MIT is hard, and that’s why you should attend

The rigor will prepare you best for life ahead

CPW! As one person — famous for her truly insightful and thought-provoking lyrics — would say, “It’s Friday, Friday … fun, fun, fun, fun.” She’s got excellent grammar, too. But this article is not about Rebecca Black, it’s about you. More specifically, it’s about why you should choose MIT over any other school you may have been accepted to.

First and foremost, I’ll throw a disclaimer out there: if you don’t like challenges, working hard, or being around awesome people, you definitely should not come here. Because we’ve got lots and lots of all of the above.

One of the major reasons I selected MIT was that I desperately wanted a real challenge. And, as I write this article at four in the morning — having just finished my 8.03 (Vibrations and Waves) problem set — it’s safe to say that I got what I wished for. MIT will challenge you in more ways than you can possibly anticipate. It’s not just the academics; simply living here is likely to challenge and change the way you think.

Most of you come from high schools where you’re among the smartest students. I hope you enjoyed it, because once you walk onto this campus, that ends immediately. And, perhaps surprisingly, it’s not a bad thing. At MIT, you will be surrounded by people who think about the issues you’ve thought about on the same level that you’ve thought about them. You will have discussions and debates with fellow students that will stretch your mind and challenge you to think more critically than you have in the past. Learning doesn’t stop when you leave the classroom, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Speaking of learning outside the classroom, MIT is one of the best places to do research as an undergraduate. Through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), about 85 percent of MIT undergrads graduate having completed research. You can even get paid to do it. And getting paid to do something that undergrads at other schools can rarely do — even for free — is a pretty good deal.

MIT faculty aren’t too shabby either. Throughout MIT’s history, they’ve won 76 Nobel Prizes, and we’ve currently got 6 Fulbright Scholars and 21 MacArthur Fellows. We have the man who came up with the inflationary universe theory and another guy who sequenced the human genome. Better yet, they both teach classes easily accessible to undergrads. Ever wondered what it felt like to take classes from people like this? Now’s your chance to find out. MIT faculty are on the cutting edge in virtually every field, and the experiences to be gleaned here are the opportunities of a lifetime.

Not only will MIT provide plentiful opportunities while you’re here, but it will also open doors after you leave. Each year, over 400 companies come to MIT to actively recruit students. Two thirds of MIT undergrads go on to earn a graduate degree at some point in their life. The average salary of an MIT graduate with a bachelor’s degree entering an industry position in 2010 was $64,523. Simply graduating from MIT puts you at an advantage thanks to the school’s strong reputation for rigor and turning out successful graduates who excel in problem solving and critical thinking. You may have heard of a company called Intel. How about Bose? Texas Instruments? What about Raytheon or Campbell’s Soup? All MIT grads.

But all these stats are easy to find online. What I really want to emphasize is that choosing MIT is choosing four difficult, rewarding years surrounded by amazing people. You’ll discover capabilities you never thought you had, you’ll find confidence that nothing is out of reach, and you’ll attain the skills necessary to create limitless opportunities for yourself. I encourage you today to talk to as many MIT students as you can. Ask them anything, whether about classes, student life, or work. Simply by interacting with them, it should become clear that this is a special place. The quirky sense of humor, the witty, raw intelligence, and the atmosphere of collaboration and teamwork will seep out in these conversations, and that’s what is important to grasp — the stuff you can’t find online. You’re only here for a few days at the most, so please make the most of it. I’m confident that if you do, then there’s an excellent chance I’ll be passing you by in the halls next year.