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MIT student blogger Jess K. '10

Questions Answered by Jess K. '10

Questions, answers, and Sam's face. This is the real MIT.

So classes started last week, which means IAP ended, which means the conclusion of my EMT class and random dinner parties with friends. About halfway into IAP, I wrote Sam with the intention of stealing his infinite wisdom regarding all things MIT and also possibly his blogging prowess. I disguised this stealthily, however, by suggesting we grab dinner some time. This ended well for both parties – with a PARTY! Pun totally intended.

“Hey Sam, let’s have dinner.”
“Or better yet, I could have a dinner party.”

Anyway. Lots of questions, lots of answers. Here goes:

Zaira ponders: What type of laptop should I get for college? On on side I can get a PC with tons of programs, downloads, familiarity, and ‘cheap’ prices. On the other side, I can get a Mac with it’s super cool OS, interface and capabilities. What should I do?
Snively responded: I’m gonna say that Windows Vista is going to look very Mac-ish when it comes to OS, so I plan on just sticking to Windows, far superior. Although, Marilee was def using a Macbook for her info session so I know that Macs have quite a following at MIT. But, if it’s simply an OS preference, Vista should take care of that.
Ritchie also pondered: You’ve had a Macbook for a few months, right? How well has that worked out for you? I mean, I think I will end up getting one but I just want to make sure I’m not going to have major problems or incompatibility issues with required programs and stuff before I throw $2,000 into one lol.

I went to Cape Cod the weekend before term started and forgot to bring my laptop charger. This, however, was not an issue because all six of my friends I was travelling with brought their respective MacBooks, MacBook Pros and PowerBooks – we took a moment while on the road to marvel at the realization that there were seven Apple laptops in the car. I switched to Mac right before I came to college, after being a dedicated PC user for probably about 15 years, and honestly haven’t looked back – even when I went home and tried to use my old desktop. Dedicated doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my fair share of the 114,000 known PC viruses over the years, none of which are an issue for Macs.

While it’s true that some programs that I used to use on PC are not available for Macs, it’s usually not hard to find a substitute that’s often even better than the original – especially at MIT, where there seems to be a pretty even split of Mac and PC users. And if you have a program that you absolutely need that only runs on PCs, you can use BootCamp on your Mac to run Windows. Windows Vista, too. Also, just because Windows Vista LOOKS Mac-ish, doesn’t mean it IS Mac-ish. It’s just the better choice.

(Yeah, Apple’s really not paying me for any of this; I just really like my MacBook.)

Manisha is just wondering: Hey, I was just wondering… is Aditi from India? How many Indians were admitted to MIT for the class of 2010? Do graduate/Ph.D students get an IAP?

Aditi is from California. At this point, MIT doesn’t release admission statistics by country, but 110 international students were admitted overall last year. And yes, graduate students get an IAP; one of the students in the EMT class I took was a GRT (Graduate Resident Tutor, often called Residential Advisors at other schools) from my dorm. IAP is observed by all members of the MIT community.

Trevor complains: Of all the things you can write about, you tell everyone that I love “A Lot Like Love.” Thanks Jess.

Trevor is a fantastic web designer with really good taste in music (whose favorite chick flick is “A Lot Like Love”).

Farhad scrutinizes: I just realized a few months ago I want to attend MIT, I’m not a U.S. citizen or anything like that. I think I can do pretty well on the SATs and even improve my grades, write some nice and honest essays and have my intervew. But I’m worried about extracurricular activities… I think I don’t have much of those… I play chess, for example, don’t know if things of that kind count, but that’s not like the science club or something. I have done many different things and activities, but many of them by myself, so i don’t know if that counts too. Also, schools over here don’t promote lots of activities… So it’s kind of hard to participate in a math olympiad or something like that. If anyone could help me with that I’ll be very thankfull.

I get a lot of these questions, so I thought of a metaphor to help you remember. The other day my friend and I had this conversation:

ME: But you think this is a good idea?
HIM: As in, doing it?
ME: As in, you and me doing it.

Now, this sounds really awkward and like something that I would not want my mother to read, which is even more awkward because my mom IS reading this. (Hey, Mom.) But I don’t mind, because the conversation was about starting a project together; he thought we’d be good business partners and could get a lot accomplished working in conjunction while I wasn’t so sure.

The point of the metaphor is that if you take something out of context, you get something really awkward and bad. Much like if you take a person out of context, you don’t understand what’s going on and jump to conclusions. Make sense?

So yeah, the admissions committee does take context into account. At the same time, just because your schools don’t promote the activities you’re interested in doesn’t mean that you can’t actively seek them out yourself, or create them. It can be difficult to find people who share similar interests or want to support you, but the outcome can really be worth it.

Iteloo also answered this one pretty well: don’t worry about it. I believe MIT takes the context into account, and plus, if you are good this way then why try to find things that you might not enjoy doing just to impress the adcoms? Just remember to tell the them in ur app the things you do (by yourself or with a group) and things you are passionate about, or else they won’t know it.

That was a lot of questions. Anyone getting bored yet? Here’s a picture of Sam making a face that is apparently copyrighted by some guy:

Anyway, more questions!
Kelsey K queries: Only 3 Oregon kids?!?!?! That kind of scares me. I’m from Oregon, I’m applying next year, and that’s not a lot of people!!! So, does MIT have any limits for how many people they admit from different states? Also, the school I go to is really small (~350 students serving 2 towns) and we don’t really have advanced classes. No Honors, AP, or IB. Basic Chemistry is considered an advanced science class. Is this going to affect me at all when I apply? Also, I’ve taken a lot of Agriculture classes, and am really involved (and when I say really involved, I mean that it’s pretty much my life…) in FFA. Is there anything at MIT that deals with Agriculture? And, how will that be looked at when I apply?

MIT doesn’t do its admissions process geographically. There are no limits or quotas for any geographical regions within the United States whatsoever. Daniel answered this one pretty well too: MIT does NOT have any limits or quotas for any geographical regions within the United States whatsoever. (True that. Anyway, continue on, Daniel.)

They also know that there are HUGE differences between individual high schools. When they review applications, they don’t simply count up “advanced” courses taken by each student; they evaluate you in your own context. So if you took advantage of the opportunities that were available to you, you will be on the same level as someone who had more (or less) opportunities and also took advantage of them.

If agriculture is your thing, then by all means include as much of that as possible in your app. MIT wants to see your dedication to the things you believe are important.

Also true. See my context metaphor from above. These are classes we’re talking about and not extracurriculars, however, so not having AP classes could definitely affect you in that they do give you a basic knowledge to build off of at MIT. People who take AP classes are not only admitted because it shows they have the initative to handle those classes (which doesn’t apply to you as much since they aren’t offered), but also that they have a good foundation in math and sciences, which is necessary to survive here (which does apply to you). Are AP exams offered anywhere in the vicinity? You could study for them on your own, or get a teacher to possibly tutor you – because I know for me, at least, AP Chemistry was instrumental in my passing 5.112.

Demonstrating your love of agriculture to MIT would definitely be a good idea, since it’s such a huge part of your life, so I imagine it would be looked upon favorably when you apply. But if you’re looking to go into agriculture specifically, this would be an issue because it’s not a part of any department here. I checked with Matt who said, “MIT is not for everyone, and MIT doesn’t try to do everything. We do try to be really good at a limited number of things. So, we have no fashion design, no forestry, no kinesiology, no ancient languages, and, yes, no agriculture. Closest we have is maybe biology.”

Bhushan requests: Do you call Regular applicants toooooooo
turnef also requests: Will you call the accepted students with regular decision?
YEAH! Sit by your phone eagerly and wait. Not really, but yeah, expect a phone call from us at one point. We know where you live.

Solomon queries: Jess can you really describe the showers in detail. Is it a large room with no dividing walls like what I used to have in my boarding school.
Solomon also queries: Is it allowed for couples to share rooms with each other. I am a bit confused.
All showers on the MIT campus are individual, so no, there are no large shower rooms without dividing walls. At the very least they have dividing walls; at the most they’re different rooms entirely. And no, couples are not allowed to officially register rooms together.

andie asks: What were the things you wished you did during your senior year to prepare for college? I am trying to get ready for college and perhaps trying to see if i could challege myself in some way. Any advice?

andie, I personally tried to enjoy myself as much as I could while still maintaining my grades. It’s probably the best preparation I can advise, since college is hard, and it’s really important not to burn yourself out. I wrote more on this subject a few weeks ago.

Hope you got the answers you were looking for. Leave another comment if you need clarification or send me an email at iamjkim at mit dot edu. For now, I’m as tired as Sam was after he finished making that colossal dinner, so I’m going to go lie down.

57 responses to “Questions Answered”

  1. Ruth says:

    Great picture!
    There were such worse…

  2. Colin says:

    FIRST POST! ^________^

  3. Colin says:

    AGHHHHH. Well, I thought it was the first post.

    At least I can still stick with


    I really enjoy your blog way too much, and I already GO HERE, but I’m still like, “oh, see, it’s OKAY that my school doesn’t have a lot of APs!” God, I’m a moron.


  4. DAVIDCHEN says:


    Interesting list of questions/there were quite manyful!

    And, one small thing to add- while couples can’t share rooms with each other as in, register with the same room, they can share rooms as in, live in the same room, you know, which is why my friend doesn’t have a roomate anymore.

    “we know where you live”
    JKIM, that scares me mildly. DO YOU KNOW WHERE I LIVE?

  5. Evan '10 says:

    On the computer question –
    Since the MIT computing environment, Athena, is built around Linux, most software is available for Macs. That being said, it depends a lot on your major. For example, if I was going into Course II (Mechanical Engineering), I’d want a Windows computer, because software like SolidWorks is only available for Windows. Even in that situation, though, there are Windows computer labs (or at least one…maybe only one) that have anything you could need installed.

  6. Meagan says:

    In response to your answer to Kelsey K from Oregon’s question, I believe that Cornell has a good agricultural sciences program so if you don’t find what you are looking for at MIT that might be another good choice.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I know this isn’t really related to this topic, sorry, but I have one quick question..How do you get to be a blogger on this website? I know you have to be associated with MIT, but do they just pick random people on campus, do you need connections, or what?

  8. If you get a programmer friend, so that he/she agrees to make software you need, get stuck to a mac. If you yourself think will make softwares, then a WINDOWS!

  9. Sh1fty says:

    you need to send your credit card info to [email protected] and someone will send you your username and password :D jk i think that you have to apply for it and then they pick a certain amount of people who have a good writing style and interesting lives :D even if you can’t be an official blogger you can still blog wink

  10. Sh1fty says:

    i was trying to answer Anonymous’ question and i forgot to fight windows :p i’m not a mac user and i don’t have much experience wit them beacuse macs are rare here, but i’d still recommned it. it’s built on a unix core so they’re safer and more efficient then windows. also, athena is based on linux so it should be more compatible with mac and linux then windows. however, i intend to buy a thinkpad and install linux and windows on it smile
    do MIT students get free windows licences? students at FER here in zagreb get free m$ software smile

  11. Monica says:

    Hey Jess!
    just wanted to see what’s up!
    I know this question is wierd, but i was wondering if your parents were really strict on studying, because most korean parents can be…

  12. Mollie says:

    Well, of course couples aren’t officially allowed to room together.

    But since when did MIT students allow the official school position to get in the way of their fun and recreation? wink

  13. Anonymous says:

    You guys played Taboo?! hahaha That’s an awesome game. That is all.

  14. irshad ahmad says:

    may i know the e-mail id of indian student who read in MIT.

  15. jinny says:

    your blog is amazing. it answers a lot of questions I have. thanks! =)

  16. James says:

    About buying a computer, I would say,
    How can you even consider the proprietary standards that Apple uses? They discourage participation. You can’t hack a Mac (although my Mac friends tell me it is technically possible, it’s not nearly as convenient). There’s really no option but PC.
    Of course, who wants to use a Windows operating system? Go for Linux.
    BTW, this post is largely hyperbole. I’m using Windows XP (x64!) at the moment.

  17. Solomon says:

    Thanks JKIM for answering my questions.

  18. Nina says:

    Fragger, I look like a diseased penguin in that picture. You couldn’t post any pictures where I looked like the sexy, irresistible, international woman of mystery I am? GOD!

    In other news, I love knowing you. CAPE COD MAC USERS FOR THE WIN.

    (Hahahahaha, “you and me doing it.” I laughed. I did. THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID.)

  19. milena says:

    As I tell all of my friends (and everybody who asks about my macbook), Once you go Mac, you don’t go back.

    I <3 my macbook.

  20. Anonymous says:

    At this point, MIT doesn’t release admission statistics by country, but 110 international students were admitted overall last year

    MIT doesn’t release admission statistics, but you can find how how many people from all around the world are in MIT :D

    this just shows i’ve been hanging around the MIT wayy too much for wayy too long.

  21. Momof08'er says:

    It’s always fun to run across a random picture of one’s male progeny (and no, I’m not Sam’s mom). Thanks!

  22. Trevor says:

    umm…. windows vista? Mac OS X panther, tiger, whatever kitty version?
    MIT’s at the forefront of technological revolution. Loath the cat, love the penquin.

    UBUNTU – Linux for Human Beings wink

    by the way, i found this and thought it was fun:
    Windows VISTA: V-Virues, I-Intruders, S-Spyware, T-Trojans, A-Adware. One must love the security features. Life on the Mac commercial, with the secret service-looking guy; “You have come to a sad realization, Cancel or Allow?” :-D

  23. As far as I know, they should be in hands of an MIT officer latest on feb 15. Does that help you Stalin the nerd ?

    Er… I guess you were trying to write nerd_Stalin, but it went nerdsta_lin

  24. Dear colleagues,

    I see a few here are struggling to choice the right OS. So may I request interested persons to come together and build a whole new OS that supports all what’s needed.

    Experts are invited to register from all disciplines.

    An early reply would be greatly appreciated.



  25. Sam says:

    Oh wow, that might just be the worst picture of me ever taken and you posted it on the internet. I feel like Colin.

  26. Trevor says:

    No, Josh V, I think Elizabeth is “Josh.” She meant to type “Josh” in her note but accidentally put it in her “name” box. kinda jealous you’re from Seattle, Elizabeth. I’m out in Nowheresville and it’s really hard to start or support an environmentalist movement when there’s so few people around that even care. Wish I was from Seattle…

    As for anatomy, sorry Josh V, no such luck. Nowheresville has too tiny a school to even have a single AP class, let alone an anatomy class. But I know a teacher that would be GREAT at teaching it. bummer.

  27. Sam says:

    By the way, that face is called the Valsalva maneuver. You can read about it at:

  28. A Mom says:


    My daughter has been admitted into MIT, and our worries and concerns for her have just begun. According to your 0.5 year of experience of living at the dorm, do you suggest a single room, like the ones in MacGregor or a double/triple room in the all-girl dorm for a freshman girl? I heard from some MIT students that their dorms are very exciting and sometimes very bustling and noisy even up to 2 or 3 a.m. Sometimes their roomates bring oppositie sex friends into their shared rooms and cause some embarrasing and awkward situations. Some dorms have boasted that their residents are highly nerdy and geeky and are good at hacking into whatever. Do the co-ed bathrooms cause inconvenience to girls? Which dorm are you staying? Do you like it?

  29. Anonymous says:

    which one shud we buy Mac or Laptop

  30. Solomon says:

    Jess please answer ‘A moms’ questions if you have some free time at any point. I want to know what you have to say.

  31. Josh V says:

    huh. i exhale, while pinching my nose and closing my lips all the time when i fly! i never knew the maneuver had a name! fun stuff. i have anatomy tomorrow. i’m going to ask my teacher about it. haha.

    ps: do any other high school seniors on this blog have/take anatomy & physiology at their school? i think it’s pretty much my favorite class. ever.

    any MIT students reading this care to give me a rundown of course 20? HST? how are they different/similar? thank you!

  32. Josh V says:

    (ok, so HST is for graduates?)

  33. Josh says:

    If I had class time to take awesome classes, i so would. But my HS is not big enough to have anatomy, and has requirements that basically have made it difficult to take advantage of classes like ornithology (you get to raise a bird from the egg!) so I mostly have just been taking the AP classes in all my subjects. Sad, isn’t it? But they have awesome teachers so it’s ok. I’m finally taking a not-required class this semester though! Go stagecraft! Now I always have paint in my hair and under my nails. An alumni interviewer told me it was artsy (not my MIT gal, she was in October, but still a pretty cool woman).

  34. OK,so I totally meant to write my name in the Name box and “Josh-” at the beginning of my post. Whoops. Oh well, we Seattlites are a bit strange, I’ll just put it that way. Or maybe just frazzled by so much going on this month and next. Sorry Josh!

  35. To any body near NINA : ….. Please attend her and call (707) 207-0380 … They will take her safely back antarctica.

    Alternatively contact here:

    United States
    1350 Connecticut Avenue NW
    Suite 1220
    Washington, D.C. 20036
    United States
    Phone: (202) 296 3860
    Fax: (202) 296 3802
    [email protected]

    Alternatively subMIT her here:

    1130 17th Street NW. Washington, DC 20036

    Also try


    Fundación Mar del Plata Aquarium
    Fundación Mundo Marino

    This one may be easiest to reach:


    mailto:[email protected]

  36. Josh V says:

    Yes, who is this “Josh” without the last initial? I’m curious. Are you from Seattle too?! Hahaha.

    But yeah, just fyi, “Josh” is not “Josh V”.

    That’s sad though, Josh, that your schedule doesn’t allow you to take the classes you want. My schedule is like that to some extent too. The only way I am able to take both Anatomy & Physiology and Physics is because I don’t have a 4th year language class…Japanese 4 is only offered as an elective (which I take). But even still, seniors at my school have to take History, Lit, and Religion–no joke, those are the only required classes. So I have classmates who don’t take any math or science (can you imagine? haha). So adding my 2 science classes and BC, my schedule is full, when I really really wanted to take Photography. =(

  37. Sh1fty says:

    omg those statistics are a bit frightening… the only croatian undergrad in last 8 years has graduated in 2001. i talked to that guy a while ago but i had no idea that he was the last one to get in. i’m beginning to wonder if i have any chance at all…

  38. nerdsta_lin says:

    I have a question, and sorry that it isn’t really related to the topic of computers at hand: is the financial aid package stuff need to be received by February 15th, or postmarked, or just placed in the mail?

  39. How’s NINA ? Did you guy’s contacted the address I gave you?

    If no, then you might be sued by international wildlife laws for ignoring a sick penguin, and not warning us, or other appropriate organization.

  40. Jack qi says:

    may i make fridend with you ?

  41. hkem says:

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  42. Happy Valentine’s day to all people…..

    To people who have a partner, and who doesn’t…… both, let’s hope the best smile

  43. Monica says:

    the dinner party looked like lots of fun! and by the way, i’m a big fan of Ina Garten’s too!

  44. Hi jack whom do you wanna make friend? everybody’s a friend ;D

  45. yope………………!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  46. Sanandler says:

    Jess rocks Sanandler’s world!

  47. Christina says:

    A Mom,

    I think you’ll find these sorts of situations (i.e., opposite sex issues, noise, hustle and bustle) to arise no matter where your daughter chooses to attend college.

    Some students definitely stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning, and if your daughter is a light sleeper who likes going to bed early and is placed in, say, a quad, this could lead to problems. However, since most classes don’t begin until 10 or 11am, staying up until 1 or 2 isn’t usually a huge ordeal.

    Each dorm has a different personality associated with it and visiting campus or talking to current students will give you the best feel for each dorm. Simmons is really quiet and you share a bathroom only with your roommate…but it’s a long trek to campus. Baker is a social dorm and close to campus, but it’s hard to get into and hard to get anything other than a triple or quad your freshman year. Next House would be wonderful if it weren’t so incredibly far away from everything. The dorms on the east side of campus (i.e., East campus, Senior House, etc.) are more eccentric and possibly louder. It really depends a lot on your daughter’s tastes. Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any other questions: cab164 at hotmail dot com.

  48. oh. hahaha. good call trevor….wow. my bad.

    i guess it is that i’m really tired and busy though with so much going on right now that i didn’t catch that; or that seattlites really are just a bit strange (or “frazzled” like Elizabeth said).

    it’s olympic week at my school and the senior are dominating!!! (sorry, but i’m just so pumped after today’s win that i had to mention it) hahaha. we got first in the trike race, second in the jenga tournament, we’re in the finals for DDR aka dance dance revolution (duh), first for opening ceremonies, and we beat the faculty handball team. ohhh man. i’m on the karaoke team and i have to really practice! quiz bowl, basketball, tug-o-war, karaoke, ping pong, and super smash bros mele tournaments later this week! i’m so excited! ahhh!

    and just fyi, during olympic week at my school different teams–the faculty, seniors, MRC, and each collegio class–compete in a series of events/tournaments for points during lunches and special “olympic periods”. on friday, we tally points and the winner gets bragging rights and the glory of the panther axe. it’s pretty much awesome!

  49. A says:

    SHRIEK. Homegirl on the left in the second photo has the SAME SHIRT AS ME! Specifically, “Nothing Rhymes with Orange” by Threadless. *le sigh* Love at first sight… Thanks for all the Q&As;.

  50. Sarab says:

    I noticed the use of the word officially in the question about couples living together, so does that mean that casually, there’s no problem?
    Oh and I am a Mac supporter too. I learnt how to use a PC on a Mac and I plan on fixing mine once I can afford it!! grin

  51. update! says:


  52. Grace says:

    Since you encourage ppl to ask questions…. i’ve got tons!

    how do you recover from depression… This depression is like no other. It’s from post-traumatic shock after receiving three Bs this semester. I totally lost my will to live.

    I know i should keep trying hard but i feel like I’m already denied by MIT (considering that Bs came from AP Chem and Calc), Dang… am i hopeless?

    Did you have Bs or do you know anybody who had Bs in major math/ science classes? I would feel so much better to know that i can still shoot for mit

  53. Lukas says:

    What games were you playing with those cards ?

  54. Kelsey K says:

    Thanks for answering my questions! (And the one about Macs vs. Windows. I never thought of that…)

    While we don’t have AP classes, I forgot to mention that I get college credit for my math classes through the regional community college. I’m sure that they can’t be transfered to MIT, but would that help (in addition to maybe taking AP tests)?

    And I’m not interested in go into something explicitly Ag, but biological sciences are definitely something I’m interested in!


  55. Elie B says:

    I know you probably get this question a lot, but…
    I am now taking math at a college with a professor who is of the top in his field (Complex Systems/Chaos, which is the course I am taking). He knows me well and loves me. The problem is he doesnt know English too well, and I would assume his recommendation will be good content wise but not grammar/style wise. What should I do?
    1 — Stick to my Calculus teacher, who will write a pretty good recommendation but taught me in math sophomore year.
    2 — Get a recommendation from my Complex Systems teacher
    3 — Get recommendations from both.
    Thanks a load.

  56. Trevor says:

    Haha, I just am now getting around to reading your recent posts. Imagine my surprise to see someone liked “A Lot Like Love” as much as I did! …Only to realize that you were quoting me. Thanks again, pal.

    Don’t worry about your grades. As long as you put decent effort into your application, and demonstrated your passion for living and learning otherwise, you should be fine. I really enjoyed the MIT application because I felt like it was the least intimidating and most frank of any that I filled out. Whereas the other eight applications I put together were a hassle, MIT’s was almost a relief. And on that note, I received three Bs my senior year first semester, and I still got in! (Can’t remember which subjects, though, sorry… I want to say Language Arts, History, and Calculus?)

    On another note, tips for combating depression like yours include ice cream, music, running, driving, looking at the Boston skyline, and folding laundry (seriously). Pick and choose what’s feasible. And… I am currently procrastinating a pset, so I had best get back to work!

    Keep up the super-awesome blogging, Jess!