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MIT student blogger Anna H. '14

Live from Reg Day by Anna H. '14

Somewhere between meetings 5 and 6

Ah, Reg Day.

The day when *ALL* (except freshmen) MIT students meet with their advisors to sign up for classes. The day before the first day of classes. The day of the APO Book Exchange. The day when some stressfully large percentage of student organizations decides to have The First Meeting Of The Year.

I woke up at 8:30 to my alarm, turned it off, and *actually* woke up at 9:30, this time to the aroma of cinnamon rolls. One of our new freshmen, Sarah ’17, is amazing and cooked a few batches for the house. Yay Sarah!

After stuffing my face, I burned off some small fraction of the cinnamon roll calories trekking to campus (it’s about a quarter mile from French House to the heart of campus) for…

Meeting #1: One of the Literature department’s concentration advisors

I’ve been a little disorganized about fulfilling my HASS requirement: I’ve been taking classes on whim, then figuring out retrospectively what my concentration ought to be. Maybe not such a bad strategy (it means I take what I’m most interested in) but definitely stressful, when it’s the first semester of senior year (IT’S MY SENIOR YEAR) and I realize that I still don’t have a concentration completed. The thing is, the lit department requires that you take three classes in some “coherent unit”: I’ve taken a whole bunch of lit classes, but they don’t fall into any obvious category. I’d been planning to take a class this fall and a class this spring that, together with one other class I’ve taken, would complete the concentration, but the thought of finishing all my requirements at the last minute like that has been freaking my brain out.

So, I sheepishly walked into the lit concentration advisor’s office, Concentration Proposal Form wrapped up like a scroll in my hand, prepared to explain that I only had 1/3 of the concentration done. He took a look at the list of HASS classes I’d taken, and said:

Concentration Advisor: “Why don’t you minor?”
Me: “…wat?”
Concentration Advisor: “Why don’t you minor?”
Me: “…I don’t even have a concentration.”
Concentration Advisor: “You can have a minor and a concentration at the same time!”
Me: “…But I don’t even have a concentration. I’m a senior.”
Concentration Advisor: “Well, we could count this, and this, and this…”
Me: “But that’s not a lit class.”
Concentration Advisor: “They don’t all have to be lit classes!”
Me: “Oh! But they all have to form some coherent unit. These classes aren’t in the same time period or anything.”
Together, my Concentration Advisor and I made an argument for why the lit classes I’ve taken actually do form a coherent unit.
Concentration Advisor: “I’ll be back — let’s just fill out a Concentration Completion Form while we’re at it.”
Me: “…wat?”
He left, and returned with a Concentration Completion Form.
When I left his office, I had a filled-out proposal form, and a filled-out completion form. I turned in both to the HASS office, and felt a lot better about life. Definition of victory: entering an office with 1/3 of your HASS concentration done, and emerging with 4/3 of your HASS concentration done (we put four classes on the list; three are required.)
I then hurried off to…
Meeting #2: Alan Guth
Every time I meet up with Alan Guth to discuss my classes, a part of my brain (well, all of my brain, really) has trouble reconciling “Alan Guth is in the room with me, discussing my future and my classes and telling me about the weird play he saw with his family over the summer!” with “Alan Guth won $3 million because he’s one of the most famous physicists in the world! His name is in all of my cosmology / astronomy / universe-related textbooks!” with “I call Alan Guth ‘Alan’!”
Regardless, there he was. We discussed grad school applications (AHHH!!!!!), my various research projects (more on those later), then what classes I was going to take.
Some background on this: when I got to MIT, I was pre-med, and planning to double-major in Course 8 and Course 9. This put me behind — not alarmingly, but behind. The way this shakes out: this fall, I have to take freshman bio and sophomore relativity. Not necessarily a bad thing, but kind of weird.
Also on my list was a grad astrophysics class. I was a little disturbed to have three pset classes + an intense lit class (intense lit classes are ironically what keep me sane here) + three research projects + a job LaTeXing Quantum II notes for a professor + being president of my dorm + grad school / fellowship applications. I told Alan as much, and he strongly recommended that I not take the grad astrophysics class. This was what I was secretly hoping he would say, I think: I knew that I really *shouldn’t* take that class (“couldn’t” might be more accurate) but felt awkward proposing to only take three classes (the normal number is 4-5.) As my advisor, though, Alan can write a letter of recommendation that says something like “Dear graduate schools: Anna isn’t a slacker; she took three classes because she’s been devoting a ton of time to research.” And ultimately, it’s most important that I get everything done, and I actually don’t think it would be physically possible with a grad astrophysics class on top of everything else. I might attend the lectures as a listener, though.
So there it is. I’m taking three classes, and listening to a fourth. I know it’s the right decision, but it definitely feels weird. After I left Alan’s office, my sister (Lisa ’17!) called me, which meant that it was time for…
Meeting #3: The New House RLAD + The New House Vice President
Lisa and I walked back to New House (our dorm!) together. There, I met with the new New House Residential Life Area Director (RLAD) and our vice president, to discuss the upcoming year, brainstorm new programs, set some goals, and get to know each other. The VP and I have been working together for a semester now, and we’re good friends, but the RLAD is new so there’s some orientation to be done.
A quick blurb about what an RLAD is: he has training in working with students, dealing with conflict resolution, providing counseling, providing programming support, etc, and lives in the dorm. Sort of like an RA at other schools, I guess, but with more of an administrative role. He helps out a lot with New Houe exec, helps us plan and run social events, and is a resource for students who are having a tough time and need someone to talk to.
After that meeting, I left New House again for…
Meeting #4: Chris P. + THE NEW BLOGGERS!!!!! 
WE HAVE NEW BLOGGERS!! I won’t spoil the surprise and reveal who they are, because I think that Chris is writing an intro post about them. I will say, though, that I read all the blogger applications (one of the perks of seniordom) and these guys are fantastic. You will love them.
This afternoon, Chris and I met with the new bloggers to help orient them, answer questions, etc. They are as awesome in real life as they are on-screen. :)
After THAT, I booked it out of the room and into the nearest empty classroom (where I am now!) for…
Meeting #5: An astronomer in Leiden, the Netherlands
I’m applying for a Fulbright: a scholarship which would send me to some country of my choice to do astronomy research in a new cultural environment. So, I’ve been doing my homework, having interviews with research astronomers all over the globe, particularly those recommended by faculty here and my colleagues at the NRAO. Today, I talked with an astonomer in Leiden, the Netherlands; his work sounds totally fascinating, and having to make a decision about where to apply to is KILLING me.
Now it’s 3:54, and I have a meeting (MedLinks!) in…six minutes.
Onward!