Yesterday, a prefrosh friend of mine sent me this Facebook message:
I hate to bug you with a blog-related question, but you seem to be the best person to ask. I’m considering applying to be a blogger, but I’m concerned about the time commitment. My on-campus job is 6-10 hours per week, and I plan on continuing studio art, photo, and dance. I got into F/ASIP and entered the lottery for advising seminars (and may apply for one of the learning communities). I’m hoping to do a spring UROP, too. I’m pretty organized with academic work, but I still can’t gauge how much time everything will consume.
Do you think that, even if I got the position, being a blogger would be kind of overkill? I really love the whole concept of the blogs, but I don’t want to ruin someone else’s chances if my applying isn’t appropriate.
Many thanks, and hope you’re enjoying the rest of your summer!
After a little consideration, I sent back this response:
During my first semester at MIT, on the academic side of things, I took four science classes, a six-unit advising seminar, and F/ASIP. As far as extracurriculars go, I was involved in student government, MURJ, Assassins’ Guild, Medlinks training (which was basically my Friday evenings), and other smaller commitments – in addition to blogging. Not to mention I had just joined a fraternity, so I spent a lot of time at our house, getting to know my brothers, learning my fraternity’s history, and that sort of thing.
If you check my blog archive, you’ll notice that I blogged a lot more during the spring semester than in the fall. And it’s not because I was less involved in student activities, or spent less time with friends, in the spring. It’s because I spent a lot of time during the fall just trying to find my feet, establish my place, and figure out what I really wanted to get out of this crazy, amazing Institute. And to some extent, I’m still working on figuring that out. But I certainly knew a lot more in the spring than I did in the fall.
My point is, your first semester is pretty much the designated time for you to explore MIT to its fullest, to test the boundaries of what you can do and be involved in. As you go through MIT, you’re going to gain a better and better understanding of how to prepare for your classes and your tests and your p-sets, how much time everything is going to take, and generally how to balance work and play.
As I said once before, the transition from high school to MIT is not a straight line – it’s a step function. Everyone has their own limits, their own preferred balance between sleeping, studying, and socializing (pick two); and you’ll figure out what works best for you as you go. Sometimes you end up dropping a club or activity because you turn out to not be quite as interested in it as you thought you were (I’ve done this) or that simply takes too much time (I’ve done this too). And that’s okay. You can’t do everything – but you definitely can do enough.
So, basically, don’t worry about the time commitment for blogging, because while it’s significant, it’s not that much and it’s very flexible based on when you have time to blog. The reason why you’re asked to put a list of extracurriculars on your blogger application is because, in my opinion and experience, the Admissions Office is looking for diverse people who represent a broad range of MIT’s multi-faceted culture. One of the “secrets” about blogging is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be your first priority. After all, the idea is that you’re going to be blogging about your life at MIT – and for that to happen, you need to have a life worth blogging.
Ultimately, blogging is part of my “play.” It’s a joy and, quite simply, a privilege for me to share my life with all of you on these blogs, to answer your questions – to try and make the admissions process just a little less mysterious, a little more human.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In addition to this direct question, I’ve seen quite a few prefrosh discussing the blogging application and related topics with their friends. While most of you seem to have everything under control, I have noticed a few common questions, so hopefully I can help clear those concerns up. If you have any questions of your own, feel free to ask in the comments (anonymously is fine) and I’ll update this entry accordingly.
How did you feel when you were applying to be a blogger?
In a word, terrified. I know that’s a weird reaction, but it’s true – and the reason was because that’s how much the blogs meant to me. During my senior year of high school, after I had visited MIT for the first time, the blogs became my lifeline back to Boston. Reading the blogs enabled me to feel like I was still connected to campus – like I was already a part of MIT. I applied to be a blogger because I wanted nothing more than to be able to give back to the blogs, to help other students fall in love with MIT in the same way I did.
Hopefully I’ve done an okay job. :)
Who picks the new bloggers?
As has become tradition, the blogger selection committee will include Matt and this year’s senior bloggers: Laura and Lulu. Others might be involved as well, but their identities are a tightly-held secret. ;)
So what role do you have in this process, Paul?
Absolutely none. I’ll continue to read the blogs of prefrosh that I’ve befriended over the past few months, but that’s it; I won’t be sending Matt my “recommendations” or anything like that. And while I won’t read your application for you, I’m more than happy to answer any questions you might have about being a blogger or about the process itself.
I’ve just started the blog that I plan on submitting. Do I still have a chance?
Yes! I started Emergent – the personal blog that I ended up submitting as my “portfolio” – a mere two weeks before the blogging application came out. So don’t worry about it. And while I would encourage you guys to all be as prolific as you can, quality is much more important than quantity.
Where have all the aardvarks gone?
Good question, I wish I knew.