Cambridge, MA: Every science geek or math nerd has heard the call of MIT beckoning them from their test tubes and differential equations. Undoubtedly, MIT is one of the premier colleges for studies in the fields of math and science. With such a big name, however, MIT is often classified as an impossibly rigorous school with an even more grueling admissions process. Even the brochures, peppered with pictures of students hard at work in labs and classrooms, can reek of intimidation, burning a hole of anxiety in prospective students’ mailboxes. Even as an avid scientist, I shuddered at the idea of entering such an elite institution, fearing other students would stop me in the halls and ask me to solve complex thermodynamics equations on the spot in my head, shaking their heads in disgust when I struggled to answer without my TI-89 handy.
Clearly, I have a vivid imagination. But, hey, it is MIT, after all.
What the brochures don’t tell you, however, is while MIT is very selective and academically driven, it’s not as intellectually elitist as one would imagine. The stereotype MIT generated from its prestige is actually quite deceptive.
The first common misconception about MIT that is quickly rebuffed upon visiting is that it’s only about science and mathematics. The humanities program is one of the hidden gems of the school. My economics major tour guide proudly told me of his numerous research opportunities helping professors promote different economic policies, and listed famous MIT economics alumni, including Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics. MIT also requires students to take a number of humanities courses to graduate; more, in fact, than in math and science. The goal is that, upon graduation and entrance into the world
of research, MIT students will not only be able to do research, but effectively present it
Rumor has it that MIT is like a prison of academics, where students do nothing but attend difficult classes and study. Though the classes are obviously not easy, MIT offers a new breed of fun unique to the culture of the school. MIT students are famous for their elaborate and intellectual pranks involving careful planning and often extensive engineering. From measuring a bridge in units of human bodies to displaying a police car atop a school building, MIT students take pranks almost as seriously as their studies. The students are truly one of a kind, injecting fun into their academic environment like doctors of entertainment.
I pondered these ideas as I sat in one of the campus’s book shops amongst a smorgasbord of nerdy humor books, science textbooks, and posters of Albert Einstein. Suddenly it dawned on me that MIT is not only a place for the eager scientist, but the curious, fun-loving intellectual pursuing the highest level of learning and, furthermore, application. I looked over the brim of a copy of National Geographic’s Space Odyssey, admiring the eclectic, well-rounded students surrounding me, excited by the prospect that I might join them someday. Find out more details at mit.edu.