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July 25, 2015
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To get into and survive MIT life, you really have to be a kind of masochist. You have to be ready for far too much stress, lack of sleep, and never feeling satisfied with yourself, even with grades of A's. As you work more, you feel increasing pressure to work. Most of this pressure results from the fact that everyone else seems smarter than you are. Stories surround you, about extraordinarily successful people around you who either won a Science Olympiads or learnt coding when they were seven years old. They all seem self-driven, aware of what they are doing and what their plans are. From even the first year, they secure UROPs or internships. Their success is obvious and gives the impression that they are always on top of their work, completing it accurately and quickly, while you seem to struggle and request extensions.

In our individual towns, our academic talents first earn us positions as demigods. We were known for our skill - it becomes our identity, a means of distinguishing our character from others’. When we enter MIT, our first experience of a larger social environment, our perspective necessarily shifts. Suddenly, we are no longer the most gifted in our social group.
Success has been marginalized. Struggling with distinguishing ourselves in the main way we’ve always known, we face a serious identity crisis.

From my years here, what I realize is that what everyone has really learnt best is to mask their insecurity. Everyone is as insecure as I am. Life at MIT is very different from all other aspects of life. At MIT, it is “normal” to feel depressed, lonely or even stupid. And while these deep emotions would seem more crucial to address, you don’t focus on them - you instead just do your work, the marker of your success. Because of being busy with psets and midterms, we have a false perception of personal satisfaction. We spend a small fraction of our time thinking about life outside our bell jar. My friendships have all felt superficial, which is not a criticism of my fellow students’ characters, but that of the work culture. Everyone around me is too busy to have an extended conversation other that just dry “hi’s” exchanged in the infinite corridor. And after a while, when students consistently ignore their building frustrations with the lack of intimate and regular social connections and validation from personal pursuits other than their work, they withdraw from life and themselves. In some cases, this leads to suicide. In 2012, four students took their lives. The fact that, at times, a week went by before anyone realized them missing shows the state of our connectedness outside the classroom.

When we exit this social experiment, we are allowed to discover “real people” and “real life” and are expected to continue succeeding. Our talents are supposed to carry us through to the end of our lives. But in a real sense, we are not ready for the world outside MIT after we graduate, because the world is not MIT. We will again be distinguished for our classroom strengths, but will unfortunately carry with us the deep memories of frustration, loneliness and insecurity. It is unfortunate that so many of the young people who are charged with facing life’s biggest challenges undergo these feelings.

(see: IHTFP)
by spotless mind 3 years ago
In my first years, I had inferiority complex. Being alone all year, I was getting very restless that I was not doing enough for the school. I was loving science but I couldn't find even a research field that I could fit myself in. I was thinking that I am not ready for anything. Last year I TA'ed a course and had the chance to see all other students' real level of knowledge. It was a very comforting semester to see that others were just like me; they screw up in their homework as I was doing in mine. 80% of the class actually was cheating from previous year's solution manuals. The lesson I took from that was: we are all the same.

See also Breaking The Silence
by pseudoscientist 3 years ago
At MIT the problem sets, lab duties, and essays are designed in a way that you have to learn some material which is not covered in the class. You basically learn how to learn everything by yourself. It is also a process where you have to collaborate with other students, which definitely prepares you real life where you do your own shit.
by pseudoscientist 3 years ago
As with any good college, the life is fast, the exams are difficult, and the competition is fierce. MIT is my favorite school that actually cares about its students. They provide students with every possible help to make them succeed.

Life is MIT is strongly tied to life in Boston. You can spend at least a few hours walking around town every weekend. You can join at least one student club that has activities every week, whether sports, service, social or activism.
by dem 3 years ago
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