What to expect when you’re expecting CPW by Matt McGann '00
Some thoughts and advice in advance of Campus Preview Weekend.
Since nearly two-thirds of the admitted students are attending Campus Preview Weekend (CPW), I figured it would be worthwhile to spend a little time helping to set expectations for the weekend. Because CPW is such a big MIT event, there’s a lot of hype, rumor, and mythology surrounding it, and I hope I can give you a better sense of what to really expect, and what not to expect.
- Your host: A team of admissions staff and MIT students spent much of thos week trying our best to find every one of you a well-matched host for the weekend. Tonight, we had a meeting with the MIT student hosts and gave them your contact information, with the expectation that they will be in touch with you, by phone or email, tonight or tomorrow. If you don’t hear from your host tonight, don’t worry — we do have a host for you, and they’ll be in touch soon.
There’s no one standard for hosting. Some hosts are very hands-on, being excited to be with you the entire weekend. Others are more like guides: being willing to give lots of advice, showing you around to some extent, but also giving a lot of freedom for you to explore on your own. You may want to talk with your host about your needs for the weekend, the help that you’d like, and to what extent you’re looking to explore on your own.
Like online dating, sometimes the match is perfect, but more often it’s just pretty good, and occasionally horrible. We’ve done our best to make mitHarmony. If you find that you and your host are not a good match, don’t suffer through it — please let us know, we do have backup hosts.
- The CPW “Weather Machine”: One part of CPW mythology is the “Weather Machine” — that somehow, the weather during CPW seems to be much nicer than the days around it. It would be nice if it were true, wouldn’t it?
You should definitely keep your eye on the weather forecast as you pack for the weekend. Right now, it looks like there may be some rain during the weekend. That will just give you more incentive to explore MIT’s extensive tunnel system.
- “CPW isn’t real”: An oft-cited criticism of CPW is that it isn’t representative of a typical weekend at MIT. It is true that CPW isn’t a typical weekend, but as long as you understand that coming in to the weekend, I think you can learn a lot. That being said, CPW is far from “fake” — actually, it is the true MIT, in a supersaturated form.
Think about it this way: there are 300+ student activity groups on campus, 40+ living groups, 40+ varsity sports, and 30+ academic departments. They know that a substantial portion of the Class of 2012 will be on campus, so it would actually be pretty irresponsible if all of these groups didn’t have events. CPW isn’t jam-packed with events to “fool” you — it’s jam packed events because so many groups at MIT are excited about your presence.
- What you won’t see: There are a number of aspects of life that you’re less likely to see during CPW. For example, you probably won’t see much in the way of tooling, of students working on problem sets. For sure, it will be happening, but many students will try to organize their week such that their studying is done before you arrive, or while you’re at other events. Again, that’s not to hide this aspect of MIT, but rather it’s part of being a gracious host: making time for your guests.
While you’ll have lots of opportunities on Thursday and Friday to see classes, you’ll have fewer opportunities to see labs. In part, this is because labs are not designed for large numbers of visitors, and in part because research is going on all the time. We will offer UROP tours (sign up at CPW headquarters), and your hosts and hosts’ friends will be a great resource in showing off their labs, but your relatively brief visit to the labs greatly underrepresents the importance of undergraduate research at MIT.
Similarly, you may or may not have the opportunity to have one of those real great conversations with professors. If it doesn’t happen, don’t be too disappointed; you’re only here for two class days. When you’re at MIT, you’ll have many more opportunities to have meaningful interaction with faculty, in the classroom, in the lab, in the dining hall, athletic center, wherever.
And, of course, you won’t get to see all of the date-specific events from the rest of the year, like Mystery Hunt, Ring Premiere, International Fair, Steer Roast, IAP, the 2.007 finals, etc.
- Over-hype: After all this build-up, it’s inevitable that every year, some folks come back from CPW disappointed. And if you don’t have ZOMGthetimeofmylife!!11!1!, that doesn’t necessarily mean MIT isn’t the right place for you. For some people, things don’t click immediately, and that’s okay. Just be sure to keep your eyes peeled for what’s important to you in a college, and do your best to seperate that from other extraneous stuff.
I know we’ve all been throwing advice at you left and right lately, but above all know this: we’re all really excited to see 1,000 of you this weekend.