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MIT student blogger Paul B. '11

The Road I’m On by Paul B. '11

Life's a lot to think about sometimes...

Pardon me for the grammatically incorrect tonight title (in the sardonic words of the ever-quotable Winston Churchill, “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put!”), but I’m currently listening to my old 3 Doors Down albums and I really like this song. Which is why it has now made it’s way into my blog, like several other songs I can think of.

Anyway. Life at MIT is moving right along at its usual breakneck pace, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Really, my only complaint is that I haven’t had all that much time to blog lately. Which isn’t to say I haven’t been thinking about blogging, or continuously scratching down ideas for all the (hopefully) awesome entries I’ll be putting up in the next few weeks. As the old phrase goes, so many blogs…so little time. Yeah, so I’m a little cheesy sometimes – what else is new?

Luckily, I have about half an hour to jot some thoughts down right now, so I figured I might as well capitalize on the opportunity. As it happens, I’m feeling sort of nostalgic and philosophical at the same time, and you’re the lucky ones who get to glimpse my innermost(ish) thoughts. And by you, I mean the entire Internet. Doesn’t that make you feel special? ;)

Seriously though. As May 1 draws ever closer, I can’t believe that it’s already been a year since I decided to go to MIT. In some ways, I am still surprised I got in to MIT. That’s one thing some people forget upon arriving to MIT, I think: being here is not a right, but a privilege – I might even go so far as to call it an honor. And unlike in high school, where there are a lot of other people (parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and so on) encouraging you and motivating you to “do well,” your success in college will, necessarily, have to be almost entirely self-motivated. And I don’t say that because professors and advisors here aren’t supportive – they are. But at the end of the day, they aren’t going to do your psets for you, or call you up and remind you to study for the big physics exam next Wednesday. You’re going to be the one who has to take charge of that. And there will, probably, be a few times you have too much going on and forget that you have some HASS paper due in four days and you haven’t read the book yet, or that the deadline to officially register for your UROP in the Langer Lab is in about 24 hours, or that you really need to start blogging some more, or…

And that’s okay. Because if you’re the kind of person who belongs at MIT, you won’t just finish the paper (though you may have to sacrifice a few other things to get there) or manage to finish the UROP application in the nick of time, you’ll actually learn from the mistake and make sure it doesn’t happen again. (Ask me how I know.)

Sorry for digressing. I think we were talking about the National Reply Date being in five days or something, yes? Yes.

When I got into MIT, I was beyond elated. I had applied back in November or something with the philosophy that I would apply to a bunch of schools, find out where I was admitted, and make my choice from that list. I can’t pinpoint exactly when things changed – but definitely by mid-February or so, I wanted to get into MIT. I think the blogs may have played a bit of a role in this realization. (And when I say think I mean “I’m sure,” and when I say a bit of a role I mean they were a major factor. Thanks a lot, guys.) I waited to find out where else I had gotten into, but in the long run that was kind of a formality. CPW only confirmed my initial suspicion: MIT was, and is, the best school for me.

For many of my friends and classmates, though, it wasn’t nearly that straightforward. I even know a good number of admitted 2012’s who have only just made up their minds to attend MIT, and many more who are still deciding. So if you’re reading this, and you’re still making up your mind about where you’re going to go next year, rest assured you’re not the only one. I can’t make the decision for you, obviously. But if knowing more about MIT would help you make a more informed decision, I – along with all the other bloggers, students, parents, and others who read these blogs – are all here to answer any questions you might have or concerns you want to address.

So whether you’ve already made your choice and want to explain why you chose MIT, or if you’re still trying to make up your mind…by all means, comment away. That’s what these blogs are here for, after all – to bridge the gap between MIT and you. That’s why these blogs exist.

31 responses to “The Road I’m On”

  1. Karen says:

    If you go to the music department for lessons, they can put you in touch with either a professional professor that’ll charge you your soul because he’s professional and a professor, or they can put you in touch with a starving (usually music, not always from MIT) grad student who’ll do almost anything for money.

    Eric – yes, housing is guaranteed for all undergraduates.

    Professors and TAs usually hold office hours which, depending the class, could be as crowded as a really awesome NFL football game or as uncrowded as an MIT football game (I think we have a team, anyway…) =P Anyway, you can definitely meet professors during office hours, or after class, sometimes before class, and sometimes even by appointment. It’s a healthy amount of interaction, I’d say smile

    Yukiko: I HEAR (which means this may or may not be true) that MIT occassionally tries to push their undergrads out of the nest and have them apply to other grad schools. They accept both MIT people and non-MIT people. I think a very large percentage of the graduate population is international – larger than the undergrad percentage. If you are interested in doing research here as a grad student, I suggest getting a UROP in whatever department you are interested in – that way, when the time comes to look at other schools you already have a good idea of what goes on here, if there are any projects you’d like to be a part of as a grad student and you know professors you could talk to about it.

  2. Edgar says:

    Cool, this is the first time that I am first!

  3. Cody Dean says:

    Hey Paul! Excellent post! You know, even though MIT seems like a thing of the future (1 1/2 years still to go) I have this feeling of excitement for the incoming class. I stare at my myMit account page and imagine “ADMITTED” plastered across the barren page. Just trying to fathom that if I am admitted in 2010, I will attend this Heaven/hell place is mind boggling. How do people pull themselves together though this process? I am assuming when the water settles and reality sets in, we should all choose the institution that fits our lifestyles and needs. These blogs, i3 videos, and other random tidbits on college confidential have seemingly become integrated into my life. It takes a slight obsession to bookmark the blog url and check it obsessively. Never in my life have I felt such an internal belonging to a place conceptualized only within the confines of my imagination. MIT is real to me, almost in a faithful aspect. My love affair with the ‘tvte is an ever growing precedence within me. As if to sound cliche: these blogs have helped form my aspirations and dreams. Thank goodness for these opportunities which are handed to us. I hope every ’12 embraces the opportunity and makes an informed decision.

    Have a wonderful week!

  4. Tanmay '12 says:

    MIT blogs- Exactly the same story here, Paul. smile

    And I really liked this quote:

    “…being here [MIT] is not a right, but a privilege – I might even go so far as to call it an honor.”

  5. Keri says:


    This is probably what has excited me the most so far.

    Okay, I’m lying. But the Brass Rat’s totally a reason to come here.

  6. Yukiko says:

    This is a little random but Is it easier to get into MIT grad school if you were initially at MIT for undergrad? Is it better to be going to a school like Cooper Union and Harvey Mudd for undergrad if MIT grad is what you ultimately want?

    and Thanks for the nice post.

  7. Thomas '13 says:

    your quote:

    “….a privilege….. an honor”

    that sums it up for me!

  8. Piper '11 says:

    @Karen – It really depends on the department. I hear that is true for bio departments and the like, since there are plenty of good biology schools (Johns Hopkins and such..). But engineering departments really really like MIT students because… well, they’re usually among the most qualified =D.

    And yeah, the blogs totally did it for me too.

    @Karen again – are the music lessons free from a prof?! I want music lessons..

  9. Piper '11 says:

    @Yukiko – That depends heavily on the department for grad school. Unlike undergrad, when you’re admitted to grad school it’s to a certain department. I hear it’s a plus when continuing engineering but this may not be true of the pure sciences, but I’m not certain.

    That said, chose the undergrad school you love because you love it. You never know what opportunities it’ll open up, so don’t let the future get too fixed =D.

  10. Ethan says:

    Question about asking questions –

    Not sure if you’ll have the answer to this, but I’ve been waiting a week for a reply to a question-laden email I sent to “[email protected]” – we were told we could pose any questions or concerns to this address – and my ultimate college choice is somewhat contingent on the content of the reply. Are you guys just really overloaded with emails or did I do something that inadvertently activated the spam filter (I dont suppose the all-caps “MIT” and “CPW” would set it off?). Thanks!

  11. Snively says:


    I would shoot e-mails to a bunch of the bloggers or to admissions [at]

  12. Paul says:

    @Ethan: I talked to Ben about that email address – the Admissions Staff is definitely still checking it, so hopefully you’ll get a response in a day or two! (It is the weekend after all. :D) As Snively said though, you can definitely email the bloggers if you have questions.

    @Keri: I am so jealous you have no idea.

    @Cody: “This Heaven/Hell place” is a great way of summing up MIT. Best of luck next year!

    @Yukiko: Piper and Karen both gave good advice. MIT is a great grad school (obviously), but it’s not the only grad school in the world. As fantastic as Boston and MIT are, sometimes it’s good to explore other cities and universities in grad school.

    And anyway, grad school is still a long way off. Harvey Mudd and the like are great schools, but there are so many opportunities available at MIT that you simply can’t get anywhere else – in large part because of the quality of students who come here. If MIT is calling you right now…well, there’s probably a reason. smile

    @Eric: Yup, housing is guaranteed for four years. Woot! As for professor/student interaction, the professors are generally very good at providing opportunities for interaction – sticking around for 5-15 minutes after class to answer questions, office hours, sometimes even pizza dinners. But fundamentally, it’s up to you to take advantage of them.

    @Omar: One of my friends is an Emerson Scholar, which is basically a way for already skilled musicians to continue receiving advanced lessons and performing in recitals at MIT basically for no charge. I am not entirely sure how “skilled” you have to be get that scholarship, I’ll try and find out. And I’m sure that there are other opportunities either at MIT (we have some amazing student-musicians who would probably welcome the chance to tutor someone and earn some extra money) or around the greater Boston area.

  13. senna '12 says:

    Noooooo Paul! It’s not that I ‘have just made my mind’ >.Noooooo Paul! It’s not that I ‘have just made my mind’ >.< I just have to clear some things out before I submitted the reply form.

    I’ve decided to attend the second I read “We think that you and MIT are a great match”. ^^

    MIT is just too awesome, I wouldn’t be able to push MIT from the top of my list, even if I tried to wink

  14. Isshak says:

    You can learn to play an instrument at MIT ? Cool, I want to learn the piano! How much can it cost?

    “even pizza dinners”, *sigh* I’m jealous…

  15. Sarah '12 says:

    @Omar: one of the music profs at MIT is David Deveau…he’s an amazing pianist and teaches a lot of MIT kids privately. And there are tons of good teachers from NEC, BU, and Boston Conservatory.

  16. Eric '12 says:

    Is housing in a dorm guaranteed for all four years at MIT?

    And how much attention from or interaction with professors do students get?

  17. Omar '12 says:

    If you want music lessons (piano for me), what do you do? MIT doesn’t really have a music department, right?

  18. Omar '12 says:

    haha. So i decided to actually look it up after asking that ^^^ and found that MIT does have a music department! w00t. That is pretty awesome. It said there is more information about taking private lessons in the music department. Does anyone know anything about that? Thanks grin

  19. donaldzmom says:

    Great post Paul! A quote from both Winston Churchill and 3 Doors Down in the first sentence. Way to go. I will say it again, MIT students are amazing. For the record, ALL college educations are a privilege, attending MIT is indeed an honor. Glad you know it!

  20. Dima '12 says:

    I comMITted on April 1 (get the irony? raspberry) In all seriousness though, the diversity of the student body, the passion and enthusiasm not only for knowledge but also for life itself, the team spirit that’s promoted in just about every aspect of the MIT life, and of course the great academics that despite popular belief are not limited to math and science, but stress the importance of humanities to complement science, made the decision very easy for me. As Paul said, such an opportunity is in fact a great honor and a humbling privilege!

  21. yuki says:

    “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put” is often misquoted to Churchill, but he never said that. It was in a memo sent around the same time, written by some unknown aide. Also, the title isn’t grammatically incorrect because it’s not a sentence. As an individual clause there are no problems with it.

  22. Paul says:

    Hey Yuki! Yup, I was aware that Churchill possibly didn’t say that, though sources differ as to who actually did. Regardless, the quote is attributed to him, and it seems like the sort of thing he would have said, anyway.

  23. Clara '10 says:

    MUSIC correction: Paul has the right idea, but I’d like to clarify the Emerson system. All undergrads have an opportunity to audition for the Emerson scholarship. This program pairs you up with a local teacher (or you can find your own). You pay for your ten one-hour lessons in the fall semester ($700, as of last year), and the program pays for your lessons in the spring. You’re also required to be in a performing ensemble (such as MITSO, MITWE, or chamber music) for the whole year.

    The Emerson Fellowship, for which you are eligible after one full year as a Scholar, covers lesson expenses for the entire year, with an additional master-class seminar required.

    The music department here is amazing, and I’d definitely encourage you to explore the website and learn a little more about it. In fact, you can earn a Bachelor of Science in Music degree!

    @Keri: the Brass Rat is totally a good enough reason to come here. First, it’s awesome. Second, it could get you a job or a business deal some time in the future. Whoo!

  24. Paul says:

    Thanks for the extra information and clarification, Clara!

  25. Gaurav says:

    Hey, I finished school this April. I’ll be applying to MIT this year – regular decision though, as I’m an international student.
    But I’m not sure how to go about Mid year reports now since I’m already over with school. I already have all grade reports. So should I be submitting all grade report forms together? (talking with respect to all univs here)

    Oh and btw, do you know Hemant Yadav? smile

  26. Paul says:

    @Gaurav: You don’t have to worry about the Mid-year Report at all, since that is only for students in US systems. Since you’ve already graduated, I think the most practical option is for you to submit all your grades at the same time.

    (It might also be a good idea to include explanation of why you didn’t apply to colleges during your last year of school, as well as some information about what you’ve been doing since graduating.)

  27. Gaurav says:

    Well last time i got really late with stuff, so just applied to stanford (fin. aid did me in! ) , northwestern and suny plattsburgh. Not too happy smile . Well, just going on with engineering entrance exams right now. IIT-jee and the others. And not doing much basically, just waiting for the application process to be declared open! :So what do I say .

    PS- check out my blog smile

  28. Julian says:

    Aloha Paul! Hope all is good. I’ll be honest with you: My academic preparation is not as great as most students who got into MIT. Because of the lack of interest, my high school does not offer AP classes. I’ve had to take advantage of the dearth of Honors classes that my high school offered, and I really felt just unprepared for the academic rigor at MIT.

    Being a son of immigrants from China, I totally agree with you-Being accepted into MIT is defintely a priviledge, honor, and just being grateful for this opportunity.

    I am still unsure where i want to go, but my gut is telling me MIT. and speaking of churchill, he was the one who said, “Success is going from failure from failure without losing enthusiasm.” If there are any more advice you have, I would love to hear from you. You’ve been really inspirational from the time i started reading your blogs(last november!!!) till now. thank you, mahalo, and god bless!

  29. Hawkins says:

    @Guarav – As Paul already pointed out, you won’t be needing a mid-year report. Just have your school send your complete transcript (all grade report forms).

    The MIT application asks for a separate sheet explaining what you’ve been doing since the end of high school. Working, researching, helping your family… there are no wrong answers here, but your answer should show that you’ve made good use of your time (i.e., not just waiting for the application process to open up again because you didn’t have time for it last year).

    I applied after I finished high school too – if you have any other questions about it, feel free to post them here.

  30. Gaurav says:

    Thanks Hawkins, feels good to hear you applied after high school too. Okay, I’ll mention my activities during the year.
    Will contact you for further assistance if needed smile

  31. l would like to to register..cos am a Sport Guy and luve to know more about your School..Thank Ya…