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MIT student blogger Paul B. '11

New Kid on the Blogs by Paul B. '11

Claim your place. Make your mark. Live your dreams.

Let me start with a confession.

Last year, if you had told me that I was going to end up at MIT for college, I probably would have laughed in your face. Me, an MIT student? The concept was practically unthinkable. Throughout my entire high school career, I always considered myself a pretty average guy. Sure, I worked hard in my classes, I joined a bunch of clubs and extracurricular activities, I got involved within my school and my community, I did research at a local university. But in spite of all of those accomplishments, whenever I thought about applying to MIT, I kept coming back to the same conclusion:

What could possibly be so special about me, that MIT would ever want me at their school?

A year later, I still don’t really know the answer to that question. All I know is that I’m here now, and since Ben insists I wasn’t a mistake – yes, I really have asked him – it seems I have no choice other than to make the best of the situation.

My name’s Paul Baranay, and I guess you can call me the new kid on the blogs. I’m an official MIT freshman now, a proud member of the Class of 2011 – but most of the time I still like to think of myself as a normal guy who simply happens to attend one of the craziest universities in the world.

I’m proud to say I was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, a smallish city nestled in the very heart of the Midwest, most famous these days as the home of the University of Notre Dame. Although I’ve eagerly adopted Boston as my surrogate hometown, I still cling to a few Midwestern habits that seem more than just a little strange to my New England peers. For example, I insist on calling carbonated beverages “pop,” never soda; I still root for the Colts over the Patriots; and I love playing a little-known card game called euchre.

Enough about me, though – now let’s talk about you. Yes, you, you there in the back. If you’re reading this, odds are you’re in high school, probably a junior or a senior who’s in the middle of figuring out this whole “let’s apply to college!” deal. If that description matches you, don’t worry: you’re not alone. I assure you that there hundreds, thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of students out there just like you. I know this, because I’ve been there.

Less than a year ago, I was in the exact same place as you are now. Classes, clubs, sports, family, friends, community service, scholarships, competitions, applying to college – it’s a lot to handle, and I remember very well how juggling act feels. I also remember wondering how on earth I was going to get through it all. If you happen to be asking yourself the same thing, let me just say that succeeding in your senior year is doable. But it’s a question that no one else can answer for you. You will have to overcome these challenges by yourself, in your own way. But the good news is that you’re already more than three-quarters done with high school, and one more year probably isn’t going to kill you. If all goes according to plan, your senior year may even be the most enjoyable year of your life so far.

So relax a little. Breathe. I’ll admit it: the college application process is a lot to handle, especially if you’re applying to MIT. But you’re not alone, and you will get through.

With that said, let me officially welcome all of you to my blog. It’s not much right now, but I have a lot to say and I like to talk, so you can be certain you’ll see many more entries from me soon. In these pages, I hope to create something of a window into my world, a little cross-section of life at MIT. I’ll be taking you through the halls of the Infinite, inside the lecture halls and the labs, into the dormitories, even across the Charles. Of course, I’ll also be answering any questions you might have. You do have questions, right?

I only started blogging a few months ago. Although many things in my life have changed over the past several weeks, my motto is exactly the same today as it was then.

Claim your place.
Make your mark.
Live your dreams.

I know those are only words. But they are words I live by, and here at MIT, I’ve found that those nine words are much more than an ideal – they capture the indomitable spirit of over four thousand students. Each and every day, our passions, our hopes, our dreams drive us to push ourselves farther than we ever imagined going, to stand tall even when we’ve been pushed down, to never give up on what we’re working towards.

MIT is real. But it is also full of dreams. One day, some of those dreams may be yours.

Welcome, dreamer. We’ve been waiting for you.

65 responses to “New Kid on the Blogs”

  1. utkarsh says:

    im enrolled at some other univ in uk, can i still apply for freshman admissions?? as this years decision was a letdown for me!!!!

  2. Edgar says:

    I was wondering if you would ever blogg any time soon!

  3. Paul says:

    @ All: Thanks for the warm welcome! smile

    @ Utkarsh: Although I understand your desire to re-apply as a freshman, unfortunately MIT’s policy says that you must apply for transfer admissions. Best of luck to you, wherever you are.

  4. W00t! First post on the first entry of a brand-new blog!

    I also applied to MIT last year, although the response I got wasn’t as favorable. But I still dream about the big house on the Cha’les. smile

  5. Scratch that–

    Second (and third) post!

  6. Wow, great first entry! I look forward to reading your blog in the future.

  7. Kes '11 says:

    Euchre is not well known here?? Damn, I <3 euchre

  8. Farhad says:

    Me? In the back? Where? Oh! Me!!
    Yes! Finally a post by Paul with all of its great wise voice!

  9. Melissa says:

    wow–can you teach me how to be like you?

  10. Isshak says:

    You took your time to post it, but it’s a beautiful one ! Nice going, and we are waiting for more !

  11. fidel says:

    hey paul, nice blog you have here…

    be a shame if anything “happened” to it.

    Heh. Anyways, you’re finally a blogger, congratulations!

  12. Arkajit says:

    finally! =P
    nice post wink

  13. Star says:

    Great post Paul! And yeah, it was worth the wait. Can’t wait for more though smile

  14. Whoa! I haven’t checked the blogs in eons, but good job Paul. I love the ending. Catch you around campus.

  15. P.S. Paul’s totally right about MIT, heed his wise words young grasshoppers, I mean, Prefrossshhh…

  16. LULU says:


  17. LULU says:


  18. Allison says:

    Nice post! I think you’re pretty awesome.

  19. Lulu says:

    ahh matt, first post! i’m so proud of you. *sniffle*

  20. Lulu says:

    and by matt, i meant paul =. i’ll give you hugs to make up for that the next time i see you.

  21. Hyun Jin says:

    Hello, was just reading your blogs, and I have to say, I loved the way you’ve set up your initial page. The oxymoronic (spell check’s telling me that’s misspelled) combos you had with your adjectives were really funny.
    Any advice for senior year? It’s quite hectic, and the 4.33% admissions rate for Int’l students isn’t helping boost my confidence much either.

  22. Hunter '11 says:

    Haha, I constantly wonder if I’m a mistake.

    Yay, first Paul blog! And a great way to start off, too =P

    And you must teach me euchre!

  23. Ahmed says:

    Nice post. Im going to do my best to, “Claim my place” this January. I do not have everything about my life figured out, but, espicially after reading this post, its becomes apparent that this is not a problem. Thanks.

  24. milena '11 says:

    I was waiting for this! Nice post, keep them coming! You should write a post about TEAL (that is, if you’re taking it), I think a lot of the prefrosh would be really excited to see what it is! wink

  25. Ana says:

    You made me feel so much better with this post. I really felt I have so many things to do this year, and time is always the same. But reading your post made me feel I am not the only one in this situation. Thanks!

  26. ronald says:

    nice post..i like the way u say “high school career”!

  27. Lawrence says:

    Woah Paul. You’re freakin’ awesome, ok?

    PS – Awesome motto. I’m thinkin’ we make a T-shirt out of it, kool? Kool.

  28. Petricia says:

    Nice, kind words johnny. you inspire us all. to reach a little higher!

  29. LOL everyone seems to forget that your name is Paul but i certianly won’t. I will hope to see you around next year, Ken.

  30. OMG i’m sorry, i don’t know why i wrote Ken but PAUL it is! smile

  31. Paul says:

    @ Hyun Jin: Thanks! The international admissions rate can seem intimidating at times, but don’t let that deter you from giving it a shot! As far as senior year goes, I think the most important thing is to keep cultivating the same good habits that got you to this point. If you already have a balance that works for you, stick with it. But don’t be too afraid to make changes – your senior year can be a great time to take a few risks, or try something you’ve never attempted before. I’m sure that Chris will have some more insights on international applications later on.

    @ Lulu: You know, you’re actually not the first person who’s confused me with Matt. o_0

    @ Lawrence: I like the way you think, my friend. We should discuss this further.

    @ Petricia: Haha, it’s no problem. I actually do have a friend named Ken, if that makes you feel any better. wink

  32. Ginger says:

    Awesome first post! I love your great advice and philosophy. I’ll definitely keep them in mind as I apply this year. Wish me luck!

  33. Superb post. Welcome. I read the blogs everyday.
    It helps me to miss my son less as I feel I get to know and share in a little slice of his world. I look forward to reading your future posts.

  34. Ben P. says:

    Awesome first post and great motto! I look forward to reading your blogs.

    I, too, love euchre. It’s pretty well known up here in Michigan, although I was always told (of course by other Michiganders) that it was just a Michigan phenomenon. (How could such a great game only exist in one state?!) I’m glad to hear that others know about it as well.

  35. Grace '11 says:

    my dream…is to slide in another day between today and tomorrow. five day weekend!!!!!

  36. Nihar says:

    Heyyy…finally! An excellent first post Paul! Your nine wise words are etched onto the canvas of my mind for quite some time now, and I must tell you they’re excellent guidelines to live by. So, thank you!
    **Mistake?..thats a good one!.. Both MIT and Stanford couldnt have made the same mistake, could they? ^^ Im sure you must’ve deserved it..all of it**
    Keep posting!

  37. woot! Finally, your first post as an MIT blogger! I immediately wrote those words down, it sounds like the ending of a good series or something. Great post, can’t wait to hear more.

  38. Adam M. says:

    Your first post is as good as any time for me to make my first reply.

    Excellent first post; was wondering when you were going to start up! Good advice, worth taking to heart. Definitely going to follow along as I try my best to get in.

    And PAUL, if you’re looking for any spare teammates come January 18th, feel free to say so! Be there in a flash! :D

  39. Everything you’ve said about senior year parallels what I’m going through at this exact moment. I can’t help thinking how I’m going to churn this year out and manage to end up whole and not in massacred bits and pieces. My brain is melting.

  40. E Newts says:

    ^^SS u ain’t alone bro. Paul’s post refreshed me though. May give me the confidence to fill out one more app tonight, maybe another essay….but then again lets not get ahead of ourselves.

    great post mate. Hope to see you around next year. Thanks for keepin it real.

  41. Spencer '11 says:

    Goo Paul!! I remember you saying you got to be a blogger, and I remember reading all of them when I was applying to MIT, haha good first post, see ya soon!

  42. hungyee says:

    great post! let me second Kevin Rustagi ’11, I love the ending smile yay for dreamers..!!

  43. Kate says:

    Not that I wasn’t thrilled to read your introduction page, but I’m glad you have an actual post to your name now! smile Thanks for reaffirming the idea that our muddling through the mess that is senior year (and the application process) is not in vain, and for encouraging us to keep the faith with our dreams.

    I love your motto, of course, and I will second the idea that euchre is a sweet game.

    PS #1) Since all the other commenters seem intent on referring to you by other names, I think I’m going to call you Pablo from now on.

    PS #2) I say soda. raspberry

  44. Jess says:

    Soda. Soddddaaaaaaa. soda.

  45. Farrah says:

    Hey Paul,
    I just wanted to say thank you for posting your motto up here, those nine words have finally encompassed a standard of living, a belief that I have been trying (but not succeeding) to explain to people for a very long time.

  46. Pall says:

    Good first post there Paul.

  47. Melis says:

    Three cheers for your first entry!

  48. Ernie says:

    finally. a colts fan.

  49. Emily L. says:

    Your entry was so encouraging! Go Midwesterners!

  50. Thanks for that post about yourself about your state a year ago, it was assuring.

  51. Hunter '11 says:

    I second the Pablo thing wink

  52. Debbie Yee says:

    hey hey Paul! you are a blogger! hooray! awesome blog, awesome pic, can’t wait to hear more from you! hahaha who knew? see you around campus!

  53. Hawkins says:

    Oy! Pablo! Nice entry, bro! =) I can’t believe I was underway and missed it… I love your motto as well, but I must side with JKim: it’s SODA.

    I definitely share your experience of not ever believing I could be at MIT until it actually happened. Every once in a while I catch myself not being amazed by this, and then I become amazed again.

  54. Shannon says:

    Three cheers for ol’ Notre Dame, pop, and euchre. (And the Midwest, while we’re at it.)

    Nice first post, too! Great to see you finally have the official blog up and running.

  55. Eric T. says:

    “Claim your place.
    Make your mark.
    Live your dreams.”

    Thank you for those 9 words. I guess that’s what MIT is all about.

  56. Alvin says:

    Hey Paul! Nice entry; I look forward to reading more of your blogs!

  57. libin says:

    great post! MIT needs erudite people who are honest with their application the most?

  58. melissa says:

    i like pop…and you too!
    great work dog.

  59. PAUL your post rocked my socks off and i am eagerly awaiting your next post…so write another one haha…just kidding…but seriously write another one

  60. PS i went to high school with Paul…hes awesome!

  61. Harsh Sinha says:

    Loved the way you catalysed your passion……..

  62. Shawn '11 says:

    You should blog more often. Be more prolific!

    /nagging tongue laugh

  63. Miel says:

    woah Paul, i had no idea you were a blogger….that is SOOO sweet…..can you believe we were reading these like they were some far-off dream just one year ago? seriously…

    i hope you’re having an amazing time:)
    maybe we can catch up over thanksgiving…South Bend, woot…raspberry

  64. Miel says:

    and wow, i just noticed that steve shlakman posted on here? we went to like..middle school together, lol:P

    anyway, to all of you prefrosh…good luck with everything:) i know that last year MIT was literally my dream dream DREAM…but when it comes down to it and you have options, things aren’t so black and white. You might rethink things and end up somewhere else…and it will all work out:) Wherever you end up, you’re almost guaranteed to love college…so don’t be too hard on yourselves this year. With that said….MIT is incredible and I wish you all the best of luck:)

    ….almost in Boston but in Houston instead…lol