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MIT student blogger Keri G. '10

Tales of a College Froshling by Keri G. '10

Okay, so I'm not a frosh anymore. Meh, whatever.

When I went online to start typing up this post, I noticed an unpublished post of mine from nearly three weeks ago. Apparently I started writing an “apologies for being too hosed to post” entry and never finished it, which is just as well because I don’t know what was going to be in it and don’t recall ever writing the thing anyway.

I’ve always liked being insanely busy, but this is just ridiculous. Let’s try this again.

So what’s been up with me? I passed my finals, and I can even tell all my friends that I have a 4.0 at MIT! Granted, none of them know that we use a 5.0 scale, but that’s not the point. I have a B average. At MIT. I am dancing. I’m also back in Florida, having moved out of Senior House for the summer. After some panic that I’d be jobless and living in a cardboard box under Harvard Bridge for two and a half months, I was offered a job as an RA for the Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University, where for six weeks, I’ve be living and working with middle school students taking introductory high school classes through the program. This is a source of great excitement for Hanna ’10, who lives near Evanston and is already planning to accidentally-on-purpose show up at scheduled activities in the area. (“So let’s all go out for ice cream! And what a surprise, we’ve managed to bump into my good friend Hanna again! Um, well..”) Not that I’m complaining – we’re suffering from radio show deprivation and no longer responsible for our actions.

Until I leave in two weeks, though, I’ll be at home hanging out with my friends and family, along with sewing a lot. Hey, it’s been a while. I’ll also spend a good amount of time reading the textbooks I got for my birthday. By the way, I turned eighteen on the 14th. Woo! I can be tried as an adult now!

Anyway, I’ve been emailing a few of you back and forth about all things MIT (and let’s not ignore the messages and wall posts on the all-powerful Facebook); you all have brought up some useful topics that I’d like to address here. Since the Freshman Housing Lottery just opened two days ago, let’s start with that one.

By now, you incoming frosh should probably have a general idea of how the whole thing works. You look through the information available to you (such as living group websites and the Guide to Residences in last month’s huge mailing), ask current students a million questions about what the dorms are like, rank all 15 16 (i-House is starting up this fall in New House 1, formerly Russian House) living groups in order of preference, and stick the list under your pillow just before you go to bed. That night, the magical Housing Fairy quietly removes the list from beneath your sleeping form, leaving a $2800 charge for next semester’s room in its place.

…scratch that last part. I think I just mixed this up with the stories my mom used to tell me when I was five.

All right, so you submit this list to MIT, where a computer puts everyone in a dorm using an algorithm designed to maximize the number of people in their first-choice living group. The room assignment chairs in each living group then use the rest of your application – all the stuff about your number of desired roommates, likes and dislikes, et cetera – to put you in a temporary room.

Don’t get too comfortable in your temp room; you’ll almost definitely be moving again. This is what REX (which some people refer to as Dorm Rush, a throwback to the way the housing system used to work before all frosh were required to live on campus starting in 2002) is for – once you’re actually here at MIT, it’s far easier to check out all the dorms and cultural houses for yourself. (Many of you started doing this during CPW.) We try to give you everything you need to make an informed decision, but there’s really no replacement for going and spending some time everywhere.

At the end of August, after you’ve been here for about a week, there’s an Adjustment Lottery. In the lottery, you can decide to stay in your temporary dorm or enter up to four places you’d like to move. Some of you will be happy where you are, and you may just want a different roommate or a room on another floor; of course, you might also decide to move somewhere entirely different. I got my second choice dorm in the Housing Lottery and got to MIT with the intent of checking everywhere out, since I wasn’t completely happy with where I’d been placed anyway. By the end of the Adjustment Lottery, I was moving clear across campus to a dorm that was originally my sixth choice.

Once you’ve been assigned your final dorm, an In-House assignments are held to determine your final room. Each dorm handles this differently; while Baker and Next both hold numbered lotteries, Senior House makes you fill out a sheet with your top choice rooms and explain why the room assignment chairs should care about what you want. This explanation may or may not be in the form of baked goods.

(Just For Fun: Click on this link and scroll down to the picture of Senior House. See the windowsill halfway painted blue? That was my room last term. A couple of years ago, someone living there decided to paint everything in the room that shade of blue, including the speaker for the fire alarm, the overhead storage shelves, the ceiling, and half the windowsill. By the time I got there, most of it had been painted over with Institute White, but the blue just won’t go away.)

It all seems really complicated, especially now that your friends going to other schools are all starting to get word of their roommates’ names, along with the locations of their bed, desk, chair, hall bathroom, complimentary loveseat, and the like.We just want you to be happy here. If you can have the option of deciding where to live, then why not give it to you?

I’ll end this post with links to some dorm tours put up by myself and the other bloggers:
Baker House
Burton-Conner House
East Campus: one and two
MacGregor House
Next House
Random Hall
Senior House: one and two

And here’s a post Jessie put up a while back, which is really helpful and explains things better than I could have done.

Any more questions? Email me! All the cool kids are doing it. ^_^

28 responses to “Tales of a College Froshling”

  1. Kari says:

    What? Why am I older than you?!
    also, thanks for clarifying the housing stuff. It’s way too complicated for my little brain to handle.

  2. Jess says:

    YOU CANNOT DO REX IF YOU ARE IN AN RBA DORM LIKE NEXT HOUSE
    YOU CANNOT DO REX IF YOU ARE IN AN RBA DORM LIKE NEXT HOUSE
    YOU CANNOT DO REX IF YOU ARE IN AN RBA DORM LIKE NEXT HOUSE
    YOU CANNOT DO REX IF YOU ARE IN AN RBA DORM LIKE NEXT HOUSE
    YOU CANNOT DO REX IF YOU ARE IN AN RBA DORM LIKE NEXT HOUSE

    instead, you are stuck in Next House for the year.
    MORE ON THIS LATER! stay tuned.

  3. Kate says:

    Thanks so much for posting this (and the links to the other “dorm tour” posts!) They were really informative and helpful. Also, Jessie’s posts were great…her explanations of housing choices and what to do/not do during REX/Rush were funny and also helped answer the questions I was going to ask. So, no questions from me right now. smile

  4. Kate says:

    PS Okay, I lied about not having any questions. What is the “RBA” dorm that JKim mentioned above? Is the lack of Rex in RBA dorms why JKim was in Next House this year but will be in Burton next year? (Or something like that?)

    Was my impression that REX is campus-wide wrong, then?

  5. milena '11 says:

    NO SIMMONS DORM TOUR?!?!? Maybe I’ll get to do that one (tsk, tsk… admissions people! hire me as a blogger!)

  6. Wings '11 says:

    RBA = Residential Based Advising =)

    I hope I can pull off a 4.0 at MIT. We don’t have to worry about GPA until second semester, though, right?

    I’m off to do the FEE now..

  7. Keri says:

    Kate –

    The Residence-Based Advising program (RBA) in Next, McCormick, Chocolate City, and Spanish House prevents you from switching out of the dorm during REX and the entirety of your freshman year. In addition to that, random dorm quotas (something about no dorm being more than 30% freshmen?) make it difficult to transfer out after your first year without moving off campus or to a fraternity/sorority – apparently, there would be too many open spaces in Next if everyone who wanted to leave were granted a transfer.

    That’s not to say that there’s something wrong with Next House; like other dorms, though, there are people who are placed there in the housing lottery and end up liking somewhere else more. The difference is that they don’t have the option of leaving.

    Jess knows more about this than I do, and judging by her above comment, I’m assuming she’s working on a post about it.

  8. Keri says:

    Wings –

    That’s right – freshmen don’t have to worry about a GPA until second semester! None of your classes taken during pass/no record factor into your GPA. Since this comprises all of your first term’s classes, you end up with no GPA until A/B/C/no record in the spring.

  9. Kate says:

    Keri–
    Thanks so much for answering my questions! It’s all a bit more clear now (who knew that RBA meant Resident-Based Advising? Probably everyone but me, right? lol) The info was helpful.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why did you spell Senior Haus Senior ‘House’ I have a strange idea you’ve been spelling it ‘haus’ in all the other blog posts.

    Yeah, you do seem rather young for an MIT rising sophomore.

  11. Bianca says:

    What do you think we shouldn’t pack with us as we first move in? Should we just pack the essentials for the first few weeks and then either buy or mail everything else (like game systems, TV, etc) later?

  12. Keri says:

    Everyone –

    Kallie’s link is to doomcom’s website, doomcom being a wing on the first floor of Senior House. Click away! They’re pretty cool.

    Anonymous –

    “House” and “Haus” are used interchangeably, but “House” is the official term. If I recall correctly, “Haus” developed in the late 1980s and is used more often by SH/EC residents and alums. I just use whichever one I’m in the mood to use at the time.

    Eric –

    No problem. I personally think that the SH i3 video is the worst thing I’ve ever seen, so I understand completely.

    Bianca –

    I’d hold off on buying the huge stuff – fridges, TVs, illicit microwaves, and the like – until you’re here and settled into your permanent room. Otherwise, it’s up to you.

    I suggest you pack a smaller bag with whatever you’ll be using from the day you get here to the day you move into your final room, since you really won’t want to start unpacking everything else. You can take other things with you, such as a computer and one or two other suitcases, but I’d ship anything you can’t easily carry/roll down the street.

    Since I flew up early for an FPOP (Freshman Arts Program, or FAP), I brought a duffel bag, my laptop, and one huge suitcase. My parents flew up a few days later with two more suitcases filled with stuff from home, and we bought the bigger stuff up here instead of in Florida.

  13. Eric '10 says:

    Hey, I’m here to shamelessly plug New House 2 as a great place to live. Due to complications that don’t need to be elaborated upon here, we weren’t exactly pleased with our representation in the New House i3 video. So we made our own.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNntOEOdOs0

    So check us out.

    (Sorry for hijacking your blog for my own purposes, Keri…)

  14. Hanna '10 says:

    muchmuch BETTER SENIOR HAUS i3 (2006):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X34is6iaPmo

    Keri didn’t give the link, so I will. I thought this year’s was funny, but in a “most of these people don’t live in the house anymore omgirony” way. The 2006 video is a real thriller or um… much more informative.

    hugs kisses etc.
    hml

  15. Wings '11 says:

    Random question:

    What are the most popular choices?

    I’m not deciding based on this or anything, I already have a pretty good idea of where I want to go. I’m just curious =)

  16. Susan' 11 says:

    Hey Keri, I was wondering, where is cultural houses entry? I am interested in German house and thought I would see it here :(.
    Have any blogger lived in a cultural house?

  17. Bianca says:

    Thanks Keri! ^_^

  18. Keri says:

    How could I forget the 2006 video? It was awesome.

    According to minutes from one of last year’s DormCon meetings, Baker and Random were last year’s most popular choices in the lottery. Interestingly, Random is the smallest dorm and Baker’s one of the largest.

  19. Paul '11 says:

    Haha, I did Northwestern’s CTD three years ago…I took Immunology Honors, my first “college class” ever. I had a blast and fell in love with Chicago. Then I had an affair with Boston and got into MIT. Oops!

    Wings – I can’t say anything based on actual statistics, but I’ve asked many of our fellow ’11s about dorms and a lot of them are seriously considering Burton-Conner. It’s my third choice, personally (sorry Laura!). I think there’s a few reasons for that…it’s big, it’s visible, and certain people keep talking about it on the blogs. :D

    By the way, Keri, I loved Senior House’s student-made blurb/short story/apocalyptic vignette in the Residence booklet. It didn’t really feel like my kind of place when I visited during CPW though. :(

  20. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t Lulu do a photo thing for East Campus as well, I think she tagged it under Miscellaneous.

  21. José P. says:

    Where’s the posting? raspberry

    (If you didn’t get it, you lose 5 geek points. raspberry)

  22. José P. says:

    Wow, talk about an overdose of “:P” smileys.

  23. Ben '09 says:

    Hi Susan,

    I live in German House. What do you need to know, except that German House is awesome? smile

    Our website is at: http://web.mit.edu/dh/www/

    Feel free to email [email protected] with any questions.

  24. Anonymous says:

    As a parent of a student who lives in Next House, I would like to give it a plug. When my child chose Next, he decided he would trade the flexibility of moving during REX for the opportunity to get to know more thoroughly a smaller number of freshman before choosing a roommate. Since Next freshman knew they are staying in Next, they were able to get to know more potential roommates who would definately be living in their dorm.

    Another benefits of Next is a dining hall where most freshmen eat most evenings, so that my son was assured a social dinner hour rather than scrambling for something to eat and possibly someone to eat with. Other benefits include plenty of lounges, a diverse population, likeable housemaster, and bathrooms that ensure a relatively large amount of privacy.

  25. deb says:

    OMGEEEEEEEEEEEEEE YOU ARE RAING FOR SPECTRA (SPECTRUM?) THATS SO CUTEEEEEEEEEEE

    HAVE FUN!!!!!

    =)

  26. Mary Beth says:

    pretty sure you forgot about the excitement this causes in your awesome friends rachel and mary beth, who will BE IN CHICAGO.