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Numbers by Hamsika C. '13

Sigh.

October 5, 2011

First of all: my apologies! Junior year has seized me, spun me around, and left me in a somewhat disheveled state. There’s homework, lab, extracurriculars, office hours – so much going on that while I’ve started writing at least six blog entries in the past month or so, I haven’t had a chance to finish or post any of them :(

(Interruption: Ahmed ’12 is sitting next to me. He says ‘hi.’ lol…)

But today, I wanted to make some time and write about something special: numbers.

See if you can make sense of the following:

102

25

5

39

7

56

50

98

Any patterns jumping out at you?

At some point or another, each of these numbers has felt to me like a definition. My high school rank. My highest test grade at MIT. My lowest test grade at MIT. My birthday. And so on. I’ve cried over some of these numbers and rejoiced over others. At one point or another, each of these numbers meant more to me than all others.

One of the most common questions I’ve received as an MIT student is, “What was your SAT score?” My answer is always the same, “I could tell you my score – but to tell you the truth, I don’t think it’ll help you very much…just do your best!” I stand by that answer. Growing up, my mother always told me that instead of comparing myself to others, I should compare myself to myself: I should seek to beat my own scores, improve my own standards, etc. My mom’s advice is probably one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received.

This week has been particularly rough on several of my friends here at MIT – and, for that matter, on me as well: tests, problem sets, untimely sickness – alone, any one these items is easily managed. But together, they only seem intimidating and impossible: every little failure seems huge. Case in point: on my 7.03 (genetics) exam this past Monday, the average was a 46, with a standard deviation of 17. Monday night, I checked my grade online and was entirely shocked and disappointed. Today, the professor encouraged us all to stay in the class: a 46 on the exam corresponded to a B.

Which just goes to show you that much of what you know about numbers…is false. Numbers *don’t* define you – in any sense of the matter. The importance of your high school rank will linger through your college app process and fade away after you graduate from high school. The same goes for your SAT score. I will be the first to tell you that it’s important to work hard, to aim high, and to celebrate great scores and accomplishments. But two years of MIT have shown me that there is more to life than numbers, that there is more to anyone than a bad test grade.

Anyway – I felt like this was enough of an issue that I wanted to get my thoughts out. Good luck with all your college apps – and don’t stress out too much about numbers!  ♥

10 responses to “Numbers”

  1. You’re in 7.03 too?! I’m so sorry. That exam was brutal. In particular, those moments around 20 minutes left when I realized I was definitely not going to finish. And then the following moments when I looked for easy points and didn’t find any. *hugs*

  2. This post does enough to re-instil the confidence I required! :D
    Thank you!

    Well did you think you would get in? The moment you applied?

  3. swapna says:

    Very inspirational for a HS/MS student. Missed your entries, been waiting for so long…
    Take care.

  4. Chris S. '11 says:

    If I guessed one number correctly, congratulations! smile

    Also, my lowest numerical score was in 7.06, 13 percent, average 37, SD 12. I dropped the class though, hahaha. raspberry

  5. Hema says:

    Keep going….

  6. Nowsherwan says:

    ok, thanks! by the way “What was your SAT score?”

  7. Niks says:

    You’re a cutie. I love you. Stay strong!!

  8. What’s was going on with number 39? Because i looked at it and and felt something weird….

    Greetings Femke

  9. kilanko says:

    yeah!! hamy, I think numbers are over rated. But thats what the society judges you with, unfortunately and it not fair; but just as my friend always says ,exams are not the best means of evaluating a person’s ability but its the only way. Same goes for numbers…. ..good lucky if am lucky i will be joining you next year or THE FALLS after that….

  10. Tihomir says:

    Interesting review over the numbers. I also find some symbolic meaning in my grades and means. Unfortunately, you have to know what to do with all these numbers.