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MIT student blogger Bryan O. '07

You’ve got questions; I’ve got (some) answers by Bryan

Answers to your questions.

In response to this blog entry:

(As a reminder)
Don’t hesitate to ask me questions any time; you don’t just have to wait for a blog entry that asks you to ask me questions. I can always be reached via email at bryanblogs [at] mit [dot] edu. (Take that spambot!)

Nam wrote:
“Hi, I’m Vietnamese, would you tell me about how to get a scholarship from MIT?”

Hi Nam,
I will admit that I’m not completely familiar with how international student aid works, but maybe try asking MoneyMan, Dan Barkowitz.

Adam wrote:
“Hmm… Could you possibly pick a random, normal day at MIT, record what happened to you at what time, and then post the information? Not ‘just’ classes you attend, I’m interested in what you do between classes, any interesting things you happen to do, etc.

I’m not sure if someone has already done this at some point, so if you know of a blogger who already has, could you give me a link?”

Hey Adam,

Mollie ’06 posted an entry like this some time ago here, and tomorrow, I’ll be chronicling my day, and will post once I see a logical end to my day.

Brendan asked,
“What do most MIT students want to do once they graduate? Do they generally want to go directly into industry? Research? Education? Is there any difference in lecture with students wanting to do different things?”

Hey Brendan,
MIT students go off to do a lot of different things when they graduate. A lot of students pursue 5th year masters, some go on to industry, etc. There’s a more detailed breakdown about the Class of 2005 here.

As far as lecture goes, I don’t see much of a difference because I generally feel as though we’re being prepared to solve problems, and in anything most MIT students do in their future, they’ll be solving problems.

Alia wrote:
I am trying to decide if I should apply to MIT. I have been reading the blogs (and they are wonderful,) but I am still in a state of doubt. I don’t know what I want to do with my life ( I like everything,) and neuroscience is a definite possibility but English is just as likely a potential major. I’ve never been a “science kid,” and I haven’t done much within the field, but it is something that interests me. Based on what I’ve read, it seems like everyone maintains a balance in what they do, but they also all seem to be prodigies in science… and already I have a “me-them” mentality… If MIT was a nice match for me, wouldn’t I feel more united with what everyone is saying? I don’t know! I want to be happy and successful but I am a little insecure with the high potency of “high-logic” thought here. I think I’d probably be really happy at a strong Liberal Arts program–does that already nix me from being a good candidate?”

Hey Alia,
Thanks for your support of the blogs =) As far as your question goes, this is a toughie. I don’t really like to make claims as to whether or not someone is a good candidate because in my opinion being an MIT student is more than just liking math and science, it’s about wanting to make a difference in the world. I’m also just a student and not an admissions officer. If you like what you see of MIT and you think you’d like to explore the opportunity, I’d say apply. I am very much a supporter of taking chances and increasing the number of options when I need to make a decision.

Sean wrote:
“Hi, I am a high school junior and I have been aiming for MIT since I could remember. I have read countless times that MIT wants you, the applicant, to “be yourself”. Is this true? I cant shake the feeling that I need to solve the meaning of life in order to be considered an eligible applicant. I know I can go far in MIT, its getting in that has me going bonkers.”

Hi Sean,
I think MIT definitely wants you to be yourself. I was myself when I wrote my application, and I got in :). As far as solving the meaning of life, philosophically speaking, I think the meaning of life is to seek meaning in life :^). Just be yourself and let what motivates you and excites you speak to who you are and what you want to do.

John wrote:
“I have a question about athletics at MIT. I know that MIT is Division III, and therefore recruiting is very different than DI; however, if a strong academic candidate is also wanted by a coach, can this really help?”

John, to be honest, I have no idea. I played soccer in high school, and I never once communicated with the soccer coach here at MIT. To be sure though, I’d ask Matt, Ben, or Nance.

Mohamed wrote:
I am a sophomore at Boston Latin Academy. I have a few questions for you:
-Will MIT consider applicants who start up as average (3.0 GPA) in high school and then improve as a (3.8-3.9 GPA) during the last three years of high school?
-Which school would you recommend to a student who would like to be an top level expert in the medical field: MIT or Harvard Medical?”

Hey Mohamed,
MIT gives everyone a fair chance I think. Things happen, and they understand that. As far as what school I recommend, I’m clearly biased. I think MIT will prepare you just as well for medical school and tackling the complex problems involved therein as well as any other school if not better given the way MIT frames problems.

anonymous asked,
“Whats the actual party life like at MIT? I’m going to assume its no animal house, but contrary to what apparently half my town thinks, the people who attend here seem to be pretty “normal” just exceptionally smart.”

Hey anonymous,
One person once told it to me this way with respect to MIT students’ social lives. They work hard and they play hard. I’ll actually dedicate a longer entry to this in the near future as I think it warrants one.

Bianca asked:
“Is there anything from your MIT experience that you wish that you could keep with you forever?

How easy is it to meet all the different types of people at MIT?”

From my MIT experience, I think some of the most important things that I’d like to keep forever is the memories of time spent with truly interesting people who have some of the most brilliant minds to ever be encountered. I will also cherish the value put on hard work and dedication that is the nuts and bolts of what MIT is.

As far as how easy it is to meet different types of people, I think it’s really easy. There are so many events etc where you can meet people. People here don’t bite, and I think it’s just an accepted social norm that in college people really want to get to know new people and explore new things.

leah wrote:
“im just curious, but what the heck is recitation?”

Hey leah,
Classes at MIT are normally broken down into different components. There are lectures where the entire class attends and the main professor lectures. Recitations are smaller “mini-lectures” or reviews where there are about 20 students with a TA or professor and they go over the main concepts covered in lecture, homework problems, etc.

Vinita asked:
“Hmm…how about the music/arts section?
I feel music a good way to lighten up the mood. Er…people do call me a geek, but ironically I sing too, you can find my proficiencies in the homepage I linked up here.

So I was wondering about the opportunities for potential singers apart from the regular science courses they pursue.”

If you asked Michael Borohovski and the Seksi Borskis, they’d tell you it’s really easy to participate in arts-related activities. If you look here, you’ll get an idea about the musical groups here on campus.

Josh V wrote:
“How did you decide to go into course 2 and BE?

I have been looking into biomedical engineering myself. As it is offered as a minor, do you have any advice as to what other majors to look into at MIT that would be closest to biomedical engineering?

Can you describe course 2 and BE in more detail in terms of what kinds of classes do you take, what are they like, etc?”

Hey Josh,

Since this is an important question, I’ll actually write an entry about this seperately. But for now, I’ll say that I picked it because I really thought the material was really interesting, and I also misspelled the word “prosthetics” in the 6th grade spelling bee.

kamal deep asked:
“i am a high school student. i want to know that what tests i have to give to get admission in in computers.”

As far as admission goes, you need to take either the SAT I with the writing component or the ACT with the writing test and two SAT 2 subject tests.

Rachel W wrote:
“I’ve never had a chance to visit MIT, so I was wondering what the environment is like. Are the people happy? Does everyone get along? How much work is there? Is there enough time during the day to do what you want (aka non-homework or non-class time)?

One more question, as a freshman or sophomore, are you limited to the classes you have to take? For example, can you engage in research or independent studies?”

Hey Rachel,
I’m happy! There’s a significant amount of work but with practice, you can achieve a good balance. (I’ll write a longer entry about this question as well.) As far as the number of classes you can take, you are on a credit limit your first two terms if you don’t take Sophomore Standing, but this does not mean you cannot engage in research or independent studies because these activities don’t have to contribute to the number of units you take.

Robin wrote:

I was wondering if I could get ur opinion on something. Ok, here are the statistics: first in my class, a woman, potential engineering major, diabetes disability, active in community and school, talented in music, 1200 on the SAT, and highly motivated. There. So, what do u think? Do I even have a chance at being accepted based on the people you know there? If so, what is the estimated percent range in your opinion? I know this is opinion, but still, it means something to me.”

Hey Robin,
I’m really sorry but I don’t really give my opinions on admissions chances. The two reasons are 1) I’m not an admissions officer and 2) I really think MIT considers so much about a person when admitting them that it’s really hard to say yes or no with just a few facts about you.

I will say this, if you think you want MIT to consider you and you are considering MIT, then apply. Like I said above earlier, I’m pro-options, and if you get in, you’re giving yourself another option.

Tina asked:
Right, I have a bit of a tricky question/scenario. Basically I am a US citizen, but for the last 8 years I have been in the UK at boarding school. I have acquired A Levels, but due to the difference in system when I took the SATs I only did really well in the subjects I was taking (which seems fair right?) and now Im in a bit of a pickle because I want to come to university in the states and MIT is one Im looking at. Well, basically I was wondering what I ‘counted’ as and what I should do, I try and phone and I never get through and blah blah. Help please, but if you cant then thanks for your time.”

Hey Tina,
I’m not sure what the right answer is, but I’m sure you can explain this situation to the admissions office, and they should be able to give you a better idea.

Josh wrote:
“Hey Bryan,

I’m fully convinced MIT is an awesome place, but there’s one thing that keeps me worried about it: how will I possibly be accepted after my shameful high school performance? How many people get in with a relatively low GPA? (Lets say, no greater than 3.5)”

Hey Josh,
I know people who got in with non-perfect GPAs and people who got in with perfect GPAs, but like I try to tell everyone, numbers aren’t the only thing MIT looks at.

anonymous wrote:
“do you have any idea how GPA is calculated? i could get 4.0 if i include my electives , but lower if i use my academic subjects instead?

you’ll probably tell me MIT isn’t about the numbers though =)”

I think MIT takes whatever your high school calculated your GPA as, but I could be wrong. If you really want to know, I would consult with Matt, Ben, or Nance.

Adriano asked,
“Hi Bryan…

I’m brazilian and I wish to know how much you used to spend there in one mounth, and how much I could reduce my spends there if I had financinal adds…”

Hey Adriano,
My monthly spending is so erratic it’s hard to say, and I think spending really depends on your living situation. For example, by living in a fraternity, I don’t pay for my meals as frequently as someone who might not live in a fraternity or living group.

Marcelo wrote:
“Hi, Well, I¬іm brazilian academical and want discover if it¬іs possible study at MIT for six mounth or one year, like a kind of exchange, and how can I do it. Anybody can help me in the MIT site.”

Hi Marcelo,
MIT does have some summer research programs such as REUs and other on campus internships. I suggest you check out the departments you’re interested in and see if they offer such summer programs.

Hope this helps everyone. Keep the questions coming!

22 responses to “You’ve got questions; I’ve got (some) answers”

  1. Utkarsh says:

    Do you know anyone from India pursuing engineerignat MIT, please give me his details, don’t mind it is just that Indian requirements are specific. You can email me – [email protected] Please act fast i am nearing my interview date!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Hanis Dinh says:

    Hello! I am sorry to ask a brainless question, but what is the standard to get accepted to MIT ? Thank you very much.

  3. Pedro Ponte says:

    Hi Brian,

    I am still an high school student, but next year I would like to persue Physics in MIT. Nevertheless, I am portuguese, I am from Azores, so what must I do to apply to MIT?

    Thank you a lot, Brian!

  4. Hi, I’m a junior at Troy High School and I’ve been thinking about going to MIT for a very long time. Does MIT care about not being in the Full IB Diploma program or can I be in the Certificate/Anticipated program. In other words, I choose to take only selected IB SL/HL exams. Does MIT take the Troy Tech program into account? (AP CompSci A/AB) Also, must I be in Science Olympiad if my school has one? Is there any requirement for music credits? (certificate of merit for piano and music theory)

  5. I’m the person that posted above. I’m interested in BioEngineering/BioTech by the way.

  6. sorry… and CompSci.

  7. Bryan says:

    Utkarsh: I will try to get one of my friends from India to contact you.

    Hanis: I’m not quite sure what you mean by standard, but here’s a link to the common data set which has some statistics about the incoming class here.

    Pedro: Here’s a link to some information about the requirements for admission.

    Mario: I would expect they all deal with genetics in one way or another, depends on the approach. Another department to look at is the Biology Department.

    Christina: I didn’t do IB or any program like that and I still got into MIT. MIT considers each case and each candidate’s preparation separately. Do what you think will be best for you. You aren’t required to do Science Olympiad, and there are no music requirements for admission that I know of.

    Saikiran: You’re right; if you’re a non-native English speaker, you have to take the TOEFL and two SAT subject tests.

    Vinita: I would continue to try to call the admissions office or contact them via email, but this is a really busy time right now and a lot of the admissions officers are travelling all over the globe to recruit the class of 2011.

  8. Saikiran says:

    Hi Brian,
    I am a High School junior fro India.I have a doubt regarding the standardized testing requirements.Is SAT 1: Reasoning Test optional to international students as they are taking
    TOEFL + 2 SAT subjects (this is with reference to option 2 for international students)

  9. Mikey says:

    Vinita: I’d also be patient, and maybe send another email to [email protected] just to check in with them and make sure they received your first email. There are thousands upon thousands of students also in your situation, where they are trying to hand-assign EC interviewers, especially in countries such as India. And there are only a handful of people trying to handle all the inquiries, so please try to be patient and they will do their best to try and find you someone to interview with as soon as they can!

  10. Mikey says:

    Also, in response to Tina from the UK: If you’re asking about whether to apply as a domestic or international applicant, you are considered domestic if you are a US citizen (or permanent resident). So even though you’ve spent the last 8 years in the UK school system, you can apply as a domestic student because you hold US citizenship. (We have plenty of applicants that are in similar situations as you every year who are domestic students studying abroad.)

    Hope that helps! Bryan – love your blog. smile

  11. Vinita says:

    The links you provided were very informative, thanks. I felt happy to see an Indian Classical Dance Club, ‘Natya’ listed there. I guess everyone can find what they are looking for in MIT. And I’m now confident it won’t disappoint me. Okay, BUT HERE’S ANOTHER QUESTION:

    My interview has been waived due to unavailability of an EC at my place. But I made it clear in my mail to [email protected] that I can take the interview at my state capital or one more major city in another state. (I mentioned the places in the mail). But then I didn’t receive any reply. So I called up the office of admissions all the way from India, but to no avail. As in, nothing was sorted out.

    I feel that the people at MIT can know me better if they meet me in person and I want to try my best to re-schedule my interview. Have any idea about such issues?


  12. Mario Lanao says:

    Hey Brian,

    I really admire your blog and the others exhibit here on the MIT websites. There are really fun to read and very informative. Do you know what department of MIT deals mostly with genetics? Is it the Department of Chemical Engineering or Biological Engineering? Thanks!

  13. Bryan says:


    Since we’re in the city, we can’t see the stars very often.

    Dr. Boley,

    I’m not very familiar with any online distance program for finishing off MIT.

    – Bryan

  14. Hi, Bryan. As you can tell, I was at MIT long enough for them to give me a permanent email address. I never did graduate, however, which still bothers me to this day, despite advanced degrees elsewhere. I was originally class of ’77 (as in NINETEEN HUNDRED 77)! Maybe you can find out for me if there is some way I can finish my MIT degree online (although I could travel to Cambridge occasionally), without interrupting my entire life. The MIT degree is important to me on a personal level – at this point it has nothing to do with career or job advancement (I am in private practice in rural Virginia, so I’m sure no one really cares but me). Thanks!

  15. leah says:

    another question: can you see the stars at night on campus?


  16. Ying-Ying says:

    Greetings Ben,
    I sent in part one (of my application) two weeks ago by snail mail, and am considering doing part two online. However, the website says I shouldn’t send part two until I can see that they received my part one, and the tracking thing does not show part one. Should I be worried? What happens if they don’t process my part one until after the deadline?

  17. monisha says:

    Hi Bryan. This is Monisha from India. i am a high-school senior and am seriosly considering and wish to get into MIT. As a student i’m pretty average in academics for the Indian standards (pretty good at math though). I’m intrested in Bioengineering course MIT is offering, as it seems to be the best options which would lead me into the field of Biotechnology. I am writing my SAT-1 in november and will be able to apply bu january 1st. I know i’m pretty late but this is the best i can do right now as it was only this year that I have considered coming to US.
    So can you just tell me what you think is the most important thing from the applications and admission point of view so that i can work on that a lil’ bit more? What do you think are my chances of getting into MIT? Do you think MIT is the right choice for me; who is pretty focused and patheticaly interested in Biotechnology, even though lil’ laid back? Please do let me know.

  18. Nidhi says:

    hey..i am from india!..and i wish to know that the secondary school system in US means 11th and 12th grades or 9th to 12th grades?….i need this information for my secondary school report..

  19. Priyanka says:

    can u let me know what is the entrance examination into MIT for MS program offered,is it GRE+Toefel or some different entrance examination.If not GRE please let me know the kind of examination to be taken.

  20. Doug says:

    Hey Bryan,
    I was wondering if there was a minimum GPA you have to get to get in. I saw the data for the incomming Freshmen. My GPA isn’t very high, i think its a 90 right now, is that good enough?

    Thanks in advance,

  21. Gustavo says:

    Hi Bryan,
    I am a Brazilian student and I enrolled in a Brazilian university this February 2006 for undergraduate studies.
    As Brazilian academic year starts in February, I will not have completed the period of one full academic year by the time I send my application to MIT Admissions Office this year 2006.
    Am I eligible for freshman application ?
    Thank you.

  22. Vinita says:

    Bryan, Mikey, Thanks.
    @Mikey: I mailed them 4 times till now. I know that there are many other students like me, and so I did my best to clarify the issue. Only when I thought something went wrong somewhere that I voiced it out here. I’ll try calling them again today or tomorrow though.