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MIT student blogger Jessie L. '07

What have I been doing this break? by Jessie L. '07

Well, I’ve been sleeping a lot. I don’t really understand why, during term, my body can’t normally sleep more than 8.5 hours in a night even if it pulled an all-nighter the night before, and considers 7 hours peachy keen and 6 hours adequate, but as soon as term’s done and I leave town, it considers itself deprived on less than 8.5 hours per night, and prefers 9 or 9.5. Ah, the mysteries of life.

Also, during term, my body is pretty happy with perhaps one snack, one sizeable meal, and one dessert most days – occasionally two meals and/or no dessert – but when I’m in Kentucky or Georgia it wants three decent-sized meals a day, at regular intervals, plus some snacking.

Anyway, other than sleeping and eating, I have:

– Played with my eight year-old brother
– Watched most of the complete series of Firefly, which I got for Christmas, with my sister
– Seen King Kong with my brother (the same brother as above, though I have a few of them)
– Reread lots of books that I haven’t read in a long time
– Attended my dad’s wedding and acquired a stepbrother, stepsister, and stepbrother-in-law
– Seen (and lived in, for a few days) my dad and stepmother’s huge new house in Woodstock, Georgia, a town which appears to be half farms and half subdivisions of very large houses
– Gone out to eat at an expensive steakhouse (after the wedding)
– Learned to play a card game called Hands & Feet
– Considered what classes I will take next term and preregistered
– Sent lots of emails and applications about future UROPs and summer internships
– Discussed a team name with my MASLab team
– Enjoyed the weather. Well, most of the weather (see below)
– Nearly been caught in a tornado with my sister while on a walk, which is to say that the tornado touched down perhaps two or three miles away, and we got very wet, and my sister’s umbrella got mostly destroyed

Things I still intend to do before I return to campus:

– Send more emails and applications about UROPs and internships
– Go through some of the MASLab tutorials so that I can be useful to the team once I get back in town and IAP starts
– Visit my old high school
– Watch the rest of Firefly

But in the meantime, you guys had questions. Here are some answers:

Tom asked: “I was wondering, do you know anything about transfer applications? I am a sophomore in college right now and would like to transfer to MIT for their electrical engineering program but am not sure how many transfer applicants get in and what the admissions office is looking in a transfer applicant. Thanks.”

To answer this, I contacted a close friend who was accepted to MIT as a transfer. Here’s what she said:

It’s effectively the same as the normal application, but there aren’t any interviews. You can also submit supplemental information, like a resume. Also, make sure you send your SAT scores early so you aren’t saddled with paying $30 for express sending!

The rate of acceptance for transfers is very low, but it can be done.

Aidan asked: “How much will we be at a disadvantage if we come to MIT after going to a pretty crappy high school? I went to a very rural, very public school in the middle of nowhere. My school graduate only about 60% of its students; most people end up dropping out and working or joing the army. I was accepted early action at MIT mainly because I think of some of my accomplishments as a pianist but I’m still worried that I won’t be able to compete academically.”

You know, I can’t speak for the people who selected you, but it’s also possible you were admitted in part because of the intelligence and character it shows to be able to succeed academically against such odds. :)

Anyway, I’ve observed that your situation isn’t as uncommon as you might think. For an elite school, MIT gets a pretty good number of first-generation college kids, poor kids from poor school districts, and others who might be at a disadvantage. As Matt once said, “MIT is an elite institution, but it doesn’t feel as . . . elite. It’s more blue-collar. More people here went to public school.”

Part of the purpose of first term pass/no record grading is to give the kids who haven’t had the strongest backgrounds a chance to catch up with relatively little academic pressure. Many of the typically freshman classes also offer tutoring for those who are struggling. By the time you get beyond those classes, your lack of background should matter less. Let’s say, just for the hell of it, that you decide to major in electrical engineering. Very few, if any, of your classmates will have had previous coursework in signals & systems, digital electronics, or device physics. Or let’s say you go into my department – you don’t really think that even a top high school would be likely to have classes in developmental neurobiology or sensation and perception, or even basic neuroscience at MIT’s level?

What you will have to do is learn how to study and be challeged. But most of your classmates, regardless of background, will be going through the same thing.

Shankar asked: “i also want to come to mit will u help me[?]”

Well, I hope that my blog is doing that. :) Feel free to send me specific questions.

Mridul asked: “Can you please increase the size of the font on your blog for comfortable reading or better still, use html code which makes the font size larger on click like on this website:”

I would be delighted to use HTML code which makes the font size larger on click, but my HTML skills are not very good and I don’t know how to write such code. I see that the website you linked to is your blog – if you could send me a copy of the code you used, I’d be happy to implement it.

Christina asked, in reference to this post: “The unicycle is YOURS? I saw somebody attempting to ride it, but I have no idea who it was.”

Yes, it’s mine. I taught myself to ride it in the cobblestone alley behind the apartment that we lived in right after my parents got divorced and my mom moved us from Georgia to Kentucky (in 1997).

And finally, Molls asked: “Hall rush? Sounds interesting. I may be alone among the MIT wannabess, but I’m clueless about this, beyond what I could infer from your post. Please enlighten us!”

Heh. If you’re a prefrosh, whether you’re familiar with the concept of Hall Rush or not may depend on how long you’ve been reading this blog. As it happens, I have a multitude of old entries pertaining to Dorm Rush and Hall Rush…

Temp assignments and cautionary tales
And it’s all beginning
Images of Rush preparation
Dorm Rush and Hall Rush
Finding heritage at MIT

If you missed these the first time around, I suggest going back and reading them. “Dorm Rush and Hall Rush” probably gives you the most general information about the system, though it’s a tough call. And I still think “Finding heritage at MIT” is one of my best-written entries.

7 responses to “What have I been doing this break?”

  1. Wenhao Sun says:

    To increase or decrease font size in Windows Explorer (I don’t know about Firefox), you can just press and hold ctrl and move the mousewheel.

    Happy New Year! I really enjoy this blog – the one you wrote on keeping things in perspective had some really good points that I think we’ll all keep in mind come March. Take care!

  2. Molls says:

    Thanks–I think I get the dorm rush concept now. Sounds like a better system than any other I’ve heard about.

  3. Hi Jessie,
    My name is Juan Jhong Chung , I am an international applicant from Peru. If a miracle happens and I get admitted in MIT, are rooms available for international students during holiday perdiods not only christmas holiday but also summer holiday, etc? I have been loking for this information in the web site but I cannot find it.
    Thank you!

  4. Ctrl+Mouse Scroll works, both in IE and Firefox. But use Firefox. Firefox is better.

  5. Csaba says:

    isn’t it ctrl+ and ctrl- ? at least my firefox likes it.

  6. Sarab says:

    I thought I’ll take advantage of your offer. My name is Sarab and I’m an American citizen but I’ve been living in India since I was about 2. I am doing well (reasonably) in school and I love Maths &Science; so since I heard of MIT in the 7th grade I’ve kinda had a fixation on getting here. I just gave my SAT’s and my scores are Verbal 730 and Maths 700. My SAT II’s were pretty bad. 710 Bio 710 Lit and 600 Maths II. Do I need to give them again? Plus as in India all the exams reccomended by MIT are unavailable, I cannot give them. Will that influence my application? I keep hearing and reading how tough it is to get into a college like MIT. Is it really that tough?

  7. pinkchapel says:

    helloew! In your answer to Aidan you said, ‘What you will have to do is learn how to study and be challeged’. Yea I think, that is it smile. Plz tell us how? how to study and keep ourselves focused?