Welcome, Class of 1999
Congratulations and welcome, Class of 1999. While your hard work has indeed gotten you far, be proud not only of your admission but also of your decision to come to MIT to begin the first of what may well be the most important years of your life.
That decision was not unique. During your time here, you'll face many decisions, both trivial and vital, immediate and long-term. On your way to Commencement you will be challenged in ways you may not be able to imagine yet. But fret not. Whether academic, physical, or social, those challenges will teach you what MIT is really about: expanding your mind, honing your abilities, and pushing yourself to the limit.
The important thing is being ready for the challenge. Expect and embrace it. Go ahead and take that hard class, try out for that team, join that activity. Rush your favorite living group; meet as many people as you can. But while you can count on the challenge, don't assume success: Don't be disappointed if you don't get an A+ (though with the new grading system, you just might), don't make the team, or don't have time for an activity. Don't get upset if you don't get a bid, don't get invited back to a party, or don't find your kind of people right away.
While you should of course do your best, the important thing is to keep perspective. College is where you find out who you really are, and part of who you want to be. Live it for yourself; don't waste your time pretending or trying to please others. If you try to please somebody other than yourself, especially during rush, consider if it will be worth it in the long run. Don't be afraid to explore new activities, people, and ideas, even for discovery's sake.
And as you face new challenges and make tough decisions, never be afraid to ask for help, especially of your peers. MIT students are extraordinarily helpful in giving advice, and there are many people who will just listen as well. For better or worse, you're all in this together: If you remember it, that bond will serve you well, both at MIT and beyond.
MIT is a great place to be. While the system has its flaws, you will find your time here well spent. The Institute's resources are vast, and its reputation and quality will help you wherever you may go afterwards. Though we may call it hell, you will look back on this place fondly. And so once again, congratulations, Class of 1999. Welcome to MIT.