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MIT student blogger Anna H. '14

I Challenge You by Anna H. '14

Pi day approaches.

As decision day draws nearer, “who” questions are taking priority.

“Who will get in? What happens to the people who don’t? Who will I become if I get in? Who will I be, who will I become, if I don’t?”

First, I think it’s important to consider why people apply to MIT. My primary reason for wanting to come – and the primary reason of everyone I have spoken to about this (both current students and friends who were rejected) – was not the fear of being unable to succeed without MIT, but rather a hope that MIT would provide me with an extraordinary experience en route to my success. Comments like “don’t worry, you’ll still succeed” and “you’ll be great wherever you go” are well-intentioned, but therefore miss their target, because they do not recognize where disappointment stems from. I never thought that failing to get into MIT would mean failing at life. Rather, I thought that getting in would mean having access to unique resources and unique opportunities. A close friend of mine, who was rejected, tells me that he was hurt and disappointed not because he believed he could no longer succeed, but because he lost the chance to have an MIT undergraduate experience.

I want to address that particular concern (although perhaps some of you do believe that attending MIT is the only path to success, which is a topic for another post.)

I’ve been immersed in this place for six months. You’re probably sick of hearing that MIT is what it is because of the people who go here, but it’s true: MIT is what it is because the people here create their own experience. They fill what would otherwise be a bunch of (not particularly aesthetically pleasing) buildings with energy, personality, and cool ideas. The individual creates his own experience at the Institvte: he takes advantages of the resources that are here, and creates the resources that are not.

The process of making what you can from a situation doesn’t require a specific setting.

I would never suggest that it’s easy to recreate “an MIT experience” (whatever that even means) because I know that you’d never believe me. But I will venture to challenge every one of you – those who are admitted, and those who are not – to concentrate on what you wanted out of an MIT experience when you applied. Hopefully, it was more than the chance to physically walk down a specific hallway, or take a specific class taught by a specific person. I trust that there were clubs you wanted to join, fields you wanted to explore, dreams you wanted to realize.

Whatever it is you wanted: hold onto it as tightly as you can. The hard part in realizing those hopes comes after pi day, not before it – excelling and being happy will be a challenge for those of you who attend MIT, as well as for those of you who do not.

I challenge you to bring your plans and dreams with you, wherever you end up: to resist abandoning them because you’ve been accepted and your life is complete, or because you’ve been rejected and your life is over. To make them happen, wherever you go.

You are guaranteed to meet hurdles and obstacles on the way to getting what you want out of college. Not because of where you are, but because of who you are, I challenge you to climb over them, dig through them, beat them down, and not allow yourself to be defined by the school you attend.

Addition: I want to draw attention to Spencer’s comment, since I think it’s a great idea.
“Fellow commenters, what say you we post those dreams and plans here to make sure they’re not forgotten after pi day?

I’ll start: To have something of my design land on Mars.”

I’d love to hear them.

64 responses to “I Challenge You”

  1. Neha says:

    That’s a great entry..!!

    I accept the challenge and yes, ” My immediate aim is to make the next 4 years of my college life a great learning experience. Later, I’d like to work for my country’s progress by working in the civil services.”

  2. Shahriara says:

    Seeing as everyone’s talking about their dreams, I’ll do too :

    I aim to be a theoretical physicist and find answers to each and every one of the questions I have about this universe, and to become a professor in physics and teach students from around the world and also bring about change in the way children are educated about science in my country

  3. Shahriar says:

    oops….I got my name wrong….it’s “Shahriar” …lol

  4. Bhaskar says:

    @Neha Hey similar interests in adminstration but not exactly as civil services..Great..The decisions date is coming closer..ding ding(as done by ninja hathori] haha..i watch cartoons too..

  5. challenge accepted! :D

  6. ST says:

    Translating khan academy’s library to urdu, and increasing its local proliferation, here in Pakistan. Also to work for the development of science research institutes here in Pakistan.

  7. orangeCookie says:

    Do research on Physics.. Win Nobel and turn into a politician and serve my people…

  8. Norah says:

    “I really would be surprised if an assortment of pixels on a transistor liquid crystal display had the power to so much as put a scratch on our wonderfully beautifully powerfully majestic dreams.”

    Well said!

    I definitely accept the challenge.

  9. Andy says:

    Find a cure for AIDS, and every other [seemingly] incurable disease.

  10. Banerjee says:

    Thanks so much Anna, for putting it in words. For the past few days I’ve been struggling to identify what exactly I think will happen to me if I don’t get in, and mostly I was oscillating between thinking I would fail at life and thinking I could still make it if I didn’t make it into MIT. But your blog was so inspiring, I think I know what to think now. Thanks smile

  11. @Shahriar:
    You might as well have been describing my own dream. I couldn’t have put it better myself!

    Everyone’s dreams are so inspiring. It’s humbling to glimpse the wonderful community of MIT and its applicants and I hope to join it someday.

    The blog was wonderful, Anna. Great advice. Best of luck to everyone on Pi day!

  12. anon says:

    I want to succeed Arsene Wenger and beat Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

    I am not joking.

  13. “The process of making what you can from a situation doesn’t require a specific setting.”


    Fellow commenters, what say you we post those dreams and plans here to make sure they’re not forgotten after pi day?

    I’ll start: To have something of my design land on Mars.

  14. ANNA. No cheating. You next.

  15. I agree: affirming to people that they will succeed is so useless! People who have said this to me don’t know me well enough, if at all, to know if I will succeed or not.
    The worst: “Don’t worry, you’ll get accepted at _____ for sure!”. This is not only useless, but detrimental: it is, for the most part, done merely based on social convention in order to appear “polite” and stuff. It causes a person to rate their abilities higher than what they are. I wouldn’t want to get my hopes up for a long-shot college (for an example of one of these, check the URL on your web browser) and then go through the anxiety and depression that precedes and succeeds the decision. I would rather, for instance, a friend tell me truthfully that my singing is “awful” than have them be polite and claim that it is “really good.” It saves so much embarrassment later on.

    Social conventions are so pathetic! (well, slight exaggeration here)

  16. CARLOSMERINO says:

    inspiring blog that only comes from maturity. the essence of MIT lies in its ability to generally inspire giving back to humankind. may all your dreams come to life!!!!

    an old pharmacist Rutgers’78 and prospective MIT dad

  17. Thanks Anna. Wonderful and inspiring entry. I accept your challenge. You’ve put it exactly as I feel.

  18. TS says:

    Good post. I was wondering the same thing myself. A rejection from MIT is not the end of life. We have to be what we have to be, at MIT or elsewhere. I do hope I get in, but my aspirations stay with me if I do not. I hope the same from everyone…
    Remember what makes up you is you,and no one can change that, not even MIT. Do what you have to, pursue your dreams, and remember, this is only the beginning. Make your parents, your friends, and most importantly yourself proud. In the end, you are going to look at these times and smile (MIT or no MIT).
    Go Beavers!

  19. Anna H. '14 says:

    @Spencer: Great idea, thanks! I added your comment to the end of the post. I’ll follow up with my own dreams shortly smile

  20. Vivek says:

    Me? Using technology to help the differently abled. Be it sight, hearing or anything else. I’m anti-Darwinian in that respect. wink I have dreams of audio-neural coupling devices replacing cochleas and CMOSes replacing damaged retinas. Seems a tad bit too fantastical, but it’s always been in the back of my mind. smile Hope MIT is the place where I get to realize this.

  21. Kyle Wang says:

    If I can’t make it for freshman this year I will just apply for transfer next year. Even though I wish life can go easy on me and I get the fame of entering MIT by being lucky.I had been curious about MIT since I saw the name on the “world university ranking” website.
    But the name mean different things to me as I grow older. after briefly reading your post, I guess (since I never been to MIT I can only guess)MIT is a place help people achieve their dream, “help is always available to those who needs it”(I read similar sentence in the book Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets)
    I want to go to university because I want a particular life experience, to me, university is never a place to learn science only, its also a place that makes one’s life unique.
    I already appreciate the opportunity to post at the official website of MIT. Maybe after March the 14th, my account is going to be deleted, because I will be eliminated.
    But before March the 14th, I will try my best to give reasons why I should go to MIT, even they sound more like excuses to myself.
    Again, I will apply for transfer for sure if I am still interested into MIT, an university can reject a student, but a person won’t reject his own dream and choice.

  22. Bhaskar says:

    The blog post is really good and motivating too.I do accept your challenge Anna and will try my best to complete them.

  23. Shahriar says:

    @superconductor :

    Wow , thanks , I feel great to finally meet someone who shares my dreams ….I guess this sort of thing is only possible at MIT , cuz up until today, I thought I was the only one with those dreams. Man, I really really want to be accepted now! XD

  24. Shahriar says:

    A simple rejection isn’t going to come close to touching my dreams……they’re too important, too big, too grand for me to give up , so yeah , I accept your challenge Anna , and thank you for this awesome post that just reminded me of that !

  25. Ceesay says:

    Inspiring post Anna. It calmed me down considerably. And yes, challenge accepted. There are a few things I dream of becoming, including doctor,computer scientist, astrophysicist. I know I’ll eventually settle for one of them, infact I have almost settled for doctor. There’s just a certain satisfaction and gratification I get from helping people. In a lighter vein (also silly), I want to disprove some particular theories, join a group of researchers on fusion and help my country become technologically and scientifically oriented. I’ll probably need a hundred life spans to do all I have in mind. But I’m still dreaming on.

  26. anonymous says:

    I love your post. I plan to build the rocket that takes Spencer’s design to Mars.

  27. Exactly.
    I really would be surprised if an assortment of pixels on a transistor liquid crystal display had the power to so much as put a scratch on our wonderfully beautifully powerfully majestic dreams.

  28. Anonymous, you’re on. Design session tonight?

  29. anonymous29 says:

    I want to become an astronaut and learn all the mysteries of the universe.

  30. Ceesay says:

    @anon – I guess you’re not exactly pleased with the outcome of the Barca vs Arsenal match. Personally, I like both teams, but the degree of liking for Arsenal is slightly higher.

  31. Jay says:

    What an awesome blog post. You guys know all the applicants are slowly dying as they wait. =P

    I accept your challenge! I know my dreams will not be destroyed by the rejection I may get next Monday. It does hurt to think of missing out of four years at this amazing place, but I think I can play creative college pranks wherever I go. wink

    My dream is to be a medical researcher. I want to improve our understanding of the immune system and apply my knowledge to save/improve the lives of the people suffering from immune disorders.

  32. Ghost hunter says:

    A ghost hunter. Form an army of ghosts and unleash it on the world. Either that or recreate a real Hogwarts.

  33. Challenge: Accepted

    Dream: Create a carbonless, liquid-based “fuel” similar to oil, in the fact that its pollutant free, has better atom economy in the process, and has similar production mechanisms to that of oil (it’d save money, resources, and hopefully future lives)

    Location to achieve the dream: MIT (no really, I want to achieve my dream here)

    Time to achieve the dream: Say about 7 years after graduation.

    Source of dream/inspiration (if any): “Koos-A-La-Goop-A-Goop” episode from “Dexter’s Laboratory” (avid Dexter fans should know what I’m talking about) + Father’s exposure to chemical engineering (in general, chemistry).

  34. Ash Ketchum says:

    I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was.

  35. @shahriar: We seem to be on the same wavelength. One of the many things I love about MIT is all the people who share the dream of using science to make the world a better place…and who have the drive and passion and ability to make it happen. So yeah, definitely agree with you.

  36. Zhuchang Z says:

    I have a few actually.

    1.Become a professor in the field of astrophysics, have great students from and to across the globe.
    2.Establish a designated library of records, documents, tapes and especially books for astronomy and astrophysics research and teaching.

  37. Jutrša says:

    Thank you for this entry Anna, I accept.

    “I would like to develop holographic interface technology in order to ease interaction with the constantly-changing world around humans.”

    MIT made me realize that it’s not the surroundings that matter, it’s the idea and the dream.
    And that’s the beauty of MIT – it teaches us so much even before we have entered it.

  38. The Beaver says:

    Thanks Anna – now I’ll fill this comment with dreams. I am putting this here so that I can get back to this page one day (I hope it is still around then!) and see if anything has actually been conserved.
    Well, here’s to the future beaver!
    (Hello fellow, look at the date. Feel any changes already?)
    I just want to remind you that in 2011, the next-four-year part of your dream (yes, it was a BIG one and stretched beyond just four years!) was like this:
    -> understand how science and the arts complement each other for yourself.
    -> learn the ‘Inception’ tricks
    -> get a few A’s (come on!)
    -> see more sci-fi
    -> work on which island and the how-to make a studio there.
    -> go tramping/swimming
    -> discover yourself!
    -> smile
    And, so tell me dear – where are you now? Time-travel isn’t around yet, but I AM talking to you!
    And, go listen to ‘Gravity’ right now.

  39. Nikita says:

    I want to explore new avenues for power generation and light up the homes and lives of millions who still live in the dark. Sure, I have other personal goals and dreams (thousands!), but I’ll stop here.

    @Anna: Challenge accepted! A wonderful idea for a a blog post. Thank you so much! Btw, what about your dream? Like Spencer said, no cheating! wink

    @Fellow commenters: The diversity of our dreams, even though we’re so little in number is mind-blowing! Let’s never let go of the dreams we hold so close to our hearts. Ever! smile

  40. Neha says:

    @Bhaskar The point is doing something good and constructive for your people, the occupation doesn’t really matter.

  41. Katie says:

    So many wonderful dreams! I just want to “finger paint, dig holes, and do math,” as my friends affectionately call architecture, civil engineering, and math-ing, respectively.

  42. That was the most inspirational post I have ever read. Thank you, Anna. I will pursue my dreams regardless of being accepted or rejected.

    As my favourite motivational speaker says:
    “There is no such thing as an impossible dream” and I will live by that.

    Anyway, I’ve always wanted to create something that connected people on a global scale or create something that prevents roadkill (and saves those cute squirrels!). I hate seeing dead animals on the street :(

    Ultimately, I will be pursuing what makes me happy and what satisfies my existence. MIT or not.

    …but I am not saying I don’t want MIT; I want it BAD. What I’m saying is that I want to live my dreams more than anything else in this world.

    If anyone is interested, this is a link to my favourite motivational speaker.

  43. Ilana says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I actually want to come to MIT for humanities (call me crazy), as the CMS program is literally exactly what I’ve been searching for my entire life. I want to create a non-profit that sheds light on the hardships faced by children in third world countries and gives them a chance to express themselves through photography.

  44. Sammy '15 says:

    My dream: to be involved in the eradication of malaria, especially in Liberia, West Africa!

  45. I would love to cure a disease, perhaps cystic fibrosis, or whatever catches my fancy during my career. One time last year, we (my Contemporary Problems class) announced each of our career goals. I stated the same goal (to cure a disease), but was immediately shot down by my classmates: “Where will you get the funding? Won’t that be really hard? That’s kind of a big goal…” However, I’m almost glad that they discouraged me; their words will always serve as motivation, and I truly believe that with time and dedication (and some luck of course), my dream may one day be achieved.

    Thank you for this post, Anna. You’ve relieved some of my anxiety for Pi day smile

  46. Challenge accepted.
    Ans yes,
    My dream: Win the Nobel prize in 2 disciplines.

  47. Corey says:

    MIT sounds so much like my high school a (not very aesthetically pleasing) building filled with wonderful but incredibly nerdy and awesome people. For now, I’m thinking that is what I want out of an experience at college, and MIT feels right for that. Beyond that I haven’t a clue on what I want to do, beyond something that can help people in general, like engineering sturdier and more nutritious foods.

  48. natalie says:

    The dream I hold onto tightly: becoming a brilliant physicist and discovering dark matter (I’ve been working on a detector for 2 years and have absolutely fallen in love with particle physics) :D

  49. Ashton Kim says:

    I guess this calmed me down a lot, it was a wonderful post
    Mine, general and simple it may be, is

    To make a diffference in this world with what I have to offer in skill and intellect, and continue to discover what I can offer.

  50. Chris d/I says:

    When thinking about what I want to do in the world, I’m reminded of the old saying: if you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime.

    That, I believe, is what I want to do: to teach the world to fish. Not specifically teaching, but enabling. I want to enable the world to achieve its goals and live life to its fullest extent.

  51. ^Chris, I utterly share your thought. Albert Einstein, during his last life moments at the Princeton Hospital, said “I have done my share, it is time to go.” Here I will use the old and good cliché: ‘knowledge is useless unless you share it.’

  52. anjann says:

    wonderful post anna!! I spent the last few days in a pensive mood and was thinking along the same lines. Now I am clear that I am going to pursue my dream irrespective of what 14 march holds in store for me.
    My dream is to develop softwares which will enable us manufacture advanced robots at economical prices so that these robots can be used in all those fields (marine research, rescue operations etc) where precious human lives are in mortal peril.
    Thanks once again anna, you have restored my heartbeat back to

  53. ^Chris, I utterly share your thought. Albert Einstein, during his last life moments at the Princeton Hospital, said “I have done my share, it is time to go.” I like to use the old and good cliché: ‘knowledge is useless unless you share it.’

  54. anjann says:

    @anon, best of luck for your stint as arsenal manager. It is high time that Arsenal started winning trophies.
    And best of luck for 14 march too! I hope we meet at

  55. With the dream of going to such a school, comes a cost: the realization that you might not be good enough. Even the most qualified people have these thoughts, and it’s how you deal with them that can push you forward or knock you down. Accepted or not, my dreams will be the same, achieving the best designs and inventions, and creating a fun experience in the process.

  56. I appreciate your post, i learn few things in this post, I have book marked this internet site so ideally I’ll see much more on this subject in the foreseeable future!

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  57. nikil says:

    has any one at MIT has thought of creating a nanosuit like in the sci-fi game Crysis?

    hey i m really interested in that….dats y i wanna join mit coz it ll give me th right path 2 get it done….

    plz comment

  58. Sam says:

    Inspiring stuff Anna smile

    When a person is determined, what can stop them? Cripple them and you have Sir Walter Scott. Put them in a prison cell and you have John Bunyan. Bury them in the snows of Valley Forge and you have George Washington. Have them born in abject poverty and you have Lincoln. Put them in the grease pit of a locomotive roundhouse and you have Walter P. Chrysler. Make them second fiddle in an obscure South African orchestra and you have a Toscanini. The hardships of life are not sent to be an unkind destiny to crush, but to challenge!

    All the best to all the applicants, much love X

  59. I am Master Steelblade, champion of galaxies and creator of the Internet. I have seen the ‘net grow and mature from a small baby research network into a blindingly fast and large network composed of nearly-impossible-to-count amounts of systems all across the globe.

    I’ve watched the BBS fireworks show of the 1980s, the rogue hacker outbreak of the 1990s, and the mind-shatteringly quick advancement of technology from 2000 onwards. What are we at now — tens of GIGAbits per second over fiber optics? Impressive, to say the least.

    But, alas, with advancement comes new sources of evil — one being “trusted computing”, which removes the freedom to create on a whim, the liberty to use however one sees fit, from a personal computer.

    This is unacceptable. The computer was a piece of technology that I see was designed to extend the intellectual and creative abilities of its users, NOT extend the depths of the pockets of those who make a profit off this whole computer technology firestorm while slowly placing those who use the technology into creative and intellectual prison cells.
    (*sniff, sniff* Yeah, that burning rubber scent really is a run-on sentence. Oops, my bad. Continue anyways!)

    MY DREAM is to see “trusted computing” (treacherous computing) decimated with no chance of return. My dream is to see the freedom, the creativity, the fantastic mix of logic and beauty — programming and art — return to the center of the majority of computer users’ mental drawing boards. Remember the Amiga demoscene of the late 1980s and early 1990s? Remember when there was an entire global community of computer users who would program for fun? Remember when technology wasn’t released to see which company could make the most money the fastest, but instead to see which technology was the best, the most capable, and so on?

    I want that world back. I want the creative and intellectual push to appear back in computing everywhere. I want the true hacker spirit present in the hearts in the innovators, the engineers, the designers — everyone! I don’t want to buy a piece of hardware because the company in charge needed this quarter’s profits to increase, or I don’t want to use a piece of software because it’s the only option available in the “trusted” platform that everyone *has* to use — I want to do things because they totally kick ass!

    Signing off,

    Master Steelblade

  60. Wait, signing on again for a bit. (I think I forgot something.)

    The other part of my dream is then for a computer to exist that brings back the original creative digital spirit — a computer which allows the user to use it as they please. As in, say, a computer that would allow me to send direct signals to hardware, to have available documentation which shows diagrams, layouts, and such for every piece of hardware in the computer. I don’t want a system that tells me what to do, I want a system which I can tell what to do. A system that’s loyal to me, not a silly money-focused corporation whose interests don’t align with mine.
    A system that I can expand to suit my needs and interests.
    A system built with total freedom in mind.

    That’s my dream — total digital freedom!

    A great step in the right direction is the A-EON AmigaOne X1000.

    Signing off,

    Master Steelblade

    (P.S. You’re probably thinking “Well, Master Steelblade, we aren’t all digitally imprisoned yet, so I don’t see where you’re coming from with your post!” I say that you should look deep inside the cybernetic world and see what’s going on for what it really is — a push towards a prison made of ones and zeros. Maybe not one year, maybe not five years, or even ten years — but soon enough. If a problem like “treacherous computing” isn’t stopped before it can start — prevented — then it will be an irreversible, detrimental change to the whole path of computers, networks, and global communication as a whole.)
    Good night, everyone!

  61. Anonymous says:

    To discover something cool in the world of number theory, including any of the following:
    1. Discovering a way to predict prime numbers, using either the Riemann hypothesis (which, naturally, would mean proving it) or some other means;
    2. Finding an odd perfect number, or proving that there can’t be one;
    3. Playing with the Fibonacci sequence until I find something new. I’m not picky, it could be anything.
    However, if I can’t do any of those things, I would love to learn Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 and perform it at Carnegie Hall. That would be pretty awesome as well.

  62. Shela says:

    This post is right on!

    My dream is to learn as much as I can in college so that I can have a stable job as an electrical engineer, and then I can raise a family.

  63. Also, in addition to my previous dreams,
    “Solve one millennium problem(Preferably the Riemann Hypothesis)”

  64. chy says:

    Make death an option rather than an inevitability
    (and ugh I’m horrible at captchas)