**I’ve been having computer issues for a few weeks, so this entry was written a while ago, but I’ve been unable to publish it until now. Enjoy!**
*GASP* *PANT* wow! past month or so has been absolutely insane. Finals week ended and I was on a plane headed for Houston on Thursday December 18th. Of course being that it was a long plane ride, I wrote some entries, read some books, watched some episodes of How I Met Your Mother (I love this show, current favorite along with The Big Bang Theory and Top Gear). So I get home and our internet isn’t currently working. No big, after all, some time away from the internet might be healthy right? At first this is no big deal, but then the Friday after Christmas, I find my laptop hanging from the rafters with a note pinned to it. (not really, but how weird would that be? Instead it died in the much more subtle BsoD every boot cycle with system restore points corrupted-_-) So after some long hold times on tech support, arguing, and TWO reformats of my computer, its finally back to running. (Ok, cool part, I managed to trick my system into booting into the recovery partition on my hard drive even though recovery manager was gone by setting the partition as the active hard drive. Psshh and HP told me I’d have to spend $40 on recovery disks. MIT=1, HP=0)
But this entry isn’t about partitions or recovery disks or how much of a nerd I am (Ok maybe it is a little about that last one….) This blog is a bit more serious, (get it?….bit?…..and we were talking about computers? Do you….do you see what I did there?). This of course means that it may be a tad lengthy and probably no pictures, but I think I’ve got some insight that could be helpful or informative to you guys, so grab a chair and get ready. Having completed my first semester here at the ‘tvte, I have something that all of you should know:
MIT is really hard.
Like, much harder than anything I’ve ever dealt with. As much as I’d like to pretend that I was a hard working kid who studied a lot and did his homework when he should’ve in high school, I wasn’t. I was a goof, I only worked hard in inconsistent spurts. I didn’t take notes, I never went to tutoring, I never planned out my week. I wasn’t lazy though, I just never actually had to.One night of hard work every now and then was enough. I just got stuff. My version of studying for a calc test was remembering that I had a calc test the next day as I laid in bed, and then skimming over the topics in my head: “zZzZ….OMG calc test tomorrow!….what’s it about?….oh! that’s right, infinite series.”*Back to sleep*.
That’s not a particularly good study habit, but it worked for me in high school, and I made A’s and graduated in the top of my class. I never really cared much about grades, I was just me and that was that. Now I know some of you are probably thinking “Really? The kid who didn’t know MIT was hard was accepted??” but it’s a different kind of hard. Like, I knew life here would be different, and I knew the work was challenging, but I had no way of rationalizing that. I had no idea what to expect, and thus no idea of how to approach it.
Luckily for me (and for some of you), MIT knows that MIT will be unlike anything most of the student body has ever experienced, and that’s why Freshman Fall term is Pass/No Record (a.k.a Pass/what class?). For me, this gave me a useful chance to not only explore the social circles and niches to find where I fit extracurricularly, but also a valuable trial run on how to do classes without the finality and stress of getting it right the first time. So I made some guesses and tried them, many of these attempts were wrong (turns out, I can’t read and comprehend 350 pages of chemistry the night before, also, just watching lecture and not actively taking notes on it makes it hard to focus. Also, Facebook will destroy my life). Looking back now I understand what I should have done differently, where my strengths and more importantly my weaknesses are. I learned a ton this last semester, but hands down the most valuable and influential thing I learned here is how to be a good student. I already knew how to do things when they were easy for me, but I didn’t really know what to do when they were hard. MIT taught me in one semester how to exploit my personal strengths and weaknesses to learn material that is at times mind boggling (I’m looking at you 8.01 [Physics] Final….).
Now there is a reason I waited to post this after applications were due, and that’s because I didn’t want to scare anyone away from applying, because yes MIT is crazy hard, but you will be totally surprised at what you can do. That’s the whole point; the point is to know where your limits are, to understand the problems that you don’t get the first or second time through, to go through more erasers than pencils. YOU ARE MEANT TO MAKE MISTAKES, because through your mistakes you will learn the most.
So having given that last semester my best, and not having done as well as I’d liked, I’ve made some adjustments that I think will greatly help me in the upcoming term:
1. I’ve planned my class hours better. As cool as it sounds not having class until 11, it also affects the attitude you have about class. It makes it seem more like a chore that is invading your Saturday than part of your life.For me, by the time I got up to go to class, I felt lethargic and lazy. As opposed to waking up early and feeling energized and ready to work hard.
2. I’ve been reading a LOT about studying effectively. Some topics I’ve been studying (ironic?) are how to read textbooks, how to take notes on what I’m reading, how to take notes on lectures, and how to study for exams. Combined with everything I learned from the Time Management lecture, I feel confident that I can get the most out of my classes.
3. I’m not afraid of Office Hours anymore. I was intimidated by going to office hours, perhaps in part out of pride, for not wanting the professor to think I’m some kind of idiot, or that I just don’t get it. But I am here to tell all of you who wind up here that Office Hours are the single greatest thing in the world. PLEASE use them. They will make a big difference.
4. I’ve invested in a pretty cool digital pen that records what you write and links it to what is being said and stores it all on your computer. (It’s called a Pulse LiveScribe pen, and Snively has one too). I think that combined with better notetaking habits will make a huge impact on how I do next semster.
But the hardest part about MIT for me is definitely how hard I’ve fallen in love with it. Sure I may end up repeating some classes, and sure I had sleepless nights when my friends at other schools were out partying, but I cannot adequately express how humbled and changed I am now from when I stepped off that plane in August. Without sounding too corny, MIT has really changed my life in a lot of ways. I’ve made closer friendships than I’ve ever had before, I get a genuine feeling of accomplishment, and I’m fortunate enough to be in an intellectual atmosphere that is nothing short of inspiring. MIT is like nothing else out there, thank God.