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First Impressions of a Prospective MIT Freshman

By Elysa Wan

I arrived for Campus Preview Weekend at 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning, so my day began as I waited with three other prefrosh at the wrong terminal at Logan Airport.

After waiting for an hour, chasing down a bus and misplacing our luggage on a different bus, we finally found our way to the MIT campus.

During the bus ride over, the conversation strayed to the topic of college admissions, a subject I thought would be dead after April 2, the date that most colleges notify students of admissions decisions.

After listening to a few people list highlights of their resumes, I once again hoped that college really does kill your ego.

I registered in a glutted room of dazed teenagers and their parents and received the unmistakable red and lilac folder that identifies one as a prefrosh.

These folders included schedules, fliers, a meal card good for $35 until Saturday, maps and even personalized business cards with my name, address, phone number and e-mail address.

Although the fantasy of suavely slipping my professionally printed business card to a beautiful stranger at one of this weekend’s parties was delicious, I finally managed to tear myself away from these fantasies.

Not one to hang around aimlessly, I jumped into the day, choosing six of the forty-some classes offered.

The old adage says that getting there is half the adventure; in my case it was at least 89% of the adventure.

I can’t accuse any of the students and faculty that guided my way for being anything less friendly. Nonetheless, my feet are looking for an antagonist.

But as they rested cozily in a class on the causes and prevention of war, I decided the 20 minute walk was worthwhile.

Today’s lecture was on weapons of mass destruction. I was at once impressed by the engrossing, dynamic lecturing of Professor Stephen W. Van Evera. Even more encouraging were the intelligent, insightful questions posed by students. This place must be unique.

The other classes of the day were interesting. I could follow some, and others left me comatose.

The class day was rounded off by the Physics Colloquium on Optical Search for Extra-Terrestial Intelligence: Interstellar Communication with Lasers.”

Hearing Harvard professor Paul Horowitz, a huge star -- excuse the pun -- in radio astronomy predict that there will be contact with extraterrestrials by the end of this century brought a flush of excitement to my cheeks.

The agenda for the rest of the weekend fills up 25 pages in the CPW handbook.

Some highlights may be the CPW party Thursday night, complete with liquid nitrogen ice cream, the Alpha Delta Phi Foam party, the Activities Fair and oodles and oodles of free food.

Unlike many other prefrosh, I have decided definitively to enroll at MIT -- after getting a big envelope in December, I refused to stomach another college application.

When I walked down the infinite corridor for the first time this morning I realized that I will do this an infinite number of times in the next few years. I also realized that the buildings weren’t in numerical order.

This weekend doesn’t need to sell MIT to me, but it will give me a feel for what my next four years will be like.

And if its anything like my first 10 hours on campus, I can’t wait.