- Class: Freshman
- Major: Mathematics
- Gender: F
- High School: Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy
- Transfer Student: N
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.
Some professors know your name. A lot of introductory classes are large; my biology class last semester was probably like 350 students, so no, my professor didn't know my name, but smaller classes they certainly get to know you. I really don't think the large classes are a problem because you also have recitation in which your TA gets to know your name, and the TAs are very knowledgeable and helpful as well. The classes are all good, I can't name a favorite or least favorite. Students study a lot, they have quite a bit of fun, but I imagine they study more than a lot of colleges; they have to in order to learn the amount of material expected of them. Students here are competitive, especially the ones who are pre-med, but we all sort of commiserate on tests that didn't go so well, and there's a lot of camaraderie among peers. We're competitive with the unnamed student who scores 100% on that really difficult test, but not so much with our friends who do better than us. I suppose the class I've taken which is the most unique in my experience is a computation and logic seminar I'm in this semester; it's a very different way to see math from a logical standpoint. I've taken math classes, and logic classes before, but I'd never really thought of combining the two. There are opportunities to spend time with professors outside of class; there are often dinners sponsored by different groups where they get professors in and eat with the students. There are also advisers who you can go to, and you get to interact with in a one-on-one setting. The requirements at MIT are all good, everyone here needs a basic knowledge of calculus, physics, chemistry, and biology just to understand how to relate at all to their peers. The humanities requirements are also essential, I believe, in helping us learn how to communicate our knowledge with the outside world. This is a big problem at MIT, at least potentially, because the stereotype would be that we're too intellectual to be able to actually communicate our massively complicated thoughts. The education at MIT is geared towards getting a job, but also learning for its own sake; for the sake of learning we gain knowledge of how to get a job? It's both and the same.
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.
The Best Things
The people here are all very interesting and unusual.
The Worst Things
It's far from my home.