Okay, now for the next post addressing one of your requested topics.
Question: “What about Are Four years enough to get advantage of all the resources MIT has to offer for a student?”
In a word, no. No matter how much you take advantage of what MIT has to offer, there are going to be classes that you wish you’d taken, programs that you wish you’d done, activities that you wish you’d tried, people that you wish you’d gotten to know better or would have liked but never got a chance to meet, and more. The key is to try to maximize what you do get out of MIT.
For example, I think that I’ve done an okay, if not great, job taking advantage of IAP. IAP provides a huge number of experiences to take advantage of. Here is what I have done during IAP as an MIT student.
Freshman year (IAP ’04): Took 18.02A for 12 units. Re-learned to ice skate. Practiced intensively for crew (I was on lightweight crew as a freshman). Not really the most exciting IAP…I didn’t fully understand how much there was out there.
Sophomore year (IAP ’05): Took a PE class in foil fencing. Attended a few classes with MIT’s American Jiu-Jitsu Club, including a “knife defense” one that I went to because it sounded exciting. :) Participated in Mystery Hunt as a member of the team Project Electric Mayhem. Worked on building cat shelters and fixing bikes for poor kids with Alpha Phi Omega. Took a guided tour of the MIT Cogeneration Plant.
Sounds fun, right? But there are a bunch of things I have not done during IAP that would have been fun or useful to do, including the glassblowing class that I felt like half the freshmen on 5th East did last year, an IAP UROP or internship, various SIPB classes, and 2.670.
I’ve been at MIT for three years. Some things that I have and haven’t done, broken down by category…
Yes: Found a wonderful living group that has been so much more than merely adequate to me. Participated fully in Dorm Rush and Hall Rush as a frosh. Fought in the annual water war during Dorm Rush. Helped build stuff for Dorm Rush. Helped out with parties on my hall. Helped choose new housemasters for my dorm. Painted my room. Helped repaint the black section of the hall black.
No: Never been a hall chair, a hall rush chair, a dorm rush chair, or a member of my dorm’s exec. Never designed and painted a hall mural (at least not yet – I still have another year). Never built anything really nifty for my room. Didn’t really do FSILG Rush.
Classes (that I wanted to take)
Yes: Took 6.001, 6.004, and MASLab. Took upper-level poli sci classes. Took a lot of cool course 9 classes.
No: Never took 6.002. Never took any MechE classes (which I wanted to). Never took 4.301 or Concert Choir. Never took 6.805.
Yes: Did a UROP, and in fact did multiple UROPs. Did an engineering-related UROP (in a joint Brain & Cognitive Sciences/Nuclear Engineering lab). Did autism-related research, which I have always wanted to do because my brother is autistic. Did research in a foreign country.
No: Never published a paper (at least not yet). Never got a patent. Never worked at the Media Lab. Never did iGEM.
Yes: Did lots of student government work…and accomplished tangible results. Was Undergraduate Association Vice President. Played a varsity sport (if only for a year). Been in APO and the Assassins’ Guild. Was a chapter editor for How to GAMIT. Wrote an article for Voodoo. Am on the MASLab teaching/lab/development staff. Was published in the Tech.
No: Never got around to joining American Jiu Jitsu (maybe some day I’ll fix that). Wasn’t in any of those special learning communities like ESG or Terrascope. Haven’t written a Guild game yet. Never played an intramural sport. Didn’t get to be Undergraduate Association President.
Yes: Met and/or took classes from lots of interesting and famous professors, including Nobel Laureate Philip Sharp (I didn’t take a class from him, he was my freshman advisor).
No: Lots more interesting and famous professors that I haven’t met or taken classes from.
So don’t worry about whether you’ll be able to take advantage of everything MIT has to offer for you. You won’t. Even if you stay at MIT for grad school, you won’t. Just do what you can. Build memories. There is always more to do. You will never have to feel like there’s not enough out there for you. :)