What's it like to study at MIT

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This is what I wrote one of the journalists at The Guardian for the article http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/sep/13/whats-it-like-to-study-at-mit?intcmp=ILCMUSIMG9382 at 9/11/2012 at 3am:


MIT is an incredible place – where you can pursue almost any opportunity you want. From the minute admitted students step onto campus, for CPW, they have to divide their time between many different options. You can do almost anything you want here. We have the classes – you can take as many as you want without any extra fees. There are almost no internal-registration limits like most schools. As everyone expects, we have the Science and Tech research. Some of those options also include leadership and advising the Institute. There is no better way to learn than trying. I am the President of a dorm, I have a $50,000 and 30 people that help out to run events and set policy. We also help out the MIT administration make decisions; I’ve personally advised President Reif on MITx.

MIT is as hard as you want to make it. There are 168 hours in a week. You can choose how you want to spend them. But everyone is invested 24/7 in making it through MIT. People study together and support each other. At other schools people might shrink from science and engineering because of the workload. Here the culture is I’m-more-hosed (slang for busy)-than-you. People here want to learn more and understand things better. And they will put in the time so they can.

MIT is like bootcamp for your brain. You are given all these hard problems and you need to figure out how to solve them. Information is not spoon-fed – you need to find your personal style of learning. Sometimes though we might think the exams are bit tricky just so the professors can break up the grade distribution.

Whereas in high school, every student was at the top of their class, here instead you might only be the top person in a particular area. But each person has some unique expertise in some area. We do have Good Will Hunting-style people. But we also have all types of people. People who like to party. People who like to build roller coasters in front of their dorm. People who do all three. The dorm system is incredibly varied since students choose what dorm they want to live in.

After MIT people can go in almost any direction they want. Sure the top firms recruit here. But some of my friends also dropped out to start their own firms. Some are in top PhD programs. The MIT name opens a lot of doors for you. Plus from what I can see, there has been no recession for recent MIT grads. Last year was our biggest career fair ever. With MIT’s generous financial aid, MIT is also a powerful source of social mobility. The average starting salary is almost $70,000 USD.

People who come here will never work harder in their lives, but grow a great deal. Just like bootcamp every day might not be fun, but you come out a lot better than you went in.

P.S. I recommend you check out http://wiki.theplaz.com/Working_out_a_System from Dec 2011 http://wiki.theplaz.com/Learning_to_Learn from Feb 2010 or my blog entries http://wiki.theplaz.com/Personal_Updates and videos of the dorms http://www.youtube.com/user/i3MIT