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Freshmen Should Scorn Bearded Look

Column by Anders Hove
Executive Editor

When I published my first advice column last year I didn't expect to make a repeat performance. I am older and wiser now, however, and I understand that my wisdom must be expended now before it matures and acquires value.

Another reason I am repeating my advice column is because I have seen the fruits of last year's efforts. Taking stock, it is evident that those who followed my advice are now successful and happy, and those who scorned my counsel are wretched and pitiable.

I take no credit for my friends' success. The advice I gave them was merely received wisdom. I had good teachers: my sister, Barbara M. Balents '89, and her husband, Leon M. Balents '89. I am almost ashamed to say, however, that the most important thing I learned during my first week at MIT I learned from a column just like this.

The advice was this: Don't grow a beard - you'll look like an idiot.

If I surround this tidbit with an aura of mystery and importance, it is because I know how powerful it can be. Those who abide by it will enjoy life and enrich the lives of others. Those who do not will spend most of their lives on the fifth floor of the Student Center playing with disc guns and customizing their Athena accounts.

More advice follows. You may know much of it already. If you scrutinize it closely, however, you just might find something that empowers you to change your life for the better. And please, don't be afraid to change your life.

Boston is an exciting town. Don't miss out by spending weekends playing "Netrek."

Write something down on paper. Memories are valuable, so you'll want to record them now before you forget English.

Shower. Wait 24 hours. Shower again. Repeat as necessary.

Boston has several cult-like evangelical religions. Don't feel compelled to give out your phone number or attend any "prayer meetings" in the Boston Common.

Get to know the undergraduate administrative coordinator in a department you are interested in. He or she is the source of all knowledge about the department's undergraduate life.

The faculty study science and engineering, not MIT life. Don't expect much more than free food and a signature from your adviser.

Visit the library. Read the newspaper. Just because you made it to Cambridge doesn't mean the outside world has ceased to exist.

Don't sweat over grades. A = B = C. On Pass/No Record, there's no excuse for not getting involved in your community.

Just because you met 100 people who want to major in electrical engineering and computer science doesn't mean you have to major in it, too. Indeed, some people actually come to MIT for the social sciences, and rightly so.

Nobody cares about your SAT score, your high school GPA, or, for that matter, anything about your high school.

The label "mandatory for all freshmen" is a lie. Nobody can force you to do anything, especially if it seems inane or just plain silly. Do yourself a favor and skip at least one event.

Do not give out your phone number unless you know how it's going to be used. Anyone who says you must write down that number for them is lying.

Avoid soap cakes by putting the powdered detergent in before the clothes.

Skip your first class. Or your second class. Relax.

Buy a textbook from a sophomore. Unless they ripped you off, chances are you just made a friend.

MIT needs "rush" because it can't afford more on-campus undergraduate housing. Even so, incoming students don't have to choose between an Independent Living Group and a quint.

Getting a single room is a lame priority to set for yourself during Residence and Orientation Week. Go ahead and meet people and find out what they found attractive about their living arrangements.

That said, don't take R/O very seriously. Have fun and relax. You can always move later.

Last but not least, don't grow a beard - you'll look like an idiot.