When I got accepted into MIT, I referred to the Institute as “Disneyland for nerds.” I knew it had ridiculously innovative and brilliant people and the resources to cultivate genius. I knew that it was a breeding ground for discoveries, start-up companies, and Nobel prizes.
But I also thought that MIT was really, really, soul-crushingly hard. Despite all of the absolutely wonderful things I had heard about the school, I admit that it had me a little scared.
On one hand, I knew in my heart that MIT would bring out the very best in me. It would challenge me like I’d never been challenged before. I would push myself to new limits, and I would learn the tools to do great things in this world. On the other hand, I knew it would be harder than anything I had ever done in my life.
I was aware of my other undergraduate opportunities – full tuition scholarships to lovely schools like Northeastern and WPI, and a full ride to Clemson – but I couldn’t get excited about them. I had the creeping feeling that I’d wonder about my MIT alter-ego for the rest of my life. “What if I had gone to MIT? Would I have invented something by now? Would one of the alumni have hooked me up with my dream job? Would I be best friends with a world-famous physicist?”
I made my choice. As of this writing, I am a second-semester freshman at MIT. I’m here. I’m doing it. And it’s incredible.
MIT really is Disneyland for nerds, except better. Speaking literally, a bunch of students build carnival rides from scratch every year to ride during the week of Freshman Orientation. They also make and serve ice cream frozen by liquid nitrogen. They craft giant water cannons and water-balloon catapults for the annual cross-campus Water War. There’s even a ball pit in one of the undergraduate dorms. Oh yes, we know how to have fun.
The crazy random engineering shenanigans are actually what solidified my decision to “comMIT” to MIT. The whimsical and wonderful culture of its students, I found, was even more important to a prospective student than the legendary academic environment.
This campus has a quirky, diverse, thriving community, united by a love of science and a will to change the world. The students here are endlessly fascinating and ever-friendly. MIT’s famously rigorous curriculum serves not only to educate and enlighten the students, but also to bring them together in camaraderie and support. Personally, I can say that my living group is absolutely the greatest collection of people I have ever known; they will be my lifelong friends. We are thirty-two math, science, and engineering students. We are bakers, makers, travelers, thinkers, readers, writers, comedians, athletes, artists, story-tellers. We are friends. We are family.
We are MIT Engineers.
Today’s guest post comes from Veritas Prep SAT instructor Clarissa Towle. Clarissa is a double major in Chemical Engineering and Spanish Language and Literature at MIT. In high school, she was a National Merit Finalist, President of the Environmental Society, and Chief Editor of the yearbook. She also worked at the YMCA as a lifeguard and swim instructor, and she taught health workshops for high school freshmen during her junior and senior years.