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The Sophomore Stupid by Anika H. '26

It’s morbin’ time

Last Friday afternoon, I finished my last final. I’ve never been so relieved to finally be done with anything. It was both distressing and comforting that time would not slow down for either my last-minute studying or the eventuality of winter break.

closing my 200 tabs

closing my 200 tabs

This time, I think I truly gave it my all. I used every bit of time I had left to slap together a talk and a fireshow, write a 10 page essay, and study for my two finals in the two weeks after classes ended. I got distracted as little as possible too. Any more would have burned me out before the end, and any less would have been unproductive. In hindsight though, maybe I could have worked a little harder during the semester. I am satisfied with the things I learned and the grades I earned. But If I went to more lectures, maybe I would have understood more, if I spent less time scrolling on my phone, I could have painted a mural, or done things I actually wanted to do. And often, I have to remind myself that things like this are easier said than done.


At the start of the semester, I tried to take Signals Processing 6.300 (6.003), Circuits and Electronics 6.200 (6.002), and Fundamentals of Programming 6.101(6.009) at the same time on top of all my extracurricular commitments, and I can’t emphasize how horrible of an idea that was. I was going to bed exhausted, then waking up equally pooped.

my eyes needed to pee and there was someone in the bathroom

my eyes needed to pee and there was someone in the bathroom.

I dropped 6.101, but halfway through the semester, I still ended up burning out. I got really lucky that I got myself semester before the last stretch, but there were days where I had upwards of 20 pages of homework and I didn’t know how to do half of them. There were days I got three S^3 extensions in a row because the work kept piling up and days where I skipped assignments to give myself a little time to reset. By the end I no longer cared how my grades said I did in the class, I was just happy that I learned something, and glad that it was over.


I remember the week of memorial day, pset deadlines were pushed back by a week and I did more in the week than I ever would have done doing homework. Between sailing and welding and working on research and making a leather mask and getting cheese with a friend, or choosing to subject myself to more Fourier transforms and nodal analysis after weeks of continuous practice, the former was the obvious choice. After getting that small taste of sweet freedom, I wondered if I could strike a  better balance between maintaining my academics and maintaining my sanity. I skipped a few more lectures, went to forge a bit more, and promised myself not to pset when I was on shift for a makerspace. I felt more fulfilled, and doing real work was a lot easier as well.

relaxing a little

doing a stupid

Traditionally, the sophomore stupid is performed by overconfident frosh deciding to take on too many commitments after having it easy on PNR. Either that or they set a high standard for themselves that becomes too difficult to maintain. When grades start mattering, but you already joined five clubs and picked up some research, more often then not, people try to keep all of them instead of choosing what to leave behind.

So what am I doing next semester you ask? Surely not something as bad I just did right? Well, it’s called the sophomore stupid, not the first semester stupid. Unfortunately for me, there is no overlap between the quantity of interesting classes I want to take, and the quantity of interesting classes that would be healthy to take. I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. But as they say, if your software can’t decide how much you can handle, your hardware will decide for you.

hardware is your body, software is your brain

a scientific diagram

I plan on taking Analog Electronics Lab, Solid State Devices, and C and Assembly. All of which are time sinks, the first one measuring up to nearly 20 hours a week. To be clear, letting your hardware decide whether to drop classes or not is never a good idea, but I am happy to constantly be doing things, because for me, boredom is more painful than overwork.  They say that everyone who goes to MIT has some flavor of intellectual masochism, and I certainly am not breaking this stereotype.


a dissection (unfortunately not of a roach)

What exactly is my goal here? If it was just that I wanted to be happy, I would not be taking this many classes. My aim is not graduating either since I can do that with fewer classes too. I want to learn as much as I can in as little a time frame as possible because my time at this forsaken institute is limited. But not all my learning comes from classes. I know if I tried hard enough, I’d be able to several personal projects in the time I would be taking a class, but that’s a whole lot more effort. Though I’m still not entirely sure why I love drowning myself in work, I guess this is my attempt at the low effort attempt at a high effort route, if that makes any sense at all.


For my birthday this year, I was served Chang Shou Mian, or “long life noodles” translated directly from Mandarin. They symbolize a long life ahead of you, or predict the upcoming year, as long as you don’t break them. I think my noodles predicted a spicy year ahead of me.


The noodle was spicy enough I had to take several water breaks in between the singular strand.