Massachusetts Institute of Technology Top Questions

What should every freshman at your school know before they start?

Patrick

I don't think the schoolwork in college was much harder than I expected it to be. However, I would definitely advise myself to be more open in the beginning of the year and worry more about making friends than about making sure my room was neat or that my room had the best view. The social life is a huge part of college just as it was in high school, and the first few weeks go by fast enough that you should be worried mainly about getting to know people and making new friends.

Jaguar

"Look at this; my hands are shaking. Honestly, I'm terrified to stand up here, but that's one of the reasons I am. I have to jump on this rock. We're all lifting eachother up by our own bootstraps. Look around you, it's amazing what humans have done and are capable of doing in the years to come. You can be more effective, more productive, more inspired, by giving constructive criticism and positive comments to yourself and everyone around you (your elders, teachers, friends, family, mentees). Don't hurt yourself by comparing yourself to others. Analyze what you admire in people, and strive to enhance that part of you. I am bits and pieces of other people, bits and pieces of not people, and bits and pieces of things bits and pieces of people and not people learned from bits and pieces of other people made from bits and pieces of... both figuratively and literally. Think about it... Good luck with your applications and last few months"... I look over to Mr. Roman and he nods approvingly with large smile.

Carlos

Having gone through two years of college, I often find myself thinking about how I would do things differently were I to get a chance to relive those years. If I could talk to myself as a high school senior, I would first tell myself to use as much of my time as possible to utilize the opportunities available to me in college. During my two years I have taken advantage of many opportunities I only have here, such as a program to prepare for and obtain a summer internship and a program to visit South Africa. But I have also missed out on other opportunities, such as to be more involved in clubs, try out for varsity sports, talk more with my professors, etc. I would therefore tell myself to always be on the lookout for such opportunities, because oftentimes they only come around once. The other piece of advise would be to prepare more for the transition to college. My first semester was difficult, as I had previously not needed to study much in high school and thus struggled with my coursework. I would tell myself to learn different techniques for studying and to be prepared for it.

Danielle

You belong here. No matter how much you think you'll fail, and how much feels like the coursework and life in general are trying to break you, you will learn to build yourself back up. You will learn that you have ADHD, and it's not a disadvantage, but an explanation for why you've felt different for so long and it's the way that you'll come up with creative research ideas and develop your poetry. Your professors will be engaged by your natural curiosity and enthusiasm. Don't be embarassed. Start asking questions sooner. You're going to fail a few tests. And drop classes. You'll fail physics freshman year, and yes, you'll cry. But it won't go on your record, and you'll learn to work more, better, and harder than you ever thought you could. You'll get As in some classes, Bs in others, and some Cs. You'll learn that your grades don't always reflect your understanding, and they're not as important as you think anyway. The admissions committee saw passion, potential, and perseverance in you. By the time you're done you'll see it too.

Pooja

Now having the freshman year of my undergraduate experience under my belt, I wish I could've told myself as a senior to express myself more freely. Arriving on campus, I noticed that the term "conformity" only existed to describe our student body as a whole; in reality, everyone was an individual and expressed this in their own way. Some wore clothes they were most comfortable in, whether they be weird hats or pajamas to class, and others devoted themselves to research or extracurriculars they enjoyed.

Kelsey

I would go back in time and tell my former self to stay at your first choice college! Don't come home right away and just try to stick out at least the first semester! You might decide you like it. If you don't like your roommate it is possible to get another roommate or your own room, so STICK IT OUT!

Sneha

College? Exciting! Welcome this change!High school is almost over and—what’s that, a tear?The past will be with you. The future won’t scare you.Trust yourself. Do not fear.Do all you want and ever wanted to. Yes, these years will be difficult,But you are capable.Take challenging classesTake fun and intriguing onesExplore the city and campus lifeExplore yourself and your ambitionsTry new activities, subjects, and sportsMake new dishes, friends, ideas, and plansKeep growing and reaching out further than before!And keep the past friends and good memoriesBut don’t cling on if they drift away.Forget that grudge, forget that crush,For your time and mind are too precious For brooding and lamenting and such.Play the piano as beforeAnd also try singing and dancing and more.Create crafts and poems as beforeAnd also try painting and programming and more.Life is not a part of college;College is a part of life—An exhilarating and enthralling part. Have no qualms about its start!Now give your teachers a thank you,Your friends an au revoir,And your family a huge hug.Get rea—Nah. You already are.

Kate

You have a very good idea of who you are and what you want out of life already. Stay true to yourself, but don't be afraid to let your assumptions be challenged. Things might not turn out the way you have them planned now and you should embrace that change rather than shrinking away from it. Don't sacrifice your values, but don't cling to things you call your "values" just because you've always believed them. Challenge yourself, don't take the easy way out, become the person you wish you could be.

Elizabeth

From college I have learned how to be independent. I have grown a lot personally and spiritually. MIT has helped me learn many things academically that have been important- but the most important things I have learned have been about who I am as a person, away from my family. This has been valuable because it has prepared me for what lies ahead in life where I will have to question my decisions and actions through my own definition of self. and coming to better know myself before then will help me along the way.

Juhee

In high school, you breezed through classes without cracking a book. When you graduated, all you could think about was the amazing summer you would have, free of all obligations. Then, when you got here, you discovered that you could continue that amazing summer. When midterm grades came out, you found that you were pretty close to failing your classes. Look, I know that your first semester at MIT is pass/no-record, meaning that all you need is a C-minus. But this is the time when you set your study habits so that you can get good grades the next semester. Get your act together starting from the day classes start. You don't need to study for hours at a time. Just spend a little time everyday trying out a few problems of that p-set, and by next Thursday, you'll be happy to see that you don't have the mounds of homework that your roommate has because she procrastinated until the last minute. But more importantly, don't forget to chill a little. College is a huge part of your life, yes, but that one B isn't going to ruin your life forever.

Olivia

Mainly, I would tell myself to relax. As a high school senior, I was so nervous that I wouldn't be able to make any friends, or that I wouldn't fit in, but I discovered that at college there are so many types of people that even if you don't exactly mesh with the people you meet first, doesn't mean that you won't find anyone that you do mesh with. One of the best pieces of advice that I would give my past self is to not to be afraid to get involved with clubs and activities. If you find something that you really want to do, then chances are doing it will not only help you to enjoy yourself and relax, but also will naturally lead to you meeting some really cool people.

Karis

I was homeschooled all throughout high school. When it came time to apply to colleges, the only thing I knew was that I wanted to go to school out of state. When I learned of my acceptance to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I was ecstatic! My dad and I packed up the car and made a fourteen hour drive so I could visit MIT. I fell in love with the campus and the community and decided that I was going to attend school there. The summer of my senior year I had my first job. I saved money for books and food but I never took into account that I would be away from home for three months at a time, so once I had saved enough money I spent the rest. Now I realize that I should have saved more money for airfare so that I could visit home more often. I would tell myself to take into account that I'm not entirely independent, and that I still need the continuous support and occasional presence of my family.

Lauren

Dear Me, I know you. You almost never fully trust anyone else, and are therefore rarely dissappointed when people let you down. Infact, the only person you ever put faith in is yourself. You've told yourself that it's just self preservation, and that building yourself up for others just so you can shatter and break every single time is impracticle. In college, you will find situations in which everything is all on you, and you will fail. Miserable, crushing failure. These will be the worst, since you are the last person you have fully trusted. Without a doubt, this will happen. So, you can't live your life not trusting yourself. Plain and simple. Similarly, you are not fully living you life if you never put faith in anyone else. You are cheating yourself of making connections that could prove to be the best relationship you've ever experienced.. So put faith in others. Get excited about people. Always tell others how much you value their friendship. Sometimes, these sentiments will not be returned, but that's what makes life so beautiful. It's a spectrum of both vibrant and dull. Enjoy every bit of it. Love, Me

Diyang

It's 3 AM on my dormitory hall and hang-out time has just gotten more interesting. A few people are filing into the lounge, taking a break from work, but that's enough to veer conversation to new topics. A couple of minutes later, an email advertising birthday cake for a neighbor is sent out. In high school, the socializing that was thought of as "cool" and was possible in my limited free time had seemed contrived and tiresome. Living 24/7 in college is a whole other beast. Things are different when you are responsible for your time, when there are similar people all around. You need a balance: disciplined in order to get everything done, but flexible in order to not miss anything you'll regret. I wish that my high school self had anticipated more than just classes and professors; I would advise myself to think about time outside of classes, including the downtime I spend living amongst other students. That's the stuff that slips an excited student's mind. While college life is always a surprise, I would've wanted to be readier to deal with the surprises in time management thrown my way.

Joseph

First off, practice piano more. You won't get as much time at MIT to practice, and the pianos in Next House are out of tune. Secondly, and more importantly, take more time to go out with friends and spend time with them. You'll find new friends, obviously, but do not forget the ones you already have. Knowledge and accomplishments will fade eventually, but your friends are a true asset. Thirdly, go look up which astronaut was buried at West Point and add a little bit more on constellations and asterisms to the competition binder for Astro. Fourthly, and sadly, start your breakaway earlier. She just needs time, so give her the summer instead of drawing things out. Fifthly, be nicer to your parents. They really will miss you, even if their way of showing it will be to call at some rather unfortunate times. Sixthly, if that's even a word, watch Ghost in the Shell now so that you don't waste time on it during semester. Eighthly, just relax. College is great, once you get used to it, and everything works out. The people, the money, the studies - you'll love it. See you later.

Sheila

Dear Sheila the High Schooler, You've worked hard to suceed in high school and got accepted into MIT early action. Congrats! But as you go through college, time management is so important and is every new MIT's student's number one problem. Realize that there is more to life than just academics. I regret that I did not do more during my first semester because I was so focused on my classes, but please don't neglect your social life so much. You need to balance out between studying/working and having fun/relaxing. I could have obtained a research position with a professor researching environmental economics, joined few more interesting clubs, or gone to few more parties with more new friends. Also, please learn to cook few more new dishes as we all have to cook and feed ourselves here! (but don't worry, we have fully equipped and spacious kitchen). Mark my words, you will become a successful young lady who will eventually achieve her full potential at MIT and beyond. Love, Sheila as MIT freshman PS. Keep your eye on that boy! ;)

lacee

simple I would listen to my heart and do what i want to do with my life. Not what my parents and family wanted me to do.

Luwen

Try to explore all the possible career opportunities that interest you and take advantage of the alumni network by talking to as many alumni as possible. They are very helpful in terms of giving advice, pointing you to other helpful people, and finding a job or internship. Also, know that college is as competitive as you make it, and although your GPA does count for jobs and internships, no one cares about which class you take. So, if there is an easier version of a subject, it's usually best to take the easier version instead of struggling through the infamously hard class. Lastly, view it as a learning process in which you will make mistakes. Learn from those mistakes and ask how you can improve, whether this is through social interaction or time management. Learn by watching others who are skilled at social interaction. Work expands to fill your available time.

Danny

Work harder.

Jess

I would have advised my high school self to explore a wider variety of subjects before entering college. I changed my major during my first semester of college from biology to electrical engineering and computer science because I attended a free, extracurricular lecture about solar electric vehicles on a whim. That got me interested in EECS; then taking the first EECS class got me hooked. Now, I only wish I had realized my true passion earlier and programmed more in high school, which would have given me an edge once I entered college. However, regardless of having previous experience, I know I love the subject. This leads me to my second piece of advice to myself: don't be afraid to make big changes in your life. I was definitely apprehensive about leaving behind biology, a subject I was familiar with, to basically start in a new subject from scratch; and the first EECS class I took was definitely rough; but I'm on my feet now and so thankful I made the plunge. In the future, I may work in bioeletrical engineering, which would combine both my interests. Paths in life sometimes split, and sometimes converge.

Cydnie

The best way to find the college that is best for you is to visit or talk to current students. The more you know about the place, teh easier it will be to decide if it's a good fit for you.

Arkady

Go with your heart, and you will be at a place that makes you happy. One can do well at any academic institution if they put the work into it; it is important to be in a place that you feel you fit well into.

Katie

Visit campuses, stay overnight with students, talk to coaches and professors, take a tour. Make sure to choose a college that has several majors you might be interested, in case you change your mind about what you want to do. It's okay to have location be a significant factor in choosing a college because you want to be in a place that you'll enjoy.

Daniel

Dream big and work hard. If you work hard enough, you will end up exactly where you want to be for school. It may take time, but many big life decisions do. There are many programs and many different schools available, but I would recommend visiting schools and meeting students. When you choose the right school, you want to be sure that you'll be happy. Going through school unhappy might make it nearly impossible, so you should be sure you can find happiness while you're in college. It's a big chunk of your life, so it shouldn't be a miserable chunk.

Stephanie

I would advise parents and students to really consider the people and the community of the college. Definitely make a campus visit or arrange for an overnight stay with a student host to talk to current students -- make sure the college environment is comfortable. Parents should talk with parents of current students as well, just to get a different viewpoint to make sure that the college is safe and acceptable. Also consider the specialities of the college; for example, if you are looking for an engineering/science college or more humanities and liberal arts, choose based on what area you hope to focus on in life.

Desiree

Study hard, try new things and set aside time to enjoy the collge experience.

jamie

Try to discover what you love most and what is most important to you in the future. Find a college or university that will help you grow in those areas and achieve your goals. Don't be afraid to try something new or go somewhere new. College is a time where you can keep growing as the person you are or completely recreate yourself into what you want to be.

Layla

To parents and students: keep your mind open! Parents, this is your son's/daughter's time to go off and become, almost fully, their own person. They will be shaped and molded by the people and events they encounter during their college years. As such, it is important that they choose a college that will allow them to grow successfully. Any college that can provide this will do. And by giving your son/daughter your support and your advice, you will help them immeasurably as they learn and grow. Students, this is your opportunity to learn something about nearly everything! It's a chance for you to expose yourself to new ideas and people and in the process solidify your own perspectives, goals, and aspirations. Be open to new people and experiences - they truly will help you define yourself and, of course, learn about the fascinating world around you.

Robert

For parents: Don't get too involved your child's application. Most of the people here at MIT made it because they expressed themselves through the applications process without interference from Mom and Dad. There are students here who have the type of parents who insist on approving every little detail of the application. Their parents will never know it, but these kids got in by changing every essay at the last minute to reflect their own personality. For Students: The people are what matter the most! Your happiness at college is largely dependent on where you choose to live, so choose somewhere with good people over everything else. When you are up at 3:00AM doing homework, the furniture and location won't be able to help you, but your hall mates will!

Steven

When selecting a schoool think about how big of school you would like to attend, what kind of setting you prefer (rural, suburban, city), what you are interested in majoring in (will you be able to change majors if you are unhappy with your first choice), and most importantly, is this somewhere you could be happy for the next four years?

Tiffany

do what you like, look to the people at the college to be role models for someone you want to be someday.

David

College is all about the people. During the college application process, definitely take the time to go and visit the campus and meet the people there, students and faculty. Get an idea of what a normal day at that college would be like. Either ask a few students or if available do an overnight program, see the campus , attend some classes, etc. Try to do this before you apply but definitely before you choose. Once at college, the people around you are really going to definite your experience. Make sure to make a close friend, someone you really connect with, this doesn't have to happen right away or even in your first year, but make an effort to find that friend. As far as classes go, talk to people, especially upperclassmen, and find out what professors are good/bad, a professor can really make or break any class. Make an effort to get to know your professor and vice versa, this connection can become very helpful and professors tend to be pretty interesting. Try to stay focused and on top of your academics, but remember college is more than just a bunch of classes. It's about the people.

Jeremy

The four years that you are in college are the most unique years of your life. Never again will you be able to have the opportunity to do essentially whatever you want, whenever you want, and not be held back by the responsibilities that come with living in the real world. The friendships that you forge and memories that you form during your college years are things that you will never forget. Choosing the right college is an important decision, one that shapes the rest of your life. When looking at colleges, the main factors that you should take into consideration, besides the curriculum, are the people and the surrounding environment. To me, the diversity of the people is what makes MIT so amazing. I have met people from every continent, and each offers a unique point of view, giving me completely different perspectives to think from. MIT is in Boston. For me, this is a good thing because it offers a way to escape from the academic environment. I would suggest thinking about what you like to do outside of school, and use that to decide if the surroundings of your prospective school are attractive or not.

Jessi

Always remember that your years at college are for learning, but also remember that learning goes beyond the classroom as well. Study what you are interested in. If need be, fight to get the education you want and deserve. Take time to learn from your fellow students. Create your own projects. Get involved. Put as much as much into your education as you want to get out of it. Eat well and get enough sleep- your mind is not capable of functioning well when your body isn't. Ramen isn't real food. Never be afraid to ask questions, or answer them. Ask for help when you need it, and help others when you can. Balance your time. Don't let yourself get burnt out- remember to take breaks and do things you enjoy. Get off campus sometimes and stay connected to the real world. Find what you are passionate about and do it. Learn for the sake of learning.

Emily

Parents should be aware that every student is different and that there is a "right" school for everyone. However, the perfect school for one child may not be the best place for another. Just because a school is ranked highly does not mean it will be the right atmosphere for every competitive student. The student should pick his or her college based on personal values and priorities, and make sure that this school is somewhere that the student can picture him or herself for the next few years. The most important aspect of picking where to go to college is that the setting, level of competition, and student body are motivating to the individual. During college, it is sometimes very difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it is infinitely helpful when the school is overall motivating and encouraging. It is also more satisfying to make the college choice for yourself, rather than to go along with the school that someone else thinks will be best. Most of all, try to have fun in college: explore new interests and meet many diverse people. This is an opportunity to discover who you are.

Zeke

To find a college, try and vist each college you are strongly considering for a weekend, to get the feel of the atmosphere. use that oppurtunity to talk to other students and get a feel for the college. As for making the most of the college experience, look into extra-curricular activities, like varisty sports, im sports, debate teams, etc.

Tiffany

Finding the right college: After finding a series of colleges that cater to your interests, ask people about the personality of the school, then compare that to your own. Making the most of it: Don't kill yourself with classes. Before deciding to double-major or something, think about balance. Sometimes taking only a few classes and letting yourself have time for other events can pay off by keeping you unstressed. Sleep is also very important.

Hannah

Make sure that you choose your school because you want to, not because other people say you should. If you pick a big name school, you will at some point get tired of being known by the brand, make sure you like your school for more than just the name, that there is substance behind it that really fits you.

Jennifer

Take advantage of all the opportunities the school has to offer. MIT offers undergraduate research programs as well as extracurriculars. Try new things -- one of the freshmen experiences is to be on the crew team. In order to find the right college, make sure you know what kind of college you're getting into. I had no idea that MIT would be this difficult. In the end, I am glad, but MIT is definitely not the place for everyone.

Danwen

FInd somewhere that you see fit, and you will be happy at. Spending 4 years in a place you hate can really hinder your college and learning experiences.

Lauren

Choose the school that FEELS right for you, not what your parents or friends think is righ for you.

Jon

Finding a good school with majors of interest in a good city.

Jonathan

Make sure to: Visit as many schools as possible Talk with current students (particularly if you have connections with them) to figure out things about the college. Try to attend a class. Look at its' website for course materials. Don't party too hard. Take some classes that you may be afraid of taking (Stretch yourself)

Elizabeth

Be open minded. When you are visiting and exploring colleges, try to suspend any previous stereotypes you have. Try to sense how the place makes YOU feel. Can you envision yourself spending four of the most formative years of your life here based on your visit and the information you have at hand? Parents, let your kids explore what they are interested in, in addition to what you'd like to see from them. Sometimes the best fit is an uncanny one.

Nicholas

Visit each college to discover if that particular college will emphasize that which makes you grow. It is easy to get lost during high school but it should be pretty effortless to describe what form of instruction pleases you based on lecture situations. Either way, the Massachusettes Institute of Technology provides a top notch education in all forms. Just go to MIT if you get in - they teach you everything you could possibly learn for whatever subject you wish to speicialize in.

Tess

Go check it out! Lots of schools have programs which let high school students visit and experience the campus, stay in the dorms and maybe sit in on a few lectures.

Paul

Talk to students and recent alumni about their college experience, they are the ones that will be the most honest with you about what the college is like.

Cecilia

I didn?t find the right college. I visited twelve. At each of them, I shrugged, saying, ?Sure, I could go here.? I applied to nineteen. I managed to weed out the majority, but on Decision Day, I sat by the mailbox, holding two unmarked response cards. I chose challenge. I chose the school that would kill me, where I would struggle to be average, the school that had the fewest people like me. The fact that I chose MIT for its difficulty and pain was the single indication that I was a good match for it. I didn?t stop there. I am a MechE major who hates building things. First semester freshman year, I lived on a floor inhabited by conservative Muslim guys. The only official MIT exchange program is in England; I'm studying abroad in Paris. College is like marriage. You could be happy with several people, but you choose one, or he chooses you. Then you make dozens of decisions that affect your relationship. Choosing MIT was important, but subsequent decisions made my college experience. Close your eyes and pick a school. When you get there, take a risk. Learn something. Make mistakes. Bon courage!

Jesse

Be open to possibilities you may not have expected you'd be interested in. In the applications process, consider whether you're missing out on some option that you wrote off without good reason. Once on campus, do a little shopping; don't be content to do what you've always done - make sure to explore activities and classes that sound somewhat intriguing, even if you might not think of yourself as someone to be interested in them.

Daniel

Gauge your interests carefully. Try not to choose money or prestige over quality and what the student is interested in, that is the most important factor. What do you want to do for the rest of your life, and will you enjoy it. Only once you figure that out and actually test out your interests will you truly know what is the best fit and consequently the best mode of action.

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