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So who is this Laura person, anyway? by Laura N. '09

Hello and welcome to the single coolest blog on the entire admissions website. My name is Laura and

Hello and welcome to the single coolest blog on the entire admissions website. My name is Laura and I am a member of the MIT Class of ’09, which means that I am writing entries about what it’s like to be an MIT student even though I don’t actually go there yet. If you think that makes me really cool, you’re absolutely right! If you think that makes me really nerdy (like the kids in the Facebook group “Dorks Who Were On The Facebook Before They Left High School”) you are so amazingly, incredibly wrong that I can’t even begin to explain it.

When I do get to MIT, I’m planning to declare Course 2 (Mechanical Engineering) as a major and possibly minor in Course 17 (Political Science).

Now, that said, let me tell you a little about myself.

First, I am from New Jersey. Now, to be perfectly honest, I won’t be offended by anti-Jersey jokes at all. I understand and embrace that my state is one of the most-often bashed states in the country. There are just 2 things I would like to clear up. Number one: New Jersey is not dirty. If you’ve flown into Newark airport and driven away from it by taking the Turnpike, then you have every right to think so. But I know I’m not the only Jerseyan to say this: Newark is one of the worst airports I’ve ever been to and the Parkway kicks the Turnpike’s you-know-what. Of course there are some crowded cities and sketchy beaches, but a good portion of New Jersey is actually very nice and pretty. Number two, and this is really, really important: NO ONE who is actually FROM New Jersey ever, ever, EVER refers to it as “Joisy.” This is a Brooklyn accent, not a Jersey accent. We’ll freely admit that we do say “wawk” and “tawk” and “cawfee,” but NEVER “Joisy.” If the rest of the country could just get that straight, we’d all be really happy. Thanks. =)

Now that we have that out of the way, I’ll continue actually telling you about myself. I love all kinds of sports and will be playing for MIT’s field hockey team this fall. I love baseball and am a huge New York Mets fan. I’ll have no further comment on that today. I love to read and write. I read so much that I’ve become personal friends with the teen librarian at my local public library. (Her name is Pam.) I like watching movies (who doesn’t?) and am an avid horror fan. I love them all- everything from the most well-developed suspense thrillers (Saw) to the cheesiest slasher flicks with bad special effects (Friday the 13th). A good friend of mine (Katie) and I have horror movie marathons where we stay up all night watching horror movies. We can watch the first 5 minutes of any horror movie and make very accurate predictions about which characters will die in which order. I’m spending this summer working as a lifeguard at Runaway Rapids Waterpark. This means I get paid a very small hourly wage to stand outside all day and tell little kids to stop running. I love it. I have an awesome tan, free beach parking, get to ride all the water slides and rides at the amusement park next door for free, get to stay outside all day and can jump in a pool whenever it gets too hot. Plus it’s a pretty cool summer job and at the end of every day I have amusing stories to tell my friends.

Now, one last thought before I wrap up this first entry. It’s a big thought, so get comfortable. The last science fair I went to was in my elementary school’s gymnasium in the fourth grade. All I know about Intel is that they are a tech company that sponsors some kind of competition. I don’t even know what that competition is, all I know is that the people who win it are really smart. I didn’t break 1500 on the SATs. In fact, all those threads on collegeconfidential where everyone says “hey I have a 1600, 4.0, class president, math team president, Intel winner [whatever that is], and I’ve worked as an intern for IBM since I was 7 but I only got a 760 on the Physics SAT II do you think I still have a chance�” really, really annoy me. No offense to anyone who has contributed to those kinds of discussions (seriously- one of my best friends is so obsessed with SAT scores that he knows mine better than I do), but they bother me for two reasons. First, they miss the point. MIT looks at more than just scores, “the match” is important, they want to see your passions, etc etc (just ask Matt or Ben). More importantly, they make me feel kind of dumb, and I don’t like that.

Here’s the thing: I am totally clueless about technology. I just graduated from a nerdy tech school and the only reason I ended up applying to MIT was my sheer stubbornness. Most of the kids at my school were children of engineers. My dad is a carpenter and my mother is a teacher’s aide in an elementary school. If one or more of your parents is an engineer, or if you just spent lots of free time as a child playing around with electronics or whatever, I bet you have NO IDEA how hard you make life for everybody else. I’m not being critical and I don’t blame anyone or hold it against anyone. Hey, if you already know how to build complex electrical circuits, more power to you. That’s seriously awesome. But what you probably don’t realize is that there are other people out there who really, really wish they knew how to do the things you take for granted, and you scare the hell out of them. I’m speaking from personal experience here, and let me tell you- it is so, so, SO hard to keep up.

That’s what I spent my junior year of high school doing- trying desperately to keep up with kids on my FIRST Robotics team who didn’t even need to be there. They were practically bored with what they were doing. I got through every day by remembering one term someone used and looking it up on HowStuffWorks.com when I got home. (I highly recommend this method.) I wrote an optional essay on my MIT application about that experience, and here I am.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that you can’t get discouraged just because you don’t have the same background as everybody else. In fact, what I’m trying to say goes even further than that.

If you’re an incoming freshman who really wants to major in mechanical engineering, and you’re so nervous about being miles behind everyone else that you’re thinking of switching to chemistry because you already know it- DON’T. If you’re a prospective student and you’re thinking, “Man, I wish I could do some of those things MIT kids do, it seems like so much fun. But I don’t know the first thing about it, so I guess I won’t apply-” STOP.

This blog will be about my experiences at MIT. That means I will share every embarrassment that I face because I don’t know the first thing about engineering. Learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to do the same dumb things I do. Don’t feel too scared. (Or you can just bookmark me so you know where you can have a good laugh if you’re having a bad day.)

I am here, ready and willing to be the poster child for “people who get headaches listening to conversations at MIT but still love every minute of it.”

If you feel kind of lost already, I’m your girl.

14 responses to “So who is this Laura person, anyway?”

  1. Mitra says:

    Heya! Welcome to the wild & crazy world of getting comments from people you haven’t met raspberry I’m from NJ too (I lived there from ages 0-15), in a rather picturesque town, actually. Hope to see you in August!

  2. Ben says:

    Welcome to da blogs, L. Glad you’re here. grin

  3. Welcome on board, Laura….

    And yes you are incredibly cool!

  4. Stephanie says:

    Hello Laura,

    I’m from NJ too! I hope you like it here at MIT. I’m a rising senior here, and I just wanted to welcome you to the BEST school ever!

    -Stephanie

  5. Hi Laura, nice start! The self-named leftcoast mom wants to give you a virtual squeeze and tell you folks that I am ALSO from NJ! Mitra, don’t tell me: you moved to the same town in CA that I live it now, it would be way way too weird if you grew up in a town nearby my hometown in NJ, too!

    Exit 135 anyone? grin

  6. amino21 says:

    the second part of your entry was incredible; you poignantly nailed a lot of the anxieties of prospective freshman. I hope you don’t mind but i’m posting the second part it on my blog because i found your message very inspirational.

    thanks, you are indeed very cool and MIT rocks!

  7. Aymen says:

    hi laura this aymen from tunisia please send me information about MIT

  8. MIT App Mom says:

    Hi Laura,

    I’m really enjoying your blog! (I am a mom of a MIT applicant for 2006). You definately have a talent for creative discourse–my son shares the same type of skill (and since I can’t do it, I recognize it is a gift). I have a question for you:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I am confused about your title “Tecker.” My son is on a trip with school right now, otherwise I would ask him–is this computer terminology for something I don’t understand or do you mean “Techer” as in technology?

    THANKS for the clarification!

  9. janne says:

    Hi, cool blog. I’m a CS student from Finland and was wondering what’s the deal with you being a member of the class of ’09? But aren’t you already studying at MIT? Or does it mean that you’ll graduate in 2009? I’m probably just confused because our education systems are a bit different. smile

  10. zaid says:

    u did amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I want to get into MIT tooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  11. Rohit Nair says:

    I think I fall into the category of people who make you uncomfortable, then. smile I’m into all sorts of computer geeky stuff, especially security/hacking/programming for security. The only thing is, to learn all that I did, I had to give up a little on other academics, so my grades suffered. Wish I could get those back…I’m pretty nervous about my MIT application for Fall ’06.

  12. Hi Laura,

    I[Abhinav kumar] , from akhalaspur[India] want to say I am selected for overnight programme at Mit. I want to make you friend and also want to know a lot of information about mit say about computer science and engineering.I hope we will de me email. Best wishes

    Abhinav kumar

  13. ann says:

    Hey laura,

    I feel exactly like you do right now.My name is Ann and i’m a soon to be mechanical engineering major but not at MIT (yet). I’ll be at UCF in florida. It’s cool to know that i’m not the only person who doesn’t have a clue about engineering but wish they knew. I’m hoping to go to MIT for grad school so when your classes start please write down everything cool that happens, all the experiences.We may not be going to the same school but maybe we’ll have some similar experiences to laugh about, so i’ll tag your page and write back soon.