Massachusetts Institute of Technology
BackgroundInterview Date:September 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in Denver, CO with a graduating class of about 120 students. It was an option school so you had to get in through a lottery. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Computer Science and Economics
Minor: Undeclared, but probably Math.
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in a sorority, I’m in the MIT Consulting Group, the Society of Women, and I’m in Camp Kesem, which is a summer camp for children whose parents have cancer.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The MIT Consulting Group has been huge. It’s really great to learn soft skills, get to know the group of people and do actual casework every semester. That’s been my most important extracurricular activity. My sorority has also been important. I’m living in the house this year which has made it more meaningful for me.
How competitive was it to get involved in the consulting group?
It was fairly competitive. The application process was you did a resume drop, then a behavioral interview, and then a case interview to get in.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
Each semester I have taken one humanities class, but sometimes that humanities class is an Economics class which has a problem set every week. This semester I’m in a foreign policy class so that’s a lot more writing and reading every week. Depending on the semester and if I’m taking four or five classes, I will have one problem set per week for each of the classes and I’ll have one midterm a week total, not per class.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
The reason I like it a lot is because you’re able to get a lot of different perspectives. It’s cool to major in something that is two different subjects entirely while still being a single major. It really contributes to what I want to do, which is some sort of business, finance, or consulting. It’s also a really good balance because I didn’t want to major in just Computer Science or Economics, so I think that gives me flexibility.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s very collaborative. I think that everyone is competitive in that they are competing against MIT. I definitely don’t think people are competing against each other, especially when it comes to problem sets because everyone knows that you have to work together to get it done in a timely manner and you also learn so much more by brainstorming ideas.
What is your favorite class for your major so far?
60002, which was Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science. It was basically all coding but we also learned a lot of cool statistical programming methods which I really enjoyed. It wasn’t a ridiculous amount of work and it was interesting stuff that I can see being practical.
What is your least favorite class for your major so far?
I don’t think I’ve had a least favorite class so far.
How accessible have your professors been?
It depends. In my humanities classes, they are more accessible because the class sizes are smaller. However, in my big Algorithms, Math, or Computer Science classes those are really huge classes, like 400 people, and if you want to reach out to the professor to get advice or meet with them for something I think they are responsive, but I don’t think it is commonly done. I personally have never had one on one interaction with them.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice so far?
I chose my major because I wanted to get a good balance between a couple of different subject areas that I’m interested in. I also like this major in particular because it overlaps with a lot of things. I’m able to get a minor in Math by adding only three additional classes and I can potentially get a double major in a business area because of the overlap. I chose it pretty much entirely for the variability of classes I can take and flexibility in my schedule.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Maseeh Hall with two roommates.
Sophomore: I’m living in my sorority house in a single room.
How was transitioning from Denver, CO to Cambridge, MA?
I thought it was going to be weird because I was coming from a place wasn’t really a big city to a city, but I don’t think it was that bad. I also had a roommate who was from Colorado so we did the transition together. One of the biggest things about coming to MIT is that you’re so busy all the time that it’s hard to even think about the transition and all the differences. This year I barely think about home. Last year work was a little slower so my parents visited and I went home a few times, so it wasn’t too hard.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
It’s very safe. We’re in Cambridge, but even as you cross the river into Boston that area of Boston is very nice and safe, so I feel comfortable walking across the river at night. The only place that I think is less safe is if you walk further into Cambridge towards Harvard, there is a bit of a rough area between here and Harvard.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
The Friendly Toast
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
This is close to campus, but I like to go to Kendall Square and go to the Marriott there because there’s a Starbucks, and I will sit there and do work because I feel like I’m a little bit removed from campus.
Pros and Cons of being in Cambridge, MA?
Pros: (1) The proximity to the city.
(2) We’re right between Harvard and Boston, so there are a lot of good restaurants around us.
(3) We’re right by a river, so there is a nice path for us to run and walk on.
Cons: (1) It is cold a decent amount of the time, or snowy or rainy.
(2) 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.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at MIT?
It depends. We have a pretty big Greek life, so there are a lot of frat parties from weekend to weekend. Last year I went out every weekend because I didn’t have grades, this year I go out less. Otherwise, I will go to the North End, which is a little Italian district in Boston, and get dinner with my boyfriend, or just go explore Boston. I like to get off campus on campus. [About 35% of females are in sororities and 43% of men are in fraternities at MIT.]
When you do go to a party, what nights would you go out and are there certain things you do on certain nights?
Either Friday or Saturday night, and there’s no difference between the two it’s just what is happening on a given night. For the most part, it’s a frat party. I would say that’s the primary type of nightlife here, after that it’s going to apartment parties or clubs because most people live off campus.
What have been your favorite times at MIT?
I had a really fun weekend last weekend. We had semiformal for my sorority and we went to a place called Sky Zone, which is an indoor trampoline park, and then we came back and went to a frat party after. I also like the winters and fall here. People will go apple picking, the leaves change, and it’s really pretty.
How happy are you with the nightlife options at MIT? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I like it. I think if there was any more, I would probably be distracted from my schoolwork, so I think it’s a good level. I don’t think I would change anything. I think there are a lot of different frats on campus so I think there’s a lot of diversity for wherever anyone wants to go, both in terms of guys who are joining them and girls who are going to the party. There’s always something going on, which I like because you can always go out if you want to, but if you don’t want to you don’t have to. I don’t think there is pressure to go out too.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my closest friend at the admitted students’ weekend and then we did a pre-orientation program together and then we lived in the same dorm and had the same major.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
I see a very specific portion of it. I’m pretty happy and social and hang out with my friends a decent amount. I think there are people who really prioritize school and will take like six or seven classes a semester and they have a lot less of a social life during the semester because classes are very demanding here. Rather than calling it moderate, I think there are two very different extremes. I think there are people who are very not social during the semester and people who find a really good balance and stay happy and social during the semester.
What is the impact of Greek life on social life?
I think it’s the way a lot of people meet their closest friends, however, I wouldn’t say that it’s an overpowering element of being at MIT. Because it’s such a small school [undergraduate enrollment is about 4,500 students] and everyone is in so many different groups on campus, I think it’s hard for people to become associated only with their fraternity or sorority. I do think it’s a great way to meet your closest friends and make other friends beyond that because there are so many mutual connections between everyone here. Personally, the four people I hang out with are not in my sorority and it just happened that way, but I also have some of my closest friends in my sorority. Fraternities tend to be really close with their pledge classes because they have smaller pledge classes.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Different races mix a lot. Sexual orientations I don’t know as much about.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of MIT by the time they graduate? Do you think people leave loving MIT?
I don’t know that I think they leave loving MIT, but I do think most people end up really happy they came here because it sets them up really well for their careers.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
We don’t have class in January, and the one really cool thing about the alumni network is they have a program called the Externship Program, where you apply for externships that are posted by people alums at different companies. You get to work for the company for the month of January, so I know that helps a lot. Another way I’ve used is in the MIT Consulting Group we source a lot of our clients by reaching out to people in the alumni network.
What did you use the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I have not used the career office.
Have you learned any computer programs or languages that will be helpful to you professionally?
I’ve done pretty extensive work in Python in my beginning Computer Science classes and next semester, as I progress further in the Economics classes, I’ll be doing a lot more in R, SAS, and Stata. I use Excel, Word, and PowerPoint fairly extensively as well.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about MIT before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew that you should join as many or as few things as you’re interested in and that everyone has very different paths, so you can do whatever you want here. You shouldn’t worry about what other people are doing and you shouldn’t join clubs because other people are joining them because there are so many things going on on campus. I wish I had known to narrow down on what you want to do and try things if you don’t know what you want to do. Be open to everything that MIT has to offer because it’s a really, really cool place and I’ve never experienced anything like it before.
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 MIT:
1) If you want to work hard for four years, it really pays off career-wise.
2) People are very career focused, and MIT students are desirable so it’s easier to get summer internships
3) If you like collaboration and don’t want a cut-throat atmosphere.
4) You’ll never meet so many smart and interesting people at once
Reasons to not attend MIT:
1) If you aren’t willing to work hard put the effort in, it may not be the place for you.
2) The fact that students are career-focused, so if you don’t want that constant career focus on summer internships, jobs, and things like that.