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Time-sensitive matters by Matt McGann '00

Lots of questions waiting to be answered, but for today I’ll just tackle those extremely time-sensitive questions from students still deciding…

“Anonymous” wrote, “I have a Q: is MIT gay-friendly? (intl here)”

I don’t know if any decisions hinge on this question, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Eric (MIT Class of 2009) helped out first by writing, “Anon — MIT is probably one of the most gay-friendly schools I visited.”

As an international, I don’t know how much you follow American politics, but right now perhaps the biggest hot-button issue is gay marriage rights. Currently, Massachusetts is the only state where gay marriage is legal. The very first state-sanctioned same-sex marriage in the USA occurred at Cambridge City Hall, a mile or so north of MIT. The campus newspaper soon after ran a nice story about those MIT couples who exchanged vows. Legally and culturally, Massachusetts/Cambridge is quite gay-friendly.

On campus, there are many resources, most detailed at the [email protected] website. During CPW, I had the opportunity to check out the brand new Rainbow Lounge, which was pretty sweet. For much more information about gay life at and around MIT, I highly recommend the Lavender Guide.

“May 2 why so soon?” wrote, “Hi Matt, I know this might be a bit late for you to answer in time, but i’m STILL struggling to decide between Yale and MIT. I love science but I’m also very interested in International Relations and would like to study abroad in China. Can you tell me about MIT’s programs in those areas and would MIT not be the right place for me if I decide to not major in science? As for applying to law school – they should be aware of MIT’s harder academics take that into consideration when looking at GPA right?”

With two great choices like MIT and Yale, you can’t go wrong. Hopefully I can help a bit by shedding some light on MIT’s resources.

In International Relations (IR) , you’ll find bunches of resources in the Center for International Studies, an interdisciplinary (like so much of MIT) center focused on research and teaching in development studies, comparative politics, international relations, social movements, security studies, and international science and technology. You’ll find a good number of IR courses in the Political Science department, among others. You can major, double major, or minor in Political Science, or minor in Applied International Studies.

As for going abroad to China, MIT also has some good resources. This is coordinated through the MIT International Science & Technology Initiative, which has some awesome abroad programs like the MIT-China Program and the MIT China Educational Technology Initiative. I’ve had friends who through this program worked on the Three Gorges Dam, brought the Internet to rural areas of China, taught English, science, and math to students, and more.

You also ask, “would MIT not be the right place for me if I decide to not major in science?” This was one of my concerns, too. I knew I liked math & science, and that I had talent in and enjoyed those areas. I also liked MIT’s culture the most of the schools I was considering. But still, I had an inkling I might not end up in science & technology (and, as you know, that inkling was ultimately true). It wasn’t until I really looked at MIT’s course catalog and looked closely at MIT’s offerings and faculty in humanities, arts, and social sciences. For me, after this careful consideration, I decided not to choose one of the more “well-rounded” schools I had considered, but rather go with my gut and choose the school I felt the best fit with, MIT.

As you know, I ended up in the social sciences at MIT, and was quite happy. I considered many social science majors, including Economics, Political Science, and Urban Studies & Planning before ending up in Management Science.

As for law school, I don’t know much about their admissions process, but I do know that of my MIT friends who chose to become lawyers, things turned out well. I have/had friends in law school at Georgetown, the University of Virginia, the University of California-Los Angeles, Boston University, and Harvard. I also know from traveling the country and meeting with our alumni educational counselors that many MIT alums end up as very successful lawyers.

Good luck to all of you still making decisions!

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