5 Things to Know Before Applying to MIT

As one of the best schools in the country, (indeed, the world,) the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could go department-for-department with any top-tier school.

Despite its reputation for being primarily science/technology focused (a reputation perpetuated admittedly by its name,) MIT boasts many diverse programs that are as strong as any at Harvard or Yale.

How do you get into this school? Be a fun-loving workhorse. MIT’s student body embraces the contradictions in being an intense, serious, fun-loving weirdo. Its students are best known for two things: a laser-sharp focus, and a uniquely offbeat sense of humor. The students and faculty at this school have built some of the most sophisticated robots in the history of tech – they don’t need any more filling up their class roster.


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1. Cambridge is an extremely strange and wonderful place to live

Some of the highlights around Massachusetts Avenue include Roxy’s, a store that sells artisanal grilled cheese, a speakeasy-style adult arcade (accessible, bizarrely, only through the grilled cheese shop) and a thrift store that dedicates a portion of its shop to an enormous, unsorted pile of vintage clothes that they sell for $2 PER POUND. Needless to say, the success of these unusual business ventures speaks volumes about the proclivities of their local student patrons.

2. MIT is not just a math and science wonderland

Although the school’s math and science programs are its crown jewels, its English, Philosophy, and Media Studies programs are also sparkling gems in their own right. With famous professors like Noam Chomsky and 2015 MacVicar Fellow Arhur Bahr, MIT has contributed more to literary history than just a desktop computer that can write really good poetry.


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3. Architecture at MIT is on another plane, axis, vertex of existence

MIT has a long history of excellence in architecture. The School of Architecture and Planning, founded in 1865, offered the first formal architecture curriculum in the United States. Since then, the school itself has kept up with cutting-edge architectural trends, and today boasts one of the craziest buildings ever built: the Strata Center. Architect Frank Gehry designed the Pitzker-Prize winning building with such a wild structure it’s hard to understand how it stands upright, though I could look at it forever. This, in addition to Modica Way… Check out all of MIT’s outstanding architecture here, I’ll run out of breath if I keep going.

strata center - mit

4. You can become a pirate at MIT… for real

MIT offers a “pirate certificate” for students who complete all four physical education courses: archery, fencing, pistol (or rifle) and sailing…. Alright, this certificate doesn’t really clear you to stalk up and down the Charles looking for practicing Harvard crew teams to plunder, but it does legally excuse you for nauseating dinner party guests for the rest of your life by telling them you went to “M ay ay T!”

5. MITHenge exists and it’s otherworldly

One hallway at MIT runs for 825 feet through each of the main buildings on campus. It gets such heavy foot-traffic that it has its own rudimentary traffic signs, laws and systems, but around January and November every year, it houses a much more magical event than just “lunch rush.”

Due to its near-perfect East-West alignment, it occasions an event called “MITHenge,” in which the sunrise and sunset are framed perfectly by both ends of the hallway, putting on a spectacular (though blinding) show for students lucky enough to be caught in the hall during those times. There’s nothing to bring a campus together like an ominously beautiful celestial event.

You already know that MIT is one of the most academically rigorous campuses in the world – but that doesn’t tell the whole story. If you’re applying to MIT, write an application that shows you understand both the fun and serious sides of the school’s culture, and you’ll be well on your way to securing a spot at this bizarre, ingenious school.


Want to read posts like this about other schools? Check out our 5 Things To Know Blog Series.

 

[photo credit: themozhi and cisc1970]

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