A view of Next House from across the river:
I have gotten a lot of questions about Residence-Based Advising (RBA). Bryan wrote a great entry about his experiences with a traditional advising seminar. Here’s my take on it. As a prefrosh, I didn’t know that much about the dorms so RBA was one of the main reasons that I chose Next House.
In RBA, you live in the same dorm as the other students in your seminar (usually there are about 8 others) and a Resident Associate Advisor (RAA), who is an upperclassman that helps run the seminar and is a resource if you ever have problems with classes, activities, friends, etc. Last year my roommate became an RAA and I can confidently say that they are a group of really great students who genuinely want to help freshmen succeed at MIT. However, to be honest, I got to know the other people in my seminar but I didn’t really take advantage of the fact that they lived near me… we were not a particularly tight-knit group.
There are many fun seminars to choose from, including one where you get to build furniture for your room (a picture of a cinderblock that my friend made is on the right) but I’d particularly recommend the one that I did, called Tech Goes to Movieland. Every Sunday, we would eat a free, amazing dinner from a local restaurant and then watch and discuss a movie (i.e. Dr. Strangelove, Big Fish, Mean Girls, Clockwork Orange, Saving Private Ryan, Best in Show.) It was a wonderful way to relax at the end of the weekend and learn a little more about films.
On top of the movies every week, MIT gives RBA groups a lot of money to do other fun things. So, we got to see Blue Man Group and the Phantom of the Opera live, and Garden State in the theaters. We also got to go to a very nice Afgan restaurant for a fancy meal (pictures at the end of the entry).
As clarification, the faculty member that runs the seminar also serves as your freshman advisor. This way, you get to know the professor both personally and professionally. How else would you find out that your advisor has been to some of the best restaurants in Boston and loves the movie “Mean Girls”?
Another word of caution: as a freshman, I didn’t really understand how much your freshman housing assignment affects the housing situation for your entire MIT career. This may be thinking far too ahead for some of you, but say you’re a freshman who chooses to live in Next House (for example, though this applies for all of the dorms) for your freshman year. For your sophomore year, you are automatically assumed to stay in Next, and if you want to move out you have to enter a lottery listing your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th choice of dorms. It’s not particularly easy to transfer to another dorm (though this depends on which dorm you want to get into and how long the waitlist is). Also, once you get into the dorm of your choice, rooms are assigned based on seniority. So again using Next House as an example, sophomores who lived in Next in their freshman year get a better choice of rooms than sophomores who transferred. Does that make any sense? So choose wisely, basically, and think long-term.
A couple other advisees at the Afgan restaurant:
My roommate got a kiss from a Blue Man!:
Question. Next is my second choice dorm, so do I apply for RBA or regular advising?
Argh. I’m really interested in RBA, but Next isn’t my first choice : Do you know why it is that they only have it in two dorms?
Well, it’s an expensive program and logistically difficult. Other than that, I don’t know! I guess it also makes Next and McCormick more desirable than they would be otherwise.
RBA was recently expanded to two Cultural Houses (Chocolate City and Spanish House): http://web.mit.edu/firstyear/rba/
I think the due date has passed, but I hear that you can just apply to RBA as long as Next and/or McCormick are in your top two spots…
anyway, if anyone wants to talk more about the RBA program (specifically at Next House), I was an RAA (resident associate advisor) for two years at Next House, so feel free to email me or visit my blog!
also, a lot of questions can be answered by emailing [email protected].