PSA: This is a really cool guest post by my friend Katherine W. ’17 who is course 20 like me and has aspirations of owning two Australian Shepherds at some point in her life.
Isn’t this invitation appealing?
Step 1. Determine your eligibility
Are you a full-time MIT sophomore/junior/senior? Do you have time to drop 40+ min for transportation twice (or more) a week? As a senior mostly done with the requirements for my major, I decided that this fall semester was the perfect time to finally cross-register.
Step 2. Figure out which class you want to take
This summer, I scoured Harvard’s course catalog, looking for a class that both fit into my schedule and piqued my interest. I enlisted the help of a Harvard friend to look up course evaluations from previous years for the classes of interest (thanks Cameron!) because if I’m going to invest time in making the trek over there, I want it to be worth it. I ultimately settled on SCRB 192: Principles of Drug Design and Development. Other people I know choose to take language classes, like Swahili or Tamil, that aren’t offered here or cool humanities classes.
Step 3. Attempt to convince friends to take the class with you
Let’s face it – classes are funner with friends. The resounding yes’s from when I asked my friends this summer eventually turned into, “it’s too much effort to get there,” “why would you pick a class that you can essentially take at MIT,” and “no.” Oh well.
Step 4. Complete miscellaneous administrative tasks
After submitting a cross-registration petition online, receiving approval from my advisor and the professor of the class, and filling out appropriate forms, I got a Harvard ID and email address and was finally officially enrolled!
Step 5. Get yourself to Harvard
The inefficiency of public transportation frustrates me to no end. Thankfully, I have a bike, making the 2 mile trip a <15 minute ride. I usually stop by a Starbucks on the way there to better face the doldrums that are mid-afternoon classes and have perfected the skill of biking while holding a phone and an iced coffee in one hand. Fun fact: Harvard classes start at 7 minutes past the hour/half-hour, so I have a breezy 42 minutes after my music class to make my way there.
Step 6. Learn things
Here is a list of things I have observed, completely unrelated to class material itself and mostly speculation:
- From my experience, the lecturers have all taught from powerpoints, and students take notes on printed slides. In comparison, most of my classes in bioengineering (Course 20) have been taught completely at the chalkboard
- For this particular course, every class is a guest lecturer given by someone in the pharmaceutical industry. The first half of the class was entirely taught by heads of things at a particular big pharma company, and so far, all except one have been British (n=7)
- The Harvard course website has really good integration of videotaped lectures. I am unsure of whether videotaping is common, but my classes in course 20 would generally not record lectures
- Harvard probably has more tourists on a daily basis than MIT, but because they’re dispersed over a greater area, it is easier to navigate around them
- Harvard classes in general don’t schedule sections (aka recitations) until the first week of class. I am used to having a very clear understanding of what my class schedule will look like far in advance. Luckily, my section is directly after lecture on Wednesday, which means I don’t need to take a separate trip to Harvard during the week
- Harvard has a lot of bricks
Every week, my friends would get snaps marveling at how yet another lecturer was British
That’s all there is to it! I enjoy this class because I feel like I have just enough foundational knowledge from my previous coursework and internship in pharma where I can clearly follow the lectures and get the most out of it through talking with the lecturers. Schedule permitting, I’d definitely recommend cross-registering to everyone! Regularly getting off campus can provide a bit of perspective on the MIT bubble, and cross-registering has given me exposure to a different style and culture of education that I think everyone would benefit from.