best thing- the culture. Nowhere else will you be able to explain your ideas of the principles of marriage using calculus and graph theory. one thing that I would change- the workload. It is not really possible to get through MIT without pulling an all nighter. Some people will pull regular all nighters, and one of the main parts of success is how well you can go without sleep. size- I think that the size is just right. It is big enough to have many things to do (adding to the workload, but still awesomely fun) and small enough that you will still recognize people while walking down the halls. people's reaction- they either assume that I am a genius, they are surprised that I am a girl, or some combination of the two. Time on campus- The dorms are actually a very good source of social activity. There is a long selection process freshman year to decide what dorm you are going to be in and then people rarely switch out because all of their friends are in that dorm. It is not uncommon to stay in the same dorm all four years. There are freshmen learning communities that are very valuable for the same reason, as well as the academic support. The MIT administration is relatively hands off. They let their kids do stuff, take the initiative, and experiment on a larger scale than at other places- like building wooden roller coasters in a courtyard, painting your room, or constructing servers to keep track of your laundry. Some of the biggest controversies happen when the administration does things that very much effect student life without student input- like re-arranging the dorm structure. This usually happens when the administration is trying to make us more like other colleges. For example the eating situation. There are many dorms that have their own kitchens for students to use, and a large part of the culture of those dorm are centered around those kitchens. Recently, the administration has been leaning toward the idea that it is better to buy your food from a cafeteria instead of making it yourself with your friends, and there have been some things that push students toward buying things that these dining halls. There are definitely unusual things about MIT. See the food situation above. Students will build things in their dorm to make it better fit their lifestyle, like murals, a 4 story tall RNA model, a roller coaster, a human size hamster wheel, liquid nitrogen ice cream... it is awesome. Also, there is the fact that freshmen rush for dorms. This is not to say that they get bids like fraternities, they just prioritize where they want to live AFTER a week of being on campus and looking around, trying to decide which dorms culture best fits. My particular dorm makes a very big deal about rush and treats it like a week long uber-geeky party. This is awesome because this means we get a week long party every year, even if you are not rushing anymore. Also, one of the biggest things that new freshmen encounter is the vast amounts of MIT-unique slang. to tool= to work, to punt= to procrastinate, to hack= to pull a prank or to explore parts of campus that are technically off limits to students or to do something very creative with computers, cruft= alumni or old out-of-date computers or technology, courses=majors, hosed=busy. Also, the vast majority of classes are referred to my their number, not their official name, and courses are referred to by their number (course 6=computer science and electrical engineering) the vast majority of buildings are referred to by their numbers, even the ones that have alphabetical names.
The best thing about MIT is the people I've had the opportunity to get to know. MIT has a unique culture full of students that make everything seem possible. I did wish the school was a bit smaller, but probably because I come from a small high school of less than 400 students. The reaction to a student wearing an MIT sweater is usually a positive one, and when it's not, it may just be a reaction from a student or alum of a school that was ranked lower than MIT, if you follow that ranking business. I do spend most of my time on campus in the Reading Room and other study areas, but when I go home to my living group, I find it quite invigorating. MIT is in Cambridge, and there are many colleges within a few miles of MIT -- within a radius of, let's say, 5 miles. I don't consider MIT's immediate surrounding environment much of a college town, though, and that may be because we are islanded by the Charles from the bigger college town of Boston. I know little about MIT's administration, except that I happen to be good friends with many people who reliably comment on one or two racist and prejudiced administrators. MIT bureaucracy can be somewhat stagnating, but it seems that once students get things together for a proposal, for example, then MIT is usually cooperative and helpful. I complain much about the lack of good food, since our Student Center offers few options with menus that only vary from day to day in that suddenly one day, the eatery may be out of ketchup. I don't have much school pride, and although so many people wear their MIT sweaters, I suspect it is either just because of the cold, or because of the weight that three-lettered insignia carries. People hardly go to sporting events, and don't seem to show much interest in improving the school. Many just seem to be here to take care of business, not take care of the school, and move on; although there are a handful of groups dedicated to the betterment of MIT.
The best thing about MIT is the opportunities that arises from being an MIT student. Being an MIT student opens doors to places you would never imagine, but graduating from MIT means the sky is the limit. One thing I would change about MIT is the cliques or groups that people tend to form. Even within the Black community at MIT, there is a separation between African-Americans, Carribeans, and Africans. I think there is strength in numbers and expanding our network of students enables us to know who we can go to for help and support when we are struggling with various subjects and problems. I think MIT is the right size. When you tell people you go to MIT, you can get different reactions depending on the person. Some people, mostly adults are surprised and impressed. Some are doubtful, but most are really impressed. When you tell a student from another school, they are also usually surprised. Although, sometimes people are under the impression that MIT students think they're better than everyone else, which at least I don't believe. While MIT is in Cambridge, which also where Harvard is, it is only across a bridge into Boston where there are many, many colleges. I would definitely say Boston is a college town. I think MIT administration is good. Students are very independent and aren't given many rules or restrictions , so in that sense it is nice not to have strict administration. There is school pride in the sense that everyone is proud to be and MIT student. It's especially nice when you go out to other places. There are many things unusual about MIT. People make liquid nitrogen ice cream, make DNA strands in through the middle of a stairwell, play tetris on buildings, and drive robots through hallways. There are plenty of unusual things here.
The opportunity to do hands-on research is the best thing about MIT. The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program provides many undergraduate students a chance to get involved in current research projects and network with professors and graduate students. One thing I would change are the dim lights in the dormitories. They are not conducive to positive thinking when it's 2am and you are still trying to finish your problem set. I love the size of my school because it's not large enough to get lost nor small enough to lose one's sense of privacy. Most of my time on campus is spent at the student center since it has food, computers, televisions, space to meet with study groups, pretty much anything you need. Between Cambridge and Boston there are so many schools and events occurring that I would most definitely categorize this area as a college town. The biggest controversy I've seen on campus was Professor Sherley's hunger strike. Professor Sherley felt that his denial of tenure was racially biased and after his petitions were also denied, he decided to go on a hunger strike in front of the school. I think there is a lot of school pride, but it is not very apparent at first. The pride comes from the extreme workload we all survive and the feeling that we earn our grades in a way that we feel Harvard students do not. One thing that is unusual about MIT is that everything has a number such as course 6 corresponding to the electrical engineering and computer science major and building 1 corresponding to the civil engineering building. The most frequent student complaints revolve around the workload. The joke here is that of the three S's (sleep, social life, and school), you can only have two at MIT.
There are a lot of unusual things about MIT that few people know. One of the best, in my opinion, is the amount of freedom the students are allowed to have. It seems like the higher-ups trust us to take care of ourselves. There are many dorms where you are allowed to paint the walls however you want, have cats, and generally you're allowed much more privacy than in many of the other college dorms I've visited. Another unusual aspect of the social scene is that there's a pretty pronounced split between "east campus" and "west campus". The personalities of the living communities are very different, allowing you to make a choice about the type of college experience you want to have - its almost as if they're two different colleges. The east campus culture is very well-developed; it's a great community, and a lot of fun. I don't know much about west campus. MIT is very challenging. While I loved the experience, you're definitely going to learn to manage your time, and you're going to have to learn to relax to some extent. MIT will teach you, above all, that you can't do everything perfect, and you're not the most clever person in the universe. Cambridge is a great place to spend time, and there are so many other college students in the area - Boston is almost like one huge college itself. If you manage to get out much, you can meet so meet a lot of great people; more than you could expect of most college towns.
The best thing about MIT is probably the academics. The classes here are all tough, and it's a new experience for a lot of students who received all A's in high school to suddenly come home with a 50% on an exam in a subject they used to be good at. We learn to adapt, but the academics push us to reach our higher potentials. The school is large, so we have to work harder as individuals to develop communities, though a lot of that is more dorm-specific. It's easy to get lost in the size of the student body, but if you make the effort it's not a problem. I personally spend most of my time in my dorm with my friends; we work at the kitchen table together and talk and do problem sets all weekend...no, we go out into Boston and go shopping or get coffee, or just walk around as well. My opinion of the administration is that given the size of the institute there must be massive amounts of red tape to get through to do much of anything, but I haven't personally had any difficulties. MIT is a very unusual place, I strongly recommend visiting to get a feel for it; everyone is smart, and the jokes they tell require a high baseline of knowledge, but it's fun. Most frequent student complaints are probably lack of sleep from working all night on problem sets. This is an unnecessary problem if you can somehow work ahead...haha.
The best thing about MIT is definitely the people. Don't let anyone ever tell you that MIT is cutthroat! Yes we work hard, yes we struggle, yes we compete, but just against out own standards and endurance. Everyone is always there to help. I can't count the number of times I've worked long and hard on a pset with friends and our laughter interspersed with triple integrals making it bearable. Be prepared for a reaction when people here you go to MIT. But the severity is directly proportional to the distance away from MIT. In Boston people take it in stride, but at home "MIT???? You must be really smart!!!!" is the norm. It's nice for the first few weeks… Boston is an amazing college town, though I would consider it far to big to be ever associated with the word town! There is always something going on, plenty of college students, and never a need for a car. MIT has its own brand of school pride. We don't have big attendance at sports games or huge cheering sections, our pride is all our own. MIT gear is ubiquitous and we love our school and revel in our work, and our reputation, sometimes…It's all summarized by IHTFP. This phrase describes the quintessential MIT experience, an alternating feeling of "I Have truly Found Paradise" and "I Hate This F* Place" You never can tell exactly which one you feel.
MIT is a good size. There are enough people for you to get to know your classmates but not be surrounded by the same people all the time, like college. When I tell people I go to MIT, they're shocked. Either, they've never heard of it before or they're surpised a black female is going to such a prestigious school. Yes, I do study, but when I'm not, I spend time around the dorm, at my sorority house, or along the Charles no matter the whether - the icy river is pretty in the winter and the trees and the esplanade in general look beautiful in the spring and summer. MITs administration is OK. I wish they took more effort to meet the students as a whole not a few important people here and there meet a select few of the student body. There is a lot of school pride - Nerd Bride, Love your Beaver. Most often, students complain about the work, but who wouldn't? MIT has hackers which are people that know they're way around campus and mysteriously post things along the buildings. For example, you might wake up to a huge red sox sign outside your dorm or along the tallest building in Cambridge.
MIT is a school where people come and realize that there are people just like them in the world. It is a place where everyone was in the top in high school, but now they all have to fit into one school. Some people struggle, most succeed both academically and socially. It is intense, but you choose that when you decide to come to MIT. You will bond with friends over problem sets, and may choose one night a week to let loose, but will be up in the morning working on problem sets. MIT is an incredible place to push yourself and get involved in things you never thought possible. People are very involved in extracurriculars and there is everything you could imagine. If it doesn't exist, make it. MIT students do tend to live in their own bubble though and don't know what is happening in the world around them. Some students have never been to Boston (except for the ride from the airport) despite the fact it is only a bridge away. MIT is what you make it. If you choose to take advantage of what it will offer you, it will be one of the most incredible experiences of your life.
Telling people I go to MIT carries a lot of weight. I seem to get instant respect and people then think I can solve any sort of math problem. Overall, I really enjoy being here. There are so many opportunities for me to get involved in and so many new experiences for me to discover. I love being in Boston because there are endless things to do. I love walking along the Charles River and going out to eat with my friends. I absolutely love my major here. I'm a civil engineering major and I feel like my classmates have all become really close. We can talk freely to our professors and grow closer while working away on endless problem sets. Although it's hard, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. One of the experiences I have had here is being a member of the gymnastics team. My teammates are my closest friends. I'm also extremely grateful to have the opportunity to participate in a sport I love with coaches that understand when I need to leave practice early to take a test. There is a great balance here between athletics and academics.