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MIT student blogger Snively '11

Your MIT ID by Snively '11

PLASTIC! Shiny plastic, at that!

What was I looking forward to most when I arrived on campus for Orientation (Pre-orientation rather)? MIT’s next installment of the “Here’s a HUGE envelope full of colorful stuff for you to drool over.” of course! By this time my standards were pretty high. Let’s face it, I’d gotten a tube in December, a huge envelope in March, and a bigger envelope in May. What could MIT give me that could top those three?

I went to the second floor of the student center to pick up all of my goodies, secretly wondering if there was going to be a chorus line of dancing sea otters or something (Look, don’t even try to understand my deepest, darkest musings. There might have been sea otters!). Instead I found a table with a bunch of paper and important looking stuff on it. I gave the guy staffing the table my name and he produced . . . a folder. Yay.

Here’s what I learned from this experience: MIT values different parts of its mail depending on your status of enrollment. If you’re at home and there’s still even the slightest chance you won’t be attending then they’ll send you the most colorful, awesome stuff you’ve ever seen, but as for the contents of your shiny new envelope, there isn’t a whole lot of really neat stuff. Once you get to MIT, however, they care less about the packaging, but the kind of stuff that works its way into your envelope or folder is exponentially cooler. Inside I found all sorts of random pamphlets (“Copyright, Subpoenas, and You”), papers, stuff related to my pre-orientation program, and then I found awesome.

I had no idea when I was supposed to get my ID card, I figured I’d fill out some paperwork and then a week later be given it, but to my surprise it was ready for me when I got there. You know what an MIT ID card means, right? It means you are, officially, without a doubt, guaranteed, a student at MIT. It was officially official. Come August you’ll all be getting your ID cards and with them YOU CAN RULE THE WORLD! well, not so much.
What are MIT ID cards good for (other than for flashing at anybody who asks for picture ID. That means you Blockbuster video guy, I know you were jealous!)? Let me give you the rundown.

New World Symphony
Wow, I just managed to, by way of an obscure reference, cover two topics with one phrase. The first thing your ID card lets you do is get access to your dorm (New World Symphony, “Going Home”, anybody? Anybody at all? Be a bigger band geek!). Every dorm is card access only. Burton-Conner residents can get into Burton-Conner, Baker residents can get into Baker, and Senior House residents can get into Senior House. Most dorms require a card swipe but East Campus has brand new RFID readers, meaning instead of pulling their ID card out of their pocket to get into their dorm, they just have to jump and throw themselves at the wall. We’re all jealous.

In addition to getting into dorms, your ID card is also used for card access to various labs, lounges, and buildings. My ID gets me into the Media Lab and when I declare Course 2 it’ll get me into the MechE lounge. All MIT IDs will get you access to the Z-Center so you can swim, jump, shoot, or do whatever sport it is you do.

Other than get you into places on campus, your MIT ID will also get you into places off campus (I’m about to talk about my not-so-obscure reference). Boston is a huge city with a bunch of neat things going on. There are art museums (Museum of Fine Arts), science museums (Boston Museum of Science) and symphony concerts (Boston Symphony Orchestra). Your MIT ID will get you into all of these for free. How’s that for special treatment? You could have a contest, how much cultural enrichment can you get for free in one day with your MIT ID?

As college students (paying a $48,000 tuition) many students at MIT don’t have cash on them. Cash is important, it buys food (Which is what you need in order to live. You’ll find that parents will call you every day in order to remind you of this). TechCash is a system that lets you store money on your ID card. Since you always have your ID on you, the thinking is that you will always have money on you. You can load your ID with TechCash either online or on the bottom floor of the student center in Card Services. Once you have TechCash all you need to do is make sure you shop at a place that accepts it (which isn’t too terribly difficult). Several places that take TechCash:

The COOP (including text books and software)
Everything in the Student Center (except USPS)
Economy Hardware
Cafes and restaurants in/above the Infinite Corridor

I subsist almost solely on TechCash. I’ll pay cash for dinner in Boston but mostly I’m a TechCash guy. I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that all of my loans go almost directly into TechCash?

There aren’t a lot of discount options with your MIT ID, but the two that I know of are significant. The first is a software discount. There are tons of places online that sell discounted software to students ( for one). You’ll need your ID to prove that you’re a student. Another discount that you probably don’t know about is the Bose discount you get. That’s right, Bose, the speaker/headphone company. Mr. Bose is an MIT alum and, as such, decided to be a really nice guy to MIT students. Undergraduates (and maybe graduate students too?) can call a special phone number and order any number of different Bose products, receiving something on the order of a 10% discount on anything. I’ve yet to cash in on this, but I have a feeling that there are Bose products in my future.

Something you may want to know about your ID card is that you only get one. Sure, if you lose it you can get it replaced, but in general you will find seniors who have the same ID card they had as a freshman. The expiration date listed on my card is June 2011, meaning they fully expect me to hold on to this card for the next four years. Along the same lines, you’ll want to make sure you have a good picture on your ID. Don’t think that if a picture is blurry when big that it’ll look ok when shrunk to ID size, it’ll still be blurry and gross. Take some time and find a nice, good, clear picture of yourself for your ID, you won’t regret it at all (you’re going to be looking at that picture of you several times a day for the next four years).

So there you have it, the MIT ID card, pure awesome in plastic form. You’ll be getting yours soon, are you excited?

[Update] After a quick call to Dominoes Pizza I realized that, even though I’m perfectly safe and secure at MIT, apparently Dominoes has the ability to steal all of my money. Go figure.

50 responses to “Your MIT ID”

  1. yiwen says:

    Cool…I didn’t know the ID had so many purposes. I can’t wait to get mine :D

  2. Anonymous says:

    nice, useful, informative post

  3. Natasha says:

    oooooo…Me wants one too!!!..Can’t wait!

  4. Aditi says:


    I want!

    *starts looking for non embarrassing pictures*
    I don’t even look like ME on my passport.

    you forgot the Apple discount =)

  5. Rik says:

    Thank you Snively! Gotta go search for tall, dark handsome photos of me now :D. And by the way, the combined not-so-well-hidden effort of other bloggers to push Snively off the front page just went kaboom.

  6. Chris says:

    to be honest, after going to MIT, having that awesome student ID is the next big thing I’m looking forward to. I’d show that sucker to everyone, I’d get pulled over just to accidentally hand that to a police man.Well….maybe…. In unrelated news, the bit about food reminded me of an awesome quote by Sheldon: “We need nourishment and to expel waste while taking in enough oxygen to sustain ourselves, everything else is optional.”

  7. Ivan says:

    Hey Snively
    Good job at not being taken off the front page, lets see if you can keep that up till 2011.

    About the ID Card, probably one of the best bonuses to having that as an international student is when you go to your own country on a visit. When your there you go to blockbuster, movies, stores, restaurants, etc. Most people have never heard of MIT, but they ask you what it is, then when you say that MIT is the greatest universities in the world they start treating you all powerfull and such.
    That kinda makes up for not being at MIT for that moment.

    Keep posting more Snively

  8. Omar '12 says:

    Lol my high school ID has nothing on that bad boy. I can’t wait to get it. I really want my email address too. So what’s up with the 8 character limit on that? My last name is 9 chars long :-(

  9. Ian says:

    Hey Snively, I just had a thought. It might be nice if you blogged about your experiences through orientation. I know you covered it before but it would be interesting to see a detailed perspective from you on the experiences that almost all students can expect to go through in their first couple days, ranging from the tests to the activities.

    Also, if you subdivide it out you could fend off the Admissions/FinAid offices. It seems like they’re ganging up trying to push you off the front page smile

  10. If you use a photo of Chuck Norris then it will get you into all the dorms automatically. Just by bringing it within 200 feet of the door:)

    Totally random:
    I really want to know how different life for [young] grad students is from undergrad life. I don’t mean the coursework, just like the overall atmosphere. For ex. do people still go to random club meetings with free food? Snively, a grad student, somebody reading here, plz help?

    Also any advice from anyone about pulling a Walden for a year in case everybody else turns me down too? I might have liked the peace corps or maybe living in a village somewhere but I’m too young legally. Red tape grr.

  11. Sam says:

    Omar — You can get an e-mail address with more than 8 letters, but you’re gonna have to become kind of a big deal on campus.

  12. Melis says:

    Snively, you leave no stone unturned.

    You also get discounts (10%, I think) at J.Crew. And, East Campus isn’t the only one with RFID readers, so does Baker =)

    Last note…do not keep your ID unprotected in your back-pocket. This is what I did, and my ID obviously got totally busted (but hey, at least I didn’t have to shuffle through my backpack to find my wallet every time I wanted to get into my dorm or lab). It’s $15 for a replacement =(

  13. Snively, your posts are just great, I read them every time I have time…

    I’d also like to know how life is for grad students at MIT

  14. Zeina S says:

    Ok! so now I am waiting for the package and the ID! I can’t wait!!

  15. There is a way around the 8 character limit (as someone whose last name is 9 characters long should know).

    My formalized mit email is barkowit but I have added Athena listserv aliases to get all of the varieties of name that I want, so barkowitz, dbarkowitz, and – yes – moneyman are also my email addresses, but these are just lists with one member (they are just used to redirect email to my main email address).

  16. And Snively! I’ll get you back!

  17. Harrison says:

    Wow way to post your student ID number on the internet for everyone to steal.

  18. Glad to know that the TRUE reason for holding out for a pair of awesome, sound-cancelling, Mickey Mouse-esque was not because of money at all (What were YOU thinkin, Bub?) It was for the discount… Cause I’m clairvoyant, I swear…
    ID cards are cool, but MIT ID’s are awesome^nth.

  19. Celena '12 says:


  20. Krypton says:

    Simmons doesn’t have a card slider. Like them folks over at EC, all I have to do is bump tushies with the wall and presto, I’m in!

  21. maithreyi says:

    haha, that’s so cool!
    and random:
    snively, there was a whole article about toy design in my massachusetts comprehensive assessment system (mass state testing) test this morning. and they mentioned the toy fair! it was epic.

  22. Great job, Snively. I knew you would never get bumped off the front page. It’s going to be a sad day in 2011 when it does happen, though. Do you think you could go straight into grad school and stay on as a blogger here?

  23. Celena '12 says:

    And btw Snively, you look pretty studly in your ID. =D

  24. Paul says:

    Sam – Actually, now that you mention it, I think hockfield [at] mit [dot] edu is just a mailing list – according to Moira, anyway. (For the pre-frosh, Moira is the name of MIT’s new list management service, and it is amazing. You’ll be able to use this service, along with pretty much everything else MIT-related, once you get your Kerberos IDs in May. Get pumped!)

  25. Anonymous says:

    Will it get you into “21” free?

  26. abc123 says:

    actually as far as I know, senior house and bexley also have the non-sliding card reading things.

  27. Nick says:

    Re Sam’s:
    “Omar — You can get an e-mail address with more than 8 letters, but you’re gonna have to become kind of a big deal on campus.

    That’s not true; the character limit is imposed by Athena. Susan actually has an athena account, [email protected]. hockfield is just a mailing list.

    It’s easy to create a mailing list online if you have a name > 8 characters:

  28. Connie '12 says:

    Does TechCash work like a debit card? Like if you don’t use up all everything by the end of the semester/year, can you take it back out? At my local college (Berkeley), they have something similar, but it’s for meal points instead of all-purpose-buying-points. If a student doesn’t use up the semester’s meal points then he/she doesn’t get their money back and it doesn’t roll over to the next semester either. This results in a lot of students trying to buy BIG lunches for all their friends or just going on a junk food shopping spree.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Do you get to submit your own picture for your ID?!

  30. Emily says:

    I will go to the MFA all the time! Do we get to watch the Boston Pops, too? I hope they’re not converting all the dorm swipe things to RFID anytime, soon. The throwing-body-at-fobpad didn’t work too well at school for those of us under 6”.

  31. Judy H. says:

    ohhhh…shiny card >.ohhhh…shiny card >.< I heart

  32. MIT '12 says:

    Yeah, please tell us we can submit our own pictures for the ID!! I don’t want a repeat driver’s license!! =( =( =(

  33. Karen '12 says:

    I saw one in person today smile

    Me: Hey, that’s your MIT ID!
    My friend ’11: Yeah, the picture’s really horrible.
    Me: But you can’t get a new one!
    My friend: Yeah, I can. I just lose this one and pay for a new one.
    Me: But Snively said that you couldn’t on the blogs!
    My friend: I think you need a new hobby…

    smile I think I’ll go for a good picture the first time around anyway.

  34. Lauren '12 says:

    Omg, ID card, I want one of those.

    In fact, I have wanted one of those ever since I started taking ESP classes at MIT.

    Every week, I awkwardly wait or run behind someone going into the Whittaker college of health science, on my way to + from the Kendall T Stop, hoping somebody with an ID card comes through so that I don’t have to walk around the building.

    symphony hall and MOS and MFA for free!!!!!!!!!

    That’s AMAZING and exciting! :-D haha

  35. Paul says:

    Just to clarify the ID picture: Part of the “Next Big Mailing” will have instructions about sending in a photo for the incoming class “viewbook.” (Older folks might know this as a facebook, the predecessor to the online we all know and love. Well, most of us.)

    Anyway, the photo you send in will not only go into the viewbook (so all your fellow classmates will see it), it will also be used for your MIT ID – so make sure it’s a nice one! Senior photos work nicely.

    If you forget to send in your photo during the summer, then you’ll have to get your photo taken at MIT instead. And that may not look very nice. wink

  36. Steph says:

    Getting into places for free and discounts sounds really cool. The ID also looks nice.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Michael Snively, 007

    “Snively…, Michael Snively”

  38. Anon9 says:

    Ooooh SHINY!! raspberry Can we petition to have a Beaver on it?? :B (I mean a picture of a Beaver… or a sillouette of a Beaver… or SOMETHING of a Beaver…)

    Wait, what? Oh no! It expires??

    (Physics doesn’t expire… EVER. raspberry)

  39. rko says:

    Next has rfid readers too.

    Snively, are you sure it’s a good idea to leave your ID number there? Theoretically anyone could order Domino’s pizza with that info…

  40. Anonymous says:

    Go Snively go!

  41. MIT '12 says:

    Sweet… (about sending in a photo over the summer.)

    It’s always a good idea to let other people print photos of you stilted and stiff because the light was conveniently shining in your eyes and the senior portrait photographer kept snapping anyway.

    Professional pictures are so awkward. =—–
    AUTHOR: Snively
    DATE: 03/27/2008 10:58:16 AM
    @Harrison and rko
    If anybody can find something useful to do with my ID number without my Kerberos password then please, let me know, because as far as I know these numbers are just like a username. A numerical username, granted, but useless without a password. That is, unless you want to take my 18.03 or 8.02 tests for me and write my ID number at the top of that, go for it!

    Thanks, I try. That’s my “dramatic Snively” pose

    TechCash, I believe, works like debit (definitely in that you can’t charge to it, you can only use what you have loaded on it). I’m also pretty sure that you get any remaining balance back at the end of the year.

    Hey, I said that you could replace it if lost!

    To save your tongue from an early death, just call it MIT medical. It’s much easier that way.

  42. rko says:

    Like I said, I could theoretically order Domino’s and charge it to your TechCash account. I’ve done it w/ a friend’s permission before. I mean, I’m in California right now, but if you don’t mind spotting me $100, I’d gladly order pizza for my wing on Sunday night smile

  43. Rutu says:

    OMG I WANT AN ID!!!!!!! *hypnotized*

    But wow, we get free access to the museums and stuff? Now THAT I’m looking forward to….

    Wow, you look really different on the ID…..almost like an elf, maybe cuz the ear got slightly cut off….

  44. Chris says:

    @all would-be-pizza-forgers

    Maybe it’s my bartender training that taught me to look for altered ID’s, maybe I’m just OCD (or AD–wait what?) but that ID number in the picture looks like it was added on the computer. As in I don’t think that’s the real number.

  45. Ben says:

    LOL LOL LOL @ the domino’s thing.

  46. rko says:

    Snively edited it — that sneaky bum raspberry It’s now the Domino’s phone number haha.

  47. Good post. It was nice seeing your ID. TechCash sounds good.

  48. gary says:

    GYkRtv sd89f984q34slf

  49. Jessica says:

    TechCash kept me alive last summer…

  50. Aditi says:

    NOW the id is priceless :D