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Good advice for MIT students (24 of 30)

I’ve sought a lot of advice over the years. Whether it is what class to take or what clubs to join, I’ve asked upperclassmen about many things.

Here are some of the advice I’ve gotten and listened to (as well as some of my own). The list is clearly not exhaustive, but I hope someone will read this and get a little insight into opportunities available on campus. It’s also in no particular order, and remember, take everything with a grain of salt!

Academic Advice

  • Forward your outlook email to Gmail. It makes filtering emails a breeze.
  • Use firehose for class selection. Use courseroad for planning your major.
  • Don’t double major. At the end of the day, it’s not the degree you earn, but rather the knowledge you gained and the people you’ve met.
  • Take classes with people you know and ASK FOR HELP (especially on homework). PSets are a learning experience for students, not an evaluation of someone’s skill. 
  • Take four classes a semester. Unless you want to sacrifice spending time with people, don’t take more classes. Exceptions include: you’re one of the few people who already know half the material or just a genius (which is not everyone, shocking! :). You’ll learn way less if you take too many classes and won’t ever be free to hang out. Not worth the extra work. Four classes can also be challenging if they’re all technical. 
    • Use firehose and subject evaluations to scope out the difficulty. But remember, classes don’t always have the same professor, so factor that into account!
  • Shoot for A- (they have the same GPA as an A and A+). Once you learn the material and feel confident, focus on your other classes.
    • Perfect GPAs don’t matter at the end of the day and will not preclude you from jobs.
    • Maybe focus on learning and understanding the material?
  • Take classes outside your major requirements. Don’t constrain yourself. Humanities classes are fun!
  • Use PNR to join clubs, adjust to the new environment, explore Boston, meet people, and/or take more challenging classes.
  • Most recitations CAN be changed. If it doesn’t fit your schedule or you want a different TA, go to another one on the first day of class. You might have to email your professor, though.
  • Use empty classrooms as study spaces. (Day 5)
  • If you’re going to MEng or highly considering it, UROP and UTA/LA early. It will be easier to find a lab and obtain funding once you fully commit to pursuing an MEng.
  • UROPs are a great way to spend your first summer if you cannot get an internship or MISTI. Or stay in Boston, do no work, and have fun. It doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy it and you learn something.

Life Advice

  • Join clubs. You won’t regret it. (Day 21) It’s about t
  • Dining always has the best food during Family/Orientation/CPW weekend. They’re trying to impress people, so eat the food when it’s good!
  • If you have any interest in entrepreneurship, join the MIT sandbox program.
  • Get a BlueBikes and Zipcar membership (Day 19). 
  • MIT has free software that anyone can use (and also discount car rentals)
  • Tunnels, outfinite, and the second floor of lobby 10 are less crowded than the infinite corridor if you are pressed for time. But if you have the time, take the infinite and say hi to people!
  • Get your Sailings license or take the glassblowing or metalworks class. (Read Day 20)
    • Note: the sailing PE class is hard to get. Make sure you wake up before 8 AM, though. You have to sign up at 8 AM on the dot.
  • Try not to spend Friday night working on PSets. If you must do work, do it on something, you’ll be proud of.
  • Go to Boston on the weekends when you’re free (or go sailing).
  • Go and enjoy Kresge and Killian Court when the weather is nice. Play spikeball, hang out with friends, do work, or just nap. You’ll thank yourself later. 
  • Power nap and power nap often (Read Day 17)
  • Meet people and visit other dorms! Although some people are cliquey, it is worth the effort (Day 10).
  • Most upperclassmen aren’t scary and can provide you with great advice specific to your major, career, and life. 

Activities Advice

  • Listen to the MITSO and MITWE performances.
  • Go to 2.007 and 2.009 Final Presentations
  • Listen to acapella groups sing (or join one!)
  • Watch ADT and DT final semester performances! (or perform there!)
  • Attend HackMIT
    • Also, host a student for HackMIT and get free air mattresses that you can use later when your friends visit.
  • Join an intramural sport
  • Join a cultural club
  • Go to SaveTFP events
  • Enjoy the white mountains (New Hampshire) in the fall when the leaves are changing colors.
  • Go to the art museum
  • Try boba
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