I am a part of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Black Women's Alliance (BWA), and Black Students' Union (BSU) at MIT. For me, it is great to have a group of people who are just like you which is a new experience for me. NSBE is great because it is a professional group of black engineers where you can take advantage of internship and career opportunities that may not have been presented to you otherwise. BWA and BSU are great for the social aspect. You have a group of students who can relate to issues or problems you may be having who support you. A student who is not willing to step out of the box or ask for help would feel out of place at MIT. As I said before, there are many different personalities at MIT, but people learn the importance of talking to each other and finding those whose strengths are their weaknesses. Most students wear jeans and t-shirts to class. People don't really dress up. Different types of students do interact, especially when working on psets. Students are from everywhere. There is no one place. You have domestic as well as international students. Students are relatively politically aware. I know people who have gone to rallies that have been in Boston and we keep up with the presidential primary votes and counts. The campus is predominantly left. This could be where I live, but a lot of people are liberal. Then again, this is Boston, so the majority of the city is left.
There are all sorts of groups on campus, and if you don't seek them out you probably won't have to interact with them, but if you do seek them out you can interact with them. I don't think any student would feel really out of place at MIT; maybe one who cared a lot about appearances, or who had a massive ego, but those things would probably both be changed just by coming here. This stereotype is not entirely true, there are plenty of students here who do care about their appearances, or at least can when the occasion arises. Students generally wear jeans to class, not many that I've observed wear pajamas, it's usually jeans and a t-shirt/sweatshirt. MIT apparel is quite popular here. MIT students are from all over the globe. I live in a dorm that probably has more international students than most, but compared to my high school MIT is very much more diverse. If you just walk around campus for a day you'll probably overhear 10 different languages. Students don't talk much about their financial backgrounds; we all complain about the costs of college, but no one seems to be able to afford it, so we can all complain together. Students that I run into are not particularly politically active, though they have opinions the opinion of the government in general is generally not very positive. I bet this, and which positions they have on politics varies a lot by dorm.
there is a place for everybody, i'm not joking, everybody at MIT. (from different races, sexual preference, extracurricular activities--hell, there are often people practicing for the circus, or to be knights, around campus at all hours of the day) we dress pretty comfortably for the most part. layers in the winter, shorts in the summer, lots of sweat pants/sweat shirts, and uggs!! YES! well, in my world i interact with everybody i meet. I love the diversity at MIT, and the fact that you can find people with such different backgrounds and lifestyles i find soo cool. I always love to meet new/different people! most people from MIT are from Earth. that's about the only honest generalization i could make. every financial background. and you hardly ever know who is from what sort of background, there is no reason to know if somebody is rich or poor outside of MIT, and you usually never know. most people are stuck within the MIT bubble and don't know what is going on outside. but, unfortunately, there is a very predominant liberal tendancy at MIT. haha, we always love to talk about the rumors that everyone from MIT will one day be a millionaire. we wish that it is true, but we find it saddening that it is never the MIT grads telling us that MIT grads will make $1 million!!
Experiences range, and MIT offers so many groups -- which, at times, come off as factions -- that try to make their presence and function on campus known. I would think that few students would feel out of place due to academic standing, since students at MIT are admitted here because they have shown they can prosper academically, but I get the impression that students of lower socioeconomic backgrounds must feel like they've been ripped off their whole lives after arriving at MIT and seeing the many other students who have had the privilege of belonging to affluent communities, going to top-flight schools, and flying to MIT and back home regularly, perhaps in first class. The higher rungs of the socioeconomic ladder are certainly better represented here at MIT, with only a small percentage (14%, according to MIT Financial Aid statistics) of students qualifying for the federal Pell Grant. Many students I know have parents who are doctors, nurses, professors, or other professionals and have been fortunate enough to come from nourishing backgrounds. Then there are a few students who can tell stories of struggle, that percent -- I wish I could be more quantitative -- must also be quite small.
I have not had a lot of experience with MIT groups. I was a member of the MIT Muses, a female acappella group. I occasionally attended a Black Student Union or Black Women's Alliance meeting. The Black Women's Alliance has a retreat every semester and I attended once. It was a great experience. Honestly, I do not think there is a certain kind of student that would feel out of place at MIT. There are all kinds of groups on campus and if a student is like me, he/she does not have to get too involved to feel part of the campus. Students wear a range of things from pajamas to jeans and t-shirts to more fashionable attire. Different types of students do interact although there is somewhat of a division along racial lines when it comes to the dormitories. Students are from everywhere. There is a large international population but the majority of students come from within the United States. Students come from diverse financial backgrounds. I think most MIT students have a middle class background. Students are politically aware and predominantly left wing. Students rarely talk about how much they'll earn one day.
My experience with the students at MIT has been mostly positive. I don't think there are many students that would feel out of place here, as it is an amazingly accepting community. Pretty much any eccentricity you could have, no one would mind. We're used to it. Or, you can choose to be pretty normal (a normie, even) and you can have friends, too! Another great thing about the MIT student body is that you won't find as many "rich kids" here. Its definitely a bit more diverse as far as financial backgrounds go than many other prestigious schools. I should add that MIT is much less politically aware than a lot of other colleges - I'm not sure why that is, but its quite pronounced. People don't know much about current events. However, they tend to be pretty liberal, and talk reasonably intelligently about political issues, when they happen to come up.
I am very involved in the religious groups on campus. There are over 13 Christian groups alone, and well as many Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and other groups. I haven't felt discrimination or anything like that, just great respectful discussions between people of different ideas. I don't think there is any person that would feel out of place at MIT. We have so many different kinds, and dorms geared toward each one. There are plenty of people from every background, people from outside the US, people from small town Midwest, and those from Manhattan that think Boston is a small city and everything in between. The financial backgrounds are just as diverse. The number of languages spoken in a sample of MIT students is staggering. Don't worry about finding your group, there will be someone like you in our diverse mix.
The student body is a pretty good mix. There are a lot of Asian people on campus and they might not even be students! I wish the LGBT community were more active and I wish that Caucasian people got more involved in cultural groups even if it's just going to their events. I do feel like there are a lot of well-off students here. Their parents have amazing backgrounds in math and science or connections to the government. All interesting people to meet. I've NEVER heard anyone talk about how much money they'll earn one day. The community is pretty politically quiet. I know what some people are but I feel there's a good mix of everyone - left, right, center, people who don't know what that means, and people who rather not get involved. You're definitely able to find a group that best suits you.
A student who dresses in designer clothes, carefully styles their hair each morning, and always has a manicure, tends to look a little out of place, but is always just as welcome in study groups, conversations or parties as any other student. For the most part, we are socially liberal, public school-educated intellectuals who judge each other on academic merit or social compatibility, not politics, religion, race or financial background. Discussion of future earnings is not uncommon, but it's almost always good-natured, self-deprecating, and entirely in a joking manner. The cliques which you might see in a high-school cafeteria or college dining hall don't exist here; we make friends where we choose, and usually on a one-to-one basis or as a living group, not as an exclusive social cluster.
The students here are pretty unique. I have friends of different races, religions, orientations, etc, and it's awesome because I'm experiencing different cultures I've never met in my life. I don't see a lot of self-segregation along these lines. People are cool with each other and that's that. They come from everywhere - people on my hall come from near the Boston area to Kenya and Sweden, and that's a really neat experience. As far as political activism, some are, and some aren't. There's a place for you here if you are, but if that's not your thing you'll be fine too. I'd say people lean more liberal than conservative, but I've met some very conservative people too so that's not a sweeping statement.