Skip to content ↓
MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

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.

28 responses to “What to expect when you’re expecting CPW”

  1. Danny '12 says:

    I am so incredibly excited. See you soon!

  2. Piper '11 says:

    … second?

    Yeah, the CPW weather machine broke my year. It was still awesome =)

  3. Steven '12 says:

    I’m getting more excited the closer it gets to Thursday!

    Too bad about the rain, but maybe it is wrong!

  4. Roshan '12 says:

    Now for my real response:
    Thank you!! That was an insightful post. =)
    I really have to remember those things!! Especially controlling my excitement a little better! I just talked to my host, Anisha. She seems really nice!! I can’t wait to meet her for real!! I can’t wait ’til thursday!!!!!

  5. job '12 says:

    omg omg omg it’s so close! aaaaaa cannot…contain…excitement…*self-destructs*

  6. Davorama says:

    Um, yeah – c’mon host, email me! haha

    I’m really looking foreward to this weekend – I hope I won’t have too much school work to make up. This month, vising Cambridge is going to be really important. I have to admit I’m not actually sure where I’ll be going next year :X

  7. i think i may have missed my host’s call. she’ll call back, right?

  8. Anonymous says:

    “ZOMGthetimeofmylife!!11!1!”… =D =D =D

    Matt McGann >>>>> other living people.

  9. Karen '12 says:

    As a Chicago girl, I have been conditioned to like all types of weather.

    My host hasn’t e-mailed me yet, but my friend has asking me who my host is smile OMG CPW!!!!!!!

  10. Johanna '12 says:

    Waiting for my host to e-mail. Getting kinda anxious actually. I’m wondering if something went wrong with my registration… : /

  11. Paul says:

    Matt, did you really just say “ZOMGthetimeofmylife!!11!1!”? wink

    Anyway, I completely agree with Matt how CPW might not be typical, but it’s still the real MIT. I’ve tried to explain this to pre-frosh myself, but calling CPW supersaturated is definitely far better than anything I could have come up with. smile

    @Johanna ’12 and others:
    Your hosts almost certainly will call or email you in the next day or two. Sunday night is prime tooling time (I’m currently taking a break from doing 8.022 ^_^), and hosts found out about their pre-frosh literally just four hours ago. I know you’re all excited (I was too last year), but don’t worry, I’m sure you can wait a few more hours. :D

  12. Chris says:

    I’ve been looking forward to CPW forever. In part because I’ve never seen the campus or Boston/Cambridge, in other part because my friend has their Campus Preview at the same time, and finally because it’s the last thing I need to do before matriculating. I really want to fill in that part about CPW, it’s the only thing that’s kept me from matriculating. (That’s my word of the day)

  13. Karen says:

    Kelly ’12 –

    You can sleep if you want. I would just suggest looking at the cpw schedule ahead of time and planning which events you aren’t willing to miss.

    Or you can buy lots of energy drinks. They’re pretty bad for you, but if you’re that dedicated…

  14. karen says:

    also, i find “what to expect when you’re expecting…cpw” much more amusing than the ZOMG thing…

  15. Paul says:

    I got plenty of sleep (6-8 hours per night) during CPW and still had an awesome time. Granted, I did pull an all-nighter on the final day because my flight was ridiculously in the morning and going to sleep would have been silly, but that was the only irregular thing. wink

  16. Muffinator says:

    Aghhhhh! I’m soooo excited! :-DDDD (yes, it has four mouths). I can’t wait for Thursday – why isn’t it here yet?!

    So far, I’ve been told (by a multitude of alumni and current students) that CPW is the most awesomest experiences ever…..ever! I’m actually starting to get nervous… what if I don’t utilize my time properly, miss a really important or ridiculously interesting event? There’s just too much to do! I mean, did you see those schedules?! 28 pages in one day?! GAH! If only I could travel at lim x-> C….. then I might be able to take in all of it. =P

    Gah….. my teachers are still assigning work, and apparently I’m getting marked absent for Thursday and Friday. My guidance counselor said that it’s not school policy to excuse students for attending college preview events. Oh well…

    I really can’t wait, and I’m holding off on doing some of my less-important homeworks for the week so that I can work on a little project just for CPW =D. I guess you’ll have to wait until this weekend to see it =)


  17. |Lex! '12 says:

    Johanna ’12: I did the same thing and checked MyMIT and my email (like 4 times) to make sure my registration went through!

    I didn’t realize my excitement was following an exponential curve, but based on the rapid increase in excitement between two days ago, yesterday, and then today, it’s inevitably going to crush me on my plain flight over! *attempts to contain excitement-splosion in order to not be considered a terrorist mid-flight*

  18. I still haven’t heard from my host.. I’m anxious to know where I am staying! If you happen to be my host (or for some reason aren’t but know who he is), contact me soon (or tell him to do so)!!!!



  19. Mom says:

    What about parental units? We’re flying in with our pre-frosh son. Will he be swept away at the airport only to reappear there 3 days later? Are there some functions we should plan on meeting up for? Any advice you wish had been given to your parents?

  20. Piper '11 says:

    @Mom – So basically, CPW is best used when students experience the college life. I.E. they stay with a roommate in a dorm, explore events by themselves, meet their classmates. Those who enjoyed it most/got the most out of it/get the feel for the school are the ones who experience it without their parents.

    That said, there’s plenty for parents to do. While I was off at one thing or another, my dad went to plenty parent events, explored the glorious city of Boston, and checked out campus. You won’t be bored =)

  21. Kelly '12 says:

    I’m so excited! My host emailed me last night and she sounds awesome!!! I have only one worry– I have heard that you can’t really sleep or anything because there is so much going on. Number one, I am addicted to sleep (its sad). And number two, what if you have to meet a coach and make a good impression (and I don’t look so good when I haven’t slept)?

  22. Sam says:

    Mom: I’m am an admitted student going to CPW this year, and my parents are coming too, though I know a lot of other prefrosh are coming alone.

    I’m not sure what other families are doing, but I plan on going to CPW registration with my parents, setting up a financial aid appointment, and then setting some clear guidelines with my parents. (Call my cell phone if there’s an emergency, no, mom, forgetting my toothpaste is not an emergency, okay, I promise I’ll call once each day, etc.)

    There are lots of events for parents; anything prefaced with the code letter “P” on this schedule is okay for parents to attend. I personally want my parents to attend Insight for Parents by Parents on Saturday morning, because who knows what it’s like to send your kid to MIT better than a parent who has a kid at MIT?

    As for when I plan to see my parents… we’ll probably meet with financial aid together, but other than that, I’ll do my thing as a prefrosh, they’ll do their thing as parents, maybe visit Boston, and in the end we’ll meet on Sunday, barring any serious emergencies.

    I realize everyone going to CPW has different plans for what their parents will do, but this is what I’m doing, and after talking with other MIT ’12s, I get the feeling that it’s on the more-parentally-involved side of things.

  23. Ray says:

    I got rejected.. i now wish to take a gap year without enrolling in any college and try again next year for MIT. Is dat allowed? Has anyone who has been rejected once admitted in the second instance?? i am an international student.

  24. Gen says:

    You’ve got to be kidding me. I’ve been thinking of visiting MIT for a while and it is only today that I discovered about CPW! …GAAAH!! I am thinking of applying in one year; do any of you know the dates of the next CPW? Is it an annual event?

  25. Becca '12 says:

    @Gen: It’s an annual event for admitted students, in early April. Good luck with your application!

  26. Brel '12 says:


  27. Gen says:

    Becca: thanks for the clarification!