Hi Readers, it's Miranda! In the following blog my friend Grace shares her experience so far at MIT. Though technical school isn't on the table for everyone, I think its valuable for all those deciding to listen to an inside perspective when a school may have strong stereotypes on the outside. Enjoy!
In some senses, MIT is exactly what you would expect.
People are nerdy. Like, really nerdy, in all senses and flavors of the word. In various pockets around campus, you can find overwhelming enthusiasm for anything from Dungeons and Dragons to 3D printing, Star Wars to drones, welding to science fiction.
Also, the entire campus is soaked in and defined by numbers. Every building and room has a number, even broom closets and boiler rooms. I had two different lectures in 26-100, and my most-instructive recitation happened in 2-147. The classes are defined by numbers: my schedule last semester was 7.012, 8.01, 18.02, and 21L.009. The majors, or courses, are defined by numbers too. There’s even a rumor that every tree on campus has a number.
All of this seems to fit neatly into the stereotypes associated with technical schools. I expected the nerdiness, and although the widespread use of numbers was unexpected, it hardly came as a surprise.
However, other aspects of MIT came as a surprise.
As I found out, MIT students aren’t infinitely-working machines who run on coffee and ramen and spit out Java and organic chemistry. They don’t speak exclusively in physics formulas, and they haven’t lost the skill of emotional intelligence.
I half-feared that I’d be part of a tiny minority on campus who had any appreciation for art, literature, theatre, and music; as it turns out, almost everyone at MIT is passionate about some sort of humanities subject. My peers aren’t harsh and unfriendly; they’re often kind, hilarious, and silly.
One of my favorite memories of the year was sitting in a kitchen in my dorm, eating slightly-charred homemade pizza, forgetting about my physics homework, and giggling through a ridiculous game of Scrabble until late into the night.
Technical school life is definitely not for everyone. The work is intense: it’s easy to spend over an hour working on a single problem only to get it wrong. The amount of information presented in one lecture often feels overwhelming. There’s no getting around the fact that a lot of the work required is concrete problem-solving, which is not everyone’s cup of tea.
However, don’t be afraid that a technical school will squash your “softness.” It is absolutely the norm for students to train technically, and also let their imaginative sides thrive. Rest assured, your creativity, artistic sense, and ability to empathize will not die sad, cold deaths at the hands of an institute of technology.
Felicia Fahey PhD
Felicia is a comprehensive educational consultant. She works with college bound students of all ages close to home, across the country and around the globe.