Five Things to Know About MIT

If MIT is one of your top choices for college, here’s some great news: in 2011, MIT placed fifth in US News & World Reports national university rankings. So you’ve got good instincts.

Here are five things to know about MIT that can help you decide whether MIT is right for you:

  1. MIT’s General Institute Requirements. MIT’s core curriculum is evenly spread between the sciences and humanities. During their time at MIT, students take six science courses (mathematics, physics, biology, and chemistry, and the Laboratory and Restricted Electives in Science and Technology Requirements,) eight courses in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, four courses which satisfy the Communication requirement (writing and public speaking,) and four physical education courses (this means varsity sports or approved personal training or exercise classes.) It sounds like a lot, and it kind of is, but many courses count for more than one requirement, and the structure guarantees a broad liberal arts education for all MIT undergraduates.
  2. Pass/Fail First Semester. With all these new requirements, a rigorous courseload, and the challenge of adjusting to a new lifestyle, MIT decided to change the way they grade students during the first semester to give them some wiggle room. Instead of receiving a letter grade, students receive a grade of pass or (basically) fail. GPA starts to factor in during the second semester.
  3. Undergraduate Research. Every year, more than 50% of undergraduates participate in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. This is one of the first programs of its kind in the country, giving undergraduates the chance to work with top professors and dive DEEP into original research projects. Students can conduct research in any department, during the academic year or over the summer, on campus, abroad, or at an MIT-affiliated lab such as the Broad Institute or the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, so you definitely have plenty of options.
  4. Cambridge-MIT Exchange Program. Students in the Chemistry program at MIT have the option to spend their junior year at Cambridge. Not bad, huh? If you are in love with chemistry, you’re in luck. The program at Cambridge consists ENTIRELY of chemistry courses. While most students don’t pursue research at Cambridge, students attend lectures, practicals, and participate in a great deal of lab work. You’ll eat, sleep, and breathe chemistry at a world-renowned academic institution.
  5. Experimental Arts. Though MIT may be known for its focus on the sciences, it has a vibrant experimental arts scene. MIT boasts among its faculty Pulitzer Prize–winning composer John Harbison and writer Junot Díaz, composer Evan Ziporyn, and theater director Jay Scheib. There are over sixty student groups devoted to music, theater, visual arts, writing, and dance on campus. If you’ve got a passion for music, you’ll be in particularly good company—a third of MIT students who enroll in arts classes on campus choose to take a music course (some particularly cool-sounding courses include The Supernatural in Music, Literature and Culture, Folk Music of the British Isles and North America, and Writing in Tonal Forms.) Undergraduate degrees are offered in visual design, architectural design, music, theater, and writing.

There’s the skinny on MIT. Got more question? Check out MIT’s website.

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