Sophomore Fall Goals by Ella T. '25
So you can bully me when I write a post saying they didn't work out
My first year was a little rough. I could’ve written more about the low points, but it takes a certain amount of humility and retrospect to not sound like an ass in doing so. I’ve got them all written down, and once I’ve had a chance to reflect and forgive myself for stupid mistakes, I’ll share them here.
I would like my sophomore year to be less rough. Logistically, I think it will be. I have friends now that I adore, and I simply didn’t have them in the earlier part of last year. I’m moving to a new residence hall, which I think might make me happier. I’m figuring out what genuinely brings me joy career-wise, and I’m doing personal projects simply because I enjoy them. I’m getting better advice, or at least I’m learning to ignore terrible advice. I’ve gotten a lot of what makes MIT hard emotionally over with, so I’m not as scared to fail again.
I know it’s good to have goals in life. I never really got around to making any before I came to MIT because I had no idea what to expect. If having a 5.0 GPA was attainable (it wasn’t), then that was the goal. If landing a big-name internship for my first-year summer was attainable (it wasn’t), then that was the goal. If taking 66 units of classes and sleeping every night was attainable (it wasn’t), then that was the goal. In the end, the only attainable goal was to survive MIT, and I did that.
I think there’s a statistic floating around somewhere that if you write down your goals, they manifest into reality. I’m not sure if I believe in that. What I do believe in is the power of hundreds of strangers potentially reading this and placing mental bets on whether or not I succeed.
So, out of spite, these are my goals for sophomore fall.
Do Laundry More Often
- I had a horrendously bad habit of waiting until I was completely, utterly out of clothing to do laundry. I would spend an entire day doing 4-5 loads of laundry, and I lived in Simmons, so I had to cross a tower and go down two floors every single time a load finished. It sucked.
- This brings me to another point: I need to stop throwing all my clothes in the dryer. When I saw that a dryer was available (rare occurrence), I was so giddy that I would throw all my nice shirts and pants in the dryer and walk away. When I lived at home, my mother was always anal about the longevity of our clothes because we honestly couldn’t afford to replace them. Now, looking at my slightly shrunken pants and pilled shirts, I should’ve just taken the time to hang dry some things.
Stop Leaving Lectures Confused. Edit: Go to Your Lectures
- MIT is a hard school, and the lectures aren’t always that straightforward. The content is confusing enough, and the lecturers don’t have time to hold your hand through multiple examples. If you don’t know that shorthand or niche theorem, that’s too damn bad because everyone else in the room does. A lot of the time, I’d become apathetic about 3/4 of the way through the lecture because I was confused. I swore I’d sit down and figure it out afterwards, but I never did, because I had to do a problem set or go to a meeting. I want to actually have a full grasp on the lecture content, and ask questions about it if I need to. I know it’s a simple concept but it is harder than it sounds in practice.
- On that note, I want to actually go to the lectures. Sometimes I would just skip out on lectures if I was tired or feeling stressed, which is really fine, but then I would skip out on lectures because who cares about flux or the lecturer has bad handwriting anyways. That’s not as fine. I feel like I would’ve fared better grade-wise if I just forced myself to go to all my lectures
Stop Working in Bed
- I am typing this blog from bed. I code in bed. I read research papers in bed. I answer emails in bed. It makes it to where I can’t sleep when I need to sleep in the furniture I need to sleep in, and then I’ll fall asleep at a desk. It’s ruined me.
Wake Up Earlier Maybe
- I’m fully able to wake up early if I need to. I’ve never struggled with waking up to an alarm, and once I’m actually out of bed, I feel pretty awake. The issue is, last year I always set my alarm to about thirty minutes before my first lecture of the day. This gave me the minimum amount of time to shower (hair soaking wet in the Boston winter), get dressed, and sprint to class. Besides the stress of moving that fast, I was normally up at a decent hour (9:30 for my 10AM, 9:00 for my 9:30AM, etc.) The problem was, some days I didn’t have class until 1 or 2. Do you think I woke up in the morning? No. I woke up at 12:30 or 1:30. Horrible. I need to wake up at like 8 or 9 every day regardless of when my classes are.
Stop the Digital Clutter Madness
- In a physical sense, I’m a fairly clean person. I’m just a slob with my phone and computer. I have a rat’s nest of a file directory, and everything important (tax forms, resume, code) is just plastered somewhere on my desktop. I don’t name documents anything meaningful unless I’m physically sending them to someone important. I don’t clear out my emails. I screenshot so many things on my phone for reference, and they just end up fermenting in my camera roll. I have no app folders on my phone, except for one called “work”, which contains apps for a job that I haven’t worked since I was in high school.
Problem Sets. Start Them Earlier so Help Me GOD
- One of the things that led to my ultimate demise was not starting problem sets when they were released. My god. Turns out, the problem sets are not easy by any stretch of the imagination, and I would find myself stuck on problem 1B approximately 8 hours before the entire thing was due. Just start them when they get released. Please, future Ella. I’m practically begging.
What if you Actually Went to Office Hours
- I am stubborn and I think that people generally won’t be able to help me understand things. I don’t place a lot of trust in random TA’s and undergraduate workers, and I was really scared I would simultaneously look like an idiot and get even more confused if I went to office hours. Even though I know it will benefit me academically to go, I know this is a little bit of an ego issue for me, so I’m going to force myself to go to more office hours next semester to get over myself.
Take More Pictures
- MIT is beautiful (15% of the time), Boston is beautiful (in select lighting), and my friends are beautiful (always), and I should document it more. The days are long but the years are short, and I don’t want to lose all the things I’ve seen.
Declare the Correct Major
- I’m a moron and accidentally declared 6-3. I will never publicly release how I managed to do this because it is so embarrassing to my core that my bone density literally increases from cringing so hard. I’m going to change it to 6-9, which was the plan all along.
Get Rid of Stuff
- When I was packing up my things for storage, I had Covid. I threw everything in the room in as many boxes as I had. I probably didn’t need it all. Now I have to open the boxes and sort through it.
Sort Out Summer 2023 Plans Early
- I may be a sellout but I am determined to get a nice internship. Have I received radio silence from most ones I’ve applied to? Yes. Will I apply to more until someone gives up and gives me a job? Yes. (If you’re a recruiter and you’re reading this please leave a comment down below I will give you my first born child)
Train Yourself to Study Listening to Music
- I have the brain of an ape, so I can’t read something and listen to music at the same time. I’m really envious of the people who can because it looks fun. I’m going to force myself to figure out how.
Stop Pacifying Yourself with Your Phone
- I am horrible about instantly pawing for my phone when I feel awkward, uncomfortable, bored, or nervous. I’ll literally scroll through old emails, look at my phone settings, or move apps around just to avoid feeling bad. This can’t be good for me. If anyone has advice on how to stop this I would appreciate it.
Don’t Get Horrendously Ill
- In the fall semester, I got a lung infection so bad that I had to go to MIT medical to do scheduled breathing treatments. It also spread to my eyes and gave me conjunctivitis in both eyes. Honestly, I’m blaming it on the stupid Sig Chi party I went to, but I need to be more proactive with my health going forwards.
Okay. I think that’s all I have for now. Now I know y’all are clambering for my coursework decisions, because I am known for setting myself up for horrendous semesters. Here’s fall:
- 6.006 Intro to Algorithms (I don’t know the new numbering and I refuse to use it)
- 6.034 Artificial Intelligence (Ditto)
- 18.06 Linear Algebra
- 9.01 Intro to Neuroscience
- The HASS-A I never preregistered for so I probably won’t get it (Please give HASS-A recommendations)