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.