Residence-Based Advising by Jess K. '10
Residence-Based Advising WILL NOT allow you to change dorms during your freshman year.
Wow, that last post was short. I didn’t even tell you what I’m doing at Pixar, which would be formatting and finding information for the artwork of Pixar’s 20th Anniversary book – happy 20th anniversary, Pixar!.. (three years ago! ahem..) Working at Pixar is kind of like working at a microcosm of a college campus, even if I’m basing it off of a “small” campus like MIT. We have a gym, a pool, a kitchen with free breakfast (including espresso, a million different types of cereal, and peanut butter and jelly-making supplies, which I am a HUGE fan of), a soccer field (and team!), a very good cafe, a lot of random activities i.e. fly fishing, and a beach volleyball court upon which shirtless boys will magically appear during lunch time.
Also, every now and then, somebody will whizz by on a scooter. It’s a really cool place to work.
But, back to what you came here for – it’s my previously promised, very important post about housing.
Jessie recently wrote in her last post as an undergrad, “Take your living group selection seriously. I cannot stress this enough. Try to pick a place that fits you in the summer in case you get stuck there, but consider Dorm Rush (REX), not the summer, to be the time when you’re truly making your living group decision. Don’t settle for a satisfactory living group when you could have a great one.”
First off, Jessie, you’re brilliant, and we’ll miss you. Secondly, OH MAN IS THIS IMPORTANT. So important that I’ll give you the short and long version of this post, and you can choose! It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure book (I was a big fan of those). Except you don’t die on every page. Well, maybe somebody dies.. we’ll see.
SHORT VERSION: RESIDENCE-BASED ADVISING WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO CHANGE DORMS DURING YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR.
What you say?? RESIDENCE-BASED ADVISING WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO CHANGE DORMS DURING YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR.
I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you; I have a banana in my ear. RESIDENCE-BASED ADVISING WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO CHANGE DORMS DURING YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR.
Whooo.. now that that’s out of my system, let me explain. Long version: residence-based advising groups you in the same house with people who have the same advisor. You also have a residence associate advisor who live in your dorm, and are available to answer questions you may have about classes, advising, what have you. (I may or may not have written this entire post just to use the phrase “what have you”. It’s a great phrase, isn’t it? So rarely do we have an opportunity to use it in a sentence.) You can either have a traditional advisor, who simply signs your forms on Registration Day and is around to answer your questions as well, or a seminar, in which your advisor meets with you around twice a week to teach your seminar – just like regular, non-residence-based advising.
The one thing that isn’t really emphasized enough about RBA, though, is that if you are in RBA, you stay in RBA for the year and thus in the same dorm for the year, because the program is based upon living in the same dorm as people who have the same advisor as you. You aren’t allowed to participate in Residence Exploration (REX) like all the other freshmen can – that is, the week after you get to school, when everyone is looking around at the different dorms and trying to figure out which culture they belong to, unfortunately, you will not get to do that.
I say “unfortunately” because REX is what makes MIT’s housing system so unique – most freshmen at other colleges get placed in dorms randomly, with random roommates that may or may not steal your clothes and eat your food. Here, as most of you probably already know, you get temped in a dorm, but if you don’t like it, you can opt to switch out. This is particularly important because each of MIT’s dorms have their own individual culture that you need to experience for yourself, so that week gives you a good opportunity to look around and explore that. REX is a very good thing for people like Keri, who for a brief moment in time thought she would like to live in Baker. We laugh about this little awkward chapter in history nowadays. (Nothing against Baker; Keri and I both have good friends who live there – Keri is just sort of.. the anti-Baker.) But you can’t do that if you’re in an RBA dorm.
Another thing you should know about RBA is that if you place an RBA dorm anywhere near your top choices (the top four, ish) you will likely be placed in an RBA dorm, regardless of whether you apply for RBA or not. Even if you don’t apply for the RBA program at the time, you can still be placed in the dorm, and then, by default, are placed in RBA. (Ask me how I know.) And even though RBA offers seminars, there are fewer choices available than for those in regular advising – so that really interesting seminar on Japanese/Italy relations that you were excited about is no longer an option.
We keep telling you that people find their niche here at MIT in their living group – because you cook together, paint your rooms together, complain about the lack of hot showers together – and if you don’t feel comfortable in your living group, it’s a million times harder to feel comfortable adjusting to MIT. I’m not saying that RBA won’t make you feel comfortable – for the most part, I really enjoyed the RBA activities (can you say “free food”? I can), and I met my family away from my family at Next House. But I didn’t actually apply for RBA, so it didn’t make a lot of sense that I would be stuck in it, especially since I didn’t get to go to my CPW and really wanted to be a part of REX.
Ruth Miller, our UA vice president (who can also rap Outkast’s “Bombs over Baghdad” like nobody’s business), wrote an article in The Tech about RBA that you should definitely read if you’re considering joining the program. You can also read more about the RBA program on their website.
And as always, if you want to hear more about my personal experience with RBA, you can always email me – iamjkim at mit dot edu.