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Visiting MIT & Boston colleges by Matt McGann '00

Some tips for checking out MIT and Boston this summer.

Summer is a great time to visit colleges in Boston. There are more than 50 colleges and universities in Greater Boston, making it easy to visit a variety of colleges from one base. Most of the major universities are on subway lines, so renting a car (and trying to navigate Boston roads) is not necessary. And Boston is an exciting, historic city that offers something interesting for the entire family. (I know my parents loved getting to visit me here.)

MIT offers information sessions followed by campus tours twice daily, at 10am and 2pm, every weekday throughout the summer. No reservations are necessary.

The information sessions are 45 minutes in length and are conducted by admissions officers (I do one or two of these sessions each week). The information session provides an overview of MIT: its culture, academic environment, etc. The admissions officer will also discuss the application process and financial aid.

At the conclusion of the tour, student tour guides lead a tour of campus. Stops include the Athletic Center, the Student Center, academic buildings including “Main Campus” and the Stata Center, Killian Court (have your camera ready), libraries, and, during the summer only, a student dorm room. The tour lasts approximately 75 minutes.

After your session and tour, we hope you’ll explore MIT a bit on your own, visiting departments, labs, food establishments, and more. You can visit the Admissions Reception Center (Room 10-100) to get a campus map, the brochure “The Exploration Equation” which suggests some interesting places to visit at MIT that aren’t on the tour, and, of course, some friendly advice. We can also suggest some good places to get lunch or dinner on campus or in the neighborhoods around MIT.

Here are my “top tips” for your summer MIT visit:

  • The busiest sessions/tours here are usually on Mondays and Fridays. If you’d like to be at somewhat smaller information sessions and tours, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are good bets.

  • Allow lots of time to get to MIT. There is lots of construction going on around campus and in Boston; our campus can be difficult to navigate for first-time visitors; and parking is notoriously tight. And, if you get here early, you can roam around and check things out before the information session starts.

  • Have lunch in our Student Center. There are lots of very yummy food options, and you’ll probably meet “real” students that you can chat with and from whom you can find out the “inside scoop.”

  • Check out the MIT Museum, open daily until 5pm. It’s worth it.

  • Hotels in Boston and near the colleges are often pretty expensive. I generally think, however, that the location of these hotels makes them much more appealing than the cheaper hotels, which are usually quite out of the way. Do your best to find deals for the better hotels on the web. I think you’ll really appreciate choosing a hotel with a good location.

  • Visit other schools while you’re here. Boston really is a great college town.

Below, I’ve listed the timings for information sessions at MIT and other Boston area colleges frequently visited by our guests. Usually, a session/tour combo will last 2 to 2.5 hours. Check each school’s web site for more information.

Timings for Boston-area Information Sessions, Summer 2006

I hope this was helpful! How else can I help with your summer visit? For those of you who plan to visit, please leave your questions in the comments; I will answer them in future entries. For families who have already visited, feel free to leave your advice on visiting MIT and Boston in the comments; I will pass that advice on in the posts to come.

11 responses to “Visiting MIT & Boston colleges”

  1. Christina says:

    When my family travels to Boston to visit my brother at BU (and in the future, me at MIT!) we book hotels through http://www.priceline.com. The trick is that you have to use the traditional priceline technique in which you enter a credit card number, an area of Boston, a date, a number of hotel-quality-stars, and a bid. If your bid is accepted, you’ve purchased the room.

    We’ve been able to book for anywhere between $100 and $150 less than the hotel’s advertised price.

    As for air fare, http://www.cheapoair.com is pretty awesome.

  2. Mia says:

    1) Walk the freedom trail (preferably on a sunny day.)

    2) Take a DUK tour (starts from the Boston Museum of Science)and learn how to quack like a duck…

    3) Check out the exhibits at the Boston Museum of Science.

    4) Eat pizza at Bertucci’s and Chicago Pizza, burgers at the “Miracle of Science” restaurant on Mass Ave.,ice cream at Toscannini’s (very near “miracle…,” also served at “miracle…”), and tacos at Anna’s in the student center.

    5) Ring the bells at Kendall Square station

    6) Go shopping in Harvard Square.

    7) Visit the Northend, especially now (Go Italy!), and get dessert at Mike’s Pastries.

    that’s all I can think of right now! smile

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t know if my advice means anything as I’m a lowly rising high school senior, but if you’re going to tour Harvard I would suggest doing MIT first, because I foud the MIT tour a lot more thorough and it made me think of all these questions I wish I had asked the Harvard people. And Harvard was pretty much my first campus tour ever, so, not knowing what to expect, I didn’t ask a lot of questions.

  4. Jon says:

    WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES/CLOTHING….especially if you’re doing multiple tours and info sessions in one day. You will be doing LOTS of walking….especially in the world’s second largest indoor corridor system (MIT!)

    Oh, and make sure your parents wear comfortable clothing and footwear….especially mothers. Believe me, its quite embarrassing while, walking through MIT, you blonde mother in her power suit decides she doesn’t want to wear heels anymore and walk around campus barefoot….

  5. Matt says:

    Here’s a recommendation for anyone wanting to visit Boston: Take your time! My mom and I went on an insane trip from VA (12-hour drive each way). We slept at a hotel, took a campus tour the next day, looked around a bit on our own, and headed back. The whole trip lasted less than 48 hours, and at least half of that was just driving raspberry Still, I loved the campus and will be happy to move in come August.

    P.S.-We’re flying in this time wink

  6. CM says:

    Thanks for the insight.

  7. Daniel says:

    Any chance the ’07 application is available to visitors yet? =)

  8. semenko says:

    My freshman seminar professor (Steve Banzaert, SP.789 – Failures in Enginering) has a good quote in The Times today about the Big Dig collapse:

    One expert on engineering failures, Stephen Banzaert, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the seriousness of the bolt problems.

    ТƒъAnything is built with an assumption that some part of it can fail,Тƒщ Professor Banzaert said. ТƒъTypically these things are overengineered to the point that they assume that youТƒфre going to get a bad batch of epoxy every once in a whileТƒщ or that a certain number of bolts each year will need to be replaced.

    ТƒъThe thing that would be really scary for me is if it turns out that everything was holding fine and all of a sudden they lost one bolt and the thing crashed down,Тƒщ he said. Finding a number of loose bolts could suggest that the solution is relatively simple: replace the bolts more often.

    ТƒъItТƒфs horrible. but if what comes out of this is you find out that their predictions on replacement time on these tiebacks were way off the mark, in theory they can just sort of recalibrate their maintenance schedule and everything will be fine.Тƒщ

  9. Shikhar says:

    Hey Matt,

    I am writing after a long time…how are you…Well as i did not get into MIT this year…i am going off to college at Worcester Polytechnic (thats near boston yay)…i am thinking about applying as a transfer so i needed to consult which courses i should look into and what kind of a performance i should maintain in college to be up and running for admission consideration….Also is there a time when prospective transfers can come visit….

  10. Maria says:

    As a 10-100 worker who secretly reads the blogs at work, my advice is as follows: bring H2O, sunscreen, an umbrella, and tons of questions. The tours are awesome, but if you’re not prepared for the weather (which changes every 15 minutes in Cambridge), then it’s much less fun. Bring lots of questions to ask us in 10-100 because we are _real_live_MIT_students_ who want nothing more than to answer your questions.

    My 2 cents. Hi, Matt!

  11. Erik Chen says:

    Try to find someone you know who’ll let you stay in their dorm for the duration of the visit. I stayed with a friend on East Campus during my visit earlier in the summer. The dorms really let you know what living there will be like, as opposed to what the campus looks like.