MIT Tech Talk interviewed several freshmen on the first day of orientation to get their predictions about life at MIT. Their answers follow:
Prospective major: Electrical engineering and computer science. I'm not sure, maybe chemistry instead.
Other interests: swing dancing, ballroom dance, tae kwan do.
Expectations: I know it's gonna be a lot of hard work but if you want to have a social life, you can. I want to do a lot of extracurricular activies, because I finally have the opportunity to do them. They have so much stuff here I don't even know what I'll choose. Maybe I'll even get involved with the paper. In high school it was all academics. I didn't even get to take theater.
Fears: The courses, the hard work. I worked hard in high school; I'm sure it's a lot harder here. I was afraid meeting people would be hard but that doesn't seem to be a problem. I'm definitely afraid of the winters.
Looking forward to: Taking all the extracurriculars I didn't take in high school; meeting different types of people.
Prospective major: Physics and earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences.
Other interests: Soccer, art, piano and violin.
Expectations: A lot of fun, but really, really hard. I'm not used to working hard; I slacked off a lot in high school and I shouldn't have.
Fears: Studying five hours a night. Staying up, getting all stressed out about work, not having enough time to do all I want to do here.
Looking forward to: All the people who are interested in science. In my hometown (pop. 500) I'm about the only person who's interested in acadmics and science. I'll be able to hold intelligent conversations.
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Prospective major: Double in computer science and management.
Other interests: Volleyball, creative writing (short stories and poetry). I'm working on a novel, too.
Expectations: Academic challenge. New experiences in terms of being in America. Trying to get both fun and work in.
Fears: My first class. My first final. I wonder if I'm gonna understand everything. It's a big leap from high school.
Looking forward to: Graduation.
Dumont, NJ most recently (has also lived in Zambia, Ivory Coast and other countries).
Prospective major: Electrical engineering and computer science.
Other activities: Varsity basketball and PE classes in volleyball and table tennis.
Expectations: I want to get to know many people and try to get into a lot of different opportunities.
Fears: Grades. I heard it's pretty hard.
Looking forward to: I want to be more well-rounded, not just good in one thing.
Maria "Malena" Stiteler
Prospective major: Aerospace engineering.
Other interests: Soccer, AFROTC.
Expectations: A lot of academics, but it seems that the people here know how to get away from the academics through sports, friendships, etc.
Fears: I've heard that Course 16 is the hardest major at MIT and I don't feel prepared in some subjects. My high school was not as rigorous as some. It's rural and I'm the first person to go to MIT in recent memory.
Looking forward to: the opportunity to meet interesting and intelligent people from all over the US and the world.
Prospective major: Possibly brain and cognitive sciences.
Other interests: Art, music.
Expectations: Meeting people that are going to change the world by showing everybody things in a new light that they didn't think existed. Maybe accidently making a few changes of my own.
Fears: Overbooking myself. I did it all through high school and I've made a promise to scale back. But there's a danger I'll be trying to start a band and find other artists to paint with. I've got to stretch myself as far as possible; it's the only way I can be happy.
Looking forward to: Living in a place where you can essentially do anything you want no matter what you're interested in -- be it science, math, music, arts. There's a rich, deep background around here.
Los Angeles, CA (originally the Philippines)
Prospective major: I have no idea.
Expectations: I heard freshman year was a blast, but come sophomore year that goes down. I expect to finish [school] and get a decent start after college.
Fears: Work, lots of work and no sleep!
Looking forward to: Lasting friendships, good education, a fun time.
Prospective major: EECS, probably.
Expectations: I expect it to be challenging, then rewarding in the end.
Fears: I don't like to write essays and stuff. I just don't enjoy it.
Looking forward to: I don't know.
Los Angeles, CA
Prospective major: Double in chemistry and literature, but I may switch to chemical engineering.
Expectations: High school was really hard and really fun and I'm just expecting more of that -- only bigger and better. I expect to get as much out as I'm willing to put in.
Fears: I keep reminding myself that all these people are going to at least be my academic equals and I expect there will be people here who will just blow me away. I also dread the transition to sophomore year.
Looking forward to: Just being one of the kids.
San Fernando Valley, CA
Prospective major: This is definitely gonna change! Maybe biology, maybe math...
Expectations: I hear the stress here is really heavy. I'm really excited, though. I want to have fun. For instance, my impression at Caltech was that they worked hard and that's it. My impression of MIT is that people work hard and also play hard.
Fears: I don't know how I'm gonna deal with getting bad grades. I know it's gonna happen; not everybody gets straight As and I don't know how to deal with Bs and Cs.
Looking forward to: Meeting smart and interesting people. During Campus Preview I was in Kresge and I looked around and said "Oh my God, these are the Einsteins of my generation."
A version of this article appeared in the September 1, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 44, Number 4).