MIT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Summary: if you're looking to learn, and learn a LOT about math/science/engineering, MIT is up there with the best of the best. Nobody's party school, but an academic and research powerhouse. If that's what you're looking for, MIT is where it's at.

Out of commuting distance for Wisconsinites, MIT is located in Boston, Massachusetts. (The academic buildings are all on the Cambridge side of the river, but to most normal people that translates roughly to "Boston.") Boston is a pretty nice city, although the transportation system leaves something to be desired. Road signs seem to be optional, traffic is not. Biking seems to be the answer. Other colleges (Harvard comes to mind) are located nearby, as well as many museums, and an Ocean.

MIT is basically a cream-of-the-crop type engineering school. Admission to application runs about 15%. So it isn't easy to get in. Oh well. Life is rough. A MIT diploma will, however, basically get you any engineering/technology job you want. (Warning: that was a gross oversimplification/generalization.) But it will.

MIT is also famous for being very high stress. Yep. That's the way life goes. Quote from tour guide: "We went through everything I knew about chemistry in a day and a half." It isn't supposed to be easy. To make it a little more peaceful, however, freshman year is spent with a pass or no credit system. This means that if you get an A, B, or C, it shows up as a pass, and if you get a D or F, it doesn't show up at all. You just take it again if you want credit.

On the campus, cool architecture is all over the place. The chapel and performing arts center are particularly striking. There are a lot of buildings. One negative of MIT is that because of the heavy math/science core curriculum, many freshman classes are taught in big lecture halls, to large class sizes. Many people will not appreciate Calculus 2 as taught in lecture format to a class of 300. Small group study also takes place, of course.

Dorms? I didn't see them. Oh well. A large percentage (35-40%) of students live in fraternities/sororities. (Yes there are girls... 55% male - 45% female.). Freshmen are required to live in M.I.T. approved housing, whether that be a dorm, fraternity, sorority, or "community house". After that you can leave to an apartment or whatever, but very few people choose to do so. 95% of students are still living in their freshman lodgings when they graduate.

MIT actually does have sports teams, but let's face it... you don't go to MIT for the sports. That's life.

As for financial aid, MIT has a fairly simple policy, really. You use FAFSA etc. to find out how much your family should pay, then they have a flat amount the student should contribute ($7600 when I was there), and then they just cover the rest for you. So althought the tuition is really extravagant on paper, they help you out. Nothing wrong with that.

Of course I couldn't write about MIT without mentioning the cool toys they have. They've got a nuclear reactor on campus, for goodness sake! Massive computing resources, equipment for everything from robotics to playing with DNA, etc. The tour guide actually told us that the school had just received a grant for 350 million dollar towards a new brain research/AI/etc. facility. (Interestingly enough, the donor is an MIT alumnus and publisher of the "Blank for Dummies" series of books.) Cool stuff.