. Even if you’ve already sent in your application, and you just want to ask if that crazy-nauseous-excited washing machine in your stomach is normal. (It is. Relax! Okay, much easier said than done, but I already gave you the steps to foiling a UFO abduction – it’s pretty much the same thing for not stressing out over college apps. Control your thoughts, resist verbally…) A few of you asked for essay tips, and I definitely have a lot to say about that, so check back early next week for a pretty comprehensive entry. If you need some help to get you started immediately, Mitra wrote a pretty awesome post that helped me out when I was applying. Just remember, you’re almost there!
On a more important note, what’re you guys going to be for Halloween? My lifelong costume goals have been 1) to cut open a garbage can, paint myself green and be Oscar the Grouch, or 2) paint myself all gold, wear wings, and be the Snitch (you know, from Harry Potter?). I’m probably never going to get to do them, but if you guys ever do, send me a picture. I appreciate the vicarious thrills. Thanks.