Skip to content ↓
MIT student blogger Snively '11

Openness by Snively '11

This one's serious, no silly link. Read it.

The MIT Admissions blogs started for several reasons. One of the reasons was the extremely dull, lackluster nature of the old admissions website. Another reason was this magical thing called “Web 2.0.” Web 2.0, where anybody can put anything on the Internet and everybody is equal. Everybody gets to publish, everybody gets to read, and everybody gets to respond.

College admissions offices employ standard USPS snail mail to advertise for their schools. Nice, neat, Photoshopped pamphlets arrive on your doorstep and as you flip through them, page by page, you get to see aspects of the school that the admissions office wants you to see. MIT, like any other college, did and does this. MIT, however, decided that it didn’t want to strictly control what you learned about the school. Why should your knowledge of the school be limited to what admissions wanted to tell you? Why should you only know a little? The solution was a series of blogs. Blogs written by students. Blogs written by students who actually attend the school. Blogs that let students that attend the school write about whatever they want, whatever they think helps potential applicants learn a little bit more about life at MIT.

MIT’s blogs have started to revolutionize the way colleges advertise. MIT is no longer a photoshopped ad, it’s constant fire alarms, successful tests, long nights, relationships, and real experiences. Some of the experiences are informative, some are advice, some are stories, and others are just completely random, giving you a look into the mind of an MIT student. Not every entry is the same, not every entry is useful, but every entry has a flavor of MIT to it and, when looked at as a part of the big picture, helps paint a picture of MIT that one group of pamphlet-creating admissions officers can’t convey.

MIT does its best to pick bloggers from a wide range of dorms, activities, writing styles, etc. The goal is to try to show a bit of everything. To be fair, 12 students cannot convey everything that happens here, but we can talk about what we do and how we live.

Here’s the way I write. I write about the stuff admissions will never tell you. I do this because this is why I feel the blogs exist. I don’t sugar coat things, I don’t always try my hardest to please everybody, I tell you what I think, what I’ve experienced, and what I think is interesting. I’m a blogger, I blog about content that I like. That’s why you’ll find entries about snowball fights, eating hot dogs, the internet coming to visit MIT, danger signs you see posted on doors, LEGOs, and tons of other stuff that isn’t stereotypical admissions pamphlet material.

I’m free to post whatever I want. When I push “Publish” it goes onto the Internet. There’s a lot of trust between admissions and the bloggers, but it’s for the better. It makes things honest. It makes things real. What I say is what I think, not what admissions necessarily thinks. This doesn’t give me permission to post about ANYTHING, however, there are some guidelines.

1) Make sure it’s relevant to applicants
2) Make sure it’s not out of context and that prefrosh understand the background

In the past I’ve posted some entries that didn’t follow those two guidelines. That was my mistake and those entries were removed. Apart from those 2 entries, every entry I’ve written has been real.

Now, since I’m allowed to write whatever I want, there’s no reason that blog readers shouldn’t be able to write whatever they want. It’s an open forum, a place for prefrosh to ask questions, chat with bloggers, chat with each other, and learn more about MIT. They are not designed to personally attack bloggers, prefrosh, or other readers. While not designed for it, those things happen.

People will have opinions, people will express them, and because of MIT’s openness these comments will be published. Here’s what’s important. Not everybody at MIT is represented by a few individuals, bloggers and commenters included. You should NEVER make a rash decision about MIT because of a few things you’ve read. You should do A LOT of research before deciding to attend any school. Read dozens, maybe hundreds of blog entries on this site, from different bloggers. Read all of the headers at the top of the page. Read Newsweek, college websites, read everything you can. Take everything into account.

I wish that everybody understood that what’s said on these blogs is taken very seriously. Any negativity can sway decisions about MIT. Current students who comment on blogs designed for prospective students are directly affecting the lives of potential applicants. If you are going to comment on blogs that are not designed for you, and you care about this school, please try to keep the comments relevant and useful for the prefrosh. Criticize, by all means, but please do it tactfully and helpfully.

Please, tell people that you disagree with what I say. Explain why things may be different from what I say. Help people understand other sides of MIT. If you despise me, please, talk about me behind my back, make fun of me, do whatever you want, but please do not let it affect MIT’s reputation and the potential classes of the future. It’s irresponsible, tasteless, and not necessary.

MIT is a wonderful school. It is difficult. You will learn. You will suffer. You will succeed. You will look back fondly at every memory you have here. You will experience things you never thought you could experience. EVERY CURRENT STUDENT that comments on these blogs is a current student. That means that they attend MIT and love it just as much as I do. They do their best to convey their impression about MIT to you because they want you to know all sides of the school. If this school were a school you shouldn’t apply to, you wouldn’t have current students on the blogs caring about how the school is represented. No matter how angry the comments are, no matter how bitter, current students still attend this school because they still like it.

MIT is all about openness. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Please don’t act rashly just because of what a few individuals say. Please read comments by many many commenters, please read entries by many many bloggers, and please make an informed decision about this school.

That is all.

41 responses to “Openness”

  1. Mason '10 says:

    The unfortunate side effect of Web 2.0 (or whatever version of Web your browser is running) is that you hear a lot from a very vocal minority, and it is frighteningly easy to get an unnecessarily warped view on how things actually are.

    The majority of MIT students have no voice here on the MIT blogs; a lot of them haven’t even heard of them. I’m posting here because I have two papers due tomorrow I don’t want to be writing. Is MIT really full of people squabbling on blog posts? No, that’s absurd.

    Snively does a good, no, great job of depicting what life is like in his slice of the MIT pie. Prefrosh, I hope that a few disgruntled commentators and hecklers will not reflect poorly on our glorious Institvte for you. Yay, MIT!

  2. Efolse '11 says:

    I think the following quote provides a lot of good (and maybe all of the) context behind this entry:

    “Seriously, as great as the blogs are, scrolling down to read the comments deters me more and more from applying to MIT. The entries themselves are really interesting and quite awesome indeed, but the comments now have nothing useful and tend to show me that some MIT students are just really immature and like to argue. I’m not saying *all* of them are, it’s just that the others seem to be off doing productive things with their lives.”

    — by “Anonymous applicant” commenter in Snively’s previous entry

  3. Anonymous says:

    I personally read the MIT blogs for Snively’s posts. I am almost always entertained and informed about things that I didn’t know about before. I read this blog even though I am never going to go to MIT. Snivelys take on life is something I appreciate and although at times he might cross the line that is part of why I like reading his blog. I don’t understand why all the pettiness. Thanks Snively for doing what you do.

  4. TBOL3 says:

    This is an interesting post. I actually wrote 1/2 of my optional essay (on the application), about how I love MIT for it’s openness.

  5. '12 says:

    God, the MIT blogs more than anything else made me fall into love with MIT.

    Specifically, Sam’s MIT blog. Read it! It’s the wittiest, kindest, most exciting – but most of all, most humble – blog you’ll ever read! Really, whenever he mentioned the Zoroastrian poet Farrokh Bulsara, my heart leapt through the sky, like a tiger defying the laws of gravity.

  6. Enas'12 says:

    I am with Snively 100%.

    MIT is a wonderful school. It is difficult….and please make an informed decision about this school(end).”

    Ask people about things that concern you. Ask Alums. Ask people who have visited Boston.

  7. '11 says:

    I am offended. The rash generalizations that you make about my opinions of this hell hole offend me. You offend me. Everything offends me.

  8. Derek M. says:

    Ya, that is one of the things that attracted me to MIT, how open and personable it is. It is really true that MIT has a “personality” (well, really a culmination of many different personalities). And reading the blogs has helped me find out both that I love its personality and where I would fit in the MIT melting pot. Great post, Snively! (Oh, and cool name too!)

  9. Anon says:

    This was an important entry, thanks for writing it. I agree that the openness of these blogs is what makes MIT special, and I’d hate to see that disappear. At the same time, there’s a fine line between what’s relevant for prefrosh and what’s not. I get how hard it must be to write these entries, but overall (not always… but close enough) you toe the line pretty well.

    I think that the blogs (/more the comments, really) have been deteriorating lately, and it sucks. The blogs are a huge factor in what made me apply last year, and I probably wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for them. I don’t want that ruined for future applicants.

    Guys, Snively is just one person. Some people here like him, some people hate him, and a lot of people have no idea who he is. Don’t let one person, or people’s opinions about him, factor too much into your decision on a school. Get the most out of the blogs as a whole, but ignore the petty fights in the comments. Mason made a great point about the frighteningly disproportionate about of people complaining in the comments.

    Moral of the story; MIT is a great school, you’ll love it here wink

  10. Paul says:

    Well said, Snively.

  11. prefrosh says:

    You have a different style than all the other bloggers on here, that’s why I’ve read your almost every entry for a year. They’re the most real thing we’ll get to MIT without going there. And that’s what the MIT blogs are about, as you said. Internet is open to everyone, so of course there’ll be some “haters”. Everyone can express their opinion, and it can be critical, negative, or not approving. But as we respect their opinions, they should also respect you. What I want to say is, this is a great post, and all of the followers of the blog should read this one.

  12. Jeremy says:

    Great post Snively, and well timed too.

  13. tree says:

    I’m applying for the class of 2013. These blogs make it so much easier for potential applicants,like me, to make decisions about where we want to apply. What Snively said in his post is right; the blogs give you so much more insight into a college like MIT.
    A year ago, I would never have even thought of MIT. Back then, it seemed like “Nerd School”, where all everyone did was study, study and study, and study some more and then go and invent whatever they invent. It was pretty intimidating. But as I began to read the blogs, I came to realise how much FUN this school actually was! People got excited about the same things I got excited about! The blogs made me fall in love with MIT, which might not help me if I get rejected from MIT, though, which in itself is a highly probably event. Snively’s posts-funny ones, cool ones like the one on the Toy Making Class (!)and even the ones where everyone was ‘hosed’, Yan Z’s verbose yet incredibly appealing writing, Matt’s candid posts, Chris’s tendency to post awesome pictures to complement his posts…everything just paints a picture of THE place I want to go to.
    What Snively said about the Photoshopped brochures is true. Hardly do you get to see the actual picture. These blogs do just that. I can’t even begin (or continue, rather) to elaborate on how cool these blogs are. It’s almost like we’re there, you know. It’s bloody awesome.
    I just wish other schools would have such blogs too. Deciding where you’d want to go would be way easier for an international student like me.

    If you think it’s a hell hole, why are you still there? Although if EVERYTHING offends you, it’s understandable, why you think it’s a hell hole. I hope you begin to like it more.

    Good post. smile

  14. tree says:


    Does anyone ever call you Michael?

  15. Monorina says:

    These blogs( and particularly Paul B.) made me fall in love with MIT.I love them. And hate evryone who posts -ve comments here.

  16. Anon says:

    “Current students who comment on blogs designed for prospective students are directly affecting the lives of potential applicants. If you are going to comment on blogs that are not designed for you, and you care about this school, please try to keep the comments relevant and useful for the prefrosh. Criticize, by all means, but please do it tactfully and helpfully.”

    *nods vigorously*

    Keep up the blogging! :]

  17. Lexy says:

    Hi Snively,
    I really appreciate your comment and your concern for the school, but as an applicant for the Class of ’13, I can tell you that my opinion of MIT has not been swayed by comments on entries. I realize that these comments are made on the spur-of-the-moment by students who often don’t mean what they say. If a student writes that he or she hates MIT right after failing a test or being dumped… well, duh. Students anywhere would write that. I take far more out of the thoughtful, reflective posts by you and the other bloggers, written carefully and making sure to get your meaning properly across, than I do from the comments.

    Thanks for all you do, Snively! The 12 MIT blogs have helped me realize that MIT is the place where I want to spend the next 4 years. Thanks so much!


  18. Tiffany says:

    I guess this is the post where we all voice our appreciation for the bloggers. So thanks all you bloggers out there. I knew I was applying to MIT before I even found out about the blogs, but it’s nice to have people, who seem to genuinely care, writing things for you while you’re tackling the hell known as the app. Thanks a lot guys, you add a human element to it all.

  19. Kayla says:

    It’s strange that I read these blogs so religiously when I’m not even applying to MIT.
    Although, through these blogs, not just Snively’s blog, I’ve come to absolutely love MIT!
    Sometimes I wonder if I just love the lives of all these brilliantly cool bloggers and not MIT as a school.

  20. Anonymous says:

    i’m applying EA for the class of 2013, and i love MIT admissions blogs! every time i get on the computer, i check 3 things: my e-mail, my facebook, and then these blogs. i like the combo of information and humor, and it’s fun to impress my friends with the knowledge about MIT that I glean from these entries.


  21. '12 Parent says:

    Michael, you seem to have rolled with the punches. Some people think they have the world figured out, but what’s so compelling about your posts is that you know you don’t and you’re willing to share.

    Your posts are a pleasure to read, and it sounds like you’re not letting a handful of spiteful responses get under your collar.

    Keep up the good work!

  22. Cathy says:

    Yea, you know what really, REALLY won me over is the sense of humour and personality that I see in these blogs..I love it! You guys ROCK!!

    and YES, definitely keep up the good work!^^

  23. Ahana says:

    Its curious. Every morning I wake up, too late for school, too hurried to log on to the Net. Too hurried to even switch on my computer. I come back after 8 hours. The first thing I do is grab my mum’s cellphone, check my email and the MIT blogs.(not necessarily in that order)
    If we were to still in the days of that lackluster website, I don’t know how a prefrosh-current student-parent-admission staff community could have developed so well.

  24. :) says:

    Thanks. You have no idea how much relief your blog means to prospective students like myself. Because in the stressful application process, promotion letter like yours is all that the applicants need smile. (applications make applicants feel rather unwanted, although I know that it’s not their intention)

    But quite frankly, the negative comments do add a bit of dimension into the entire blog posts-they somewhat make the blog story much more genuine, more believeable- sort of like a reminder that the blogs are uncensored.

    Oh, and have little faith in your prospective applicants. smile A simple hateful comment (like many said before) will not make or break my decision to apply to MIT, because I read most of the blog posts, I find MIT appealing, gravitating, if you will…

    Thank you again for educating me with the history of the blogs. I now have a newly formed appreciation for them. smile

  25. Steph says:

    I love reading the MIT blogs. In fact, I’ve been reading them for 2 years. I personally feel that because of these blogs, I have a better idea of what life is like at MIT. I live all the way in California, so because of distance, I’ve never been able to visit MIT. Reading these blogs gives prefrosh, transfers, whatever you are, a glimpse into what MIT is like.

    Would MIT be my first choice if the blogs didn’t exist? It’s hard to say. All I can say is that they had a huge influence in my choice.

  26. The majority of MIT students are apathetic towards all things, including the blogs, in my opinion. That is not to say the blogs are not worthwhile–they’re great!–but, like the first poster said, they are not NECESSARILY accurate. Those that comment are usually trying to avoid doing something else and are repeat offenders.

    I myself only began reading the blogs when they hired me to run one of them, but I’ve heard a significant number of preFrosh do read them.

    And yes, MIT tends to be “immature” compared to “standard” colleges, but more in the childish sense of the word.

  27. jm says:

    Just because what we comment should be relevant, doesn’t mean it can’t be silly. Look what I just found:

    For more info, see this:

    No doubt Michael has a good explanation waiting for us.

    (Sorry if Snively has already blogged about this, I just discovered it randomly spidering)

  28. Susana says:

    I appreciate Snively’s sincerity in this post. However, I must argue that it is equally valuable to “preFrosh” [like me] to see how MIT students react to…each other. The blogs themselves are a great idea, but their entries are especially strengthened by the dialogue that proceeds the entries, critical or not. This is not to encourage students to be condescending – there is a limit to propriety. Still, the truth of the matter appears to be that there is a sufficient amount of MIT students who are not “loving” their college experience, and a significant amount of applicants who would not/ will not like theirs in MIT. It’s silly (and somewhat inane) to assume that every student at any school is a proponent of it, and its image. Unhappy students might try to warn applicants against MIT – which is fine. In any case, it shouldn’t be too much of a concern. I am confident that I speak for a good many of the blog frequenters in saying that stories of extreme exhaustion and pressure, massive work loads, and insufficient socializing time won’t mean much to me [aside from in the somewhat bearable context of my senior year] until I get to MIT. Perhaps, of course, that is an immature standpoint, but hey, I guess means I’m a fit for MIT.

  29. Rosser '12 says:

    You rock, Sniveley. Keep on Keepin’ on.

  30. Banerjee says:

    Awesome post!! The last bit is really nice and touching.

  31. Snively, I’m an educational councilor, and have been for about two decades. I’d like to thank you, your dozen-odd compatriots, and the rest of the admissions website folks for making my job sooooooo much easier. In the pre-blog days, I’d do a lot of explaining about life at the ‘Tute, but there’s only so much that one guys’ stories can illuminate. And, while a lot of the printed material was superb, it just can’t be as spontaneous nor as ubiquitious as Since there is less need for me to jabber on about MIT, my interviews with prospective frosh these days concentrate on them telling me about themselves, which is the way it should be.

    Kudos to you and your fellow bloggers. Please, continue to hone your substantial writing skills. I look forward to many years of enjoying your unique style of essay. Thanks again!

  32. Anonymous says:

    So true, Snively. Comments left here should not necessarily “help” or “hurt” MIT, but they should at least be relevant and able to add validity to a possible applicants picture of MIT.

  33. Aoede says:

    Just a point of clarification to the first commenter: Web 2.0 is, in fact, an idea/trend/attitude and not actually a different version of the Internet.

  34. Vivi says:

    No offense to any of our current blogging crew – you’re all splendid and I admire you all very well. However, I’d like to clear up to all the prospectives why MIT blogs even exist – of course they were made to highlight the unusual, the quirky, and the positive side of things at MIT. But as we all know, there is definitely a darker, more negative side of things. If the true purpose, as prospectives have begged for, is to display MIT as it is, then I feel that a glimpse into the not-so-professional and encouraging side of MIT is necessary as well. Carefully and subconsciously censored posts and/or comments are not a reflection of life at MIT; they are a reflection of life at MIT the way we want to advertise it.

    As such, I feel it is important that ’13ers and beyond all realize that yes, it is tough here. It’s not all fun and games. You will feel like shit at some time or another. People will be mean, people will be condescending, graders will purposefully nitpick at exams, and tutors won’t make any sense. Things will be unfair, and people who don’t do the work will end up outperforming you on exams despite the fact that you studied literally 20 hours more than they did. And yet, the people who are here love it for that very reason – we see it as a challenge, something that isn’t all fun and games, but something to work for.

    Comments amongst current students (granted they are maturely phrased with proper grammar and punctuation) are an interesting look at how life at MIT is like – contrary to popular belief, not every MIT student likes every other MIT student by default, and not everyone will be encouraging and supportive. It’s a fact of life, and if prospectives are turned off by this fact that MIT isn’t all sunshine and smiles… then perhaps they should reassess their college expectations and search for another institution that fits their inaccurate glorification of MIT. However, if the prospectives are able to realize that comments on these blogs are but a mere slice of MIT life, then they can add this experience to their greater picture of MIT. After all, we are a multifaceted community, and only through a variety of encounters are they able to make the best decisions.

    So yes, pay attention to the comments here. Know that some of them are perfectly reflective of the MIT lifestyle at times, but also know that there is definitely more to life here than snarky comments and immature meme spam.

  35. Jess says:

    I like this entry a lot. Nice work!

  36. Anonymous says:

    I just checked out the old admissions website, I must say, I prefer this one infinitely better. =D.
    I love reading your blogs – they’re funny, informative, interesting, and just generally awesome. Thanks for the great post.

  37. Mikey says:

    Dear Snively,


    That is all. smile

  38. Ewan says:

    I love Snively’s and Lulu’s the most. Snively for his honesty and his sense of humour, Lulu for her weird philosophical way of describing things. You guys are talented and intelligent MIT students and bloggers.

    Keep it up!

  39. vlegozkib jqfwtl qskfgi rcye oqhmebvcf pyrvd kethr

  40. qrztxf hcfg says:

    rbqcj dwfshzko fpild yqast bgthafj ozjsyxauf ohszxcgy