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MIT student blogger Jess K. '10

Orientation and pre-approval by Jess K. '10

In which I relate orientation to getting pre-approved for a credit card in a totally non-obvious way.

(I have a lot more unfinished posts on their way – as well as answers to your questions – but this was too good not to post right away. So here’s a brief message brought to you by my junk mail.)

I have a first name for a last name – essentially, my name consists of three first names – which is fun, but can lead to a lot of confusion. When I first started work this summer, my co-worker Nick insisted upon calling me ‘Kim’ (it didn’t simplify matters that another Kim works there). “I’m with another customer, ma’am, but Kim over here will be more than happy to help you out.” After I assured him my real name came both alphabetically and birth certificate-ly before ‘Kim’, he insisted he was just calling me by my last name as males tend to do in an affectionate manner. (I tried to reciprocate by calling him by his last name, but failed miserably upon discovering that his is actually not three letters and consists of some combination of the syllables “schla” and “nguy”*.)

Having a simple yet so complex full name does occasionally work in my favor, though. Aside from assisting me in weeding out who’s a friend and who’s foe, it also helps me pick through my junk mail. All senior year I got scholarship offers for “Kim”, who apparently won lots of money and an “academic biography in Who’s Who Among American High School Students, 2005/2006”. Tonight, though, took the cake:

I think probably my favorite thing about the whole letter is not that I myself am not the gender I’ve been assuming for the past 19 years, but that I come from a lineage of similarly unfortunate fathers and grandfathers with the name Jessica.

So pre-orientation has begun! And orientation is about to begin! I’m writing from home, but I can practically feel the anticipation and excitement 3000 miles away just from facebook-stalking (ah, the wonders of modern technology). A lot of people look fondly upon orientation – it’s like CPW, but extended and with people you know are going to be your classmates for the next four years. Just try not to call anybody by their last name. Especially try not to mistake them for the opposite gender. But if you do, don’t worry – everyone meets so many people at orientation that you either won’t remember them by second semester, or you’ll become best friends and laugh about how you thought Harry was Harriet twenty years ago.

(Disney Rewards, though, will probably not get another chance with me. Even though 0% APR until November 2008 is very tempting.)

The only advice I can give you regarding orientation and pre-orientation is to meet as many people as humanly possible. Talk to upperclassmen. Wander into strange rooms. Host a random dance party. Go on hacking tours. Hug a beaver. Especially since you’ll get to pick your roommate (though there’s nothing wrong with staying with the person you were temped with), meet people in your living group or your potential living group. Or be like me and don’t, and then run into your roommate the morning of the lottery, who turns out to be your soulmate – just have fun with it. I’m very jealous that I can’t be on campus with you guys right now, but I’m so excited to meet you all soon!

*Not necessarily in that order.

28 responses to “Orientation and pre-approval”

  1. Keri says:

    Congratulations Kim!

  2. Hawkins '12 says:

    Hey Jess, in all seriousness… I’m visiting next month, and I’ll be taking a campus tour, but I’d like to get a, uh, more thorough tour, if you know what I mean. Who should I talk to?

  3. Ben says:

    Fun fact: I believe the “Mr.” in “Mr. Neha” is short for “my roommate” as opposed to “mister.” wink

  4. Hawkins '12 says:

    Oh, I know… but I still found it pleasantly ironic. =P

  5. Anonymous says:

    That first name-last name problem is a headache for many Asian Americans, I guess. And imagine being called Na when your name is Na-Young Kwan.

  6. Ronny CHEN says:

    Well, I have a very-hard-to-pronounce firstname and when these English-speaking people say it, I never know.

    Please just call me Ronny

  7. Snively says:

    For the record, “Snively” rhymes with “Lively”

  8. Hawkins '12 says:

    lol That’s what you get for calling your roommate “Mr. Neha”!

  9. Fangfei says:

    Hey, CollegeBoard thought I was a guy once. I had to set the record straight with them that I am actually a female, because not straightening that might’ve been problematic.

  10. Wings '11 says:

    Snively, thanks for clarifying. I’ve been thinking it’s “Sniv-el-ee” this entire time =P

    For the record, I’m a female and my real name is Melissa. Just throwing that out there =)

    And everything’s great out here, Jess =P

  11. Christina says:

    Hawkins, if you sign up for an overnight visit, your MIT student host will likely be open to giving you a “more thorough” tour.

  12. Emily L. says:

    Hey, at least people know how to pronounce your name. For whatever reason my last name inspires people to uh…creative…pronunciations.

  13. Hawkins '12 says:

    I’d love to do that, but from what I’ve read they don’t do overnight visits in September. =( Admissions people, what say ye?

  14. Ben P. says:

    You would think that “Parker” would be an easy last name to pronounce, yet telemarketers still get it wrong (e.g. “Hello, is Mr. Praker there?”)

    @Ben: I just realized how confusing I must have made previous comments (posting as “Ben”)… I’ll use “Ben P.” from now on.

  15. milena '11 says:

    So my first name is Andrea (shhhh…) but I go by Milena my middle name, but people here suck soooo much at pronouncing my name I almost switched back to Andrea. I get Melina, Mi-what?, Elena, you name it. Then I have to start pointing to myself (“Me! Me! get it?!”) and then say “lena”. That’s what I get for having an “exotic” name.

  16. Vihang says:

    While we’re at names … even though most people get the pronunciation of my name right, I’ve heard many different and weird versions too.

  17. Hawkins '12 says:

    Wow, on reading that again it definitely sounds totally sketchy. Oops! Thanks for the e-mails, Jess and Evan. Good advice.

  18. Wings '11 says:

    People always end up spelling my first name wrong – I get Melisa and Mellisa a lot. I’ve never even seen anyone with the second, but I guess it’s out there. But yeah, it’s sad when people can’t even spell a simple name =P

  19. Isshak says:

    You want to bet nobody knows how to pronounce my name ? Not that I’m proud of it, but since it’s neither “french” nor “english” nor “african”, usually people pronounce my name e-zaak (sounds like a cellphone to me…) or I-saac (I know I’m a pro mac but this is going to far ^^). But the real pronounciation is (drum rolling in the bckground for no reason)… e-ssak. Hm, I believe this post was a little too long for something very unimportant..oh well!

  20. Becca says:

    I just get different spellings of Rebecca. Amazing how many there are really.

    On a different note, I just got back from my interview though, and I must say it went awesomely well. She was pretty cool, and we ended up getting kicked out of Starbucks because they were closing. I guess I should turn in part of my application now….

  21. Ben P. says:

    Perfect timing for this… I received an email today advertising a college addressed to “Dear [fname]”. Obviously they want me to come to consider their school.

  22. Li Rao says:

    Ha, I guess that my name is still good enough for spelling purposes. But I’ve learnt that non-Chinese almost never pronounce my name right, no matter what I try. Oh well, Chinese IS a hard language to speak, if you want to do all the correct tone and such.

  23. Dave Chen says:

    Haha, I remember you finding YR Neha! Though, I have to say, the flattery of having a “III” next to my name would be enough for me to just accept their offer already, whatever it might be

  24. Lionel says:

    Hey Jess,

    I just wanted to know… as an international applicant…and as a student of a CBSE school in the middle east….i dnt really have access to many science clubs…and that too is very rare…extra-curriculars and such things are not given importance.

    Will this be considered….given that i have tried to and successfully taken part in all the science fairs i possibly could.

    I know u may not be able to answer this….perhaps u could tell me whom i can write to …or can possibly forward my query to the right person.


  25. Hawkins '12 says:

    @Lionel – Fret not! Your circumstances, your opportunities, your culture, everything will be given proper consideration. MIT will look at what you’ve done with what has been available to you. I come from a small school with one AP class (in English) and no science clubs or fairs to speak of. My Calculus class had 13 people in it. I took advantage of every opportunity I had to learn something – and created a few of my own – and that is what made the difference.

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