Congratulations, your hard work and effort have been justifiably rewarded by your admission to the Institute. Understand that you are here for a reason — you fill a unique niche in the MIT community. Many of you have left lasting marks on your hometowns and high schools, and it is now time to start making a lasting impression on MIT.
Orientation and rush are times to find a home, find friends, and find a passion. In order to succeed here, you must be comfortable with where you live and be supported by those around you. When times get rough, a non-academic passion in the form of a research project, sport, student group, or hobby is necessary to keep you balanced. Over the next week, you will have to pierce the facades of dozens of living groups, hundreds of students groups, and a number of social cliques to determine what is right for you. There are more course options than you have time to consider, more activities than you have time to enjoy, more work than you have time to complete. Your primary task at MIT will be to determine what things are important and what are not, and to allocate your full effort to completing what is important while learning to give less time and energy to what is not.
There are 11 undergraduate dormitories, each with its own distinct personality. Over the next few days, take the time to interact with the residents of each and find the place you feel most comfortable. If you do not find a dormitory that suits you, be sure to check out fraternity and sorority rush. Find something you care about. Attend Friday’s Activities Midway and listen to what students have to say. Use the Midway to find something, or many things, to get excited about and stick with them. You will cherish the break extracurricular activities provide once classes get into full swing.
Beyond Orientation, Pass/No Record will allow you a fair amount of extra time during your first semester; use it wisely. Push your comfort zone. Say hello to that person you never would have talked to in high school. Take a class in a major you know nothing about. Go to parties in both fraternities and dormitories, east campus and west campus.
Be sure to take advantage of Boston and Cambridge — both for the people and for the cities themselves. Hang out at Harvard, Boston University, Boston College, Tufts, Emerson, Berklee, and the dozens of other surrounding schools. Take a class at Wellesley or Harvard. Visit the Musuem of Fine Arts, go to a Boston Pops concert, or enjoy a Red Sox game.
Finally, understand that you are here to learn and to better yourself. MIT will challenge you both emotionally and academically. Do not dwell on your failures and instead realize that they happen to the best of us. Good luck.