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MIT student blogger Karen F. '11

Interphase by Karen F. '11

This entry has nothing to do with cell division

It’s ironic that I post this entry now – Matt just posted an entry about deferring for a year, and here I am giving you information on how you can get to MIT significantly before September. Well, the choices are yours. Soon you’ll be getting “The Next Big Mailing,” (or have you gotten it already?) with lots of information about…things…To be honest, I never really read through all that paperwork MIT sent out – there was so much of it!

…Anyway. I had fellow Senior House resident Milena write an entry for you guys on one of many summer opportunities for you guys – Project Interphase.

Summer is quickly approaching, and I’m guessing you prefrosh are trying to figure out the best way to spend that last summer before you come to MIT and get screwed over by the tsunami of work that is a term at MIT. For some of you, this might entail working a part-time at the mall scooping fro-yo for snotty little kids or watching people unfold shirts and throw them back with the rest of the neatly folded shirts that took you forever to get right. Some of you might decide that you worked your pretty little butts off during high school and you need a nice, long summer to, uh, recover from all that hard work. (Right… we all know you’re trying to catch those I Love New York marathons!) Well, rounding it up, some of you might also be so freaking excited over going to college that you wouldn’t mind (or, heck, you’d give your left pinkie for) getting an early start. And that’s where the OME comes in! The Office of Minority Education (more commonly known as the OME—you know how we abbreviate everything!) sponsors a summer program for incoming freshmen called Interphase. And now some Q&A, ranging from somewhat inane to completely relevant! Just so you don’t have to :-)

1) How long does Interphase last?

Interphase starts at the end of June and goes until mid-August. So I’d say it lasts for about 7-8 weeks. Plenty of time before and after Interphase to catch those marathons on VH1! (It’s OK, we’re cool here, you can profess your undying love for trashy TV!)

2) How much does going to Interphase cost?

A summer at Interphase will set you back a total of Nada! On the house! The OME sponsors the program, which means you only have to pay for your laundry and your frivolous expenses (mine were shoes and dining out, but hey, don’t judge!). On top of free housing, you get a little plastic card with a very nice amount of Tech Cash on it to spend on food—sorry kids, it doesn’t work at the Coop or the laundry machines.

3) What exactly do students do in Interphase?

Well, just about everything normal students at MIT do. You take four classes–calculus, mechanics, chemistry and writing–, have p-set parties, order take-out from and go out to Boston during the weekends, among other things. Also, every other weekend, you’ll go somewhere to do something fun (my year we went to Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard). The OME plans cool things for the students to do even on campus, such as basketball games against the MITES people, talent shows (I opened bottles with my mouth as my talent!), and parties. AND you also get to take the swim test early and take a PE (there was sailing, swimming, tennis and some other stuff my year).

4) But Milena, isn’t it all the hardcore people who live and breathe school the ones that do Interphase?! Why would a normal person like me want to take classes during the summer!?

Well, first off, dear prefrosh, let me start that deliciously cold shower for you and help you wake up: odds are, if you go to MIT, you are not, at least in one way, normal. You’re smarter than most of the world population! Just the kind of person who would get excited over the prospect of eight more weeks of school! Lame jokes aside, no, it’s not all hardcore people at Interphase. Sure, there are some, but that’s just part of, uh, having a group of 80 people that accurately represents the demographics at MIT. Most of the people I met were refreshingly normal: they bitch about p-sets, and they bond over bitching! Sounds fun, right? Most people at Interphase are simply trying to ease the transition from high school to college without having it count for credit—which brings me to…

5) Do the grades I earn during Interphase actually count for anything?

Well… yes, and no. For every class you pass (i.e., get a C average or higher), you get two units of general elective credit (or whatever it’s called). Basically, you use those units in case you need them to complete the X number of units you need in order to graduate. The grades you get will NOT earn you class credit, so even if you passed that mechanics class with an A++, you don’t have any 8.01x credit until you take the Advanced Standing Exam during orientation week and pass it. That said, the instructors really go out of their way to make sure you learn enough so that, with a little more prep, you actually stand a chance at passing the ASE. But above all things, Interphase is just a really good way of “practicing” taking the class. You cover pretty much the same stuff you’d do during term– if anything, it’s a little watered down, reason being it’s summer and you can’t cram a term of work into seven weeks. The exams you take are comparable to what you’d see during term, so it’s also a good way to gauge how good your study habits/exam-taking skills are.

6) Is it fun?

Yes! I thought Interphase was loads of fun, when it wasn’t stressful, just the way MIT usually is. I met my best friends during Interphase– some of them were my classmates, some were my TA’s, but either way, they were all undergrads! You also get to meet lots of different kinds of people that you’d never think you’d interact with, which I personally think is really interesting. The possibilities are endless when it comes to having fun; my friends and I were particularly fond of going to Briggs Field at midnight and playing with the sprinklers!

7) I don’t want to come off as insensitive, but what do I get out of Interphase?

Ah, I knew this was going to come up. We always wonder what we can get out of situations! Well, you ask, I dish it. You’ll get a unique summer that only 80 people in every class get to experience. Very useful connections, if you’re into social networking and the sort. But I believe the most useful thing you’ll get out of Interphase is the strong sense of community the students and faculty build over the summer. Each Interphase class is one big support system, and even though everybody’s really different and not everybody gets along with everybody, they (we) all help each other. Interphase sets up a mailing list over the summer (meant for sending out memos) that, come term, doubles as a support group during term where you can send out emails at 4am asking about that 7.013 p-set and people will email you back with helpful hints. So this, in my opinion, is the beauty of Interphase.

8) What if you totally did not address all of my burning questions and I have more to ask of you?

Well, you can do one (or more) of the following:

*Check out the OME website here

*Email the OME! I am not sure of who’s handling the Program this year, so I’ll be very generic and direct you to ome(at)mit(dot)edu

* For non-logistics-related questions, and if you want an honest answer from someone who’s been there, you can email Karen at kfig at mit dot edu and she’ll forward your questions to me.

So, what are YOU doing this Summer?

28 responses to “Interphase”

  1. '12 parent says:

    Who exactly qualifies as an unrepresented minority? Is there a list somewhere on the OME website? Or can you just let us know who they consider to be unrepresented? This sounds very interesting!

  2. '12 parent says:

    Oops! That should say underrepresented minority. Always preview your post! grin

  3. I did Interphase last summer and might I say that it is a wonderful opportunity to get to know MIT better. To Parent: If you are specifically asking about eligibility to apply to Interphase, the application is not restricted to any ethnicity.

  4. Anonymous says:

    ever here of Greenfeild, a town in Greene county?

  5. Meghan says:

    Do you have to be a minority in order to be a part of it?

  6. Ivan says:

    @ Karen

    Nice post
    I know this may be a stupid question but, what If someone starts Interphase and in 3 weeks of it decides to quit, or just hang out on campus and not go to all of the classes or has to go back home for some reason?


  7. fred '11 says:

    @ ivan

    OME administration would much rather take people who would be willing to go through the entire program. After all, they ARE paying for everything. The least they can expect is complete cooperation.

  8. Kathy '11 says:

    @ Ivan
    Someone from my(fred and milena’s) year did do Interphase but half way through, something came up and he couldn’t do it, so he had to go home.But as Fred mentioned, if you’re not going to go through with the program, save the space for someone who will. It is a very beneficial experience in general. By the time term comes around, you’d already know your way around campus, you’d know how to manage your time, you’d already have friends, etc. I too met my best friends during the summer =]

  9. José C. '12 says:

    When exactly are invitations sent out? Or have they already been sent out?

    I’m extremely interested in applying. =)

  10. Jose, my year’s interphase, we got invitations along with or very close after we got our acceptance packets (the big one, not the letter). If you did not get one, don’t worry! You can always apply to be in the program, I know a few people who applied and got in so if you are interested, definitely apply!

  11. Anonymous says:

    I got into the NASA robotics academy for this summer. What should I do if I had the opportunity to go NASA and interphase? Which should I choose?

  12. Michael '11 says:

    @ Anonymous,

    I strongly suggest doing the NASA Robotics Academy. Doing pset’s until late at night can wait a couple of months more, dont you think? Let me put it another way, You’ll be doing psets for 4 years starting in the fall. How many opportunities do you get to do the NASA Robotics Academy? Furthermore, I’m certain that a summer at the NASA Robotic Academy will look much more appealing on a resume than Interphase.

  13. Anonymous says:

    aloha michael!

    thank you so much for your help. i was kind of wanting to do the NASA Internship, but when I realized I got invited to Interphase, I was sort of wondering maybe I should do it so I can prepare myself for the rigors of MIT. But you’re right-I might now get an opportunity like this one to learn Robotics at NASA. Much Mahalos for your help! May I have your email address-maybe we can meet up at the CPW. I’m from Hawaii, so I think we’ll see each other.

  14. Leonie says:

    Hi, i was wondering if u had to accept before u got the ‘next big mailing’?

  15. Will says:

    Just to make sure things are clear, whites and Asians are not permitted to attend, right?

  16. John-Ashton says:

    What does it mean to get “invited” to interphase? I got a letter from the dean of admissions inviting me to apply, but I am assuming everyone gets one of those. If I do apply and get in, can I say no thanks? I noticed the application had a part to sign that says that I will attend Interphase. Also, my sister gets married on a Sunday over the summer, would I be able to leave for that.

  17. milena '11 says:


    If you get a paper asking you to accept/decline the offer (no application at all), then all you need to do is sign, and you’ll automatically get it (at least that was my year). If there is an application, then you need to apply.

  18. Anonymous says:

    i’m taking calculus III, mechanics, and a chemistry refresher course over the summer also, but all online!

    from there, i plan to travel the world a bit with some money that i have saved up from work.

    hopefully i leave myself room to breathe.

  19. Duong says:

    I got invited to the program, but since it’s only for 80 kids and many people have also received the invitation, what are my chances of getting in after I send my reply?

  20. Piper '11 says:

    I obsessively read all the MIT material, haha ^.^ I’m also a very obsessive person as it is…

    I’m glad someone blogged about this. I wish I had known about Interphase my year, but I didn’t find out until after applications were due.

    But note to you all, even if you don’t do Interphase, you can still have a blast with your summer =P. I used mine to hang out with my friends, even forming a couple of surprise friendships – one girl went from being vaguely-connected-friend to one of the 3 I’m most close to =).

    @Will – If I recall from an email I sent to OME last year, no! Anyone can come =D.

  21. I havent accepted admission to MIT… Could that be the reason I have not been invited yet to Interphase?

  22. José C. '12 says:

    You should so accept it, Monica. Right now. (Hi!)

  23. Anonymous says:

    smile Geeez… I was planning on accepting after CPW. Seemed like a good plan… But I dont know if I should just fill out the application to Interphase on my own, or wait to see if I get the invite after I accept admission. Oh, and Hi! to you too, José.

    *sabes exactamente cuantos puertorros van a mit?

  24. José C. '12 says:

    I hope that CPW ends up sealing the deal for you. If I were you, I’d accept the offer of admission–right now–and wait for the invite, heh heh. But that’s just me. =)
    I accepted a few days ago, but I haven’t gotten anything. I don’t expect to, really, so I’ll just apply.

    (Te refieres a los que aceptaron o los que van a CPW? Aceptaron a como 10, pero solamnete me han confirmado 7 que van a CPW.)

  25. Rachel'12 says:

    um. can asians go?

  26. Duong '12 says:


    Yes, I think anyone from any ethnic background can go, even though the OME specifically deals with minorities (b/c I have the registration sheet and under the Ethnic/Race section, all are included).

  27. Anonymous says:

    Do you only get an invitation if MIT thinks that life at MIT will be significantly harder for you than it will be for other applicants?

  28. Michael "11 says:

    @ Anonymous,

    Sure we can meet up during CPW, if you want my email just search for me on Facebook. My full name is Michael Munoz, just add me as a friend!
    Take care