Good Will Hunting flashbacks flooded my mind as I walked the long, dark halls of the vintage Massachusetts Institute of Technology building on my way to the admissions information session. We were fortunate to have the Director of Admissions, Matt McGann, address the packed room of students and their families hailing from near and far across the globe.
MIT’s founding mission is, “using science, math and technology to solve problems.” McGann continued by stating that MIT strives for a non-competitive environment both in and out of the classroom. Courses are designed to be collaborative rather than singular and all assignments are focused and purposeful. Courses first semester freshman year are evaluated with a pass/fail grade, trying to curb intense competition as students adjust to college life.
There is much more to MIT than S.T.E.M. In fact, there are five categories of study at MIT: Science, Engineering, Architecture, Social Science and Humanities. All students begin as undeclared and commit to a course of study by the end of freshman year. No matter what major, students must take courses in humanities, science, math and communications. McGann told us that mastering strong communication skills is required in all disciplines, with the purpose of learning to convey thoughts and ideas in the written and spoken word to those not just in your intended field but across disciplines. Students can cross register at Harvard, Wellesley, MassArt and Berklee School of Music. MIT students gain hands-on experiences with the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, internships during the January Independent Activities Period, and by studying abroad.
Located in Cambridge just over the Charles River from the city of Boston, MIT’s 168-acre campus has a classic collegiate feel. The campus is a mix of old and new buildings. As we toured campus, I stopped to admire the iconic Barker Engineering Library with its 150 foot-high “Great Dome.” It is easy to see why this building is the most photographed building on campus. There are no separate buildings for individual disciplines. Instead, different areas of study are housed side-by-side for a more interdisciplinary approach. As you might expect, the streets of Cambridge are lined with many eateries and shops and jammed packed with college students. No need for a car on campus since city buses and trains are easily accessible.
Our tour guide was a sophomore, computer science major from Westchester County, NY. She is very active outside the classroom as a member of several academic clubs, a chamber music group and a national sorority. She told us that her deep involvement on campus is typical of MIT students. There are 450 active clubs, with music and dance groups being extremely popular. There are 33 Division III athletic teams and nearly 80-percent of all students participate in intramural sports. I was surprised to learn that Greek life is very strong here, with nearly 50-percent of all students joining one of the 26 fraternities or four sororities.
Admissions and Financial Aid
All students must submit SAT/ACT scores and two SAT Subject Test scores (1 math and 1 science). Interviews are required and must be completed before the admissions deadline. Students do not apply to a specific major or college. Admissions is need blind both domestically and internationally, and MIT meets full demonstrated need.
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