I’m still here (and MIT’s still hard) by Keri G. '10
The little comment that wasn't. (This isn't edited. It sounds awkward at times. Deal.)
I started writing a brief response to some of the comments on Chris’ post, but then it stopped being brief, so I decided to post it here.
Anyway, some of those comments are all like, “MIT is hard, yeah, yeah, whatever. Anyway, I want to know – how hard is MIT? Because I keep hearing it’s hard, but I just don’t understand, you know?” or “wait, why does everyone keep saying high school is easy? I don’t think it’s easy. I actually think it’s kind of hard. OH, CHRIST. I HAVE NO CHANCE OF GETTING IN.”
(I exaggerate only because I don’t know any other way to live. Ask my friends.)
In response to all of these comments, I’d like to deliver a poorly elaborated anecdote about my 10th grade PreCalc class. The class was taught by Mr. Antunez, a new teacher who had grown up in Spain and Argentina and was known primarily for two things: 1) being an absolute hardass of a teacher, and 2) completely butchering everyone’s names. I spent the year being called “Karel,” which I stopped correcting after one quarter because it was a portmanteau of my first and last names and could therefore technically be considered correct. Neha ’10 still uses it sometimes. It’s one of those nicknames, like “Klag” and “Squeaky,” that only maybe two people can use without being in danger of my setting them on fire.
Oh. Right. PreCalc.
Over the course of the year, a disturbing cycle emerged. We’d have a few lessons. We’d all feel like we were slowly being dragged deeper into a pit of despair. We’d take a test, which felt like an entirely different and far more painful pit of despair. (It’s early. Metaphors and variety thereof are not my friend right now.) And at the start of the first class after a test date, Mr. Antunez would, without fail, stand at the board for ten minutes and lecture us about how HORRIBLE our test scores were and how he just didn’t UNDERSTAND why we were in this CLASS when we OBVIOUSLY didn’t KNOW what we were DOING.
And every time he delivered one of these lectures (which became increasingly emphatic), Neha and I, as the only sophomores in this section of PreCalc, would sit in the back row passing snarky notes to each other and thinking about what badasses we were, since he couldn’t possibly be talking about us. When we got our tests back, our scores would usually be just as bad as everyone else’s. Oops.
I call this Everyone But Me Syndrome, and every single one of us has some form of it.
It manifests itself in different ways, whether you think that you are supersmart and probably don’t find things difficult when everyone else does, or you’re the opposite and are convinced that everyone is smarter and infinitely more awesome than you are. I’ve slowly shifted from the former to the latter, since I become increasingly aware of how lame I am every day.
This is all a really long way of saying two things:
-Think classes here won’t really be hard for you because you might be smarter or more accomplished than we are? Think again. With respect to specific classes: want to take the more advanced (and sometimes more difficult) version of a class – say, 18.022 instead of 18.02? Go ahead. Sign up and do it. Challenge yourself. You’ll decide what works for you soon enough.
-Think that if you’re working hard in high school, then you definitely won’t be able to handle it here? That’s not necessarily true either. Many, if not most, of us here put a lot of effort into our work in high school too. I remember spending the majority of my sophomore and junior years wondering why I was struggling so much and if I had any career options other than being a professional standardized test-taker. (I did really well on the SATs without much effort, but that’s about it.)
Anyway, that’s my two cents. Take it or leave it. And if you do decide to ignore me, please don’t say as much. I get it. I’m lame. I already know.