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MIT student blogger Keri G. '10

You’ve got questions… by Keri G. '10

...I've got answers strewn amidst an explosion of other stuff.

When I first got to MIT in August and checked in for Orientation, I received an interesting little poster entitled, “101 Things to Do Before You Graduate.” It’s full of cool ideas about things to do at MIT and the Boston/Cambridge area, but I usually forget the poster exists until I’ve done something off of it and realize that there’s more stuff that I can check off. (For those of you interested in keeping a running tally, we’re up to 15.)

Saturday night, it was #88: Try a Bartley’s One-of-a-Kind Burger.

That morning, I and half of MIT (I kid, I kid) awoke to find an email from Jess in my inbox:

friends, romans, countrymen, significant others, others,
can we have dinner tomorrow night? i feel like i haven’t seen you all in ages. even though i saw half of you today. wait, what? who said that?

no really, not all of you know each other and you’re all cool, and people who are cool should know other people who are cool. so, dinner? tomorrow? sunday? cuddling afterwards? why do i talk?

Well, if you want us all that much, then how can we say no? So seven of us met at the T stop in Kendall Square on Saturday night and promptly argued over where we were having dinner. After some debate, we decided to find somewhere in Harvard Square to eat. We ended up deciding on Bartley’s as we walked past it – hey, if MIT says we should do it, then why not?

We ordered burgers and sandwiches with out-of-this-world names after political figures (“The Dick Cheney,” “The Al Franken”) and Boston area colleges (“The Crimson,” “The MIT”) alike. I set my sights on the ultimate heart attack: The Viagra. (The menu said, “Get a rise out of this!” Who could resist that?!) Bleu cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and the best medium-rare burger I’d had in a long time + great friends = pretty much the best night ever. Pictures may show up if Jeff ’10 is nice enough to let me use them. (Please, Jeff? I’ll give you candy…)

Incidentally, I also did #96 from the list – Play DDR in the game room – with Nicole ’10 and Yoni ’10 last night after Children of Eden rehearsal, which is a miracle because I am notoriously bad at DDR. (Nicole was wearing an awesome shirt that said, “I can’t dance without arrows.” Arrows scare me. Dancing should not involve arrows! It just shouldn’t!)

Now that I’ve had too much fun for the weekend (wait, that’s possible?!), it’s about time I get some work done. But first…

Some of you have asked questions in the comments from the last couple of posts, and it’s high time I answer them! (Blame 18.02 for the delay. Sorry!) I don’t have quite as many synonyms for “asks” as JKim does, but that’s because Jess is special and I am, well, not.

Blizz queries: How’d you pick your dorm?

I was temped in New House during Orientation, but found myself spending more and more time at Senior Haus over those two weeks. Luckily, MIT’s Housing Adjustment Lottery gave me the chance to move in there.

There’s nothing wrong with New House – plenty of great people live there. It just wasn’t for me, though. This is the point of the Housing Lottery in the first place – by giving people more freedom to decide where they’ll live while at MIT, the school offers us the opportunity to be as happy as possible during our time here. Jessie has talked about this at length in her blog – there’s a great post about it here.

Jojo inquires: Did you apply early? How many girls applied early and got admitted early last year?

I applied and was accepted EA last year (my application was sent in a little late, due to Hurricane Wilma wreaking havoc on South Florida and the power being out for two weeks), along with 176 other girls. (I’ve no idea how many girls applied early, though.) But it doesn’t matter that you’re a girl! Really, it doesn’t! MIT does have a near-even gender ratio – this year’s freshman class is 55% male, 45% female – but you won’t get an automatic advantage in admissions by being female. I’m not kidding you. It’s true.

Kunda Kapaipi asks: Hey. I’m a Zambian(southern Africa) and in the process of applying to your institution. I just you to tell me about your personal experience on the application process and some titbits on how I can make a good application. Awaiting your response the soonest!

You’re from Zambia? That’s cool – one of the guys living a floor above me is from South Africa, actually.

As for the application? At first, I stressed about it to no end. I had the beginnings of an essay written, but it didn’t seem like the traditional standard college essay I’d always heard about. Everything I was writing down seemed wrong – what if this wasn’t what I was supposed to do? What were the right answers to throw into the innumerable blank spaces on this thing? And why wasn’t there some magical College Application Fairy helping me out here? (I have no more use for the Tooth Fairy – it seems possible for her to double up on jobs and tell me which APs to take, or something like that.)

$50 says many of you are wondering the same things. Even if you’ve already sent in your applications Early Action and you know that it’s in MIT’s hands now, you’re still thinking about whether or not that part about what you do in your free time was a trick question, aren’t you?

It isn’t. And the right thing here is to be yourself. (I said I downloaded music illegally. Shhh, don’t tell anyone. ^_^) Let your transcripts and test scores speak for themselves – letters and numbers are just that, and they can only do so much. What really matters here are the short answers and the essay – MIT admits people (and awesome ones at that), not grades and SAT scores.

I know, I know, this has been repeated ad nauseam here on the blogs. Here’s why: it’s true. We can’t repeat it enough. Make sure the application shows as much of who you are as you can, because that’s what’s important.

MB writes: Dear person with a cool blog,

how do you get your own radio show? do you have your own totally awesome one? what is the significance of peter ustinov to you?

-mary beth, a totally random person who you definitely don’t know.

Hmmm, this is a tough one.

1) Be pretty much the coolest person ever. If that’s not the case, then you can be me.
2) Why, yes! You can even stream it on the Internet, even though last night was kind of a disaster.
3) Well, he did have that one miniseries about Russia that was incomparable in splendor…

Mary Beth and I were roommates when we took AP European History one summer through a program at Northwestern University. For the high school freshmen/sophomores/juniors reading this, I’ll give you all more details about that and some other summer classes/programs in the next post, since this one is getting entirely too long. Admit it. It is. I’d say you deserve a prize for making it all the way through.

27 responses to “You’ve got questions…”

  1. Rose says:

    I personally can’t afford to take summer programs anywhere, but the free one’s that some schools near me offer.

    I really, really, really want to go to MIT, every since I was young it has always been my dream.

    All of the bloggers seem to have spent thousands of dollars on summer trips, etc. that seemingly got you into MIT. Is this necessary to be admitted?

  2. Andy says:

    Way to go with the DDR!

    Though most of the time I prefer In The Groove. It’s more difficult (I can’t even PLAY Expert, let alone Hard on most songs, whereas I can do most DDR songs on Heavy) and the songs are longer. And generally better.

    But DDR is great too. Woot! ^^;

  3. Jess says:

    Rose: ALL the bloggers? Where did you get that idea?

    Okay, well, I actually definitely did put a lot of time and money into my summers. I really liked doing a lot of different, crazy programs over that three-month gap because, well, I live in the ‘burbs, but my last summer I just worked at a bkery. I don’t know that Keri spent a lot of money on summer trips, though; she worked at PacSun last summer. (Oops, was I not supposed to talk about the retail slave thing?)

    But please, please don’t ever get the idea that having a lot of money is a requisite to getting in or going to MIT. One of my best friends is paying $3000 a year to come here, far less than many of my friends at state schools. And there are so many interesting scholarship programs you can partake in that don’t cost money. Or you could build something. Or you could volunteer or start a fundraising event for a charity. Or you can find research opportunities. Or you can work – it builds character, honestly. The thing is about summer is that you have all this time to really explore, and while it’s definitely good to relax, it’s also a time when you can find things to do that genuinely interest you, and admissions knows that. Does that answer your question?

  4. peach says:


  5. peach says:


  6. glareflair17 says:

    Keri, thanks for your input.

    It’s refreshing to hear the experience of MIT form a freshman!

    Your awesome. Thanks for keeping it real.!

  7. Keri says:

    Rose –

    My family couldn’t afford those programs either, for the most part. CTD at Northwestern offered financial aid, and I took full advantage of that during my two summers there. You really don’t have to spend insane amounts of money on summer programs and travel in order to get into MIT. Taking them isn’t even necessary, but if you can find some that are affordable and awesome (they’re out there! I’ll be writing about a few of them), then go for it.

    And Jess is right – I was most definitely a retail slave last summer. That’s another story to be told another time…

  8. Deb says:

    ahaha oh mary beth mary beth, i remember her so well! i actually was on the same airline as her on the last day of CTD, and we both had to fly back (probably because we each lived a few thousand miles away from evanston) and she was in such a mess b/c there was this whole crisis with the unaccompanied minor thing and it was very very very crazy.

    ooh peter ustinov!! i have a quote by him written in my journal somewhere. =)

    best wishes to you keri.

  9. Rose –

    It is absolutely not a pre-requisite and please don’t think that or feel inferior in any way. I begged my parents to let me do a summer program at a (less prestigious than MIT) college the summer before my senior year but in the end we actually decided it was too expensive and I spent the summer working as a waitress. The summer before coming to college I took an inexpensive college course and the extent of my travels was a trip to the beach with my friends.

    When you get to college you will probably find yourself saying, “you’ve been to —!?!?!” A LOT and it sucks. BUT it’s also a little empowering in that the reality of the situation is that you and the kid who took classes at Oxford or the kid who backpacked through Egypt (can you even do that? I imagine it would involve King Tut in some way or another) have both ended up in the same place. smile

  10. Christina says:

    OH and there are a ton of things you can do for free, of course! I went to St. Louis for a science competition as my state’s delegate and I took out my wallet for the first time when my roommate and I found an A&F near the hotel. tongue laugh

  11. Laura says:

    No way. I totally went to Bartley’s on Saturday night too. Weird!

    I personally ordered the Bill Clinton, which was ironically delicious but made me so unhappy. Go ahead, say the phrase “I’ll have the Bill Clinton” and see if it makes you uncomfortable. Yech.

  12. Omar says:

    Great post Keri,

    So yeah, where are you? I haven’t seen you in quite a long time. You should spend more time socializing with other ppl from your hall raspberry (jk)

  13. Justin says:

    Aside from DDR being way cool (4th Mix Plus will always have a special place in my heart), I’m curious about one thing:
    Which do you think suits/would suit you better at MIT: Laptop or Desktop?
    It’s a debate that rages on everywhere, but I was curious to hear from an MIT student (with the hope that I will be in a similar situation) before I went Christmas shopping.

  14. Prashanth says:

    Hi there this is my first time posting on the blogs. I just wanted to ask something. What does is the difference between geographic residency and state residency. Apparently MIT considers geographic but not state. I am just wondering what those two things mean. Thanks!
    Thanks for all the info!

  15. Keri says:

    Omar –

    You can’t talk, and you know it.

    Also, I just saw you yesterday!

    Prashanth –
    Geographic residency pertains to where in the world you live. (It’s mainly about whether or not you’re an international student.) State residency is about which state in the US you’re from, which isn’t taken into consideration in admissions.

  16. Jess says:

    Just in case there was any other confusion over the female admit rate to MIT – it is true that if you look at the numbers, it’s quite skewed towards females. According to Laura, it’s something like 27% of females are admitted as opposed to only 12% of males. The thing is, though, men have been pushed towards math and science in such a way that women never are all their lives that many of the male applicants end up looking similar, while many of the females have had to overcome many hurdles to be on the same level, and end up going above and beyond. Women tend to self-select when they apply (as in, many females don’t feel they have a chance and don’t even apply because they were raised without the same push towards math and science as males) because of the male-only stigma towards math and science, which is why the split ends up being so even.

    Also according to Ben, women are more likely to be valedictorians, have higher GPAs and serve in more leadership positions than men do, on average.

    Laura answered it a little more completely here:, or you can direct this question to Ben (I did!) for a direct perspective.

  17. Prashanth says:

    Thanks a lot Keri!

  18. This is a really nice post Keri. You and Jess are really representing yourselves and the class of 2010 wonderfully. Keep up the good work.

  19. This is a really nice post Keri. You and Jess are really representing yourselves and the class of 2010 wonderfully. Keep up the good work.

  20. Deb says:

    OH DEARIE MARY BETH hahah i really didnt think that you’d respond BACK on keri’s blog. haha that lady over the counter was old and senile. you cant really blame them though – those ladies don’t make too much money nowadays (and hence airline companies are going down the drain)…

    yea so. lets chat on aim sometime. yea aim! now maybe i’ll have to run around looking for your sn cuz its soo shady to post it personal contact info up on a blog where lots of people(?) read stuff about you. haha. =D

  21. sadegh says:

    i am come frome iran
    i finished my university in course of optic and laser engineering
    iwant to know that can i continue this course in MIT?
    please send for me your informations

  22. Rose says:

    Thanks to everyone that answered my question. I was reading the blogs and starting to get a little intimidated. Your answers really helped. Thanks!

  23. MB says:

    OH man, Debbie! I was totally freaking out, and that airline lady was really mean at the counter. Ugh. Are you applying to MIT? What colleges are you looking at?

    Everyone, listen to Keri’s radio. There is good music.

    smile -MB

  24. David says:

    Jessica, you say that thing about the male push towards science and math, and the female way of “overcoming hurdles” such a matter-of-fact way.

    Is that is Fact? The manner in which you presented that certainly seemed to indicate so…

  25. Keri says:


    It happens more often than you think. Maybe you yourself aren’t currently witnessing occurrences of it on campus, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t gone through it before.

  26. anita says:

    Hey, im currently working on my essay and I’m wondering whether we really need to let other people view our essays be perfected…in short..Did u let others do that for you last time..? coz im quite concerned of my essay which never seem to stand out among the rest..

  27. Eileen says:

    Mary Beth? THE Mary Beth? I think I almost know her!