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MIT student blogger Yuliya K. '18

Mini-Guide to CPW by Yuliya K. '18


CPW (or KAPOW, as we call it sometimes) starts tomorrow. We are thrilled to meet and host you, Class of 2020! Get excited!!!


For the past week, our inboxes have been filled with KAPOW reminders and requests to help with events. We got our prefrosh hosting assignments, and everyone thinks they will have the best guest. The magic algorithm that matches visitors to hosts definitely works.
Now, for us, CPW is a familiar event. The excitement of the new Class exploring MIT is extremely contagious. Campus feels festive. We get to meet new people. There’s free food.

However, many of you may be plagued with logistical travel and planning issues. What should you pack for the four fun-filled days? How do you pick a reasonable fraction of the 600+ events to attend? I was definitely one of the more anxious pre-frosh two years ago, so I figured it might be helpful to post a Mini-Guide to KAPOW for your final hours of prep. And if I miss something, feel free to ask additional questions in the comments or email [email protected] directly.


Packing is a familiar concern. First, ask your host if you need to bring a sleeping bag. Chances are, your host will have an air mattress or a sleeping bag of their own.

Once the sleeping surface issue has been clarified, here are things you should bring:

  • One carry-on bag. Travel light. A carry-on suitcase with a backpack is the max reasonable load, especially if you don’t need to bring a sleeping bag.
  • Space in the bag. Ok, not really something you can bring, but be aware that you’ll probably get loads of free swag over the weekend—anything from cups and t-shirts to books and toys.
  • Clothing. This one’s the most challenging decision. The weather’s been crazy recently. I wore a t-shirt three days ago, and now there’s a winter storm advisory and I’m shivering in my winter jacket. Looks like CPW is going to be chilly and occasionally rainy (see more on weather below). You’ll be out exploring both during the day and at night, so bring a jacket, preferably with a hood. Rain boots or some other waterproof shoes would be helpful. You’ll only be here for four days, but try bringing more than four changes of clothing. Things can get a bit messy. Be prepared to track through mud. Lastly, you’ll be moving a lot. Bring your most comfortable and least fancy clothing and shoes.
  • Towels and other toiletries. Pretty self-explanatory. You’ll need to take a shower and stuff at some point.
  • Sleeping stuff. Again, this is something you should discuss with your host. Do you need a sleeping surface? A pillow? A blanket? Is the room going to be steamy or chilly?

What not to bring:

  • Homework. If at all possible (i.e. if you don’t have The Most Important Assignment due Monday), do not bring your schoolwork. Chances are, you will have approximately 0 hours to actually do it.
  • Nice things. It’s going to be muddy and messy. A gold chain and black suit will not help.

Strategy and Events to Attend

Don’t plan the majority of your weekend.The events I enjoyed most were those I went to with a group of cool people. That, in general, is a good strategy. Follow the cool people and make connections. Few pre-frosh travel alone. Although, if you want to attend some helpful academic or financial aid event, go for it. One of my most helpful CPW interactions was at the Math Department Open House. The other was when I went to play with foam swords on the rooftop of Random Hall. I would’ve never guessed I’d enjoy it, but I did immensely because of the fun crowd. KAPOW is about taking risks and doing unexpected things. Be open to exiting the comfort zone. Really, no one is going to judge.

Some events are normally highlighted in the CPW booklet. Those are important ones, acording to MIT. And here are some others that seemed particularly helpful at discovering MIT to me:


  • Residence Hall Events. In June, you will pick a living community that fits you best. So during CPW, take the time to explore what each dorm has to offer (and stuff your face with free food!). Join a fun group of prefrosh and go. Check out the FSILG Events as well, even though you have to remain on campus for the first year and even if you can’t join a sorority/fraternity. Interact with the students in each living group. If they’re hanging out at events, they want to meet you. We won’t give you dorm recommendations during CPW, because that’s technically for Freshman Rush in August, but we’re still happy to talk about our MIT experience, and you’ll still be able to get a feel for the dorm culture. On a personal note, I invite you to stop by East Campus. We’re excited to meet you and will be grilling burgers/dyeing hair all day, plus doing other exciting stuff (here’s the Facebook page for EC KAPOW).


  • Academic-Research Events. These are helpful if you’ve already started thinking (worrying?) about your major and UROP prospects. Department Open Houses are generally really helpful. I loved talking to all the awesome professors at the Math Department Open House my CPW. And you’ll be sure to meet many like-minded prefrosh. Lots of prefrosh sign up for UROP tours as well.
  • Random Recommendations. Stop by Meet the Bloggers if you want to see the people behind the avatars and eat pie with us (also helpful if you’re considering being a blogger yourself). SGBIS: A Cappella Showcase is a cool opportunity to hear all 11 MIT a cappella groups. The SGBIS during my CPW was my first experience with a cappella, and it was magical. For a late night learning and chill session, stop by the Firehose! event and learn about anything from large numbers to Polynesian geography. There are soft cushions and passionate people. And, lastly, check out the Spring Fire Performance on Saturday night. Students breathing and spinning fire are guaranteed to impress. Where else could you get that experience?


Your host has volunteered to host you because they are excited to meet you and the other members of the Class of 2020. They are your friend and resource. Feel free to ask them questions or share any concerns (to share concerns about the host, contact CPW headquarters). Make sure that your host is aware of any special accommodations or serious allergies in advance. Get their phone number. Arrange to check in and coordinate your schedules so one of you doesn’t walk in loudly while the other is sleeping. Ask about your host’s living group. Does it get loud? Where are the bathrooms/showers?



Everything you need is here:


And that’s about it for this post. Most importantly, allow CPW to be exciting and spontaneous. Be open to new friendships and knowledge. Be ready to discover something about yourself and the things you want to do in college. See your future life at MIT.

We can’t wait to meet you. See you soon!