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MIT student blogger Hamsika C. '13

Life + Sciences by Hamsika C. '13

= Life Sciences

Having slept for a solid 8 hours last night, I’m finally awake enough (and on top of homework enough) that I can blog, yayy.

First: !!!!!!!! Decisions in 6 days! I honestly cannot believe it’s been nearly two years since I got into this place. Good luck to all of you! I can’t wait to meet some of you at CPW :)

Second: I remember when it came time for me to make my decision regarding which college I wanted to go to, I was pretty torn over my options. I was mainly choosing between MIT (which is just awesome) and the Rice-Baylor med program (which would prevent me from taking the MCAT).

I thought I’d share my thoughts on this matter – since some of you admits (and soon-to-be admits!) might be wondering if MIT is a good school for pre-med students, especially since you’ve no doubt heard horror stories about the impossibility of maintaining a high GPA at MIT…*

My decision to pick MIT over Rice-Baylor was based largely on the fact that I knew I wanted to go into neuroscience (which is still a relatively new major at Rice) and the fact that MIT seemed to provide a ton of great opportunities for pre-med students, especially with several top-notch hospitals as well as Harvard Med basically next-door.

College Board breaks down MIT majors as follows:

Engineering: 38%
Computer and Information Sciences: 13%
Biology: 11%
Mathematics: 10%
Physical Sciences: 10%
Business/Marketing: 7%

I’d say that’s pretty accurate. While it’s true that many MIT students are engineering majors, the life sciences are definitely not ignored. About 20% (perhaps even a little more – I just asked Suzie ’12 who’s sitting next to me, and she estimated that about 25% of MIT students are life sci majors) of MIT students are Biology, Chem, or Brain/CogSci majors. Speaking from the perspective of a Course 7/9 (Bio and Brain/Cog) student, I can definitely say I don’t feel lonely in either department :)

Here’s a list of some opportunities MIT provides its life science majors:

UROPs – The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program a.k.a. what almost every MIT student participates in at some point during their MIT career. You get to do research with some of the smartest people in the world, and if you’re lucky, you get to publish something of your own.

Internships/Fellowships – I get at least one email every week from the Bio and Brain/Cog departments concerning available internships and fellowships. Saves me the trouble of having to look them up :)

Seminars – Undergraduates, graduates, and professors often come together to talk about different topics and latest in scientific research. I should go to more of these…

Visiting Scholars – There are soo many talks each week from researchers and scholars from other schools; take a look at the MIT events calendar – there’s always way too much going on.

Street Cred – when I email people and say, “hey, I’m interested in working with you – do you have any openings in your lab? Let me know,” people actually read the email – and respond :)

If you’re interested in knowing more about Life Sciences at MIT, you should check out their new website – and once you do that, go distract yourself with some stumbling so you don’t think about decisions until Pi Day.

Best of luck once again!

*…which is false, by the way. I know several sophomores with 5.0 GPAs right now, and I even know some seniors who have made it through MIT, participated in a good number of extracurriculars, and have never gotten anything lower than an A. Basically, my point is: it’s possible to maintain great grades here. So don’t let fears of a low GPA stop you from coming here!

13 responses to “Life + Sciences”

  1. Victoria says:

    Can’t wait for Pi day smile

  2. Anonymous says:

    Between 1 in 100 and 1 in 50 MIT students graduates with a 5.0. It could certainly be much more uncommon.

  3. Hamsika '13 says:

    @ Ryan – of course i don’t mind smile

    @ Vivek – the term ‘sleep cycle’ is used a little loosely here =P suffice to say, i generally get at least 6 hours of sleep.

    @ MIT EC ’85 – you’re right; i was only trying to say that getting a 5.0 at MIT is not impossible and that hopes of a high GPA should not be the lone deciding factor when it comes to colleges.

  4. Robert says:

    um…so UROP – have you done one? I heard you could use a UROP for either course credit or money, and I know I shouldn’t really want to do one for the money (and I don’t!), but I was wondering if you knew sort of how MUCH money you get from doing a UROP (because if I get in I’ll need all the money I can get to afford MIT)?

    And do you know about if any of those other things you mentioned (like internships and street cred) can bring in any money?

    Also…would any of those things eat up your life while you’re doing them (I mean, do any of them eat up your life even further), haha? (seriously)

  5. student anon says:


    -UROPs usually pay, at minimum, 9.25/hour. Don’t feel bad about doing one for pay: lots of people do it.

    -Internships and UROPs can bring in money. So can odd jobs like desk work and library work, if you don’t get a paid internship or UROP. There are plenty of opportunities to earn money.

    -Yes, they will, depending on how much time and effort you put into it. Some people UROP for a certain number of hours each week and absolutely no more: in that case, it’ll only eat up your life that much. However, depending on the major and the UROP, it can eat up your life more or less, especially if you’re legitimately interested and put time into making progress. 10 hours/week is technically the maximum for a UROP.

  6. Robert says:

    thanks a lot for the info smile

  7. MIT EC '85 says:

    I have to disagree with one of your points. Yes, there are people at MIT who maintain a 5.0 GPA. There are also MIT students who complete in beauty pageants, but this does not mean that all MIT students look like beauty pageant contestants. The fact is that 50% of MIT students are below average at MIT. MIT courses are more difficult than at most other colleges and universities, and the intelligence and work that would earn you an A at most other schools might get you a B at MIT. If you feel that getting a very high GPA is one of your top priorities in college, then going to MIT introduces some risk. Of course there are lots of other reasons to attend MIT, and many people understand that a 4.2 GPA at MIT is indicative of excellence. But have no illusions. MIT is very, very tough.

  8. Banerjee says:

    UROP and internship opportunities are what essentially draws me to MIT. But those 2 combined with everything else make MIT my DREAM SCHOOL. (Maybe minus the weather.)

  9. Ryan says:

    This was so helpful and reassuring. It’s good to know that I am not alone in wanting to do pre-med at MIT. If I do get into MIT, I hope you don’t mind if I ask you for pre-med advice smile

  10. Vivek says:

    Haha. Yes. Less than a week to go. Best of luck to everyone who’s reading this. And best of luck to the servers on the night of 14th March…

    And to be honest, I think it’d be an unfair stereotype to label MIT as a primarily engineering-focussed college simply because it has the word ‘technology’ in it. From what I’ve gathered from all the blogs here, so much more goes on there (ref. Elijah’s post on the debate) that putting a label on the place would be incredibly immature.

    Not applying for pre-med though. And unlike others, I’m fairly certain that if I’m lucky enough to end up admitted, I wouldn’t think much before accepting it either. But heh, look who’s getting wishful now. wink

    And congrats and getting the sleep and getting the p-sets in order. Tell me, is your sleep cycle similar to the ones I’ve read about on the other blogs?

  11. Ash says:

    What does sleep mean?

  12. Ash says:

    What does sleep mean?

  13. Hisham7 says:

    I totally agree with you, Hamsika. This mainly depends on the person, if you manage your time wisely, then you can enjoy a combination of everything including education, extracurriculars, social life and at the same time obtaining a high GPA even under pressure !!!
    Moreover, the opportunities you presented are really interesting and contribute directly to forming a solid background in a variety of fields even outside the person’s major which makes MIT an amazing place !!

    Best of Luck EVERYONE smilesmile