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MIT student blogger Mollie B. '06

Spring cleaning and miscellany by Mollie B. '06

The Brass Rat club, sending 4-inch heels to Goodwill, and picking a new food-providing graduate resident for my entry.

Well, grad school interviews and visiting weekends are done!

This weekend I visited Harvard Medical School’s Biological and Biomedical Sciences program, from which both my UROP professor and my postdoc graduated. I got to hear stories about my UROP professor as a graduate student (I ate dinner last night with his PhD advisor), and I met several faculty members who are MIT alums — they all asked to see my Brass Rat. (One walked over to the table where Brit ’05, Lara ’06, and I were chatting and boomed, “So I see this is the Brass Rat table!”)

There’s a standard pair of questions MIT alums ask each other when they meet: what course were you, and where did you live? Most of the professors were, of course, course 7, but they were excited to hear that I was doubling in course 9 — back when many of them were at MIT, course 9 was just psychology; the department didn’t include neuroscience until 1986. I met a faculty member who lived in Burton-Conner (home of many current bloggers), and one who lived in Baker… nobody from my home, though.

Today I was home and doing nothing on a weekend for the first time in 2006 (this is when you know you interviewed at too many PhD programs, thank you very much), so I seized the opportunity to do a little spring cleaning. There are few things in life more entertaining than making a pile of clothes to give to Goodwill while singing “Material Girl” at the top of your lungs. I found a pair of 4-inch Steve Madden high-heeled shoes that a) I have never worn, and b) I would not be physically capable of walking in, and c) would cause me to be approximately 3 inches taller than my height-challenged boyfriend. I hope someone at Goodwill has a use for a pair of size 8 super-high-heels…

Let’s see, what else… my entry is looking for a new GRT (graduate resident tutor), since Bryan, our current GRT, is getting his PhD this spring and moving on to real life. A GRT is MIT’s version of an RA — I guess at most schools, they have undergrad RAs, but ours are all grad students. GRTs are responsible for providing free food, emotional support, and cutting through administrative red tape (like when Adam had the flu during finals last spring and our GRT told him how to talk to the counseling deans so he could get his finals rescheduled). I suppose they’re also responsible for resolving conflicts between residents and those sorts of things, but we’re all pretty close and I can’t think of a time when there’s ever been a serious conflict between entry residents.

So we’ve narrowed down our list to 12 prospective GRT candidates, and I think we get to interview all of them this spring to see who’s the best fit for the entry. I am pretty sure this process will involve a lot of free food.

Just a few questions today..
1. Mike asked the kind of question that makes me squirm.

Mollie, is there anything that you do not like about MIT?

Now, I know perfectly well that MIT is not in fact Utopia, and if I say, “Nope! I love everything about it!” that just sounds completely disingenuous.

I guess to some degree this is a hard question for me to answer, because I tend to have an internal locus of control — so the semesters I’ve been really stressed and transiently unhappy, I place the blame on things like my choice of class schedule (taking 75 units last spring made me a little crazy, but it was my choice to take 75 units) rather than on MIT per se. I’m also a happy-go-lucky person by nature.

So I will just say two small things that I don’t like about MIT. Maybe later I’ll come up with something more substantial.
a) I don’t like that my dorm is a quarter of a mile away from 77 Mass Ave, often necessitating a 10-minute walk in the cold and wind to warmth each way. Be smart! Go live with Jessie and Anthony at EC!
b) I don’t like it that the fact that I go to MIT leads to almost immediate stereotyping by non-MIT people. (“Oh, you go to MIT? You must be a genius/total nerd/socially inept.”) News flash: you don’t have to be anything to be a happy MIT student, other than excited about science or engineering.

2. Annie asked,

Would you have picked Harvard over MIT? And have you cross-registered for any classes there?

I haven’t ever cross-registered — my schedule’s pretty packed as it is with class, and working 15+ hours a week at my lab is a priority for me. Taking a class up at Harvard would introduce too much travel time. I do have friends who have cross-registered (or taken classes up there during the summer), and they’ve enjoyed the experience.

I really can’t say whether I would have picked Harvard over MIT for undergrad. I had never visited either before applying (I visited MIT a week and a half before May 1), and since I didn’t get into Harvard, I didn’t visit there. I didn’t accept my spot on the Harvard waitlist, if that’s illuminating at all. If I had gotten into and visited both, I would have gone with my gut feeling on which was the better environment for me.

3. Timur harassed me for scanning in the list upside down. Oops. :) And my cursive lowercase a’s have always been normal — it’s just when I’m printing that they’re weird. And I can scan in writing assignments from fourth grade to prove that they’ve been weird for thirteen years now!

One response to “Spring cleaning and miscellany”

  1. thekeri says:

    If you feel like shipping those heels to South Florida, I’m always here… ^_^