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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

June Questions Omnibus 1 by Matt McGann '00

Bigfoot asked a few weeks back, "Will you be posting an omnibus soon, Matt?" Yes, here it is (finally!).

Bigfoot asked a few weeks back, “Will you be posting an omnibus soon, Matt?” Yes, here it is (finally!).

Freshman Admissions

sara wrote, “I have a question and I hope you can give my your insight on it.. I’m going to be a junior next fall. My schedule for next fall will not have any A.P classes because of the budget cuts in my school. So only the students with the highest averages got into the A.P classes. On the other hand, I will be taking alot of electives since I need them for a graduation requirement. I’m scared that I won’t get into a good college because I don’t have any A.P classes and I’m not in the Intel Science program in my school either. Can you please tell me your perspective on this whole thing?”

sara, this is what we call context. We always hope that you will challenge yourself, but if your school simply will not allow you to take AP classes, we cannot expect you to take them. Also, not being in the Intel Science program does not disqualify you, either. You do not have to have done research in high school to be admitted to MIT. We do hope that even without the APs you will find ways to challenge yourself academically, and that you are spending your time in meaningful ways outside of the research program. If you are doing that, then you’ll be as competitive in the process as you can be.

confused wrote, “This might sound dumb but I’m going to ask it anyway. My school offers a class called Intel Science and what they do is have students research and write reports about experiments and things. Since the Intel class is offered to freshmans and I wasn’t in the schoolin my freshman year(transferred), I’m not in it. Then, in sophomore year I missed the opportunity to sign up for Intel. Later, I went to the AP and asked if I can join Intel in my junior year and he replied no. So my question is, if a student from Intel and a student like me who is not in Intel has the same grades and apply to MIT, whose likely to get in? Do I have a chance to get into MIT considering the fact that I will be competing against students who have Intel and other prestigious science classes?”

You and Sara should get together and chat =) First, you should know that we’re never directly comparing two students for admission. We consider one applicant at a time, in their own context. In your case, your context was that the research class wasn’t a possibility for you. So, then, what did you do with that time that you would have spent in the Intel program? Did you just go home and play video games? or did you really make something of that time?

“MIT 09er who’s not at ISEF” wrote, “hey matt, i’m an mit 09er, and i was just wondering if would be a problem that i’ve never done anything like ISEF. should i be feeling like the kid they let in because ‘someone has to be the stupidest kid in the class?'”

No, no, no, not at all. You were admitted because we know you are capable not just of doing the work at MIT but capable of much greater things. We don’t expect that all of our students have done research, or have won big math awards, or gone to fancy summer programs, or anything like that. In fact, most of my friends at MIT were like me — no HS research, no big awards, but we all had great experiences at MIT.

Let me step back a second to address this issue further. I sometimes see things posted on message boards like, “OMG i have no research i have no chance at MIT.” Or “I’ve never even heard of ISEF or RSI or USAMO, does this mean I have no chance at MIT?” What we’re trying to say on our blogs, and in our publications, and at our information sessions, is that for MIT admissions, we’re primarily concerned with the initiative you’ve taken, the passion you’ve shown, the ways you’ve impacted your community (whatever community that is), and your excitement for learning, discovery and creation. Some accomplishments can really show these things, but accomplishment isn’t everything, and there are many ways to show your talents.

Rupiny wrote, “Before I get into questions, I must thank MIT for having MyMIT! I love the fact that I am able to ask all the questions running through my head. I am a sophomore in high school, and I really want to attend MIT. At first, it seemed foolish to try because I thought that MIT required applicants to get straight As all four years of high school. I e-mailed Mitra, and she was able to help me. I hope you don’t mind me contacting you. I don’t want to e-mail any of the students unless necessary because I’m sure that they are occupied.
Is it true that people who attend MIT dreamt of attending MIT ever since they were little kids? I received a letter from MIT with information of some students who all dreamt of attending MIT ever since they were little, and the letter also stated what each student loved about MIT. The letter was in an origami style.
I have this big urge to attend MIT ever since the end of last year. I’ve been reading blogs and any new information I can about admissions and MIT. I feel little intimidated because when I was a kid, I thought about candy and Santa Claus. My teacher said that MIT is hard to get into because MIT admits most of the students whose parents went to MIT. So, it’s harder to get admitted for other students who don’t have MIT graduate parents. Is that true? Or it is a rumor? I really hope that these questions haven’t been asked before. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I hope to read your reply soon. Once again, thank you.”

Thanks for writing in, Rupiny! One question at a time. It is not true that everyone here dreamed of MIT since they were young. In fact, there are probably just as many students at MIT who “discovered” it late in high school as there are lifelong dreamers. I was one of those “discoverers;” I didn’t really even think about MIT until quite late in the admissions process. Nevertheless, I came here and loved it.

Also, I must tell you that your teacher is wrong: only a very few students here had parents who went to MIT, and we do not give “extra points” to these so-called legacies. In fact, the number of students whose parents didn’t go to college at all far outweighs the number of students whose parents went to MIT.

Ej wrote, “I plan on applying to MIT in the fall and was wondering how many SAT II tests I must take. I thought that the number was 2 but I saw on a website that it was 3. I have taken two science tests and 1 math. Is this enough?”

Here are the testing requirements for MIT:

Required Tests for entry year 2006: SAT I (either the old version or the new version, available beginning March 2005) or the ACT (with or without the optional writing test). In addition, we require three SAT II Subject Tests: one in math (level Ic or IIc), one in science (physics, chemistry, or biology e/m), and the third in any area of your choosing.

Required Tests for entry year 2007 and beyond: SAT I or the ACT with the writing test. In addition, we require two SAT II Subject Tests: one in math (level Ic or IIc), one in science (physics, chemistry, or biology e/m).

So, EJ, since you have taken three SAT IIs, and since you have one math and one science test, you are all set to apply this year.

2006 Applicant wrote, “So does this mean that applicants for next year would need to take a humanities SAT II in addition to the SAT I? I guess I’m basically asking if the SAT I writing section is treated the same as the old SAT II Writing exam.”

I’m not sure which year you’re referring to, so the best thing to do is consult the above testing requirements.

jason wrote, “Can we still submit the SAT II Writing to satisfy the humanities requirement for admission?”

We no longer have a humanities SAT II requirement, but, yes, the Writing SAT II may be submitted as the third SAT II “in the area of your choosing.”

anonymous wrote, “question about foreign language: I immigrated to the US when I was in 6th grade. 1) I’ve taken the Korean SAT II and did well. How would it seem if I send that score in as one of the 3 required for MIT admission? 2) I will have only taken 2 years of spanish @ my HS. Will my Korean SAT somehow remedy the fact?”

The third SAT II can be “in any area of your choosing,” so the Korean SAT II will be fine. Class-wise, we have no required classes, though we recommend the following: 4 years of English, Math, and Science, and 2 years of foreign language and social studies. In short, you’re fine.

begasaka had a question about a previous thread of questions: “Anonymous wrote, ‘How are 2~3 B’s in non-math/science classes seen as to an admissions officer?’ [Matt replied,] ‘I’ve written before that we’re not looking for perfection. One does not need straight As to get into MIT. Some Bs are okay. Plenty of folks who were admitted and comment in this very blog can attest to that fact.’ [However,] What if you have some Bs in math/science courses?”

Again, as I’ve written, we’re not looking for perfection. We will be considering your context, and that context includes the rigor of your classes as well as the circumstances around your accomplishments and grades. Honestly, multiple Bs in math & science courses won’t help your case, but it will by no means automatically disqualify you. Grades are certainly very important, but you as a person and as an applicant are so much more than just a transcript.

Michael wrote, “I have a question about reporting scores for AP exams. As a junior, I haven’t actually started applying yet, but MIT is easily my first choice. Should I indicate for AP to send my scores this summer, before I start applying, or should I just wait until I start the application process?”

Thanks for your first post, Michael. You do not need to send your scores to MIT at this point. If you are admitted, though, and decide to enroll, and pursue AP credit, then you will need to send us an official AP score report.

Bartelle wrote, “I have some questions for your next omnibus, Matt. Just how self-selective is the MIT application pool for early action and for regular decision? For instance, what is the middle-50% SAT range for applicants? Also, what percent of applicants represent the top ten percent of their high school classes? Also: how many applicants are usually valedictorians in each pool, and what percentage of valedictorians get accepted from each pool? (I know that this is only one statistic, and that many schools don’t rank, but quite frankly, I’m curious).”

I don’t have any breakdowns of early versus regular action statistics. I’ll try to dig some up for a future entry. You should know, however, that we are not a school that will give a significant advantage to students applying early. Less than 30% of the Class of 2009 was admitted during early action; compare this to other schools where nearly half of the class was admitted during the early round. The admit rate during early action was 13.6%, which was actually lower than our final overall admit rate of 14.3%. Also note, though, that we did admit a couple hundred early action deferred students during regular action. Basically, my point is that we are not going to give early applications any “bonus points.”

NicoleR wrote, “I’ve heard that if you apply early action you’re not aloud to apply to any other colleges, is this true?”

For MIT for early action, our rule is you can apply to other schools early as long as you abide by their rules. That is to say, if another school asks you to not apply to other schools early, we would expect you to respect that rule. And you can, of course, apply to any other schools you want in regular action as well.

Transfer & Graduate Admissions

applicant wrote, “I am planning to apply as a transfer student to mit…may i have these questions asnswered.. 1)how many apply and how many d u select 2) if i transfer after 2 years of regular college course and wish to continue the rest 2 at MIT i donot think i need to submit my sec. school grades… 3) do i need to take the SAT and TOFEL? 4) any other imp. point to consider”

Here are the answers: This past year, 259 students applied for transfer admission, and 17 were admitted. Yes, you must still submit your secondary school grades in addition to your university transcript. Non-native English speakers must submit either 3 SAT IIs (one in math, one in science, one in humanities) or the TOEFL and 2 SAT IIs (one in math, one in science). You can read more about the transfer process at the Admissions website,

transfer hopeful wrote, “Matt, I know you have answered questions about transfer applicants but could you give more information about what kind of transfer applicants are accepted or what kind of achievements they have made. I want to know how unrealistic it is to think about transferring. Anything you can tell me about the way transfer applicants are selected would be helpful.”

The transfer process is very similar to the freshman process, in that we look at applicants holistically and within context. As you can surmise from the numbers above, it is very competitive, more competitive percentage-wise than the freshman pool. We’ll be considering the same attributes, though: initiative, creativity, passion, personal qualities. Good luck with your transfer application!

question wrote, “Could you discuss grad school admissions a little? I was accepted into MIT ’09 but cannot attend because of finances. However, I still want to be part of the MIT community and so was wondering how does grad school admissions work? Do you need to get straight As all the time? Do most departments focus on the research you’ve done? I am planning to major in chemistry. Thanks.”

Each department handles its own graduate admissions, and each department sets its own priorities for what is important. No departments require a perfect 4.0 GPA, but you should definitely have a strong academic record. Research, especially for science/math/engineering/social science disciplines, will be very important as well. I would recommend that, assuming you’ll do research in a lab with graduate students, you ask them about their experiences.

Incoming Class Questions

chillin (Josh) wrote in, saying: “Hey everyone, I’m the project coordinator for i3 2005 and I’ve updated the website with all of the videos from the DVD (as well as an updated one from McCormick Hall.) We’ll be adding more content over the summer so stay tuned!

Relatedly, thejoker wrote, “It just occurred to me that i3 turns 5 years old this year! And it seems like only yesterday …”

JE wrote, “I have a question regarding the advising types. I ranked McCormick as my top choice and plan to fill out an application for RBA seminars. I know that if I don’t get into a seminar in McCormick it would be RBA traditional advising. However, I was wondering what would happen if I didn’t get McCormick in the housing lottery. I liked the sound of many of the non-RBA seminars and would be interested in participating in them. If I apply for RBA and I don’t get it, do I automatically get a traditional advisor? Is there any way to indicate that I want nonRBA based seminars as a backup?”

To answer your question, I called Dan Chapman in the Academic Resource Center, who is the guru of all things RBA. Dan says that you should do two things: apply to McCormick RBA seminars assuming you’ll get McCormick and RBA, and also apply to non-RBA seminars as if you are going to be assigned to a non-RBA dorm. That way, you’re likely to get a seminar, whether or not you are in McCormick. The same goes for Next House RBA. If you have further RBA questions, Dan would be happy to talk to you at (617) 253-6772.

leftcoast mom wrote, “This is a post-admissions question but I’m not sure where else to ask it, and surely others are curious too. If freshmen spend a week “temped” in the dorms during orientation, (a) where does all their actual stuff *GO* meanwhile?, and (b) parents don’t actually get to help with unpacking, if we come it’s just for the social part of orientation and then we leave before the actual moving-in takes place, right? (So… what’s the point of parents going in Aug.?). I think we need a blogger from the Academic Resource Center (ARC)! ;-)”

In response, “bryan – ’07” (look for his blog soon!) wrote, “when the freshmen get here, they stay in their temp rooms until rex (residence exploration) is over. the freshmen have the opportunity to switch to a different dorm in another lottery if they so choose. some students come with all of their stuff and keep it in their temp. room and then move it to their permanent room. some come with the bare minimum and either buy stuff when they get here or parents ship it up later. so you’re right about not being able to help unpack your student once they get here, but a lot of parents come up anyways to talk to housemasters, grts (graduate resident tutors), and current students in different dorms to get a sense and feel of the people their son or daughter will be living with. there are opportunities for parents to see the dorms and meet the people even if you don’t know the final room your son or daughter will be living in.”

And as far as getting a blogger from the ARC… I hear that may be coming quite soon. Stay tuned!

MITMom wrote, “does anyone know anything about cell phone coverage at MIT? Are there any providers that have particularly good or bad reception on campus? Do people usually stay with their hometown area code, or sign up for a new plan with Boston’s area code?” And Shopaholic wrote, “I am from out of state and is shopping for a cell phone. Which provider has the best reception at MIT (including the dorm)?”

I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, I switched from one provider to Verizon, which is one of MIT’s “preferred providers,” because Verizon had positive word of mouth in my circles at MIT. I’ve been quite happy with their coverage. As far as area codes go, I know roughly equal numbers of students with home and local numbers. I think that distinction is becoming less and less of an issue.

Totally random asked, “Does anyone know if there are basic charges for random stuff? Do we have to pay an internet fee or anything like that in the dorms? How much does it cost to do laundry, etc? And where are good places to go on the weekend?”

The only “basic charges” I can think of are the student life fee, currently $200 (which is already figured into your tuition/financial aid), and the fee if you want an actual land-line telephone calling plan, set at $17/month (with the knowledge that a large portion of the campus uses mobile phones for their primary communication). There is no Internet fee. Laundry varies from living group to living group, but is usually around $1 or so per load in each of the washer and dryer. Your last question — what to do on weekends — is much too broad to be answered in an Omnibus, so I’ll tackle that as a separate blog entry sometime in the near future.

“Some crazy sophomore” added this response: “Laundry varies by dorm. At EC, like Serene said, it’s $0.75 for washing, $0.75 for drying, which is pretty typical. Random is cheapest. You get internet (and ethernet cables) for free, and you get a phone for free, but starting next year you have to pay $17/month for landline service *grumblegrumble*.”

Illix wrote, “I’m thinking [about living in] Random [Hall] myself… The only problem I’ve come up with for Random so far is the distance from campus, since I don’t know how often I’d like to grab a meal on campus and, being young and female, I’d rather make the walk there and back at night at least accompanied by someone else, which really limits my movement. Anyone from Random – how do you handle this?”

I should first say that while Random is not located near any other dorms, it is not very far from campus. It is about the same distance from 77 Mass Ave as Burton-Conner is. For food, yes, many folks at Random cook for themselves, as their kitchen spaces are ample and are very community-oriented, and the supermarket is located directly behind the dorm. However, note that Random is closest to Central Square’s inexpensive food options, such as Thailand Cafe, adjacent to the dorm. Finally, with regard to getting to dorms at night, those concerned with safety can always take Saferide, the free campus shuttle service that runs every night from 6pm until 3 or 4am. Saferide goes to every MIT living group.

Illix wrote, “I have an admissions-related query: I got my Final School Report form in my big mailing, but I completely forgot to bring it in and now school’s out. I can get a hold of my guidance counselors, but it’ll take longer since they won’t have immediate access to my grade reports. Is this going to hold up the rest of my admissions processing?”

That will be okay. Try to get things to MIT as soon as you can, and all will be fine.

’09 parent wrote, “Question for future omnibus: Now that it’s time to rank the dorms, ’09ers will have plenty of info to consider. As a parent, I’d like to know which of the dorms are equipped with safety equipment such as sprinklers in the rooms (yes, I can imagine the havoc that might cause), how promptly fire and other safety officials respond to calls (and whether they give any less priority to calls from some areas of campus that are known to be full of pyromaniacs), whether there are smoke/CO detectors in the halls/rooms, whether the windows on upper floors will open, etc. Basic fire safety stuff. I’m sure the students won’t think to care much about this, but the parents will. Thanks!”

I forwarded on your question to Denise Gray in the Housing Office, and this was her response:

All MIT on campus dormitories are fully sprinkled. All rooms and hallways are equipped with smoke detectors. None of the dorms currently have CO detectors. The Cambridge Fire Department is a Class 1 (highest ranking) fire department (one of only 2 in New England) and is located less than a mile from MIT’s campus. All calls are treated equally as legitimate fire emergencies. All on campus residence halls are inspected annually by Cambridge Fire Department and Inspectional Services Department and meet or exceed all applicable fire safety code requirements. See also MIT’s fire safety information below as submitted to the Princeton Review.

Fire Safety

  • What percentage of your residence hall rooms are protected by an automatic fire sprinkler system? 100% (PY: 81-100%)
  • What percentage of your residence hall rooms are equipped with a smoke alarm that is connected to a supervised fire alarm system? 60% (PY: 21-40%)
  • How many hours per student per year is fire prevention training/evacuation training provided? 2.33hrs (PY: Over 2)
  • What action is taken when the residence hall fire alarm is activated? _Fire Alarm signal goes to the MIT Operations Center who relays it to the Fire Dept, MIT Safety Office, Unit 12 and the MIT Facilities Dept. all respond to the alarm. (PY: Fire alarm signal is automatically transmitted to the fire department for immediate response.)
  • How many on-campus fires did your school experience last year? 10
  • Does your school ban any of the following items or activities in residence hall rooms?
    • _Y_candles (bedrooms)
    • _Y_halogen (without protected shade)
    • __smoking (Student Gov’t determines House smoking policy. Majority of dorms do not permt smoking
    • _Y_cooking (in bedrooms)
  • Does your school require fire-resistance ratings on furniture (including, but not limited to, beds, mattresses, desks, and chairs) in residence hall rooms? _X_Yes __No (fabric must be California #133)
  • Does your school require all students living in on-campuses residences to receive fire extinguisher training? __Yes _X_No
  • How often are fire safety rules-compliance inspections conducted in your school’s residence halls? 2 times per year
  • What percentage of residence hall smoke alarms transmit a signal to campus security and are investigated prior to contacting the fire department? _0_%
  • What percentage of residence hall fire alarms transmit a signal to campus security or another monitoring agency and then are automatically transmitted to the fire department for immediate response? _100_%
  • What percentage of residence hall smoke alarms are not transmitted to any monitoring location outside of the building? 0 % (all common areas, elevators, hallways, detectors are transmitted 24/7 to Central Station).


“Pics Pretty Please?” wrote, “Could you post some pics from Pres. Hockfield’s inauguration??”

Unfortunately, I missed the inauguration, but the MIT News Office had some good shots. Here are a few:

At least two hacks were pulled in honor of the Inauguration. Above, the face on the giant dollar bill (an old hack of sorts itself) was replace with President Hockfield’s. Also (not pictured), a banner hack was deployed at the conclusion of the inauguration ceremony, apparently courtesy of Jack Florey. It read: “The king is dead. Long live the queen.”

RPI President Shirley Jackson ’68 (left) and Cambridge University Vice Chancellor Alison Richard both gave President Hockfield their best wishes.

The academic procession included representatives from more than 60 universities, all decked out in colorful academic regalia.

English @ MIT

NicoleR wrote, “how is the english department at MIT? Does it suffer at all in a big math and science enviorment like MIT?”

People are always surprised to discover that MIT has good programs in Literature and Writing. At MIT we have departments for both the Literature side of English and the writing side. You can check out the department web sites: Literature (21L) and Writing and Humanistic Studies (21W).

One of my favorite professors at MIT was Literature Proessor Stephen Tapscott and also got to know Writing Professor Rosalind Williams quite well while she was Dean of Students. The Writing faculty includes such notable writers as Alan Lightman, Junot Diaz, Anita Desai (now Emeritus), and Pulitzer Prize-winner B.D. Colen. The Literature faculty include Henry Jenkins, Diana Henderson, John Hildebidle, and David Thorburn.

As I’ve mentioned before, several of my friends/fellow MIT grads are now writers. One writes for, another for the Village Voice, and another has recently published his first novel (and is hard at work on the second one!).

Honestly, though, most people don’t come here solely for the English programs, though plenty of people come for “… and English.” I usually say that a typical MIT student is one who combines their passion for some science/engineering/social science discipline with their passion for some humanities/arts discipline. Most of my friends at MIT were like this: “Chemical Engineering and Music, Biology and History, City Planning and Film Studies, Mechanical Engineering and Art, Computer Science and German, etc.

Blogging, etc.

CF wrote, “I’m and Admission Counselor @ USM and was in this session! Thank you and Ben both for a great presentation and I’ve jumped on the bandwagon. I’ve started a small community blog w/ my student ambassadors to aid that program, but also to pilot future expanded blogging programs here @ SoME. Have fun in Tampa!

And in response to the same entry, Dan wrote, “I was at Ben and Matt’s presentation…they did a great job (Matt, I asked you some questions right after you finished the presentation). I’m a counselor at UVM and was really excited to see a session on blogging. Thank you, both of you, for giving me some ammunition to bring back to my office to say, “Look, this really works!” I’m just starting to work on my blog and hope to have it all worked out by the end of the summer… has there been any discussion about a network/ring of admissions bloggers around the world (a la weblogs, inc.)?”

So far, there haven’t been enough Admissions Officers blogging to warrant an Admissions Blog Ring, but maybe this year will be that year…?

zoogies wrote, “On a barely related note, I see Ben has a Movable Type now – or maybe he always did and I’m imagining things. Is there a reason that you don’t and that he changed?…”

In response, Ben wrote, “Zoogies – I was the guinea pig for Movable Type this year, and we’ve all fallen in love with it – so you’ll see all of the bloggers migrating to the MT backend this summer. :-)” It’s in the works already — stay tuned!

MITMom wrote, “I just cluttered up the MyMIT portal by registering myself, even though I am many years too old to apply. I’ve gotten hooked on looking at the blogs every day, and it was the only way I could get to them from my work computer (at home I can get to them thru my son’s saved sign-in, but I don’t actually know what that is.) You should have an option for parents to register for MyMIT without becoming part of your database of prospective applicants. Can I unregister later so you don’t waste paper sending me applications and view books?”

You can access our blogs directly by going to their URL; for example, mine is A good solution for keeping up with blogs is to get an RSS reader like Thunderbird which will tell you when there’s a new blog entry, much like your email program tells you when you have new email. Also, many web portals such as My Yahoo allow you to add RSS feeds from our blogs.

As for parent registration on MyMIT, it’s something that we are working on for the future. And if you have registered, you can unregister with a quick email or phone call to our office, no problem.

hmmm wrote, “Will the MyMIT homepage be updated just for 09ers who accepted MIT’s offer?”

Later this summer, the MyMIT homepage will update for the Class of 2010. This, unfortunately, means that the incoming freshmen will no longer be the “senior class” as far as MyMIT is concerned. I don’t know exactly how or when this will happen; perhaps Ben can tell us more?

spud wrote, “Matt, I suspect MIT admits a certain number based on historical data as to what the yield will be. Just wondering what impact all the MIT admissions bloggers had on this number. I suspect it will increase the yield from its historical average because you all have done such a wonderful job of making MIT feel so accessable, like we all already have friends there. Are you all ready for a higher yield? Can you handle a 10 percent jump in acceptances? When will you all have the final numbers for public consumption?”

spud, you are correct that we use many data points to try to determine our yield. It’s hard to know what impact the blogs had on our increased yield this year, but we suspect that they helped at least a little. As you saw, we published our Class of 2009 numbers in a previous entry, including the increased yield (though not your predicted 10% jump, thank goodness!).


Meder wrote, “I like basket ball, but can’t say that i’m a good player. a bad player, actually. and i wanted to know, if there’s a club or something for the beginners,that don’t play very well but just want to chill out. and how is the situation about the amateur sports at MIT?”

You sound like a perfect candidate for intramural sports! Each year, over 2000 teams of MIT students, faculty, staff and alums compete in dozens of different sports in fun competition on campus. Each sport will have different levels; for example, basketball has three levels, from A League (very competitive) to C League (just for fun). Most IM teams are organized by living groups or student groups. Ask around your dorm in the fall, and you’ll be pointed to your dorm’s sign up list. And if you play C League ice hockey, I might see you out on the ice, as I play with the MIT Alumni Club of Boston… I should also note that on campus, you’ll often find informal “pick up” games of basketball, soccer (aka football), ice hockey, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, touch/flag football, rugby, softball, and cricket going on.

Random question wrote, “I thought that you said that when you were an undergrad at MIT, you took some classes at Harvard Business School, but on the MIT-Harvard Exchange website it says ‘undergraduates may not cross-register at the Harvard Business School.’ So what’s the policy?”

You are right that I did take graduate classes via cross-registration at Harvard (at the Harvard Graduate School of Education), and also that I did take graduate classes in business (at MIT Sloan). While the policy is that undergraduates from MIT cannot cross-register at Harvard Business School, you really don’t need to, as the graduate resources of MIT Sloan are available to you and are a great option.

Nicole R wrote (about our fall tour), “Now these cities you’re visiting, would any of them happen to be in Alaska?”

Unfortunately, we won’t be making it up to Alaska. As for the cities we will be visiting, I expect we’ll have a list up in a month or two; our first meeting on the road will be after Labor Day.

Saad wrote, “wow, a session on International Student admissions, thats great! can you give us more information regarding that? and which countries in South East Asia will you be visiting, can you come to Pakistan!”

I will definitely be posting updates from the International Admissions Conference. As for my vacation later this summer, I won’t be anywhere near the Indian Subcontinent (this time); I’ll be spending time in Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Nearly Outdated Stuff

Lupe wrote, “Time traveling and teleporting!!!! I love MIT!!! this is the first time I really wish I had more kids!!! … I owe you some authentic Mexican food.” nghi, wrote “Hey matt, Hi, how are you? I’m fine. I haven’t talked to you since CPW because I was scared. It was the most difficult decision and I didn’t make it until the 2nd of May. Whenever you visit the bay area, let me know so I can at least take you out to dinner for to show you my gratitude and appreciation.” And Ash wrote, “Well, I think this is my time to sign out. … Hopefully I will see you for gradschool! Adios Matt! Thanks for all the fun. If you come down to texas again tell me!”

Lupe, Nghi, and Ash, it was great to get to know you. Thanks for participating in the community here on the blogs, and I hope you’ll drop by from time to time! This goes to all of you lurkers who will be attending another school next year — best of luck to you!

serene wrote, “I’m very sad a [email protected] already exists! Darn. Wanted [email protected], but that’s 9 characters *sniff*. I’ll prob go for [email protected] =) Are dots and underscores allowed?”

Underscores are allowed (but I don’t recommend them), and dots are not. Hey Serene, what about [email protected]? It’s an actual word, and a homophone of your name! And perhaps when you are anxiously emailing folks before your first big MIT test, it will bring a sense of… serenity… to you. You could then do what I did and grab a separate mailing list for yourself (where >8 characters is no problem) called [email protected]. [it’s probably now too late for this username advice; this part of the Omnibus was written several weeks ago, and sat uncompleted until now]

Laura wrote, “Ahh username…such an important part of…life. My friends call me “LNichs” as an abbreviation of my current school username (first initial-last name) So they’d find that awesome. But uuhhhh I have no idea. =)”

Laura, I think lnichs would be a great username, go for it!

Kiersten wrote, “Soooo many names to choose from, what shall I pick? Too bad “Argentinianshrimp” is longer than 8 letters. :( “

Again, don’t forget you can pick up mailing lists longer than 8 characters… I expect to be emailing you at [email protected] in a few months =)

Alex asked, “Matt, How exactly did you pull off getting two email addresses at MIT?”

In reply, Ben wrote, “Alex – we each only get one kerberos ID, but you can set up a one-person list to use as an alias:” I hear certain members of the Class of ’09 are already collecting multiple lists…

Nick wrote, “I already have a username [from an MIT summer program] and a student number. How can I keep that username? Do I now have to use my new student ID from the admissions process? I’m guessing I should talk with athena accounts.”

Exactly. For those of you in Nick’s situation who want to keep your existing email address, you should email [email protected]. For your MIT ID number, talk to the Registrar’s Office.

w00ter wrote (more than a month ago — sorry!), “The problem is that I mailed my MIT ‘acceptance’ letter last Friday. That means MIT will not send me a postcard until the 2nd May deadline has passed. If the mailman really lost my letter, I would assume that the MIT admission understands the situation.”

We would absolutely understand that situation, w00ter. I hope by know you have heard back from us; if you haven’t, call our office ASAP!


unknown asked, “Matt, I have a question. Do you know about WTP (women’s technology program) at MIT? I got in this summer and I’m wondering if you can give me some info about it, thanks :)”

Hi, unknown! I’m glad we’ll be seeing you on campus this summer for WTP. Many months back I did a post about MIT summer programs, and this is what some WTP alums had to say about the program:

LBizzle wrote, “I would definitely recommend WTP to everyone (except the boys of course). It was an incredible experience and gave me the best summer of my life. In such a short period of time we all learned so much about computer science and electrical engineering. What about math, you ask? If you think you know that stuff well, think again. lol WTP is challenging, but it’s also what you make it. The homework is optional (although very interesting…I especially loved the CS stuff) and the city is GREAT. Go!

trevian wrote, “To all the girls out there looking for a summer program, I strongly recommend considering the Women’s Technology Program. Until last summer, I hadn’t ever been able to do any summer programs because I had gymnastics 5 days/week all summer long. But I decided to take a break and went to WTP, and I had the time of my life. Don’t be worried about it being all work and no play, because we had so much fun. All of the homework is optional, so technically you don’t have to do any work, but its just so much fun and the material is fascinating. We got to do so many cool projects like building motors, making a computer program that plays uno, and making an AM radio. I met so many cool people and made so many new friends and it gives you a good idea of what college life is like…living in a dorm, buying you’re own food, staying up as late as you want with all your friends. And did I mention that there aren’t grades. So you can learn whatever you want to learn with absolutely no pressure. It was awesome.

Random fun stuff

Michael wrote, “Next time you’re in NYC, make sure you stop by Joe’s Shanghai on Pell St. in Chinatown. They originated Soup Dumplings and make the best I’ve ever tried, by far. They’re sort of expensive though, but it’s worth it.

Oh, don’t worry, Joe (and his dumplings) and I are quite well acquainted =)

Katharine wrote, “Matt! I went to a scholarship dinner tonight and got to meet like 6 really awesome MIT alums and MIT parents… one of them went to MIT before WWII and still wore his ‘Brass Rat’ everyday, all the time! We had an MIT table going and talked about different hacks and stuff for three hours. It was crazy!”

That’s pretty awesome =) Anyone else have any random stories of meeting/chatting with MIT alums?

Kiersten wrote (re: Class of 2009 Numbers), “betcha five bucks I’m the only Kiersten:)” And Jane W wrote, “Kiersten, I betcha I’m the only Jane.”

This is not a gambling site! ;) Regardless, no money needs to change hands, are you are indeed the only Kiersten and Jane, respectively, in the Class of 2009.

Vinayak wrote, “I saw from some early early blog posts that you listen to hindi music! that is pretty awesome. Well, cya this summer at RSI!”

Yes, I listen to some Hindi music, mostly filmi and also a little Bhangra-type stuff and classical, too. A recommendation: Bunty aur Babli was not very good, though I thought Amitabh Bachchan had a fine showing and the scene with the special appearance (I won’t spoil this) was random but quite fun. Anyway, I look forward to seeing you on campus.

Alex, in response to the Pokemon or prescription drug? trivia question, wrote, “In a similar vain: McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Harry Potter Spell or Psychotropic Medication?

Kiersten wrote, “Hey wasn’t there a time when that McGann fellow would write down what music he was listening to? What’s the deal, does he no longer listen to music? :O”

Well, right now, as I write this, I’m listening to the Counting Crows. Though for a large part of the day I’ve had the new Rob Thomas single, “Lonely No More,” stuck in my head.

Eric asked, “So how did the [Time Traveler] convention go?”

I unfortunately missed this too, but from all accounts it was lots of fun. My erstwhile housemate has her account of the event here.

Lupe asked, “Wasn’t there a MIT alum who played in MLB? or was it the NFL?”

Well, no professional football players have come from MIT. However, in 1998, Brad Gray was named one of two GTE Academic All-America Team Members of the Year in football. The other? A quarterback from Tennessee named Peyton Manning. On the baseball side, however, my classmate Jason Szuminski made it to the majors last year, appearing in 7 games for the San Diego Padres.

Alex wrote, “I just got a bad idea: what if one made a color ASCII dance floor? Then you could use libcaca (it’s like aalib, but with color) to play almost anything there. :-) Of course, the ability to render ASCII would imply an intrinsic resolution greater than the effective resolution, but wouldn’t *you* want to dance on ASCII?”

Ummm… yes. That would be, as we say in these parts, wicked awesome.

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