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Report truth about MIT

Guest Column/Elliot Marx

When I first came to MIT, I expected that most of the students would be nerds -- with no interests beyond studying and computer hacking.

Lisa Birnbach warned me in her college handbook about the prevalent "social ineptitude" among students here. The Yale Daily News, which also prints a college handbook, claimed that MIT students are typically scientists with no interests in the humanities, implying that we do not care about other people, both in our society and in others.

To my surprise, I have found these descriptions of MIT students to be inaccurate, if not outright false. Even though many students here are strong in math and science, there is no such thing as a typical student. Personal pursuits here are extremely diverse. In Random Hall alone, I have met a soccer player, an artist, a composer, several guitar players, and a comic book collector.

MIT has a higher percentage of foreign students than that of just about any other college in the United States. These students add tremendously to the diversity of cultures and races represented here.

If only I had known these things about MIT before I came here! I might have been able to convince some of the other seven students from my school who were accepted by MIT. Unfortunately, they did not enroll, partly because they believed the negative stereotypes they had heard about MIT.

These stereotypes probably originated several years ago. MIT admissions officers were not attracting a diverse group of people then. Their one concern was admitting future scientists, whether or not they were nerds. Intelligent people either applied to an Ivy League school or MIT, never both.

Today, however, more people are applying to both MIT and Ivy League schools. Admissions officers here compete with the Ivy League for intelligent students who have a wide variety of interests and talents.

I hope that in the future, high school graduates will make a more informed decision about applying to and enrolling at MIT. Reporters and surveyors cannot describe MIT as well as we can, because they are not experiencing life here. I urge every one of you to go back to your high school. Replace the unsubstantiated rumors with informed truth.