Impressions Of
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Academic Experience

Female Computer Science and Economics and Business Analytics Double Major C/O 2021

Is there anything you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
I think both do an exceptionally good job of being present to help students. We have a ton of office hours where we can go and meet up with our TA’s and professors. There’s also an online forum called Piazza where we can post questions and ask for help. Professors and TA’s will be responding to that all the way up to 2 or 3AM. It’s almost like you can get help 24 hours a day, which I think is really awesome.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I would say it’s a mix of both. In terms of working with other students, it’s really collaborative. People are always working in groups and helping each other out with problem sets and labs and whatnot. But, I think the students are really internally competitive, so not necessarily competitive between one another, but driven to do their best and get really good grades.

Male Computer Science, Data Science, and Economics Major C/O 2021

Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I knew coming in I wanted to be in the intersection of business and technology and I think 6-14 does a great job of that. I wanted more of a deep tech background and 6-14 allows you to take the technology courses to allow you to say that you came out of MIT with a very technical degree and additionally get some business expertise.

There’s not too much that MIT does poorly. What MIT does is you learn through the lectures, recitations, and also the problem sets so there is a lot of self-teaching you have to do. Sometimes I feel that is taken to a bit of an extreme where you’re struggling to do your problem sets, not because you didn’t understand the material, but because you didn’t learn the material in lecture. It’s a good learning experience because it teaches you to do things yourself, but there are times when it’s a lot.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
MIT is more collaborative. I think MIT is collaborative because you have to be. If you try to do things on your own you’re going to be in trouble because of time and it’s hard to understand the material when you’re looking at it from your own perspective. That comes from doing them with people or doing them with T.A.’s in office hours.

Female Mechanical Engineering Major with Concentration in Design C/O 2021

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s definitely collaborative in a lot of senses. You usually can’t do your homework without help from either people in your classes or people who are older than you. You have to get help from others and talk to others and then return the favor.

I think you’d get different responses from different people if you asked them if it’s competitive because there are a lot of different sides of campus. I would personally say my extracurricular life is more competitive than my academic life, but that’s also just how I am. I don’t reveal things like my success in academics because that’s my preference. In extracurriculars, I’m competitive with others to get positions and to have a better network.

Why did you choose your major?
I’ve always had Mechanical Engineering in mind. I think it leaves a lot of doors open for me. I don’t want to end up being a straight mechanical engineer, but I think I’m geared in a hands-on, project learning way. Mechanical Engineering has a bunch of classes at MIT that are known for being like that and for being very excellent in how they incorporate project-based learning.

You can either be a straight Mechanical Engineering major or you can be a Mechanical Engineering major with a focus on something. Having a focus takes the weight off the really technical part of Mechanical Engineering, which is what I want because I don’t want to have to do really technical things for four years, so that’s why I’m doing design.

Social Opportunities

Female Mechanical Engineering Major C/O 2021

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at MIT?
I like to go out to frat parties and dorm parties usually once a week. MIT also has what I call, “wholesome activities,” so there is SaveTFP which is every Friday night. They’ll have Waffle Night or Scary Movie Night. Because I have practice on Saturday morning that’s always a really fun thing to do. You go for an hour with your friends and then come back and watch a movie or, unfortunately, sometimes do work. There’s definitely a good going out culture but also a good staying in culture. There are also clubs and bars that older people go to.

How happy are you with the nightlife options at MIT? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty happy with it. I was initially pretty anti-frat, but I think I was unaware of the culture of that and only knew things from the news which is all pretty negative. My dorm is known as one of the more social dorms, but we don’t throw real parties we just throw small parties. I’m happy that other dorms will throw big parties that are registered with the school, and those are really fun and not Greek life-oriented. If a dorm throws a registered party, there will be MIT security there to help them throw it safely within the law. Safety is a pretty big concern and I feel it is well-respected.

Male Computer Science, Data Science, and Economics Major C/O 2021

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at MIT?
We’re not a big bar school. Almost all the parties are at fraternity houses, but the fraternities are not exclusive. If they know you’re an MIT student or if you know someone in the fraternity and are in a different fraternity they will let you in. On the weekends I also like to try to get a golf round in during the weekends, play intramural sports when it’s warm, and sometimes play pick-up basketball.

What nights of the week do you like to go out?
With how much we have to study [it’s tough]. There’s a thing on Wednesday nights at one of the frats that are super fun at the beginning of the year. Friday night you can go out, but you would be going out to watch a movie or something just so you can work pretty late into Friday. Saturday nights are the big nights for going out. If you have the time, you can get a second day in there but it’s pretty unlikely.

Female Mechanical Engineering Major with Concentration in Design C/O 2021

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you liked to do?
We don’t do much because my friends and I don’t want to spend a lot of money to do social things. I’ve gone to a few comedy shows in Cambridge and I’ve gone to a ton of restaurants in Cambridge, but again you’re spending money. I’ve been looking for stuff to do and it feels like you don’t have much to do if you’re under 21 except go to a party in a frat.

How happy were you with the nightlife options at MIT?
I wish that certain parties were less dingy and impersonal and gross. I wish there were more options to have more theme parties. I love theme parties, I know this sounds really nerdy, but even if a frat did a masquerade or something that had more care and focus on some sort of cultural thing, I would have liked that. At the same time, I’m the kind of person that can make that for myself, so it’s not like I was unhappy with MIT’s social life, I just think that’s the way it is.

Campus Culture

Female Mechanical Engineering Major C/O 2021

How did you meet your closest friends?
I did a pre-orientation program (FPOPS) and a good portion of my very close friends came from that. I also met a good portion of my very close friends on my freshman floor. Then obviously the extracurriculars you do really help determine that as well. My team is a very tight-knit group. Even who you sit next to the first few weeks of class can help determine that.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
I think it’s pretty good. There are definitely people who are not that social and are cool hanging out in their rooms by themselves or with one or two friends. They’re super happy with that and that’s awesome. There’s also a pretty big culture of going out, hanging out, and meeting new people. I identify more with that group, but I did not anticipate people being like that but they are. It makes for a pretty good social scene.

Female Computer Science and Economics and Business Analytics Double Major C/O 2021

How would you describe the overall social scene?
I think eclectic would be a good word to use [laughs]. It depends a lot on the type of person that you are. I always like to say that you can find your place and you can find your home. No matter if you come in and you’re really into Greek life and partying, there’s that area for you, and if you’re really quirky there’s a scene for you as well. There’s a place for everyone and I think that’s what’s so cool about MIT.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I would say to a large extent. A lot of our sororities are really focused on including minorities, and there is something Affiliated, which is specifically for the intersection of fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups and the LGBT community. Outside of Greek life, the dorms are very, very inclusive.

Male Computer Science, Data Science, and Economics Major C/O 2021

What is the impact of Greek life on social life?
It’s almost the entirety of it in my opinion. When you say Greek life, we also have a really tight group of people called the Burton Third Bombers, [they live on the third floor of the Burton Conner House]. They’re their own organization and are very close. Outside of Greek life, there are a lot of tight-knit living groups that you can almost call Greek life, and so they are also a big part of the social scene.

Do you think people are happy with their choice of MIT by the time they graduate? Do you think people leave loving MIT?
I would definitely say so. I think during your four years there are some [tough] times. I think one of the biggest campus mottos is IHTFP, which can be “I have truly found paradise” or “I hate this f****ing place.” That varies during the time because there are weeks when you have lots of problem sets and you can think “what am I putting myself through?” but I don’t doubt the alumni think that it was incredible. I’ve had alumni tell me that the hardest thing they’ve ever done is get through MIT, so you will be very prepared for the professional world. So, I think people look back at it and think that it was time well spent.

Cambridge, MA

Pros of

  • “The food, not just in Cambridge but also in Boston. The North End has great Italian food and we’re known for lobster rolls.”
  • “The airport is right by us and it’s an international airport.”
  • “It’s a nice place to be because there’s a lot of Boston pride, which makes it a lot of fun. There is a lot of pride in the sports teams.”
  • “You get a city feel but also have enough of a campus that you don’t feel like you’re ingrained in the city because we’re on the Cambridge side [of the river].”

Cons of

  • “It’s cold. I know a lot of people take that into account.”
  • “MIT’s campus isn’t the prettiest. MIT is more so focused on functionality instead of beauty, so they work on updating the learning experience instead of the visual experience which I appreciate.”
  • “There’s not a ton of nature around us. There’s a little bit, but not as much as I am used to or would like.”

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Female Mechanical Engineering Major C/O 2021

What is something you wish you knew about MIT before entering as a freshman?
The only thing I wish I knew was that our first semester is Pass/No Record, and I wish I took better advantage of that and done some more reach classes. People are always giving you advice here, which is very helpful. People who are older are always telling me stuff to do.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that is worth checking out?
The labs. Go down and check out what kids are doing, because that’s really cool. The first semester you’re just in lecture halls, so it’s nice to see what you’re actually working for.

Female Computer Science and Economics and Business Analytics Double Major C/O 2021

What is something a person interested in Greek life should know that we haven’t touched on?
Our recruitment is very low-key compared to other schools. It’s a no-frills recruitment. It’s for three days, which is much shorter than other schools. For girls, a lot of the time the girls who are accepted to MIT are not girls who think Greek life would be for them. Greek life at MIT is very different than it is at other schools. It’s another network with a group of girls who are really smart and can help you with your classes. Without them you kind of go through MIT alone, which makes it much harder. So, if you view it as a network it comes into perspective more. You also have the opportunity to be as involved or uninvolved as you want. I think it’s one of the greatest tricks to getting through MIT.

Female Computer Science and Economics Major C/O 2021

What is something somebody interested in Greek life should know that we haven’t touched on?
First of all, I wouldn’t compare it to Greek life at big southern schools, I think you can make it as big or as small of a part of your experience as you want it to be. There are sororities and fraternities for literally everyone so you’re bound to find people you like. For a lot of people, it’s been a great part of their experience. There is also a good portion of the students involved. [About 35% of females are in sororities and 43% of men are in fraternities at MIT].

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that is worth checking out?
I think you miss how friendly and collaborative everyone is. Something that can be conveyed better is that people actually do have somewhat of a social life and that people are really willing to help you no matter what you’re struggling with. Even though people may not typically look at MIT and think there are “normal kids” but everyone has normal elements to them.

Reasons to attend and not to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology

To Attend

  • “The name. You come out with people understanding what kind of education you went through and how much work you had to do to get that degree, so you get an extra level of respect.”
  • “If you’re a collaborative learner, you’ll do well here.”
  • “It’s a ridiculously diverse, eclectic group of kids who are high achieving and, for the most part, non-judgmental.”
  • “You can start doing research freshman fall when you arrive on campus.”

To Not Attend

  • “If you don’t want to work, it’s not going to work out. If you have any sense of laziness or are disorganized, you’re going to struggle here and you might regret the decision.”
  • “Relative to other schools, socially it might be a letdown. I think it’s a wonderful combination of work and play, but for people who are expecting more play, they may be disappointed.”
  • “If you don’t handle adversity well. If you’re not a person who can get a bad grade on a test and know to ramp up their studying for the next five weeks before the next test, this won’t be the place for you. MIT teaches you to respond to adversity, but there are a few bumps you have to get over first, like your first bad test grade or bad problem set grade.”
Notice: Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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