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MIT student blogger Shuli J. '22

registration day! by Shuli J. '22, MEng '23

aka "registration day blues", but like, only in the good sense of blues

The summer before starting at MIT, it seemed like all the freshmen were frantically scrambling, trying to figure out how to sign up for classes. My friends going to university closer to home had all signed up in July and were comparing schedules; we, even with the combined power of GroupMe, could not find out when or how we would be given this opportunity.

But now — now I am an MIT student, and so I can enlighten any of you who may feel the same way! At MIT, each semester begins with Registration Day, which is always a Monday. Although classes don’t start until Tuesday, Reg Day is the “first” day of the semester in that it’s when campus really starts to feel… poppin’. (Or something.) Departments host welcome-back events, your friend UROPing halfway around the world catches a red-eye flight home, and you see people you know in the halls again. Crucially, Reg Day is the day where pretty much everyone has to meet with their advisor. Before the meeting, you register for classes online; then you discuss your picks with your advisor.01 Actual amount of discussion may vary based on the quality of both your advisor and your life choices They click approve, and you also click approve. And then you’re registered for classes, and the emails begin to pour in! It’s all very exciting, and by exciting I mean much more mundane than I had somehow expected.

One thing that struck me about high school, as I finished it off, was that each September I seemed to get acclimatized more quickly: the newness wore off faster and faster, until by the end of the first week of twelfth grade, I felt like I had always been a twelfth-grader. Similarly, whereas last semester Reg Day felt new and interesting and stressful, I was surprised at how routine it seemed this semester, and at how fast my class-time mindset returned. I had a fifteen-minute chat with my advisor and then left to have brunch at Hillel, and afterwards I walked back to EC with a friend (outside!!! we walked outside!!! because it was 16ºC and sunny!!!). Windows were open; people were playing frisbee and doing aerial silks in the courtyard; I caught more than one of my hallmates cleaning their room. It felt like spring, and I could almost see down the path of the months to come…

So what are my plans exactly for all those months? The short answer is, numerous and varied. The long answer is the rest of this post! Check out this baby:

A screenshot of my weekly schedule for this semester, plotted using an MIT-specific (and ubiquitous) online course planner called Firehose.


Going in order from above, let’s see what I’ve got! (Note: this is a long list; feel free to skim if your interest wanes.)


24.9000 is Introduction to Linguistics! To answer a question some MIT peeps might have: it’s not 24.900, the more famous fall version, because it doesn’t satisfy the CI-H communication requirement. Instead, we’re going to spend more time on data analysis and psetty science stuff! I’m thinking about minoring or doing some kind of joint… majory… thing… with linguistics (*waves hands around vaguely*), so this is a natural first step :) I’ve always really liked linguistics, but haven’t gotten much formal training, so I’m pretty excited to learn some stuffs. (Note: me being excited to learn stuff will be a recurring theme in this post.)


18.03 is Differential Equations (and 26-100 is the biggest lecture hall on campus). Probably more than half of MIT freshmen are going to be taking this class, so, uh, I hope the prof is good? 18.03 is one of those classes where I hear wildly, wildly different things from different people, and last semester I was spoiled with an amazing math teacher and TA, so I’m a little nervous. But that said, I looooove math and differential equations sounds super cool! So hopefully it will be a fun, fun time — and if not, I will have lots of pals to suffer with.


6.009 is officially “Fundamentals of Programming”, but it’s actually the second course in the how-to-program sequence (after 6.0001, which starts at the very beginning). I ASEd 6.0001, so I haven’t done any real coding in a while. I’m looking forward to getting back to it (and hoping that it turns out that I still remember all this stuff). Like five people have told me that they passed this class without ever going to lecture, but I really like attending, and learn best from, lecture. So we’ll see how it goes.


Blogging! I am having lots of fun writing :D I’m hoping to keep blogging this semester, although I might’ve hit a lot of the low-hanging fruit last semester. If you have ideas, or things you’d like to see me talk about, let me know! (For real… please let me know, lol.)


8.02 is Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism. It’s… well, it’s an institute requirement. I’m still a little scarred from trying to learn E&M in high school without knowing any calc, and also from the amount of calc that 8.01/Physics I assumed that I knew, but I have been assured that 8.02 is a lot better and chiller. If that’s the case, then I look forwards to learning a lot, and to being able to stop shivering a little bit when I hear people mention 8.02.


Latin (which isn’t properly entered in Firehose; it’s 21L.613, Latin Readings) should be so good! So so good. Like 6.009, I got into this class via some things I learned in high school quite a long time ago, and so I am deeeefinitely going to have to conjugate some verbs, because do I remember the past perfect passive endings? Absolutely not. I’m a tad scared that I will completely fail, but, uh, maybe reading Vergil is like riding a bike, and you never forget? Maybe… I do love Latin and I’ve missed taking a language, though, so even if this is a struggle, I think it will be a very enjoyable one.


Quizbowl is… quizbowl! I wrote about it here. This semester will be an adventure in me trying to get better at quizbowl, but being really bad at prioritizing studying for quizbowl. I think it is good to have at least one area of your life where you have to investigate why your brain is failing at doing what you want it to do, and this will be the one for me. I will try to set aside some time to really think about this and investigate myself, and ideally the end result will be a reorganization of my schedule and/or studying techniques, so that I can actually, uh, answer some questions at practice.


DormCon is the Dormitory Council! It’s made up of an elected executive board plus the president of each dorm, and it meets to talk about basically anything relating to dorm life at MIT. I’m one of the REX/CPW chairs, which means I work with each dorm’s individual REX and CPW chairs to help plan the, like, entire event. Intimidating, but exciting, and I feel like we’ll probably pull this whole shebang off. (After all, CPW does seem to keep happening! And that’s a good sign.)

And last, and also kinda least but not like super super least, 16.S685 is a “special subject”: a 3-unit (= 3 hours/week) course that aims to teach freshmen and sophomores how to do all sorts of cool math-related stuff (differential equations and linear algebra in engineering contexts, optimization, statistics, MATLAB…) I heard about it via email and thought, 3 units? Tons of math I don’t know yet? MATLAB? Sign me up! If life gets busy, it is true that this is the class I would drop, because I’m acquiring the knowledge just for fun (as opposed to for fun and for prerequisites, like all my other classes). But oh man, I’m pretty excited!!

I am only slightly ashamed to admit that if you saw me in real life right now, you would see that I’m doing a little excited dance: 🎶 Gonna learn so much stuff, gonna learn so much stuff 🎶

I really think this is going to be a great semester, full (and maybe, hopefully, not too full?) of learning and practicing and organizing and doing. And I’ll let you all know how it goes :)

  1. Actual amount of discussion may vary based on the quality of both your advisor and your life choices back to text