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New freshman class dives into orientation

MIT's freshman class, with the highest yield in more than a decade, arrives today for an orientation program packed with a wide variety of informational sessions and activities designed to prepare incoming frosh for real life, including intimate relationships and alcohol.

"You have been chosen as one of the most talented and promising students in MIT's most competitive applicant pool on record -- quite a feat!" said Dean of Admissions Marilee Jones in her acceptance letter to the 1,744 freshmen admitted last March.

According to the Admissions Office, the Class of 2003 is the highest yield in many years, with 61 percent (1,056) of admitted students enrolling. Before this, 55 percent was the highest yield in recent years.

The Admissions Office attributes the high yield to "low summer melt" -- students who said they would attend MIT but changed their minds over the summer. That office credits a change in Campus Preview for the low melt; all applicants -- not just women and underrepresented minority students -- were invited to visit campus for last spring's recruitment program.

The 603 men and 453 women include 43 who had perfect SAT scores and 219 valedictorians. Women make up 43 percent of the class and 18 percent are members of underrepresented minority groups.


Orientation kicks off with a barbecue on Kresge Oval at 5:15pm today, followed by the 9pm screening of Waterboy, a film starring Adam Sandler, under the stars on Killian Court.

The more formal President's Welcome Convocation is scheduled at 10am in Kresge on Thursday with a keynote speech by Professor Claude Canizares, director of the Center for Space Research. At 11am, Dean Margaret Bates and other members of the community will introduce freshmen to the insiders view of MIT history in a presentation called "Hacks and History."

This year's orientation week will provide the usual introductions to MIT living groups and academic programs, as well as familiarizing freshmen with extracurricular opportunities such as the Institute's 39 varsity athletic teams and many social groups.

New this year are off-campus trips with associate advisors for dinners at Boston-area restaurants to give freshmen a taste of the city and acquaint them with public transportation. Shopping trips and museum visits will broaden their horizons and help them furnish their living quarters.

Mandatory sessions on sex -- "Sex Matters" taught by Jay Friedman, a certified sex educator -- and alcohol -- "Greeny's 2-H.A.L.T. T.I.P.S." by Mike Green, president of the Collegiate Consultants on Drug and Alcohol, which will educate students about the dangers of alcohol use and abuse -- are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 28 and Thursday, Sept. 2, respectively.

Each freshman will also be given a memorandum from Dean Bates encouraging him or her to become "well informed about the expectations that the Institute has for your own responsibility and behavior." MIT's alcohol policy, a statement of the goals and principles underlying that policy and a summary of the sanctions for violating that policy are attached to that memorandum.


A new program called "The Real World at MIT" will give students four hours on Thursday, Aug. 26 to sample programs and events that teach them basic living skills.

"No time? No money? No delivery?" will feature cooking demonstrations to prove that even busy college students with a limited income can cook tasty, nutritious food. "Taming the Tension" provides masseuses to help the already-busy freshmen deal with orientation stress. And suggestions for stocking a home medicine cabinet are available in "Bathroom Basics."

Real World also includes a panel of coaches and athletes to answer questions about sports, and tours of athletics facilities. "Isms@MIT" is a participatory discussion focused on racism, sexism and sexual identity. "Let's Talk About Sex" explores personal boundaries in intimate relationships, communication and safe sex.


Batik, henna, African dance and turntabling are a few of the workshops that were offered at MIT's first pre-orientation program in the arts, the Freshman Arts Program. The August 20-24 program, conceived and designed by MIT students, accepted 40 incoming freshman for five days of workshops and visits to area museums.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 25, 1999.

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