Campus Life advice

Prefrosh? Read this!

Auntie Matter on using CPW wisely

Auntie Matter is The Tech’s weekly advice column. If you have questions for Auntie Matter, please submit them at

This week, in an effort to be more authentic in her aunt role, Auntie Matter will give unsolicited advice for prefrosh about CPW.

First, Auntie will reiterate some of the typical advice about CPW — it is good advice, and prefrosh should pay attention.

You should sleep an adequate amount. You should take at least one shower. You should eat. And not only that, but you should eat vegetables. You should visit dorms. You should talk with current students. You should remember that CPW is not necessarily representative of what everyday life at MIT is like.

With that aside, Auntie will give her own take on the the wise use of Campus Preview Weekend.

At CPW, it can be tempting to focus only on exploring the residential and extracurricular experience of MIT. Certainly, the academic events are not as lighthearted. However, you will spend the majority of your time at MIT on academics. You should think seriously about your academic career at MIT during CPW.

There are two sorts of current MIT students Auntie recommends you speak with about academics.

First, you should speak with upperclassmen who share your academic interests. Even without a specific major in mind, you probably have some idea of what you might study, and since the MIT experience varies widely by major, you should consult with people (ideally juniors and seniors) who can speak to what their majors are like. If you have no idea, you could talk to someone who had no idea when they were a freshman.

Second, you should try to find an MIT student whose high school experience was similar to yours. People say MIT is hard and unlike high school. These things are true. However, your high school experience will affect your preparedness for and expectations about MIT academics. Speaking to someone who shares your background will give you important information about what academics at MIT will be like for you.

As the last point on academics, Auntie will note that freshman learning communities are a wonderful resource for you to explore.

Now, Auntie will turn to her other major point of CPW advice: the importance of self-reflection.

In the midst of all the liquid nitrogen ice cream, puzzle hunts, and lock-picking, you should make sure to take time for self-reflection. Use the weekend and its aftermath to think intentionally about what you want from your college experience and how you could get those things (or not) at MIT.

Think about your high school experiences. What have you enjoyed about the communities you participated in? If there have been struggles in your high school career, think about how you can prepare to either face or avoid those same problems at MIT. If an aspect of your high school experience was crucial to your success, determine if that same support or opportunity is available at MIT.

Thinking about what you like and dislike about your home could give clues about what kind of dorm you should seek. Different dorms offer different lifestyles — what are you comfortable with in your living environment? What community norms would make you feel at home?

Think about the expectations you have for college. What kind of support are you looking for? What environment do you learn best in? When you talk to current students about academics, see if the academic environment they describe sounds like one you would succeed in.

Imagine yourself as a college student — what are you like? Are you involved in student government? Are you the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper? Are you a devoted physicist who studies comparative religion on the side? Are you a reclusive mathematician who loves to bake? Do you go to every frat party, or do you go to sleep at 9 p.m. every Friday night? Do you spend your free time working on your biochemistry UROP? Do you like to volunteer? Do you like to teach?

Can you do these things at MIT? Can you do them in the way you want to do them?

Auntie hopes that everyone can use CPW as an opportunity to learn more about MIT, even those students who have already comMITted. Good luck, take care of yourselves, and have a fun and productive weekend!