Gameplan for college

Here’s a video for you all that might capture the mood of this post. Yay for destroying books!!! Bwahahaha…

You don’t have to read this, you really don’t. It’s so long. But if you’re interested in some more of my especially rambly ramblings, feel free to go on…

For now I’m going to write about how I’m trying to plan my courses for the next 2 (or 4?) terms at MIT. It might just be me, or it might just be MIT, but it seems like college requires you to PLAN a LOT even as a pre-frosh. I thought this post might be interesting/helpful to other people who want to make the most out of their experiences XD Or perhaps you can tell me what YOU’RE planning to do for your next terms so we can compare schedules!

OK, so MIT is one of those schools that has a core (general institute requirements – GIRs). Those include (typically) taking one to two terms of math (18.01 or credit for first-year calculus and 18.02), two terms of physics (8.01/8.012 and 8.02/8.022), a chem course, a bio course, a writing course if you have not passed the FEE (Freshman Essay Evaluation) or gotten a 5 on an AP English course, and 8 terms of HASS (Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences) courses. The writing counts as one HASS credit too.

So, basically, you can get your math and physics requirements out of the way freshman year, work on the HASS requirements by taking one non-science course a term, and… people do different things with chem and bio depending on what they are majoring in.

I was considering 18.014 (a theory/proof-heavy math class), but I kind of want to get the requirements out of the way so I’m sticking with 18.02. Physics will probably be 8.012, so my schedule for the first term might start by looking like this:

18.02 (Cal II)
8.012 (Cool physics XD)
HASS/Writing course

OK, since I’m into the environment I’m doing Terrascope. Which sounds like the most awesome program ever created. And that adds another class (Solving Complex Problems, 12.000) to my list.
(I’m going to start adding the number of credits for each course, because you can’t take any more than 54 credits in your first term as a freshman, but with Terrascope the limit is 57 credits.)

18.02 – 12 credits
8.012 – 12 credits
12.000 – 9 credits

36 credits. So this leaves room for 21 credits, and I could use all of them if I want to kill myself.

Here’s the next complicated thing. I’m thinking of doing Concourse or Experimental Study Group, more likely Concourse. These are two learning communities that each enroll about 60 freshmen and have them take their basic classes together. Classes are smaller and you get more attention from teachers. I think that the added support might be helpful for me – heck, I’ll need all the help I can get at MIT. And then I get to have close friends from Terrascope AND Concourse XD Yay learning communities!

But I’m also want to take a language so I can do MISTI – intern ABROAD from MIT! I would probably choose China, Mexico, or Japan. I wasn’t really thinking about Japan until I heard that you could intern at Square Enix. So the question is – to design computer games or to do field research? Either one could have a positive environmental impact, especially designing games if I convince Square Enix to go “green” or put “green” themes in their games…

Ah, I’m just dreaming now, it’ll probably be China or Mexico. Mexico has more environmental opps, or so it seems, so maybe Spanish first?

But either one would require taking the language. Which means that I would need to take the language course. So now the question is – which one first – Chinese or Spanish? And when?

Here is the schedule that I WISH I could have for my first term:

-18.02 (12 credits)
-8.012 (12 credits)
-5.111 (Chem) or 3.091 (Concourse chem – a combo of 3.091 and 5.111)
-Chinese Level I or Spanish Level ? (12 credits)
-Either Globalization (if I passed out of writing) OR Writing about Nature and Environmental Issues OR Writing about Literature OR Writing and Reading Short Stories (9 credits)
-12.000 (Terrascope) (9 credits)

So that adds up to 63. Um, no. No no no NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

So I’ll be stuck with one of the following situations based on whether I get into Concourse and/or need to take a writing class. (I WILL be pressured to take chemistry with concourse if I do concourse…)

W/o concourse or writing (save that for later!)


Total: 51 credits

With or without concourse and with writing:

Writing about Literature OR Writing and Reading Short Stories
5.111/3.091 (Chem or concourse chem)

Total: 57 credits

If I sanely decide to totally disregard their advice about chem:

8.012 (or 8.01 if 8.012 is too hard)
Writing course

Total: 45 credits

So when you’re planning your next four years (or next term, I can’t get past that!), it’s important to keep your priorities in order. If you’re majoring in bio you might want to take intro bio first term instead of chem. If you’re not as into the environment as me you might be tempted to just drop 12.000 and make room for everything else. But that would be a mistake because 12.000 is the most awesome course EVER. Since I know that that course is a priority for me, I can set that aside and spend my precious energy deciding which of the others to eliminate. Math and physics are required, so I can’t really touch those except to place ahead if possible. I kind of wish I’d found a way to take AP Physics/Bio/Chem so that I could get one of those requirements out of the way, but that option is not available to me now.

Maybe I’m just stressing over this too much. Maybe I should just leave chem for sophomore year. Should I leave the language for later as well?

And OMG, I just found out that there’s a Spanish II study abroad opportunity over IAP (January’s Independent Activities Period)! It’s not free though… (I think MITSI covers the costs of its internship programs…)


Wow, this post turned out to be REALLY REALLY REALLY long, so I’m posting one video on the top. If you read up to the end, um, wow! XD Now you know the drama that is the start of academic life at MIT XD Anyway, I’ll post another one here to reward you for coming this far! And please feel free to tell me what YOU’RE planning, if you’re going to MIT or otherwise, or even still in high school =P

Shoot, if you’re in high school you shouldn’t be worrying about these things! Go read my asian drama reviews!


One response to “Gameplan for college

  1. Hey Marcela.
    Why do I feel like you’re killing yourself already even though we have yet unpacked our stuff at MIT? T___T
    Anyways, I was considering concourse, except I don’t really want to be in a group that will pressure me into to studying certain things. RWAR
    Are you planning on taking bio first term? Because Dr.Eric Lander teaches it fall term and I heard he’s really cool. So may be instead of chem and physics, do bio and physics?
    Fun blog. I’ll see you soon 😀

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