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MIT student blogger Mollie B. '06

The first of the lasts by Mollie B. '06

My last Registration Day. *GOOP WARNING.*

Although I do make active attempts to avoid goopiness and introspection, sometimes they creep into my life nonetheless. (I’m the daughter of a woman who cries at telephone commercials, and I’m actively trying to avoid my fate as a hopeless goop myself. I’m not being particularly successful — I cried at every single movie I saw in theatres in 2005. While this includes legitimately sad movies like Star Wars, it also encompasses completely not-sappy movies like March of the Penguins and Sahara.)

Today was my last Registration Day, when all MIT students visit their advisors to confirm their course schedules for the upcoming term. My advisor, Earl Miller, was out of town today, so the Brain and Cognitive Sciences undergraduate administrator, Jason, signed my form and double-checked with me that I’ve taken care of all my graduation requirements.

On my way to turn in my form (to the lovely Jessie, I might add), I ran into my friend Akhil ’05 MEng ’06, who is the only other person from my high school to ever get into MIT. As we were gossiping about people with whom we went to high school, our friend Laura ’06 caught up with us. We’re all graduating, so naturally the conversation turned to our plans for next year.

Akhil is getting his master’s in course 6 (EECS) in June, and has accepted a position with an investment banking firm in Chicago.
Laura is getting a bachelor’s degree in course 6 (EECS) and one in course 15 (management), and is going to law school — she currently has acceptances from NYU and Georgetown, and is waiting on others.
I’m getting two bachelor’s degrees — one in course 9 (brain and cognitive sciences) and one in course 7 (biology), and I’m heading to a PhD program in biology.

And it’s all super-weird.

Life gets very different very fast as you go through your senior year — something many of you are probably realizing as you go through your senior year of high school — but it’s even weirder in college. All the juniors are still worried about grades and parties and who’s going to be president of which club next year… and my friends and I are looking at our honest-to-goodness grown-up futures. We still have one foot in the college world, but we’re starting to realize that we have one foot in the real world (insofar as graduate school is the real world, of course).

And it makes me feel excited… well, excited and scared. Not to mention extraordinarily grateful for the education I’ve received at MIT which has prepared me for these awesome PhD programs which are recruiting me, but really, we’re going to leave the rest of that thought for a later day. (If I get started on all the things MIT has done for me as a student and as a person, I’m really not going to be able to stanch the flow of goop.)

Okay, we’re done with sentimentality for the day. Onward to more pressing matters!

1. Thanks everybody for your birthday wishes! I had a good birthday, but I’m awfully glad to be back in Boston. (And Bryan, Ghirardelli Square was most definitely a stop on our SF tour. Right after the Fisherman’s Wharf sea lions.) Doesn’t 22 sound awfully dignified?

2. Aditya asked “‘Is the program composed of self-starters, with very little peer pressure to work hard, or do students in the program encourage each other to work hard? ‘ – Id love an answer to that relevant to MIT…..”
Actually, I was planning to write on that tonight (before sentimentality about this being my last Reg Day set in) — I think that’s a very important topic that few people really seem to consider. Next time, I promise!

3. Sam (not this Sam) asked when you can start a UROP. You can definitely start one in your first term at MIT, providing that you can find a faculty member who wants to work with you. Generally, people who start UROPs in their first term have prior research experience, although my Adam ’07 started UROPing his first term freshman year, and he’d never researched before. Starting the summer before freshman year might be a little trickier (just because you’d have to make sure you could move into MIT campus housing early), but again, if you find a professor who’s willing to take you, it shouldn’t be a problem.

4. Shannon asked if Adam and I are engaged. No, we’re not (although I just said to Adam, “One of my blog readers asked if we were engaged,” and his response was “Pretty much.”) However, by the end of 2006 I think the answer to that question will be quite different. :) (Oh god, so much goop in one entry. It’s killing me.)

5. Shen said “I know about that having a master’s degree in the pure sciences really doesn’t amount to much (particularly since my chem teacher has both a BS and PhD but not an MS), but how about engineering?”
In engineering, a master’s degree is much more useful — in fact, in many disciplines, you need a master’s to get competitive engineering jobs. You wouldn’t get a PhD in engineering, though, unless you wanted to become a professor.

6. Anonymous asked, “I was just wondering, how much time did you spend in the lab during a typical week? Thanks!”
During IAP and summer, I work in the lab 40 hours a week. During term, it depends on how many classes I’m taking — sophomore year I worked about 10-12 hours a week, junior year I worked about 15, and this term I’m actually going to be working about 18-20. (I like working in the lab. To be honest, I like working in the lab better than I like taking classes.)

11 responses to “The first of the lasts”

  1. Isaac Osei says:

    now youre trying to INVADE this blog,Lerj Feng?I am sick of it.when would you stop?

  2. Leo says:


    your sharing of delicate personal feelings is never considered as goop, it actually delineates you as a complete person with vivid personalities, instead of an answering machine. I work in a lab too, and I hold the same feeling about research. Spending 40+ hours/week during summer is never a waste of vacation time, lab is where I have the most fun.

    And keep us informed with your grad school admission process!

  3. Lerh Feng says:

    I have a question I’d like to ask you, yet am not sure if you’ll agree to answer it. It’s about Biology and questions which I have not been able to find the answers to (I’m in High School, and my teachers unfortunately do not know). Can you help?

  4. Dan says:

    Goop – what a good description of that type of talk. I have a couple questions. 1) Are there math UROPs? What kind of research can an undergraduate do in mathematics? 2) You say master’s degrees in pure sciences aren’t very useful? Does that hold true with mathematics? And is environmental science considered a “pure science”? My chemistry teacher has a master’s in environmental science.

  5. Lizzy says:

    Hi Mollie! Thanks for all of the advice you’ve posted. I’ve been reading your blog from afar, but I have a question I want to ask now: Do you have any insight on getting a professor to take a student into his or her lab? And how does the early housing work?

  6. Lerh Feng says:

    Mollie, if you’re not opposed to it, can I e-mail you then? Just so that Isaac doesn’t feel sick.

    Isaac – I stop when I know the answers. Does that satisfy you?

  7. Sanja says:


    Does the fact that you are graduating affects the existence of this blog? Or there will be no ‘Biology is life’ next year? That’s not fair… Honestly, your’s and Laura’s blogs are my favourites…

  8. Shannon says:

    Oh, I’ll admit that I enjoy this sappy type of talk. What can I say? It’s a girl thing, regardless of intelligence level. (you boys just don’t understand)

    I certainly hope you just don’t ditch the blog! It’d be interesting to know the life of a Biology grad student, despite what school it may be at.

  9. Minh says:

    Hi Mollie,

    It’s very interesting to follow your blogs, as I will (hopefully) be following course 9 as well (pending admission, of course). Following your answer to Sam in (3), I want to ask about the UROP situation with int’l, especially in course 9. How did *you* find a professor who was willing to take you?

  10. Carla says:

    I really get the feeling of the senior year… this is my last year at high school, and since the first day at school me and my friends have been like: this is the last first day of classes, this is the last first whatever… and it makes me fell kind of sad… well onto another thing, happy, belated, birthday! and I agree with sanja and shannon, this blog shouldn’t stop after you graduate, it is simply great!

  11. Christina says:

    My Bio teacher couldn’t answer this question for me, maybe you can!

    OBVIOUSLY someone with a cold or other viral infection can contract HIV. And obviously someone with an active HIV infection can contract a cold or other viral infection.

    But with interferons…