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MIT student blogger Jess K. '10

Things to Do While Waiting for Decisions by Jess K. '10

Like elevator music, except without the awkwardness of standing next to a stranger whose priorities obviously do not include showering.

A couple weeks ago someone asked what I did to pass the time while I was waiting for early action decisions. I know there’s no real way you can get it off your mind completely; after all, you’re on the MIT admissions site right now reading about MIT students’ lives. But there are a few things I can think of..

Things To Do While Waiting For College Admissions Decisions

1. Dream about getting into colleges that don’t exist. (Direct quote from a friend last year – “I had a dream that I got into ‘Belle and Sebastian University.’ I was like, ‘Belle and Sebastian! Awesome, I got into my back-up school!!'”)
2. Have long talks with your friends about your future. Then write a song about it. Preferably in the style of ’80s hair metal. (“Next year I’m going to college, and there we will gain lots of knowledge…”)
3. Think hard about not being one of those people who lists all the colleges they got into in their AIM profile. (As much fun as it is being pompous and loathed by everybody, just don’t do it. Nobody likes that guy. You don’t want to be that guy, do you?)
4. Learn to cook a new dish. (Like those spam recipes you get in the advertisements on your spam folder page in Gmail.)
5. Write thank-you letters to your teachers who wrote your recommendations and read your essays, your guidance counselors, even your teachers who didn’t do anything specifically towards your applications but you like talking to, or whatever. It doesn’t matter whether or not they directly helped you get in; these people helped shape who you are today. (Write one to your mother, while you’re at it. She’s a good lady.)
6. Make ublec. One part cornstarch, one part water. Enjoy! (Even if you’re not waiting for college decisions, this is something you should do. Even if you’re the one writing college recommendation letters. Seriously, Ms. Schutz, I highly recommend it.)
7. Go to class and keep those grades up. Avoid unhealthy things like doing drugs, going to jail, or eating trans fats. (It’s all fun and games until someone gets coronary heart disease.)
8. Check out the schools you applied to or are planning to apply to, if you can. (Seriously, nothing excites us more than hosting prefrosh. And Grey’s Anatomy. But mostly prefrosh.)
9. Pass your last physics exam by epic proportions. NO WAIT, THAT WAS ME. HAHAHA! I RULE. I mean.. who said that?
10. Not think about it. (College? Your mom goes to college.)

So there you have it. Plenty of options to get you through the next 6-ish days! Hope your Thanksgivings were full of food and family and laughter – mine (as well as the recent discovery that my guy friends on the fourth floor have Guitar Hero II) was part of the reason this entry is so overdue, as I slacked way too much and didn’t even think about the chemistry test I had this Wednesday (my bad). I guess I don’t regret it too much since I was having so much crazy fun with my family, especially when my cousin Kerrie and I got matching haircuts. But that’s a story for another time.. anyway, family togetherness is always welcome. Well.. almost always.

Kerrie: Hey, if you’re American in the living room, what’re you in the bathroom?
Elsa: What?
Kerrie: European!

Elsa: Hey, Sunmi, if you’re American in –

51 responses to “Things to Do While Waiting for Decisions”

  1. busybody says:

    It is ridiculuous to have time to think about admissions. We are all so busy anyway. That was my take toward applying as well. People were like “I’ve spent a month on my essay” and, as I started my essay 5 hours before the deadline, I thougt, “How do you have a month to write an essay?” Not that I did not care enough about MIT to start earlier; that’s just the way my life operates–too busy for college applications. I wonder how I have time to write this blog!

    Though of the above suggestions, #5 sounds okay. We owe those people so much.

  2. Dan Beard says:

    I just set up an unofficial MIT admissions forum. It’s all function and no form right now, but I’ll work on making it pretty tonight. Anywho, if you still can’t find anything to do while you’re waiting then head over there and start up a conversation!

  3. Jeff H says:

    mmmmm Kings of Convenience University…

  4. '09 mom says:

    Write one to your mother, while you’re at it. She’s a good lady.)

    Hi, Jess! On behalf of neglected moms everywhere, THANK YOU! I so enjoy reading your entries–you somehow manage to combine informative with brilliantly insightful, hysterically funny, and all done in a very casual, subtle, effortlessly entertaining way! If your parents would like to switch kids, they can have my ’09 East Campus son and I will gladly adopt you!

    Now I hope your folks will know I’m just kidding about the adoption so we won’t have another “falling leaf” crisis here! grin

  5. Chris says:


    This is why we have =) (though it is a TAD bit unhealthy…)

  6. Keri says:


    I can run around singing “I Don’t Love Anyone” ALL DAY LONG. It will be amazing.

    And Jeff H can have people singing softly to him at Kings of Convenience University. (Speaking of, there’s a great band for you. WHY MUST I MAKE EVERYTHING ABOUT THE MUSIC?!)

  7. Austin says:

    I got in to the Sufjan Stevens Institute of Technology!

    And #2 is a very good suggestion. Long talks in the form of ’80s-esque songs relieves much anxiety.

  8. Jess says:

    busybody, I hope you’re not saying that you’re so busy you don’t even have time to think. Take some time off, dude. One of my fondest memories of high school was the day I called in sick and took a nap under a tree. Try it.

    ’09 mom, you are very sweet. That custody battle would be very ugly, though, ’cause my mother is a fierce woman (I have to get it from somewhere!)

    Austin – is it too late to transfer to SSIT, do you know?

  9. Kelly says:

    haha, that stuff is called ublec? I got in trouble for making it in middle school — my stepmom was mad that I wasted her cornstarch.

  10. Kelly says:

    Nice options, but I choose number 11: practice scales obsessively. (District band competitions are the same day as MIT decisions!)

  11. Colin says:

    Now I’m listening to Belle & Sebastian and it’s making me feel SO HAPPY. Thx for reminding me of them. :D

    Also, your entries are amazing and I hate you. (Love, actually — OH MAN LIKE THE MOVIE TITLE I’M CLEVER)

  12. Suggestion 9. made me laugh. When I got 100 on a Calculus test earlier this semester, I wrote a Facebook note about how much I love it. But I didn’t say what I love, and all of my friends thought I was talking about a girl. They wanted to know who she was.
    Also, I applied to Miskatonic University. Check it out at:

  13. Guyomar says:

    I agree that I find nothing more irritating than a paragraph detailing SAT scores, GPA, class rank, and all the wonderful colleges a person gained entrance to. Perhaps I’m just jealous wink I just feel that there’s no need to boast/show off, even thought it can be very tempting. The people who have impressed me most have been those who have accomplished incredible things, but who don’t blow their horn…

  14. Justin says:

    Suggestion #4 is my summer diet.

  15. Willy says: doesn’t help, either….


    congrats on your triumphal ownage of the physics exam though.

  16. Vu Truong says:

    AHHHHH!!! I LOVE Belle & Sebastian and Sufjan Stevens. Here I was thinking that as soon as I go to university I’d stop being around music I enjoyed. This post really made my day. If we’re throwing out recommendations, I also suggest The Boy Lacks Patience, another gem from Scotland.

  17. Shawn says:

    Ah, your post added some much needed levity to the waiting game. Thanks smile

  18. Kristina says:

    I totally agree with number 5…I was planning to buy everyone that helped me some insanely good Christmas present or like give them the biggest hug imaginable if I got in. Then again, that might be a bit creepy now that I think about the whole hug part. I think I’ll stick to chocolates or something.

  19. Melissa H says:

    I just went to Office Depot to buy an eraser and some paper…

    … and I saw a Frogger 3D game.

    I now have something to do for the week.


  20. Andrew says:

    This was a funny entry. Very cute.

    The only AP’s I did not take are art and english. It’s odd because if you take AP calculus you cannot take AP English and vice versa. It never occurred to them that someone might want to take both…Not that I want to…just saying.

  21. Jillian says:

    I’ll attempt some of those. I especially like #2, though I have never written a song before.

  22. L says:

    I suddenly feel a whole lot better that my essay focused on how I became a pirate.

    Oh, man. Do not get me started on District Band. For the past two years, I’ve only seen the prepared piece the day of the audition. But not this year. I will pwnz0r. I can feel it!

  23. Unofficial MIT Admissions chatroom!

    I just set up an Apache web server on my computer, and am hosting a piece of freeware chat software on it. I’ll keep the server running at least until decisions, so if you’d like to talk to people about admissions, you can do it here!

    No sign up or anything is required. grin

    Unofficial MIT Admissions Chat Room

    Please let me know if you have any problems at [email protected]


    P.S. Please bookmark the page if you plan to come back. Unfortunately I don’t own a domain name, so I’m stuck with giving you the IP address link.

  24. Elizabeth says:

    I’m way ahead of you there on the song front- my friend and I already wrote lyrics to Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue” about our futures.

  25. Elizabeth says:

    and Dan Beard- how do you have time to make various countdown clocks (which I of course appreciate) AND make chat sites etc.? While I spend all my time dreaming about MIT (well, as much as is healthy), I can double task. which busybody needs to do too, by the way. Thinking about MIT takes no time at all!

  26. crippy says:

    I agree with busybody…I won’t have time to worry about admissions: I don’t even have time to apply!!!!
    Surely this was an exxageration, but that’s the main idea.

  27. Yeah… Awesome suggestions some of them… I have already written a song about my last BIG crush even though i am not awaiting early action decisions… I am applying regular action…!!! Anxious, too soon???

  28. So it kicked me off the chat room and I can’t get back on, but it was cool chatting with all of you and I’ll probably be back soon. Peace smile

  29. Qichen says:

    Belle & Sebastian University. I’d like to sign up for Engine Driver 101, please.

  30. Qichen says:

    In my excitement of the mention of Isobel Campbell, I forgot to ask my question. =/ My apologies.

    I am a hopeful future MIT applicant, like many others who read your blog, and I was wondering: is there an unofficial number of AP courses a student has to take to be accepted? The only reason I ask is because I’m signing up for senior classes next year pretty soon, and I have to choose between an elective art class that I’d love to take and AP US History (which sounds interesting, but I’d prefer art). Will MIT look at that and say, “Oh, this girl is slacking off because she chose a flimsy art class instead of AP?”

    Thank you!

  31. Shawn says:

    Andrew: Your school wouldn’t let you take both AP calc and AP English? That’s weird. I did both, though, so it definately is allowed.

  32. Brandy says:

    Those are cute ideas.

    I like the idea of sending a thank you letter to the teachers and guidance counselor I totally forgot! They were a big help, and instead of ublec maybe I’ll try making some fudge for them.

  33. Colin says:

    Qichen — there is no unofficial number of APs that you should take, and you should always go with your passion! If art is what you love, take the elective. Never take a class just because it’s AP; take it because you really want to.

    If your school offers 28 APs and you take only one, then it might not look too good, but in general, the difference that one more AP class will make is negligible compared to the regret you’ll feel not taking a class you really want to take.

  34. Sam says:

    heh, thanks for the link. I finally got around to reading the blogs this week… I’m such a bad blogger anymore. I should be scourged.

    Anyway, I would totally get an A+ in “Your Cover’s Blown” at Belle and Sebastian university

  35. Nina says:

    I love JKim. She is hot.

    Congrats on the physics exam thing. I LOVE epic proportions. YOU MYTHOLOGICALLY FLAYED YOUR PHYSICS EXAM. Etc.

  36. KimJ says:

    Haha, spam recipes… those crack me up every time I have to empty the folder…

    But isn’t is “oobleck”? Like the book?

    Excellent piece of literature, that.

  37. milena says:

    I will keep #3 in mind if I do get in. Showing off is not cool at all. I enjoyed your post, I think that it helped us EA applicants a lot, I know it helped me! because I’m very very nervous about the decisions… hopefully everything will work out nicely for all of us!

  38. Stop posting such amazing blog entries! The only purpose they serve is to make the denied majority feel even worse that they will never get to meet the amazing people that are MIT students. Why don’t you post something boring, like an explanation of you psets? No wait, that’s pretty exciting in itself. *sigh* I can’t win. Everything that goes on there is awesome.

  39. Well that’s disappointing. I tried to put “irony” HTML tags in my last comment, but apparently the parser thought they were real tags and didn’t recognize them. Or perhaps it’s designed to eliminate all HTML tags from comments. That takes all the fun out.

  40. I promise I’m not spamming. I’m just testing the comment system. Apparently it does recognize basic HTML tags. Cool!
    OK, I am officially annoying now. I’ll shut up.

  41. Keri says:


    I would post explanations of my 18.02 psets, but i barely understand them myself.

    Also, everything else is just so much more awesome. Wait, this isn’t what I should be talking about.

  42. DCHEN says:

    Jkim, Jkim, Jkim, you forgot to mention compulsive Starcraft-ing in your list of healthy things to do during Admissions Anticipation Aweek!

    heyheyHEYYY! PHYSICS! :D

  43. Aneysi says:

    11. rrreeeeellllllaaaaxxxxx


  44. kerrie says:

    your blogs are amazing. your haircut did turn out the best…. and you have the best cheek bones in the family! not fair! i, on the other hand, have a retro 80s hair cut that I have to punk out…. i’m a punk at age 27!

  45. nehalita says:

    you know the last thing you need is a new addiction…

  46. Anthony says:

    someone’s post is on the mit home page =)

  47. Karen says:

    I’ve got another thing for the list of things to do! Play Line Rider! It’s ridiculously addictive. I’v wasted about an hour today playing Line Rider when I should have been doing my government project or studying for calc. Well, at least it’s physics.

  48. kgold says:

    Good Luck to all 2011 EA applicants!

  49. I wrote about cornstarch suspensions (a.k.a. “oobleck”) in one of my MIT admissions essays. I got in. However, only the admissions committee could tell you whether they liked my off-the-wall analogy of why I perform best under intense academic pressure. Maybe they green-lighted me in spite of it.

    My apologies to Jess, but I was seriously underwhelmed by this list of “Things to Do.” I think it would be more fitting for MIT to offer some suggestions with inherent geek appeal. Heaven forbid anyone mistake this blog as coming out of the admissions office of the liberal arts college up the street!

    So, in support of the Institute’s distinctive reputation, here’s an alternative list with…

    5 Shamelessly Geeky Things to Do While Waiting for MIT’s Admissions Decision

    <ol><li>Read up on non-Newtonian fluids. (The Science Buddies site has a nice overview, while the Wikipedia entry has some sexy technical terminology—and a graph.)</li>

    <li>Scope out the cutting-edge research underway at MIT’s Non-Newtonian Fluid Dynamics Research Group. (Think: potential UROP.)</li>

    <li>Watch this awesome YouTube video of people running across the surface of a non-Newtonian pool.</li>

    <li>Assume that the pool in #3 was filled with oobleck and calculate the approximate cost of the cornstarch required. (Warning: The correct ratio of cornstarch to water is NOT 1:1 as stated above.)</li>

    <li>Get into the spirit of peer-reviewed research, and post the result of your calculation from #4. Include your supporting assumptions. Remember, you can submit posts here through December 31.</li></ol>

    Bonus Suggestion:

    When you get to MIT, enhance campus life by hosting an “oobleck pool party” at your living group. It’s a lot less technically intensive than a permanent installation like the First East Disco Dance Floor. And it’s probably even more fun. Just make sure that your oobleck is GREEN! You can source green food coloring over the internet quite economically in bulk quantities (e.g. a Durkee 16-ounce bottle for about $5).

    A special note for hard-core geeks: If the order of magnitude calculation above isn’t sufficiently challenging for you, congratulations. Feel free to determine the second 10-digit prime in consecutive digits of e instead.

  50. Jess says:

    Hi Ms. Hietala,
    I’m glad that you read my post, and that you continue to support MIT by reading the blogs, even if you just saw the link on! I hope you continue to do so.

    I wrote the post intended for all seniors, not just those applying to MIT early action (or even at all). Obviously those who are on the site have an interest in MIT, towards whom your list is quite pertinent, but most, if not all, are intending to apply to other colleges, many of which do not offer such insights into their students’ lives like MIT blogs do. If you’ll notice, the title of the list is “Things To Do While Waiting For College Admissions Decisions”, rather than “MIT Admissions Decisions” specifically. I do recognize that I am a representative of MIT, and as such should encourage high school seniors to cultivate their geeky sides as much as possible, but as a recent high school graduate and an MIT freshman who realizes life here is stressful enough (as well as one of eleven student bloggers, all of which celebrate their nerdiness regularly), I also want to get across the point that worrying too much (especially at this stage in the admissions process) is fruitless. I know several high school students well enough, and I feel like I know my readers well enough, to realize that if I posted a bunch of math problems for them to solve while waiting for decisions I would probably cause a lot of unnecessary stress. I’ve tried to keep the mood light by filling my writing with humor – still, I’m not really saying that writing a song in the style of ’80s hair metal is the optimal way to get into MIT.

    I honestly doubt that anyone reading my MIT admissions blog would mistake it as coming out of the admissions office of the “liberal arts college up the street”; however, I do believe MIT is stigmatized as the nerds-only work-yourself-to-death crazy-school (having received such questions as “All my buddies tell me MIT is for a bunch of nerds who have no life. Is that true? Can you have a stronger interest in your liberal art courses and still have a good chance of making it in MIT?”), and I’ve made it my personal goal to dispel this rumor. Having graduated from MIT very recently, you must remember the plethora of HASS classes and extracurricular activities (as I type this backstage waiting for our dance show to start) available to The Institute’s multifaceted student body. Perhaps I overemphasize this side of MIT, but it is only in the interest of making it known, as the myriad opportunities continue to be unrecognized by high school students and their parents today.

    That being said, I did enjoy your list and appreciate the effort you must have put into compiling it. Again, I am truly grateful that you continue to read this humble writer’s efforts and hope to receive more of your comments in the future.

  51. Andrea says:

    Another thing that’s amusing… is cooking flour in a pan over low heat (yeah… just flour) until it turns light brown
    then just add water a sugar 0_o

    (… it’s like porridge! but not quite… or just flour tea….
    it scared me the first time i saw it too..)