• Support PF! Buy your school textbooks, materials and every day products Here!

MIT workload

  • #1
517
0

Main Question or Discussion Point

I am thinking of applying to MIT as a transfer (I know, slim chance). But I am concerned about the amount of coursework; does anyone (perhaps who goes to MIT?) know just how much time it takes? I'm looking for approximate hours per week; I already know it's "a lot."
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
192
0
There's a rumor that MIT made the month of Jan. winter break because that's when people were getting their grades and previous many people would kill themselves on campus. Now they can do it at home.
 
  • #3
What kind of workload do you think you're going to have? You're applying to one of the top schools in the nation, and you're "concerned" with how much work you're going to have? "Approximate hours per week"?

I'm sorry, I'm just wondering how much that matters to you. If you're concerned you're going to be working too much on homework, then you should look at a different school.
 
  • #4
mathwonk
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
10,937
1,095
i went to harvard, and most people asked questions like, "where can I find more time to gett he work done? there is not enough time in the day."

at a school like that, there is no limit to how much work it takes. it takes all you can manage. the A students i knew went in the library in the morning and came out when it closed.

but do not worry, they seldom take transfers.
 
  • #5
517
0
Yes, I know, in the year 2003 they took exactly 5 transfers (compared to 50-80 at other good schools).
 
  • #6
19
0
I have some friends there, and friends with friends there. It's not a pleasent picture. Of course, that all depends on how much work you do now. I go to a pretty good school, but I don't do nearly as much work (I don't think) here, as I would have to at MIT. I applied there, and in retrospect I'm glad I didn't get in because I'm having a far easier (and more enjoyable) experience as an undergraduate where I am now.

IMO, it's probably better to just wait for graduate school (assuming you plan to go), and apply for that.
 
  • #7
cronxeh
Gold Member
961
10
If you werent a stellar student in HS, you shouldnt go to MIT. You will most probably fail, or delay your graduation for a year or two by retaking classes and taking an easier workload. The very reason why they require high scores if to weed out people who dont do a lot of work or dont necessarily like to do a lot of work. As a result in those types of schools there seems to be a lot of Asian students, and yes, there are sterotypes and they are based on solely on their family's tradition, etc
 
  • #8
mathwonk
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
10,937
1,095
let me point out some of the pluses, in case you still want to go there.

1) the professors are very very smart, and knowledgable to a degree one can hardly imagine. virtually all of them are capable of writing textbooks on the material they teach which would be better than most books used most places. This means the material in the lectures is the very latest and most pertinent.

2) The other students are really smart and interesting, and mostly highly motiovated to learn and to excel and understand. Thus one learns merely by talking to them and hanging out at lunch. The students also come from all over the world, and are extremely interesting to get to know. The actor James Woods went there e.g.

3) The school is a stones throw from Boston, one of the most beautiful and interesting towns in America.

4) The school has a great rep throughout the world, which will help you, and the high quality education you get there will help even more.

5) If you get in, it means they believe you can succeed there, and they will be right.

so why not go for it?
 
  • #9
104
0
Just a quick question:
I'm thinking of getting a bachelor degree in physics here in Norway, at the university of bergen (probably totally unknown). If I worked my ass of and got a high GPA, could I have a chance applying for a graduate study at MIT?

(sorry, I know this isn't fully relevant to this thread, but I thought could just ask a quick question)
 
  • #10
mathwonk
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
10,937
1,095
well, as one of my friends told me when I consider whether to apply for a prestigious postdoc: "I can tell you for sure that if you do not apply, then you won't get it."

I got it.

By the way if you work your %%&* off, then good things will hapopen, whether you get into MIT or not.
 
  • #11
1,104
25
By the way if you work your %%&* off, then good things will hapopen, whether you get into MIT or not.
I sure hope so. I have been committing suicide for a long time now. This has been the worst year out of my college career so far. I sleep about 20-35 hours in a given week cause I work two jobs on top of taking 20 credits. Right now I am doing homework and will be for another 4-5 hours (its 12:30 am now) and have to get up at 615 Am to go to work until 3, class 4-715, work 730-930 then study for wed's psych test and write up some huge lab reports. :zzz:
 
  • #12
19
0
Wow.

I'm taking 16 credits and I do maybe 15 or 18 hours of course work a week.
 
  • #13
16
0
well being that it is the second best college in the US......do the math yourself...
 
  • #14
mathwonk
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
10,937
1,095
not everyone at MIT works all the time, but top research scientists, and successful students at top places, do work a lot.

when i was a grad student (not at MIT), i made so little money, i was a vegetarian partly to be able to afford food for my family, and partly to require less sleep needed to digest meat. I ran several miles a day to be in good physical condition. I got up before dawn every day, worked all day, played with my kids at night until they went to bed, then worked after they fell asleep from 11 until 1am. of course i made all A's, as well as teaching undergraduate classes.

i heard once some students felt it was unfair that they wound up in classes with me and another guy, since the competition was more than they could have expected.

later when i had a research grant that was too small to feed us, i sold my car to have money to continue to study.

for ten years i sat in the same place on the floor every day surrounded by books. i went to no movies, read no novels, listended to music only to relax and study better. i skipped lunch to have more time to work and save money.

still i got letters from job applications like: "at one time a student with your qualifications would have easily obtained a position here, but unfortunately now things are different."

i found good employment, but still it was decades before I could even afford to buy math books.

the point is the work is hard, the competition is intense, and the monetary rewards are small. so it is crucial to do it for the love of the work and the subject. Pick something you absolutely love working on. Otherwise it is very hard, maybe impossible, to work hard enough to succeed.

the good part is, if you do not give up, eventually you will succeed. it just does not come quickly. and even a slow student who is persistent and thoughtful, will make great progress in time.
 
Last edited:
  • #15
16
0
"i sold my car to have money to continue to study"

Never would I resort to selling my ride.....sighface
 
  • #16
mathwonk
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
10,937
1,095
i think i had two cars, but i sold the reliable one.
 
  • #17
52
0
mathwonk said:
not everyone at MIT works all the time, but top research scientists, and successful students at top places, do work a lot.

when i was a grad student (not at MIT), i made so little money, i was a vegetarian partly to be able to afford food for my family, and partly to require less sleep needed to digest meat. I ran several miles a day to be in good physical condition. I got up before dawn every day, worked all day, played with my kids at night until they went to bed, then worked after they fell asleep from 11 until 1am. of course i made all A's, as well as teaching undergraduate classes.

i heard once some students felt it was unfair that they wound up in classes with me and another guy, since the competition was more than they could have expected.

later when i had a research grant that was too small to feed us, i sold my car to have money to continue to study.

for ten years i sat in the same place on the floor every day surrounded by books. i went to no movies, read no novels, listended to music only to relax and study better. i skipped lunch to have more time to work and save money.

still i got letters from job applications like: "at one time a student with your qualifications would have easily obtained a position here, but unfortunately now things are different."

i found good employment, but still it was decades before I could even afford to buy math books.

the point is the work is hard, the competition is intense, and the monetary rewards are small. so it is crucial to do it for the love of the work and the subject. Pick something you absolutely love working on. Otherwise it is very hard, maybe impossible, to work hard enough to succeed.

the good part is, if you do not give up, eventually you will succeed. it just does not come quickly. and even a slow student who is persistent and thoughtful, will make great progress in time.

very amazing :eek: may I know which college were you in?
 
  • #18
mathwonk
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
10,937
1,095
the extremely hard program described above was in graduate school at PhD level, trying to finish in 3 years with a family, which is much more competitive and intense than undergraduate college. college is demanding but only a picnic, even at Harvard / MIT, compared to grad school.

Besides I exaggerate. I remember taking my kids to see star wars at least twice during that 10 years.
 
  • #19
294
0
I think some of you guys are overreacting. I can only speak from second hand experience, but not everyone at MIT is a workaholic. They do tend to cater to those types however. The person I know who went there double majored in mathematics and biology, but still had time to do things like extracurriculars, etc. He is pretty smart, but I wouldn't exactly consider him to be a genius. He is just pretty dedicated and focused.

And other people are right, they almost never accept transfers, so I wouldn't worry too much. They are pretty good at determining who is going to succeed there anyway, so if you get in theres no reason to not go (unless the choice is between them and say, Cal Tech)
 
  • #20
375
0
mathwonk said:
when i was a grad student (not at MIT), i made so little money, i was a vegetarian partly to be able to afford food for my family, and partly to require less sleep needed to digest meat. I ran several miles a day to be in good physical condition. I got up before dawn every day, worked all day, played with my kids at night until they went to bed, then worked after they fell asleep from 11 until 1am. of course i made all A's, as well as teaching undergraduate classes.
Seems like it's pretty hard to have kids while in grad school, especially if your wife doesn't work (I assume she didn't by inference). If you don't have kids - I don't think grad school is that bad.
 
  • #21
263
0
so-crates said:
They are pretty good at determining who is going to succeed there anyway, so if you get in theres no reason to not go (unless the choice is between them and say, Cal Tech)
is Caltech better than MIT??
 
  • #22
mathwonk
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
10,937
1,095
As to the workload at top undergraduate schools, I would say anyone admitted there who works very hard will do quite well. In graduate school, even those who work very hard may not all do well, but most will graduate. If the graduate school is short on students, they may be reluctant to kick anyone out. The next stop however will be getting a good job.

As to balancing needs of a family, the family takes time and energy, but offers stability and motivation for persistence and success. That can be a big plus.

jai6638, As whether CalTech is "better" than MIT, that's like asking whether Beethoven is better than Mozart. They are different, and both are wonderful.

For most people, I myself advocate going to a school like Columbia or Harvard, where there is a balance of science and non science. What if it turns out you really do not want the physics degree you thought you did? Exclusively science oriented schools sometimes offer essentially nothing else.

Cal Tech is fantastic for science, but a few years ago a graduate of that school, who liked it very much himself, indicated this reason some people might not. It may have changed since then. MIT instituted some liberal arts programs several decades ago for this reason. One of my acquaintances was involved with setting them up.

But if you know you want math, or physics, or engineering, presumably either MIT or Cal Tech can serve you excellently. Since these schools offer hundreds of courses, and you can only take a few, it is inconceivable to me that one person can come close to scratching the surface of what is available at any of these schools in only one lifetime.

Luckily that makes it reasonable also to go almost anywhere, if you choose well what to take there. The difference in top places is the atmosphere of expectations, and motivation. They are very good, and know it, and expect the same from you, and the students there want that, and want to be part of that.

Thus ironically, you need to be even more motivated to go to an average place, as you are required to hold up high standards for yourself, since it may not be demanded of you by the institution.

If you are very specialized in your desires, and know you want some subdiscipline of a particular science, then maybe one or the other of the schools MIT or CalTech is more desirable than the other.
 
Last edited:
  • #23
104
0
Do you have to take your undergraduate and/or your graduate degree (and maybe PhD) at an Ivy League school to become successfull (in the private job sector)?

If you don't have the grades to take the undergraduate at a top school, could you have a chance of entering the graduate program after working your ass of taking your undergraduate at another school?
 
  • #24
192
0
yes if you great grades (3.75>) at a no name undergraduate school you should be able to get into a good graduate program. But the thing is you also should look for outside experience, like internships, etc, to spice up your resume.
 
  • #25
mathwonk
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
10,937
1,095
grad schools are always looking for talent. the key point is to be good. when accepting students at grad schools that is what they are looking for. so they have two pieces of data, 1) what do the letters say, 2) who writes those letters.

so it may be that if you went to an ivy league school, the letter writers are more famous and therefore maybe what they say is more believable (maybe not), but even if you went to a no name school, if all the letter writers say " this is the best student I have seen in XXX years, and I went to Columbia myself; no doubt about it, she is going to be great, grab her." then you will get in a lot places.

of courtse you also have to have high grades, that goes without saying. the difficulty is what tod educe from a lot of high ghrades ata shcool no one is familiar with. low grades always meant he same thing. high grades do not.
 

Related Threads on MIT workload

  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
12
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
8
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
2K
Replies
10
Views
1K
Replies
20
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
706
Top