Massachusetts Institute of Technology Visit Report by morvoren
Visit to Massachusetts Institute of Technology in March 2008 by morvoren(Parent of Student, HS Class of 2008)
(Member since November 19 2008 with 64 posts)
7 of 7 people found this visit report helpful
Information Session: Yes
Campus Tour: Yes
Friendliness/Courtesy of Students:
Friendliness/Courtesy of Staff:
Appearance of Campus:
Overall Campus Impression:
Area Immediately Around Campus:
Campus Visit Notes for Massachusetts Institute of Technology
It was a yucky rainy day, and we had time before our 3 pm tour, so we went to the Stata center and had an amazing experience. We had lunch. (If you have read any of my other 15 reports you will know that our family believes: go to the dining room and mix with students and observe, it's the best thing to do anywhere.) We sat at a table next to an Indian PhD student who talked to us for a half an hour, totally friendly. All around on the walls of the cafe were various stories of the “hacks” that MIT students had done over the years. They had turned a fire hydrant into a water fountain; later they had put a car, a house, a cow up on the top of the dome; they had stolen a cannon from Cal Tech, etc. etc. There were a lot of practical jokes. It immediatelly felt like a friendly place where people work very hard but have a lot of fun. The Stata center, designed by Frank Geary, feels like a rennaisance village on drugs.. see it for yourself.
MIT is big and feels very urban and very techie, and our son, a passionate computer programmer - who we should say from the beginning, has probably no chance of getting in because of some yucky grades in other subjects - was totally enchanted. The minute he walked into the Stata center, he said he wanted to move in there. There was a robotics lab that we managed to wander through just by asking. And then there was the moment that we came across a young guy, Danny Bankman who was going to be a freshman next year, but was here just absorbing the atmosphere and totally involved, clearly a stellar comp sci guy who knew a host of programming languages and kept telling my son, don’t be disappointed if you get deferred, just try again, just try again. This guy's method after being deferred was to write a new letter telling the U about all of his political activism. It worked. This soon to be freshman was sitting at a table with the slickest and smallest computer, ( Eee pc series, open source, etc.) that we all wanted. Our son talked to him for a long time and was totally intrigued. Bankman said that it seemed like there was a lot of work, but much of it was in teams and there was this very tight team work atmosphere… it seemed great.
The tour was led by a junior who is studying mechanical engineering. We saw huge athletic centers, with every sports imaginable: Olympic pool, tracks, etc. Music libraries with all kinds of music; it is one of the biggest minors that people take here. The dorms are tall buildings, some are apartment style, some are suites and there is even one building just with singles… One of them looks like Lego blocks with tiny windows 9 windows per room.. They have you choose your roommate during orientation, so you can’t blame it on MIT; they say that many people fail out because they hate their roommates.
There are all these computer suites, with people all over talking a variety of languages, it's incredibly international, and clearly the best comp sci anywhere. 22 percent of MIT studies comp sci.
There are frats and sororities, about 35 % of the women are in sororities, and almost 50 percent of the guys. They have a few odd requirements - you have to pass a swimming test before you graduate, and you have to take 4 PE classes. You have to take a bunch of courses your freshman year and something like 8 liberal arts type courses, but again they are flexible. There is no foreign language requirement. They also seemed to have amazing support once you are in. There are tutors, and a 97% retention rate into the next year. The first semester I believe that all the course grades don’t go on your record, you are the only one who sees them, and then they also have a not recorded if you get lower than a C, and they seem to say that once they have chosen you, then there is lots of support to get you through. There are a lot of lectures with professors and discussion with TAs.
We saw lots of lovely buildings near the Charles, and also some massive structures, sculptures by Calder and Moore.
One other thing: I have not looked at the application for this year. But previously, the application was very interesting and creative and was designed by the wonderful director of admissions who was recently ousted because she had falsehoods on her resume. Don't believe anything bad about her; she was totally brilliant, and one of the things she did was put in questions on the application that really drew out interestings answers, like "tell us a moment when you failed something, and what you did to change that situation." Or something like that. For us, MIT, where my husband got his PH.D, is a place my son will certainly dream of for grad school. But it probably isn't in the picture for undergrad, sadly. But this is truly an amazing place.