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MIT staff blogger Kim Hunter '86

Undercover Admissions Officer by Kim Hunter '86

...or how I saw the campus through "fresh eyes".

I have confession to make…it’s somewhat embarrassing but I think it’s time I come clean. I had never been on an MIT campus tour. Yes, you heard me…I had never been on a campus tour…before yesterday, that is.

It makes sense when you think about it. I arrived on campus for freshman orientation and jumped right in, learning the campus as a student. What did I need a tour for, I was “living the dream” and could find everything I needed. When I came back to MIT to work (three years ago this week, I might add, yeah me :-) I already knew where everything was. Sure, I kept telling myself that I should take the time and see what it is the tour guides say about the campus as they show off this place, but I just never got around to it. Every time I made time to go something came up, someone stopped by to see me, or worse yet…it rained and why on earth would I willingly slog around the campus in a large group in the pouring rain…that was just crazy. But, I was beginning to feel guilty. I know most of the tour guides, several live in my house and I appreciate seeing their helpful faces at the end of my information sessions. The time had come!

You all have met Alina, one of our newest bloggers. Well, I first saw Alina when she came to pick up students for tours after sessions when she was a new tour guide. The following summer when I went to talk about becoming a Residential Advisor, she was involved in the discussion and now I see her every day in the house, on campus, or as I cross the bridge on my way home. Well, I ran into her on Monday night and mentioned that I wanted to go on a tour but didn’t want the other people on the tour to know I worked in Admissions instead wanting them to get pay attend to the tour guide not spend their time asking me questions. Alina assured me that if I went on her tour, she wouldn’t “rat me out.”

So, yesterday I went on a tour incognito…but how does one do that exactly? How does one stop looking like an Admissions Officer? Well you wear jeans, tennis shoes, and a nondescript shirt. Is bright red truly nondescript, I wonder, oh well, I may have screwed that one up. Most importantly you put your staff id in your back pocket and listen with rapt interest at everything the tour guide says, but of course, you’d want to do that anyway ‘cuz this is MIT after all, right?

So what did I learn? Lots of it I already knew, but it certainly didn’t hurt to be reminded about some of the coolest places on our campus. Looking at it day after day you tend to forget about some of the significance of various buildings and the little details that make it special. I don’t want to give away all the little details, because then you wouldn’t need the tour, but I did find myself looking at the place carefully, trying to view the campus the way I would if I had never seen it before, with “fresh eyes” as it were. The truth is, I still find new cool places on campus, even after hanging around here for a very long time and seeing the place through Alina’s eyes and her words yesterday gave me a new view.

Now I’m sure that no two tours are exactly the same any more than two Admission Officers’ information sessions are. What makes them special is the stories that the tour guides share. I’ve known Alina for two years now, but I never knew how she got her first UROP, just that she has had several at this point. I heard about where she lived on campus when she was a freshman, how she manages her time between studying and athletics and where she likes to study when she’s not at the house. And of course, the story of Oliver Smoot never gets old for me, especially since I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him, as well as his wife at a reunion on campus a couple of years ago. And since one of my favorite places on campus is the Great Court I loved hearing the oo’s and ah’s as we stood there surrounding by the buildings hearing about the hacks of days gone by.

So if you come to campus, I hope you’ll take a tour. You won’t be sorry and perhaps I’ll see you there. I figure that now that I’ve heard Alina’s story, I’ll need to drop in on the others guides’ tours to fully understand their view of this special place that we all call home. And when you do, I’ll look forward to seeing you there. I’ll be the one skulking in the back, in the red shirt…listening to every word!

19 responses to “Undercover Admissions Officer”

  1. Banerjee says:

    FIRST =)
    (sorry.)

    but this is a really nice post!

  2. Samer Dib says:

    Hello, maybe it’s not the right placce to ask this question but do you know when will the application will be available?

  3. BHunter says:

    What my sister was not aware of, since she was off getting acclimated to the start of her college career, is that the rest of our family DID take a tour. This gave our mother the opportunity to try and find potential boyfriends for her daughter, as well as determine which dorms she felt were preferable. The overall experience was very helpful for the rest of us in learning to speak “Institute” to communicate effectively.

  4. Zak says:

    @Samer Dib:

    Application is available since this morning. Go to

    https://my.mit.edu

  5. ChrisN says:

    Hello sorry to bother you
    But i am a student from the UK, i’ve just tried to enter details for my High school several times, but the system keeps refusing to save the data, it comes up on the preview of the PDF, but the validation tool doesn’t recognize it.
    Any possible help would be amazing.

  6. Jack says:

    You might want to take a tour of a more citrus variety

  7. Samer Dib says:

    @Zak
    @ChrisN

    Hi,
    I have seen information about my EC interviewer but I cant see the application yet on my.mit.edu!!!
    can you already see the application? (parts 1 & 2)?

  8. pdowling says:

    I can’t seem to view any application forms, it tells me that the pages are no longer available for 2009 applicants (I applied last year already, on the same mymit account). Do I need to register a new account to apply again? When I tried that, the system gave me an error message that said that another account is already registered with this information (of course).

  9. Jason(: says:

    Campus tours are great! :D

  10. ChrisN says:

    @Samer Dib

    erm yeah i seem to be able to do both parts, just that the validation tool isn’t working for me.

  11. Juhee says:

    I’ll be incognito on a tour next week too!

    Trying to decide if I want Alina or Connie as my guide :]

  12. KJ says:

    So unfortunate that I’m 14 hours away by flight from Boston >So unfortunate that I’m 14 hours away by flight from Boston >< I wish I could visit MIT!

    @ChrisN, Jason, Samer Dib: Something is wrong with my application as well. I can’t accessible part I or part II.

  13. Bivatsu says:

    I am a high school student studying in an international IB school.
    I would like to know about the required subjects and their required
    Levels to get into your school of architecture. ( eg: Math higher level)
    Thank you. =]

  14. Samer Dib says:

    @KJ

    I have sent them an email on friday asking about that but they havent replied yet

  15. Sarah says:

    Nice post. I am taking my tour on the 30th and now I am really looking forward to it. Hope to see you there! (even if I won’t recognize you)

  16. tashi says:

    My daughter is in class eight and she wants to apply in mit, so at which class does she can apply?

  17. Dylan says:

    I know this is off topic from your blog, but I cannot comment on your blogs you created a year ago about interviews. As an EC, do you appreciate hearing about someone’s passion for other things like band, or would you rather hear about math and science things? My school has little opportunities to do things with science and math so being a drum major and playing the trumpet are some of my true passionate activities.

  18. adepoju noah says:

    it will be nice to meet a friend

  19. Kim '86 says:

    @All For your questions about the application, see Matt’s latest entry: http://www.mitadmissions.org/topics/apply/the_freshman_application/the_mit_application_is_now_ava.shtml

    @Dylan When I was an EC I wanted to hear about all those things but you raise a great point. I think I’ll ask several ECs and report back to you all. How about that?