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MIT student blogger Mollie B. '06

You oughta know by Mollie B. '06

Answers to many, many questions.

Questions about class plans
Nehalita asked about class plans, and I promised to get back to her on that.

Class plans are mostly useful for people who are interested in double-majors, if only because it’s a little more logistically difficult to fit in the extra classes that you need to take outside the General Institute Requirements. (If you’re only doing one major, it’s not as difficult — you can pretty much plan on taking four classes per term for eight terms and it will almost certainly come out right.) I feel like the purpose of a class plan is really more to decide if a given set of two majors is feasible, rather than setting out a concrete roadmap for the next four years — I basically re-made my class plan at least once a semester from the end of freshman year to the end of first term senior year.

Incidentally, I don’t think you should make a class plan before coming to MIT. You just don’t know enough about which classes you’ll need to take, which classes are more difficult or more easy, which classes are taught by professors you like, and how many units you can take in one semester without breaking your brain. You’re welcome, of course, to sit down with the course catalogue, your intended degree programs and a blank Excel spreadsheet, but I don’t know if it will do you any good if you have no information outside the course listing information. The odds are somewhat good that you’ll just end up perplexed.

If you want to soldier on, though, you can just look at the degree requirements for your major(s), then check in the catalogue to see when the various courses are offered. Plan on spending freshman year on the GIRs, don’t forget to add in a HASS each term, and try not to schedule more than one lab class in the same term if you can help it (they’re often all offered in the afternoon). Taking more than 66 or 72 units in a term is probably not advisable, and you should try to stick as close to 48 units per term as you can.

Questions about orientation
Erin asked,

The other day you posted the schedule for assigning dorms- I was wondering if you could talk about when we register for classes and plan our schedule. Thanks!

I stopped by the Academic Resource Center the other day to ask about this. (The ARC is the office that runs orientation as well as most other first-year programs.) They gave me the schedule, but also mentioned that it will be up here May 1. They also said they’ll be mailing it to you around that date.

Students going through international orientation will arrive between August 18 and August 20, and the events of international orientation will go from August 21 to August 23. Students doing freshman pre-orientation programs (FPOPs) will arrive between August 20 and August 21, and the events of those programs will be between August 22 and August 26. (There are a lot of different FPOPs, and people tend to really like them. Videos from a few of last years FPOPs is here.)

Students and parents arriving for regular orientation will come either August 25 or 26; events for parents go from the 26th through the 28th, while events for students begin the 27th. I’m not sure what the timeline is for dorm rush this year — maybe one of the UA-connected bloggers could chime in? I guess generally, rush events start around the time freshmen arrive and continue for several days in the evenings. Advanced standing exams will be given on August 28 and 29.

You’ll probably go through in-house rush and move to your final room on the Friday or Saturday before Registration Day (Tuesday, Sept 5). You will register for classes by meeting with your freshman advisor sometime in the week of Aug 28-Sept 1. It’s also a good idea to attend the Core Blitz, an event where professors of common freshman classes stand up and talk about what sorts of students usually take their respective classes. Core Blitz will be held before you meet with your advisor to pick classes.

Questions about dorms
On my marathon tour of MacGregor, anonymous asked

Really appreciate it….would you do the same fot other dormitories?? it is an extremely helpful job…pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaaase :D

Um, I don’t know all that stuff about other dorms. Anyway, the entry has been edited to reflect the fact that the other bloggers are doing entries on other dorms, so look for those within the coming days and weeks.

Alyssa asked

Hi! At CPW, some students in Macgregor were telling me that a lot of times the suites will taking hiking trips together and that people in Macgregor are generally very outdoorsy… is that true? Also, are you allowed to decorate your room or anything because I personally am not a fan of the 70’s decor. :)

I don’t know that I’d say the dorm as a whole is outdoorsy — certainly my entry isn’t. There’s really quite a bit of variation between each entry in terms of culture. And yes, you’re allowed to decorate your room. There are some restrictions placed on all the dorms by Housing, but a) fire safety inspections are only once a year, and b) anything goes outside that checklist.

Anonymous commented,

I cannot watch the video but I do have Quicktime installed. When I try to watch it, I see a broken Quicktime logo… Help Please

Can you access any of the videos from the main i3 page? You could also try going back a level and trying to access the video from there. Any luck?

Another anonymous commenter asked

wow. Macgregor seems to be a nice place to live. Are the dorm rooms generally pretty big? Do you have “IHOP” once a week? Are there people to clean the bathrooms?

No, the rooms in MacGregor aren’t that big — they’re singles! They’re big enough for one person to live comfortably, but they’re not giant. This is Boston, and living space is at a premium. To answer Christian’s question (“How big are the dorms in MacGregor (dimension-wise)?”), the rooms are about 8 feet by 15 feet.

EDIT, in response to comment below: We have dorm-wide brunches (made by resident volunteers) on Sundays once or twice a month. (Actually, we had one today, which was confusing because today is Saturday. I was confused.) We do have plenty of free-food events, but I think that’s probably true of all the dorms. There is a lot of free food at MIT! Eat it before it goes to waste.

In my entry, we have big study breaks orchestrated by our GRT Bryan about twice a month. Most recently, he made brownies for us and went around door-to-door handing them out, and before that, he cooked lasagna for us and we had an entry dinner.

And yes, there are people who clean the bathrooms. There are people who clean the bathrooms in all the dorms, with the exception of Simmons, as I understand it — they have private or semi-private bathrooms, so they have to clean them themselves. Every other dorm has cleaning staffpersons who clean the bathrooms on a regular basis.

Melodie asked

So you know how if you want to live in a double, you have to find a roommate before in-house rush (at least according to the Next House website, I think)? Do you have to find a bunch of suitemates if you want to live in MacGregor? Or will you just get randomly assigned to them as a freshman?

No, you don’t have to find suitemates in MacGregor. All of the suites in the dorm are made up of people from different class years, so usually there are only one or two rooms in each suite that are open to be filled by freshmen — upperclassmen pick their rooms for the upcoming year in the spring. If you pick MacGregor and go through in-house rush, you’ll rank the entries 1-9, and upperclassmen in the dorm will rank all the freshmen (yes, no, no preference). A dorm-wide algorithm “maximizes house happiness”, and you’ll be put in an entry. Once you’re assigned to an entry, the entry representatives will pick a room for you based on what they know about you. (For example, if they think you’ll get along really well with another person in the entry, they might make you next-door neighbors.) This all happens the night of in-house rush (the entry representatives and room assignment chairs usually stay up all night), and you’ll get your final assignment in the morning.

Other questions
Dan asked

Hey Mollie would you say having skills in just math is enough to major in management science? It seems interesting but if someone doesn’t have any experience with economics and all that jazz, can they build on just math skills enough to major in management at MIT? Is math even a major part of it?

You actually have to take a fair number of math classes to major in management at MIT — 6.041 (probability) and 18.06 (linear algebra) in particular are definitely not fluff classes. You are required to take 14.01 (microeconomics) and 14.02 (macroeconomics), so don’t worry if you don’t have an economics background — you’ll have one when you’re done with those classes! You’d have to ask Mitra how much econ background is assumed for 14.01/14.02, but I know a lot of people who have taken and enjoyed those classes (econ is a fairly popular HASS concentration), and I don’t think any of them had any background other than a standard high school econ class.

You could also shoot your original question over at Matt, who knows way more about course 15 than I do.

13 responses to “You oughta know”

  1. ben says:

    Hey Mollie, I’m an int’l student thinking about majoring in Biology. I wonder if vocabulary will be a hard job for students who had been learning the whole bunch of thing in a different language (and it will be harder than other subjects). BTW, it seems that biology courses at high-school level focus a lot on reciting things, and I don’t believe it’s the essence of the subject. Could you please tell us more about biology @ undergraduate level (esp. @ MIT)? Thank you so much!

  2. nehalita says:

    Totally Random Question: Do you know which cell phone service has the best reception? When I was up there for CPW, I didn’t seem to have service anywhere inside the dorms…

  3. Dan says:

    Oh sweet, thanks!

  4. Shikhar says:

    Hi mollie,

    Hey since you are moving to grad school..can i ask you something…is it considrerd perfectly normal if a person goes to grad school after getting some work experience aka job…for say 1-2 years after graduation…or does it make one less marketable than in comparison to someone fresh out of know like make the admission staff think that this guy must have been rejected just after UG so thats why he took a break….if this is not true then does working increase someones credibility…What are your views…

  5. Dan says:

    Hey Mollie – same Dan as 2 comments above. I have a question. About 2 years ago, I stubbed my middle finger and it’s been really big ever since. As I was typing today though, I felt it against my index finger and I looked, and it seems even bigger than before! It’s way bigger than my left middle finger. It’s crazy! What’s wrong with it? How do I make it smaller? lol No worries if you have no idea what I’m talking about and can’t answer.

  6. Christina says:

    Dan, clearly your middle finger edema is due to the overuse of your middle finger in typing messages on Mollie’s blog! It is imperative that you stop typing the letters E D and C forever, and starting NOW.


  7. Dan says:

    Righteo, I guess I’ll stop. It’s the right middle finger by the way. Bye Mollie, bye Christina.

  8. Anonymous says:

    By “IHOP,” I mean just a nice breakfast. I know that East Campus gets “IHOP” on Sundays and they have very good breakfasts on those days. Can you explain more about the food in MacGregor? Do you have people make the food?

  9. Om says:

    Hi Mollie,

    Nice blg. I really appreciate it.

    I need to talk to you and get to know much more abt life at MIT as I’m planning to get admitted to/in it(pun intended).

    Please reply as soon as possible, plleeeeaaase.


  10. Amelia says:

    Hi, I’m currently a highschool freshman. I’ve developed a strong interest in biology in my bio honors course this year (along with previous years of science)and plan to apply to MIT to major in biology. How would you suggest I prepare in the next few years and what skills should I develop that will best help me in college?

  11. Hema says:

    Hi Mollie ,

    could u help me on this , I was reading Ann’s Blog and today I can’t find it anywhere & I just wondering If u can tell where Can I find it, Because It contain alot of Informtion for International students ,


  12. JKim says:

    Hey Mollie, I have a question. It’s pretty intimidating that a lot of prefrosh know exactly what they want to major in (and thus, what courses they need to take, etc etc) when I just want to slow down and figure things out. Do a lot of people come in undecided, and are there any sort of advising programs to help you figure out what the heck you’re supposed to be doing with yourself?

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’m really excited to go to MIT next fall!

    I have a question about biology majors and double majors. I’m interested in bio from an environmental perspective. In other words, 7.014 sounds like it is just what I want to learn. Do you know any biology majors who are interested more in environment applications of molecular biology rather than in more human/medical applications?

    Also, I dream of doing either a double major in EAPS/environmental science — biology focus or at least doing an EAPS minor. How would I find out, when I get to MIT, if that double major is really possible? How would I find out if other people and how I might contact those people? I did find at least two professors do the kinds of research I hope I can do someday. Is it appropriate to email them for advice? If so, when? It seems a little silly to try to get in touch with them before I get to college, but I wonder how long after that would be all right, if I wanted their advice of what courses to take.