Students are Asking

Tuition and Financial Aid

  • 683
    Q: As an international student, is difficult to find as many financial opportunities as U.S. students or permanent residents. Is it possible for MIT to create more opportunities? [Fall 2013]
    Read response from

    Danielle Guichard-Ashbrook, Director and Associate Dean, International Students Office

    It’s true that many financial aid opportunities are limited to US citizens and permanent residents.  However, the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE) does list a number of fellowship opportunities specifically for international students, as well as a group of internal MIT fellowships, all of which are open to international students, and internal MIT awards.  Additionally, the ODGE Manager of Graduate Fellowships is in the process of identifying and publicizing other opportunities for internationals as part of the strategic work of the office.

    Many on campus employment opportunities (paid by MIT) are available to international students who meet the eligibility criteria, e.g. Research Assistantships, Teaching Assistantships, positions as a Graduate Community Fellow, or a Graduate Resident Tutor.    Students should check with their academic or thesis advisors, department administrators and/or the ODGE to see what  on campus employment or fellowship opportunities may be available for them.

    International students unfortunately are subject to some fairly stringent immigration regulations especially when it comes to off campus employment in the US.  However, as long as the student meets the strict eligibility criteria and applies in time, immigration does allow benefits like Optional Practical Training (OPT), Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Academic Training (AT).  These types of employment benefits for international students may be applicable to some off campus internships during the summer and during IAP.   We recommend that students check with the International Students Office (ISO) to explore the possibilities.

    There are also additional MIT-funded opportunities for international students: Internships and research abroad through MISTI, which provides money to cover their travel and living expenses.  The Graduate Student Council (GSC) offers travel grants to support students with conference travel expenses.  The ODGE Graduate Student Life Grants offer funding for community-building events or programs. 

    Finally, the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education is currently considering ways to create more opportunities for international students.  We would love to hear your suggestions.

  • 281
    Q: Why does MIT have a yearly tuition increase? It would be nice to see the Institute eliminate what seems like a "just because" increase. Alternatively, there should be more transparency on what is being funded. [Spring 2012]

    In March, MIT announced a tuition increase of 3.25% for the coming academic year. This was one of the lowest increases among our peers.Every year, we go through a process to determine if a tuition increase is necessary and what would be reasonable. As a service industry, higher education costs are largely driven by labor costs.  MIT is no exception and our salary costs go up, on average, 3% annually.  We have also recently experienced increased costs associated with housing.

    In considering any tuition increase, we try very carefully to account for inflation and maintain our longstanding commitment to affordability.; In fact, this process is not just about setting the tuition rate but also setting the financial aid budget so that we can meet the full demonstrated financial need of all applicants we admit. For over a decade, financial aid has been increasing at a faster rate than tuition. For the coming year, the financial aid budget will increase by 4.7%.

    The process starts with a committee run by the Dean for Undergraduate Education and including the Provost, the Chancellor, the Executive Vice President, the Vice President for Finance, the Dean for Graduate Education, the Dean for Student Life, the Chair of the Faculty, and the Chair of CUAFA. The committee makes a recommendation on the necessary increases in tuition and financial aid to Academic Council and the President, which, in turn, goes on to the Corporation.

    Tuition is determined as part of a larger decision on how MIT will cover the full cost of education in the upcoming year. Tuition is the price of education. The total cost of undergraduate education is actually much higher. Based on internal studies, we determined the total current cost is about $72,000 per undergraduate student per academic year. This does not include housing and board and is consistent with the cost of education at our peers.  However, tuition for 2011-12 was significantly less, just over $40,000. In reality, MIT subsidizes the education of all students, even those who pay full tuition. Moreover, since over 60% of MIT students receive need-based financial aid, the net amount of tuition we collected, averaged over all undergraduate students, was about $19,000 per student.

    To fund the full cost of education, MIT draws from three sources: tuition, gifts and payout from the endowment.  Ultimately, the Corporation determines the exact amount of revenue that will be drawn from each of these sources. This includes setting the tuition rate and associated financial aid budget at a level that helps offset cost increases while maintaining affordability. Their decision is informed by the recommendation of the senior administrators but also considers the short and long-term goals of the Institute and the state of the economy. It is important to note that while research funds are used to fund UROPs, research funds are strictly used to fund the research enterprise and do not directly support the educational enterprise.

    Funding education is part of the complex financial management of the Institute. Periodically, the Institute holds forums to report the financial status of the Institute and these are open to students. I encourage you to attend and learn more about this process.

Housing and Dining

  • 776
    Q: What’s the status of phase two of the residential security implementation process? [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    Henry Humphreys, Senior Associate Dean for Residential Life and Dining

    Technology enhancements, professional staffing, and updated policies and procedures will be implemented in the remaining undergraduate residence halls on the MIT campus during phase II. Residential Life and Dining is meeting with all housemasters, and already met with the president of DormCon to discuss next steps. In turn, DormCon gave an update on phase II to the house presidents, who have been asked to share it with their houses.

    Residential Life and Dining will set up meetings in each community where residents can ask questions and give input on matters including guest and event policies, camera views, and the role of student desk workers. The new systems and policies will be implemented in fall 2014.

    Later this spring Residential Life and Dining will meet with graduate residence halls that weren’t part of phase I. As with the first phase buildings, the remaining graduate residences will receive upgraded security technology by the end of the 2014 fall semester.

    Click here to learn more about the residential security enhancements, policies, and procedures.

  • 656
    Q: What does the large event ban on fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups in Boston mean? How long will the ban last? [Fall 2013]

    In October the City of Boston restricted assembly numbers in 19 fraternities, three sororities, and two independent living groups based certain building codes that changed since the since last time the buildings were inspected. The restrictions prevent gatherings of people in excess of each building’s stated residential occupancy until needed enhancements can be made and the buildings re-inspected. This caused the affected FSILGs to cancel, postpone, or move social events that would normally be held at their houses.

    Two architects hired by MIT are inspecting the affected houses to create plans that will bring the buildings in line with the new codes. Leaders from DSL have been working with FSILG leaders, students, and alumni affected by the restrictions to coordinate inspections and plan submissions, while also helping them carry on some semblance of their regular activities. There is no official timeline, though the hope is that all of the plans will be submitted to Boston in December. After the plans have been approved and repairs made, Boston will once again inspect the buildings before issuing new assembly permits. We hope that this entire process can be completed for all Boston-based FSILGs early in the spring semester.

  • 655
    Q: The MIT2030 plan lists that Burton-Conner, East Campus, and MacGregor Hall are intended to be renovated. What are the current renovation plans, and are there any plans to mandate dining for those dorms? [Fall 2013]

    The MIT 2030 website includes a campus plan which highlights Burton-Conner, East Campus, and MacGregor as being higher on the program’s renovation priority list. A study completed in 2012 looked at options for renovating the East Campus parallels, but no project has resulted from that study. Other than their status on the in-need-of-renovation list, there is no additional information about the scope of potential renovations to Burton-Conner or MacGregor.

    Likewise with dining, East Campus is the only of the three residences that has been studied, and the recommendation is to maintain EC’s status as a cook-for-yourself community.

  • 627
    Q: Are there any enhancements to dining planned? [Fall 2013 - Spring 2014]

    Residential Life and Dining launched a new feature on the MIT app for iOS and Android, which shows the hours, locations, and menus of all on-campus dining halls. Users can also compare house dining menus for a particular meal side-by-side, and sort menus by type, such as vegetarian and gluten-free. Information on retail dining venues is also available by building location. Users can overviews for each venue complete with hours and payment options, with links to daily specials and more.

    This culminates efforts among Residential Life and Dining, and its many vendors (especially house dining provider Bon Appétit) to fulfill a long-stand request of students, staff, and, alumni. Now Residential Life and Dining hopes to hear from students on how to improve the app, especially as more dining offerings become available. Future updates may include the addition of Simmons Hall Late Night to the House Dining tab and more details on retail dining.
     
    Check out the new Dining feature by updating the MIT Mobile app, then look for the plate-and-silverware icon in the main menu.
     
  • 478
    Q: What is happening with Bexley Hall? [Fall 2013]

    Following the closure of Bexley Hall in June, a group of student leaders from Bexley and DormCon gathered with members of my staff and Facilities to close out a number of issues related directly to Bexley residents and the building. This group will conclude its work this month, and I am very pleased with how the students have engaged DSL staff and Facilities to learn more about the situation that led to the building’s closure. Their questions have been thoughtful and probing, and the atmosphere of the meetings has been positive and constructive. A larger group comprised of representatives from Bexley, DSL, Facilities, DormCon and other student leaders will soon to take up issues related to Bexley in the context of the MIT community.

  • 685
    Q: What is planned for the residential security program’s next phase? [Fall 2013]

    To better understand what’s happening with phase two, let’s look at what was accomplished in phase one. At the start of this academic year, five undergraduate residence halls – Baker House, Maseeh Hall, McCormick Hall, Next House, and Simmons Hall – received upgraded security systems, policies, and procedures. Graduate residences Tang Hall and the Westgate Apartments received security system enhancements.

    Residential Life and Dining is gathering feedback on phase one from the undergraduate residence halls before finalizing the phase two plans. We will announce which residence halls will be included in phase two during the spring semester. Enhancements will be similar to those installed in phase one.

  • 736
    Q: The Graduate Student Housing Working Group just released a report recommending construction of more graduate housing. What happens next? [Spring 2014]

    The Graduate Student Housing Working Group, chaired by former Chancellor and Department of Urban Studies and Planning Professor Phillip Clay, has released its draft report here.  At this time, the community is encouraged to read and give feedback on the report and its recommendations, which include the addition of more graduate housing and the makeup of that housing.  Please send comments to gradhousing-ideas@mit.edu.

    After taking feedback into consideration, a final report will be issued mid-spring by the Working Group.  The administration will then give a formal response to its recommendations.

    Dean for Graduate Education Christine Ortiz served as a member of the Working Group, which also included four graduate student representatives, in a thorough, rigorous, data-intensive process that involved extensive outreach to the MIT community. Read about the motivation, charge, and membership of the Working Group here.

  • 773
    Q: As an international student, it seems difficult to look for off-campus housing since I am not familiar with the area and procedure. Is there someone who can assist? [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    Tasha Coppett, Assistant Director, Graduate and Off-Campus Housing

    The MIT Housing Office maintains resources for those who decide to live off campus: not only current off-campus housing listings, but also general survival guides with essential tips and information about the legal issues of renting and the meaning of rental market jargon.  In addition, as part of my job I am happy to provide advice and guidance to all students, as well as to review your lease before you sign on the dotted line.  Send me an email anytime (tcoppett@mit.edu).  

    I am also very excited to let you know that Graduate and Off-Campus housing will be conducting webinars in the coming months! The dates of the webinars on off-campus housing are as follows:
     
    ·         April 25th at 10:30am – graduate and off-campus housing information for new and continuing students.  Register here.
    ·         May 1st at 1pm – off-campus housing information for the MIT community. Register here.
     
    There will be additional webinars throughout the summer on the topic of off-campus housing. 

    Best of luck with finding the right housing option for you.

  • 709
    Q: Why doesn't MIT offer food courts for graduate students? Many academic institutions offer subsidized dining in an effort to build culture, encourage cross-pollination between departments, and reduce financial burden on grad students. [Spring 2014]

    This question brings up two key issues: affordability of dining options, and building community through dining.

    MIT offers dining across a wide spectrum of price points at more than 30 locations across campus, all of which are open to the entire community: from the food trucks near Kendall Square to the food court in W20 to the five dining halls on the west side of campus and numerous retail options in between. There’s also the weekly farmer’s market—which just re-opened for the season in 32-100LB—for those who cook for themselves. Among these many options we believe that all MIT community members should be able to eat healthfully and in a way that fits their budgets. Read more about all the options available at the MIT Dining website.

    Community building is one of the dining program's primary goals, which it achieves through the openness of its dining options. Having mixed groups of grad students and undergrads interacting with other MIT community members in a convivial environment over a meal is one of the most important aspects of the dining program. Dining facilities for just one group would counteract the openness that, we believe, benefits the entire campus. You can read more about graduate meal plans here.

  • 272
    Q: MIT dorms thrive in part because the residents have much autonomy with dorm governance and administration. Talk of improving dorm safety and security includes ideas that could restrict this freedom. How does MIT plan to balance these competing needs? [Spring 2012]

    A group of students, faculty, and staff tasked with reviewing dorm security considered this question very seriously during the course of its work this year.

    In March 2012, the Residence Hall Security Review Committee released its final report on security in MIT’s undergraduate and graduate dormitories. The committee, which was comprised of students, faculty Housemasters, staff, and an outside security consultant, offered some thoughtful recommendations and observations in its final report. Here’s an abridged version of what their final report states about balancing safety with community life:

    “[M]any of MIT’s residence halls are, by design, porous, and students have been entrusted with managing the affairs of dormitories in ways that suit local tastes and culture. At the same time, MIT, not residential hall residents, is ultimately accountable for the quality of residential security. These tensions are inherent in MIT’s residential system. However, in the end, the committee members trust that the diversity of this system can be used to strengthen residential security. The committee also recognizes that achieving the appropriate level of security, as a consequence, will take more effort than at other universities of similar size. …

    If residence halls are to be as secure as they can be, the residents must “own” the security of their residence halls; security must be a central part in each hall’s culture. Residential cultures and architecture vary considerably, which means that the specific ways in which residence halls respond to this challenge must vary.”

    The committee then recommends that each graduate and undergraduate residence with developing a comprehensive security plan, tailored to its own physical structure and community culture, to be submitted to the Dean for Student Life. To assist in this process, MIT has engaged a private security consultant to work with each community as they prepare their plan.

    To learn more, visit the MIT News site where you can read an article about the dorm security recommendations and also download the full report.

  • 274
    Q: I need help finding a place to live off-campus. Does MIT offer any resources? [Spring 2012]

    MIT has an Off-campus Housing Office that is free and open to the MIT community. Resources include an online rental listings database, tenant advising, reliable real estate agency listings, and knowledgeable guidance. Read all about it.

  • 277
    Q: What are the specialty stations in the house dining halls? [Fall 2011]

    Each of the five house dining halls—Simmons, Maseeh, McCormick, Baker, and Next—has its own specialty station. Check out the article the MIT News article "Specialty stations add variety, flair to new dining program" which describes what each station has to offer.

    For more information on House Dining, visit the Bon Appétit at MIT site.

Personal Support

  • 760
    Q: What more can MIT do to help students who decide to take time off for mental health reasons? [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    David Randall, Associate Dean, Student Support Services

    At MIT, and schools across the country, withdrawals are not uncommon. In fact, Student Support Services processes about 120 withdrawals every year.  Students leave for all sorts of reasons but one of the most common ones is when mental health issues get in the way of academics. As you might imagine, coming to the decision to take a withdrawal is difficult and stressful, and there is a lot MIT does to support students who request time away.

    We, along with our colleagues in MIT Mental Health and Counseling and DSL, work closely with students to smoothly transition away from MIT. This involves helping them pack their belongings, getting transportation home, and when appropriate, coordinating with families. We also help students carefully plan for the their time away. Granted, sometimes these plans are not entirely clear when a student leaves, but our hope is that everyone leaves with at least some ideas. The communication also doesn’t end when a student steps off of MIT’s campus. We encourage students to stay in touch with us, keep us updated on their activities and treatment, and to let us know about any significant changes. It isn’t unusual for plans to change, and we work with students to develop new plans that everyone believes will prepare them for a successful return to MIT. Finally, with permission from the student, we often speak with parents and mental health providers in order to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

    We have also recently been trying out some new things that have shown promise. For instance, we have begun connecting students up with other students who have taken a withdrawal. This allows students to get feedback and guidance from others who have been through the process. Also, on occasion, we have connected withdrawing students with alumni who took withdrawals during their time at MIT and who offer a totally different perspective.

    If you have additional ideas or feedback, feel free to share them with me at drandall@mit.edu.

  • 658
    Q: During the school year, research gets pushed aside for more immediate but less important obligations. How can I stay motivated to move my research forward? [Fall 2013]
    Read response from

    an MIT PhD alum and faculty member at a Boston-area hospital

    This is an issue of great importance not just while you are in graduate school, but beyond. Moving forward with your research is the most important thing you can do while you are in graduate school. In fact, it is the reason why you are in graduate school in the first place. Focusing on problem sets, courses, attending seminars, completing tasks for others (e.g. a more senior grad student/postdoc/advisor asks you to complete an experiment for them that is not related to your thesis) can be of value – so I am not suggesting that you drop all of these constructive activities – but you have identified a critical issue that you need to address in order to graduate.

    I think a common path for graduate students is to arrive with tons of enthusiasm but little focus, and after spending 2-3 (or sadly, more) busy years devoted to non-thesis activities waiting for someone to come and tell them “this is what you need to do to graduate,” they realize that they must take matters into their own hands. Graduate school is a time to find out what you are passionate about, what you are good at, and how you can build that into a fulfilling career. Every step you take toward achieving your goals will be beneficial to graduating and getting a great job afterward.

    Break down what you accomplish into small tasks that are rewarding. If you complete a set of experiments, will you be able to present them at a conference or write a paper? They may not be enough to graduate, but they are helpful to your career.

    There are many time-management books and resources out there that you can look into (for example, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a classic). Ask for recommendations from your friends and attend time-management seminars (but not too many!). Most importantly, be sure that your research is something that you are passionate about. If it is, then you will certainly devote time to it, and the small rewards along the way will keep you motivated to accomplish great things.

    (Answer courtesy of Kate H. via Graduate Women at MIT)

  • 628
    Q: How can MIT students who live outside the Boston area become more involved with the on-campus community? [Fall 2013 - Spring 2014]

    Staying active in the on-campus MIT community can be difficult when you live far off-campus. Fortunately, there are several resources available to for your assistance. One step to take is to keep informed about the rich array of academic, civic, extracurricular, and social events and programs happening daily at MIT. The MIT events calendar provides an excellent overview of on-campus events of all types. Another great source for information about events at MIT is The Anno, a weekly digest of announcements about events, programs, and initiative that is distributed by the Graduate Student Council (GSC) and targeted to MIT graduate students. Email gsc-secretary@mit.edu to sign-up.  

    Getting involved with student clubs and organizations can also help with staying connected to the on-campus community. Student groups offer a great opportunity to meet a diverse group of people with common interests. Most student groups require only a modest time commitment and readily accommodate different scheduling needs. You can view a list of graduate student groups here. Also, consider getting involved with the GSC’s Off-Campus Subcommittee which brings together on- and off-campus students to generate event programming, student services, and an advocacy agenda around serving the needs of off-campus graduate students and their families.
     
    Lastly, don’t be afraid to take advantage of MIT’s transportation resources to lighten the transportation burden of getting to and away from campus. MIT operates and makes available to students access to several day and night-time shuttle services serving the greater Boston area such as Tech Shuttle, SafeRide, the Boston Daytime Shuttle, EZ Ride, the M2 Shuttle, as well as dedicated shuttles serving Lincoln Laboratory and the MIT-Bates Linear Accelerator. Useful for students who live outside of Metro Boston, MIT allows students with valid parking permits to park in any on-campus parking lot after 2:30pm on weekdays and all day on weekends. Even students without parking permits can park in non-gated parking facilities after 5pm on weekdays and all day on weekends.  
  • 556
    Q: Is there an easy way to find MIT student resources online? What I do now is use a Google search. [Spring 2013]

    Yes, Student Resources provides a directory of key offices, programs, and resources for both undergraduate and graduate students.

  • 480
    Q: What is MIT's position on graduate student work/life balance, which many graduate students feel is skewed? What efforts can/should be undertaken to help people lead more balanced lives? [Fall 2013]

     

    Balancing work and personal life is a challenge for everyone, especially graduate students given the multiple demands on time. MIT offers a number of resources from policy to programs to assist graduate students in finding their personal balance.

  • 785
    Q: What are the resources made available to students to support their spouses, especially foreign spouses, and family? I’m especially interested in personal counseling and career services. [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    Jennifer Recklet Tassi, Program Manager for MIT spouses&partners

    Balancing work and your personal relationships can be challenging at MIT, especially for families coming from abroad. It is not easy to navigate a new culture, set up a home, find daycare or schools, all while you are communicating in a new language and far from your support system. It can be particularly difficult for couples because the partners can have very different experiences of life at MIT. Fortunately there are many resources at MIT to support newcomers and families.

    MIT spouses&partners is a social and professional network for the spouses and partners of MIT community members who have relocated to the Boston area. We organize activities that help spouses and partners make friends, learn English, share experiences and passions, and get information about living and parenting in Boston. Through our weekly gatherings, ongoing groups and events, MIT spouses&partners helps newcomers and parents from all over the world meet each other and create a fulfilling life here. Each semester we also offer Career Connect, a series of workshops that provide training for MIT spouses and partners who are looking for work or professional development opportunities during their time at MIT. 

    Additionally, students can find support and information from MIT’s Work Life Center in a wide range of areas including childcare, schools, family and parenting concerns, and work-life balance.   Their seminar series, discussion groups, consultations and 24/7 referral service are just a few of the ways they can help you and your partner navigate the demands of life at MIT. The Graduate Student Council Family Subcommittee also understands and advocates for the needs of graduate student families. Recent projects include the Back-Up Childcare Program, and this semester they are organizing workshops for couples.

    It can be confusing to find the information you need because many different offices support families. If anyone is having trouble navigating the resources available, MIT spouses&partners hosts a Newcomers Office Hour on most Thursday afternoons. This is a great place to ask questions and figure out your next step.

  • 733
    Q: What type of support is MIT giving its upperclassmen? I feel as though a lot of resources are geared towards first-year students, like Associate Advising, but upperclassmen don’t get much support. [Spring 2014]

    After the freshman year, students are assigned a faculty advisor within their department.  The advisor serves as a consultant and mentor, who can help you consider subject offerings and educational opportunities within the department and beyond.  Advisors can also provide guidance on professional development and career options or point you to another faculty members who shares your interests. However, you should see you advisor as just one individual in a network of support resources.  No single individual has the specialized knowledge required to address every question or issue that may arise.   Instead, both you and your advisor should leverage the many other support resources available to upperclassmen:

    • Undergraduate Academic Administrators in your department not only have an intimate knowledge of the academic requirements and opportunities, but are also well connected to the support resources outside your department.  Also, because they work with so many diverse students, they have likely addressed the same questions or problem you are facing and can point you in the right direction.
       
    • Many departments have peer to peer mentoring and several have Departmental Associate Advisors, similar to the freshman advising system. Whether a formal peer mentoring system is in place or not, leverage the experience of other students in your department to get advice.
       
    • UROP Supervisors and other faculty, both inside and outside your department, can help you consider your research interests and provide advice on potential career trajectories.  The Ombuds Office wrote a helpful guide on finding mentors: Find Yourself the Mentoring You Need.
       
    • UAAP staff consultants are well versed the in the Institute requirements as well as all the support services on campus.  You are always welcome to walk into 7-103 or email uaap-www@mit.edu with questions or concerns.
       
    • The Deans in Student Support Services (S3) can provide advice, support, advocacy, and referrals for students facing academic or personal challenges.
       
    • The Sophomore Year Experience (SYE) provides second-year students with the resources and tools to help them navigate their sophomore year.
       
    • The Advisor for the Communication and HASS Requirements  can answer questions and concerns about both the Communication and HASS Requirement.
       
    • The Career Counselors in Global Education and Career Development can work with you on career planning, professional development, and internship and job search strategies.
       
    • The Office of Minority Education (OME) supports underrepresented minority students through academic, community, and professional initiatives.
       
    • Student Disabilities Services (SDS) provides support and advocacy for students with disabilities to ensure reasonable accommodations.
       
    • Mental Health and Counseling provides support for students dealing with personal concerns including anxiety, depression, relationship problems, or stress.
  • 13
    Q: Where can international undergraduates turn for help with culture shock? What if they are not able to describe in English the problems they are facing? [Spring 2013]

    Culture shock is a normal and expected emotional response to living in a new place. After the excitement of the move, it is natural to feel sad, exhausted, worried, irritable, fearful and/or angry. It can be very helpful to talk with someone about this experience.

    There are three main resources at MIT to assist international students who are experiencing culture shock:

    • The International Students Office (ISO), part of the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education, is extremely familiar with forms of culture shock, and how it might manifest differently for students from various backgrounds. ISO staff are available to talk with students about the issues they are dealing with, and provide them with resources. Several of their staff members are fluent in languages other than English.

    • The staff at Student Support Services, or S3, are also well-versed in the issues of culture shock, and can help students deal with academic and personal issues by providing support, guidance, advice, advocacy, and referrals. They can work with students to sort out the various parts of a problem to make sure that you have the resources you need. Translation services are available as needed.

    • If culture shock is starting to interfere with the way you function academically or socially, MIT Mental Health and Counseling can help. Their staff provides individual counseling and psychotherapy, group counseling, and consultations. Many students ask a friend to come with them for support, and/or use translation services available on-line. At MIT Medical, translation services are available for all services; please ask when you make an appointment.

    All three offices often work together, and will guide students to other offices as appropriate.

  • 264
    Q: Are there resources available for students who are facing a rough patch, but not necessarily a problem serious enough (yet) to seek help from one of the mental health resources? [Spring 2013]

    You do not need to be in crisis to get help from any of the formal or informal support systems on campus. In fact, it is better to get support before a “rough patch” becomes a crisis. There are many resources available that will lend an ear or help you get through a difficult time.

    Undergraduate resources:

    • The doors of Student Support Services are open to students with any issue or concern.
    • MedLinks students can provide a knowledgeable, friendly listening ear or advice on other resources.
    • Look to the Area Directors, GRTs, or Housemasters in your residence hall for personal advising and counseling.
    • The Undergraduate Administrator in your department can provide guidance on academic challenges and resources.
    • The staff and Deans in OME or UAAP or your freshman advisor are always available to listen and provide guidance.

    Graduate resources:

    For all students:

    • MIT Chaplains can bring a spiritual perspective to students facing personal challenges.
    • Throughout the year consider taking advantage of MIT Medical’s Community Wellness classes, groups and online resources that will help you stay balanced both physically and mentally.

    When you are looking for help, remember together.mit.edu. The MIT Together site is a portal to support resources for both graduate and undergraduate students and will help you quickly browse and find the resource that is most appropriate for your circumstance.

  • 265
    Q: Who uses offices like Student Support Services (S3)? I am nervous about contacting someone for help and wonder what happens if I do. [Spring 2013]

    You are not alone in wanting some support. A lot of MIT students ask for help in a variety of ways when they need it. Here are some numbers:

    • Half of all freshmen - and one-third of students overall - report asking for academic assistance such as tutoring from their school or department. (The best part: of those who asked for help, the vast majority find it helpful.)

    • Approximately half of all students use S3 at some time during their time at MIT.

    • Approximately 90 percent of undergraduate students sometimes felt they were not as accomplished as their fellow MIT students.

    What does this tell us? Asking for help is pretty normal at MIT - and so is wondering if you are the only one who needs help! In truth, seeking support is a source of strength for many students, one that helps them handle personal and academic stress at MIT. In fact, it's so common that it could be viewed as part of succeeding at MIT, like working on P-sets or signing up for a UROP.

    S3 does not provide treatment or therapy. It's an office that aims to guide students through academic and personal issues by providing support, advice, advocacy, and referrals. The staff is great for helping you navigate issues with faculty, administration, housing, financial services, and other institute offices. What happens when you contact SS3 depends on who you are and what you’d like some help on. Sometimes personal trouble can lead to academic stress, and sometimes it’s the other way around. Either way, your initial experience will include:

    • Setting up an appointment with one of the S3 deans. You can even tell them your preference for a specific dean or type of dean.

    • Attending a first appointment, usually around 30 minutes. This is your opportunity to have an informal conversation about why you set up the appointment, to ask questions, and to become comfortable.

    • Working with the Dean to come up with a plan for next steps, which may or may not include another visit to S3.

    Visit the Student Support Services pages for a full FAQ.

  • 266
    Q: Is there anything MIT is putting in place in order to combat the rise in suicides on campus? [Fall 2011]

    MIT has a reputation concerning student deaths that is not supported by the facts. People get concerned about whether or not there is an epidemic at MIT. In fact, we have had some tough years, as have other colleges; and we have had periods when things got better. Of course, we never want a student tragedy, but we know that in any large community, these events will happen, and MIT has been comparable to national statistics over the past decade or so.

    What I hope the campus will do is to stop. Take a deep breath. And think about your communities. Reach out. You're here to build communities, through student activity groups, through classes, through living groups. If you see a classmate who is looking down, ask them how they're doing. Take a moment to make sure everybody is okay. Build the community in a stronger way.

    In terms of things that the Institute is doing: it is helping the families and all others who were connected with the students and have been affected by these events. Mental health staff have been spending time in the dormitories; and other resources will be and are being fully deployed. There is a working group of people I have charged with evaluating systems currently in existence and thinking about not only internal but also external resources and practices. I will form a more traditional committee to deal with recommendations from the working group over a longer term. We will have to think carefully about potential additions or changes to our systems based on the feedback gathered, as the MIT culture could be altered by some changes and we need to be sure that the advantages outweigh the downsides.

    Finally, in my email to students, I invited people to send notes to me and I've responded to everyone personally. There have been a number of interesting suggestions, which we will consider carefully.

    Any loss of life is a tragedy. I won't be naïve in saying that this can be eliminated, but I will continue to work toward improving MIT so that it doesn't happen often. Community will make this Institute strong and I hope everyone will jump on board. This is something that pains all of us tremendously and we all want to work together to make MIT a better place.

  • 267
    Q: How can I help a friend I'm worried about? [Fall 2011]

    An individual who is distressed often wants help but doesn't know how to ask. Your first step should be to listen in a nonjudgmental way and let that person know you are concerned. Even if he or she insists nothing is wrong, it may help that person to know that you care.

    When should I suggest that someone get help?

    When you notice someone exhibiting:

    • Excessive anxiety or panic
    • Marked decline in academic work or job performance
    • Frequent absence from class or work, especially when this is a change
    • Apathy, lack of energy, change in sleeping or eating habits, or dramatic weight gain or loss
    • Marked changes in personal hygiene, work habits, or social behavior
    • Isolation or withdrawal
    • Thinking about suicide
    • Out of control drinking or substance abuse

    How do I make a referral?

    If a situation seems urgent, contact the campus police and have the person transported to MIT Medical or a hospital emergency room. Anyone thinking about suicide should talk to a Mental Health clinician right away.

    A mental health clinician is on call and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    • Daytime (7 a.m.–7 p.m.): 617-253-2916

    • Evenings & overnight (7 p.m.–7 a.m.): 617-253-4481

    If it is not an emergency, suggest that your friend make an appointment with MIT Mental Health and Counseling. Or, you can advise your friend to go to walk in hours. You can even help your friend make the appointment or even accompany them there.

    • Mental Health and Counseling walk-in hours: Monday-Friday from 2p.m.-4 p.m.

    • Appointments: 617-253-2916

    There are also other places on campus that you and your friend can seek support, and these places are especially helpful if there is any hesitancy about seeing a clinician. These include:

    These offices provide support and will make sure the individual gets the type of help necessary.

    Can I talk to someone if I am not sure how to approach the situation?

    Absolutely. You don't need to handle this alone. Reach out to MIT Mental Health and Counseling, Student Support Services, the Deans in the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education, or staff in your residence. They can provide support and suggestions about ways to approach the situation.

    Other resources

    The Personal Support and Wellness page on the student site lists a wide range of resources you can tap into for yourself and your friend.

    For more information, see How to Help Someone in Distress (PDF).

Academics

  • 479
    Q: What is the graduate school administration doing to improve diversity and gender balance among the graduate student population? [Fall 2013]

     

    The Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE) works with partners across the Institute to increase the number of underrepresented and women students who apply to and attend MIT. Attendance at national conferences and visits to minority-serving institutions (MSIs) allows us to interact with promising scholars who may not otherwise consider graduate education at MIT. Grad Catalyst sessions are workshops hosted by current graduate students at MSIs. They teach undergraduates how to plan their trajectories so as to be the strongest graduate school candidates possible come senior year. Recruiting efforts have included, but are not limited to, participation in:

    The MIT Summer Research Program is a highly competitive nine-week summer residential research experience that involves customized matching to individual laboratory/research groups at MIT, a poster presentation, informational and motivational seminars and community service. CONVERGE, a four-day graduate school preview weekend on the MIT campus during the fall semester, is a program that features advice from MIT faculty, staff and students, including feedback on application materials, information on graduate student life, graduate admissions session with department admissions chairs, and meetings with faculty and department visits.

    Simultaneously, the ODGE administers a pool of 1st year graduate fellowships aimed specifically at enhancing the diversity of the graduate population.

    The ODGE also is committed to enhancing the gender balance in the graduate population. The Ida M. Green Graduate Fellowships are dedicated to the recruitment of graduate women and include 9-month full fellowship support. The ODGE also provides support for the MIT Office of Resource Development in fund-raising, for example, the Clare Booth Luce Foundation Graduate Fellowships for women in physics.

    A key component of recruitment efforts is developing and supporting programs that contribute to a welcoming and supportive climate. For example, each year, over 1,000 graduate women participate in ODGE-sponsored women’s events focused on improving the academic, personal, and professional success of women graduate students at MIT. Events such as, the Power LunchPath of Professorship,Graduate Women of Excellence, the Graduate Women’s Group monthly lunch, and the Graduate Women’s Reading Group bring together women and underrepresented students from across MIT to network, develop professionally, and celebrate their accomplishments. The ODGE has also been a long-standing sponsor of Graduate Women at MIT (GW@MIT) who organize an annual leadership and empowerment conference, as well as an extensive mentoring program, and the Academy of Courageous Minority Engineers, a group devoted to scholarly development, which offers a regular lunch series that provides the opportunity for technical discussions and the presentation and sharing of research ideas.

  • 710
    Q: Where can I learn more about studying or working abroad? [Spring 2014]

    Study and work abroad are among many incredible international opportunities available to all undergraduates. Other options include public service, development projects and research abroad.

    GECD Global Education (in building 12-189) manages study abroad at MIT and sends over one hundred students a year to many places around the globe, including the UK (Cambridge-MIT Exchange, Oxford), Spain (MIT-Madrid and IAP-Madrid), Turkey, China and South Africa, to name a few. They also offer advice and referral to students interested in international work and internships, public service and service learning abroad, research overseas, and global scholarships and fellowships.

    Global Education regularly posts programs and scholarships on their Facebook page. They also manage @MITglobal on Twitter, which shares student stories and puts MIT in global context. They can best be reached via email at studyabroad@mit.edu.

    MISTI (located on the 4th floor of Building E40) places hundreds of students every year in all-expense paid internships all over the world. They maintain an extensive global network of companies, universities and research institutes in 18 countries. Some MISTI programs have teaching and learning abroad opportunities as well.

    Contacts for the many MISTI programs can be found on their website, and you can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter (@MISTIatMIT) for up-to-date news and opportunities. For general inquiries email them at misti@mit.edu.

    Those interested in learning more about public service and international development projects, including funding, should contact the Public Service Center and D-Lab, respectively. Research abroad is occasionally coordinated by MISTI; otherwise it is managed as an international UROP (or “IROP”).

  • 772
    Q: I know that a new nanoscience complex will take building 12's space. What is the timeframe and what other projects are in the works? [Spring 2014]

    Details about MIT’s planned, current and recently completed construction projects can be viewed on the Capital Projects website.  

    • Building 12 will be demolished in the spring of 2015 and the MIT.nano building will be constructed on the site as a home for nanotechnology research at MIT. It will take approximately three years to construct the building, which is targeted for completion at the beginning of 2018.
    • Over the near term, we are focusing on the renewal and renovation of our existing campus buildings. The Institute has begun a program of Accelerated Capital Renewal and MIT will devote approximately $250 million over three years, so that we may begin to address our overall deferred maintenance backlog.
    • The original Sloan Building E52 is undergoing a complete building renovation to provide high quality space for the Department of Economics. Targeted for completion in 2016, it will feature an expanded meeting and conference facility on the sixth floor and a new glass-enclosed addition as a seventh floor.  
    • In addition, the comprehensive renovation of Building 2 is currently underway. Home to the Department of Mathematics and portions of the Department of Chemistry, programmatic space will be increased with the addition of a partial top floor.

    These examples highlight some of the major renovation projects now in progress. In addition to these substantial building upgrades, we are planning for a number of partial renovations across campus over the next few years.

    The capital renewal program is complemented by a new comprehensive stewardship program for MIT’s buildings. The Comprehensive Stewardship Group is working to proactively maintain newly constructed and renovated buildings so that they will remain current with modern standards and continue to serve the needs of occupants.

  • 706
    Q: A unit is defined as one hour of work per week over the span of a full term. Is there a feedback path? If for 90% of students a course takes 24 hours a week, what is the path that would force the number of units to change? [Spring 2014]

    Academic departments use feedback from subject evaluations to inform their reviews of the classes they offer. The Committee on Curricula (CoC) follows up on any concerns raised by students about the units of credit assigned to any undergraduate subject. In addition, as part of its normal review process, the CoC pays close attention to proposals from departments to change either the total units or the distribution of units for a subject. The Committee on Graduate Programs (CGP) is responsible for reviewing graduate subjects.

    While departments are responsible for the courses they offer, the Committee on Curricula (CoC) is the body responsible for reviewing undergraduate subjects. Students should feel free to bring any concerns about units of credit to the attention of the Committee by writing to curricula@mit.edu. Questions about units of credit for graduate subjects may be directed to registrar-www@mit.edu.  Any such feedback will be shared anonymously, so students should feel comfortable bringing forth concerns.

  • 754
    Q: What options do international students have for international study? [Spring 2014]

    International programs provide valuable opportunities for all students to develop personally, academically, and professionally. At the undergraduate level, international students may participate in the same programs available to their U.S. counterparts. International graduate students also have a number of program options, though funding sources have varying citizenship requirements.

    MIT Global Education (part of Global Education and Career Development) helps students understand what options best fit their academic, personal and career goals. MIT offers both short and long-term options including study abroad, internships, research, and public service, among others.

    Study Abroad

    Students can stay on track for graduation by earning academic credit abroad that applies to their MIT degree. Examples for undergraduates include:

    • Cambridge-MIT Exchange allows students to spend a year studying at the University of Cambridge.
    • Departmental Exchanges provide students with the opportunity to spend a semester studying at Oxford (Course 3), Imperial (Courses 3, 22), HKU (Course 4), Tsinghua (Course 6), Delft (Course 4), SciencesPo (Course 17), ETH (Course 2), and Pretoria (Courses 2, 16).
    • IAP-Madrid is a four-week intensive Spanish II course.
    • MIT-Madrid allows students to directly enroll and take a range of classes at Complutense and Politecnica.
    • Outside provider and direct enrollment programs offer a wide range of destinations, durations, and subjects.

    As a graduate student, if you’re not already enrolled in a program that has an international component such as the Sloan Fellows Program in Innovation and Global Leadership, you can still find ways to incorporate an international experience into your primary research path.  Opportunities will be very specific to your situation, so contact MIT Global Education to start your search. 

    Internships and Research

    MIT offers a wide range of internship and research opportunities overseas. Examples include:

    • MISTI (G, UG) places students in internships and short-term teaching opportunities around the world
    • IROP (UG) serves as a way for students to conduct research abroad under MIT faculty supervision.
    • Imperial-MIT Summer Research Exchange (UG) provides a research opportunity in London for Courses 1, 3, 8, 10, 16, and 22.
    • SMART/SMURF (G, UG) allows students to conduct research in Singapore in a number of cutting edge fields.
    • MIT Community Innovators Lab (Co-Lab, G, UG) offers a variety of opportunities for students to engage with real world urban planning problems through practice and study

    Public Service, Service-Learning and International Development

    MIT highly values projects that address challenges in the developing world.

    Examples include:

    • Public Service Center (G, UG) provides domestic and international public service opportunities and funding.
    • D-Lab (UG) offers interdisciplinary courses that allow students to create and apply technology in the developing world.
    • D-Lab Study Abroad (UG) give students the chance to spend a semester living, working and learning in a developing country while earning MIT credit. 

    Grants and fellowships

    Worried about funding your international adventure?  There are many different potential sources of funding, including:

    Remember it is never too early to start thinking about a study abroad experience. Contact Global Education to get started! 

  • 477
    Q: I’m not interested in a lot of the classes that I’m required to take as part of the GIRs. I’d prefer to spend my time taking classes focused on my major. Have you thought about eliminating the GIRs? [Fall 2013]

     

    Central to MIT’s undergraduate mission is a commitment to equip our students with the skills necessary to go out into the world and make a difference. We strive not just to develop strong scientists or engineers or linguists or architects, but thinkers and problem-solvers. While it might not be immediately apparent, the skills that you are learning in the classes outside of your major are important to prepare you for a wide range of challenges and opportunities you will face upon graduation, particularly as exposure to different modes of thought can strengthen your range of problem solving skills. Such reasoning underlies the design of our communication intensive courses, as well as the current set of GIR subjects.

    Without the requirements, I worry that we would develop students with excellent skills in one particular area, but not necessarily creative leaders. In an increasingly global community and one that relies on cross-disciplinary interaction, the GIRs are, in my view, still very important.

     
  • 314
    Q: Students have expressed concern that there is not enough time to reflect on the material you are learning because you are learning so quickly. It seems we are building the skill-set necessary to be self-disciplined, but are we sacrificing something else? [Fall 2011]

    MIT has always pushed its students to learn quickly. In addition, the student culture fills up the available time. I agree that MIT students should take time to reflect and I suggest that to every freshman. Our students who go to the University of Cambridge on exchange often comment that there is more time there to reflect. MIT students should do more of this and faculty should expect more self reflection.

    If you participate in student leadership conferences at MIT, such as the Multicultural Conference and the Emerging Leaders Conference, reflection is an important element. But you do not need to participate in a formal program to incorporate reflection into your experience at MIT. You can incorporate reflection into your informal study groups, into your discussions with your peers, or even suggest that a student group you belong to add an element of reflection to your meetings.

  • 287
    Q: Why is the option of “Voluntary Withdrawal” only available to undergraduates and not graduate students? Certainly undergrads aren’t the only students presented with personal growth opportunities, educational experiences and personal/family problems. [Spring 2012]

    Indeed, graduate students are presented with many different issues throughout their tenure at MIT. Whatever your reason for needing time away, Deans Staton and McKnight are happy to meet with you about your options. There are a range of leaves and withdrawals available to graduate students.

    The least disruptive option to consider is a personal leave, which has a short duration (a few days to a few weeks) and is related to personal reasons such as family business or brief personal illness. Personal leaves are granted at the discretion of the faculty supervisor.

    If you have a medical condition related to your mental or physical health that interferes with your participation in campus life and your progress toward academic goals, you may apply for a medical withdrawal. Medical withdrawals last a minimum of one semester and a maximum of twelve months, and are initiated by the student with support from a medical professional and the academic department.

    If you need more time than a short personal leave, but a medical condition is not involved, then you should consider a withdrawal. If you choose to withdraw, you may simply notify your department and the Registrar’s office; however, if you plan to return to your studies, we strongly recommend that you speak with your advisor and departmental graduate officer first. They can help with planning your return, which must include the completion of a one-page application for readmission. The application for readmission must be approved by your department’s graduate committee. If 5 years or more pass before you apply for readmission, the request must also be approved by the Dean for Graduate Education.

    Last but not least, graduate student women who anticipate giving birth may apply for childbirth accommodation, which is our version of a “maternity leave” and lasts for one to two months.

    Life changes can be confusing and distressing. Remember you have help to decide your best course of action.

  • 260
    Q: What resources can MIT provide students to make an informed decision about choosing a major? [Spring 2013]
  • 289
    Q: Is there a list or calendar for all departmental seminars? I receive e-mails from my department, but I have interdisciplinary interests. [Fall 2011]

    The MIT Events calendar is a central listing for all kinds of MIT events. Just click on "Advanced Search" under the calendar search box, and check off the category "departmental seminar." Make sure your department is listing its own events there, too, to increase interdepartmental visibility!

  • 290
    Q: How can we encourage greater interdisciplinary collaboration and events between graduate students from different departments? [Fall 2011]

    Interdisciplinary collaboration and the unconstrained free-flowing of ideas and knowledge is a core component of the history, mission and culture of MIT. It is encouraged through an interconnected physical infrastructure, housing faculty and students of varied disciplines in close proximity, through the large number of cross-cutting research centers, labs and educational programs, as well as through various policies that, for example, often allow cross-departmental co-advising and the ability to take extra-departmental electives counting towards a minor concentration.

    MIT supports many activities that enable cross-talk between graduate students of varied academic interests including student groups, the Graduate Student Council, interdisciplinary scientific seminars and residential-based cultural and social community-building programs. Some opportunities are highlighted below:

    Join an ongoing effort:

    New initiatives:

    Create your own initiative:

Research

  • 291
    Q: What are the steps that graduate students should take who face a lot of trouble with their advisor and feel helpless sometimes? [Fall 2012]

    The student/advisor relationship can be difficult. The first step you should take when feeling helpless is to reach out; there are a number of resources that are designed to help with advising relationships.

    • For students who prefer to speak with someone outside of their academic department, Dean Blanche Staton and Dean Jason McKnight in the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE) are available to speak with students. They can help clarify the issues at hand and identify paths toward a resolution.
    • Within the department, the graduate officers can provide a wonderful faculty perspective on approaching the issue.
    • Each department also has a graduate administrator who can provide department-specific guidance from a non-faculty member.
    • Many departments have REFS (Resources for Easing Friction and Stress), who are graduate students that provide low barrier, informal, private services to support and encourage their peers when faced with challenging advising relationships, among other situations. REFS can provide information about appropriate resources and make informed referrals.
    • For those who reside on campus, the graduate housemaster is very experienced and wise in offering guidance to students in matters related to the academic and research sphere.
    • The Ombuds Office helps people express concerns, resolve disputes, manage conflicts, and learn more productive ways of communicating. The Ombuds Office serves as an independent, confidential, neutral and informal resource to the diverse MIT community.
  • 286
    Q: How does MIT ensure the research ability of graduated PhD students? [Spring 2013]

    Doctoral students at MIT carry out rigorous, innovative scholarly research that spans a diverse range of fields, covering the fundamental to the applied. Graduate student research often includes state-of-the art-instrumentation and cuts across multiple disciplines. While each graduate program maintains its own academic requirements for the doctoral thesis, the Institute has some general policies and procedures which include:

    • Supervision by a faculty member of the Institute or a staff member approved by the department who may, at his or her discretion, require progress reports in oral or written form as deemed necessary.

    • Before the final written thesis document is submitted, a draft may be required for editorial comment.

    • All theses are submitted by the student to the Institute Archives; recent theses are made visible to the world online through DSpace; in addition, their abstracts are available through University Microfilms Inc. (UMI).

    • An oral examination of the doctoral thesis is held after the thesis has been submitted, and the thesis document must be signed to be accepted formally by the department.

    • Each semester students registered for thesis credits are given a grade reflecting satisfactory (“J”) or unsatisfactory (“U”) progress. The final thesis receives a regular letter grade.

    Aside from the Institute requirements, graduate programs may require periodic progress reports and thesis committee meetings which review graduate students thesis research. Lastly, in many cases, thesis research is subject to external review through peer-reviewed journal publications, conference proceedings, and other scholarly mechanisms.

Teaching and Learning

  • 682
    Q: What happens to subject evaluation data? [Fall 2013]

    Subject evaluation data are used and valued by many people at MIT.

    MIT Community: Reports for students and other members of the community are published at http://web.mit.edu/subjectevaluation/results.html . These include aggregate quantitative data and can be used by students as they select subjects.

    Instructors: For their own subjects, instructors can access the reports and anonymous student responses, including student comments, which they use to improve their teaching and subjects.

    New Instructors: While there is no formal mechanism to provide historic subject evaluation data to new instructors, all instructors have access to the Institute reports on all subjects and they can request other data from departmental headquarters. 

    Department Heads and School Deans: Department heads, and others whom they designate, have access to reports and data for the department's subjects and instructors, including anonymous student responses. School Deans and their designees have the same access at the school-level. How they specifically review and use the data varies, but generally the data are considered in redesigning curricula, improving instruction, considering instructors for appointments and salary increases, evaluating faculty for promotion and tenure, and nominating instructors for teaching awards.

    For example, in EECS, the Education Officer, who is a member of the EECS faculty, reviews the subject evaluation data and grades each faculty member on his or her teaching. Separately, the faculty member’s research and service is also evaluated by the department. These three assessments are combined and result in a rank listing of the EECS faculty, which the Department Head uses as a factor in determining salary increases.

  • 282
    Q: How do we teach our students moral reasoning skills? [Spring 2013]

    We know that MIT is producing leaders in science and technology, but we should also trouble ourselves with how MIT produces leaders in moral reasoning. To borrow from Einstein, “Most people say that is it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.”

    So, what is moral reasoning and how can students get it at MIT?

    Lawrence Kohlberg, the parent of moral development theory, suggests that moral reasoning has three components, all of which are necessary.

    1. Moral sensitivity, meaning that we see the needs of others as a moral problem to be solved.

    2. Moral motivation, the decision to pursue a moral end to the problem.

    3. Moral action, in which an individual puts those identified issues and motives into bringing a solution to life.

    Every time I walk into Lobby 7, I am struck by how clearly moral reasoning ties to MIT’s lived mission, summarized there, “Established for Advancement and Development of Science, its Application to Industry, the Arts, Agriculture, and Commerce.” In this brief sentence, MIT encourages students to develop moral sensitivity in considering the problems of others in a variety of fields. The word “advancement” speaks to our motivation to improve ourselves and humanity. Finally, “application” empowers us to put this sensitivity and motivation to use. As the Institute encourages students to examine and solve “real world” problems of others, moral reasoning opportunities appear.

    The question remains, however, how do we increase moral reasoning for students? Disequilibrium is essential. MIT students encounter disequilibrium (uncertainty) every time they question what they can do with what they should do and every time they are faced with two competing goods or two competing evils. These very moments are often those when students may feel the least morally competent, because they are daunted by the competing values before them. Moral development studies, however, indicate that it is from these moments of moral crisis and confusion that increased moral competency emerges. Your student leadership role, balancing the concerns of new technology implementation in a culture of limited technology, and evaluating how your behavior in your residence impacts others are all examples of disequilibrium that leads to moral development.

    We also know that exposure to broader moral concerns is a catalyst for moral development. Early in moral development, an individual is primarily concerned with their own needs. As students develop social connections, they become concerned with the needs of others. Progressively, as students consider other identities, nations, and human cultures, they develop increasingly broad and complex moral sensitivity. That professor or advisor who is urging you to consider the global applications of your research—they’re not just developing your thesis or your marketability, they’re developing your moral reasoning.

    What all of this suggests is that though students may have applied to MIT hoping to learn more about Python code, tensile strength, or the acquisition and loss of language in the human brain, they simultaneously learn moral reasoning. As students develop competence in leading a team, whether in a lab, on the athletic field, or in their student activities roles, they also become increasingly competent in moral reasoning. Indeed, any time you recognize the problems of another, consider the competing best outcomes, and strive to apply those, you create moral reasoning. While some students may find these the most challenging moments of their academic career, they are (at least according to Einstein) what makes a good scientist.

  • 273
    Q: I feel that community service should be an integral part of one's education while in college. Do you have any thoughts on how to promote the value of local public service to MIT students? [Spring 2012]

    We think you are absolutely right about the educational value of public service. It's an opportunity for students to use or gain skills, explore career options, meet new people, gain confidence and personal satisfaction, re-energize, and have fun, while they are providing a much-needed resource to community organizations and the people they serve. Public service comes in so many forms, from philanthropy to one-time commitments to ongoing engagements to in-depth project work and more. At the PSC, we have many programs and resources to help students get involved in local service (see the list below), but we'd also be thrilled to hear your thoughts.

    And you can help get other students involved in local service. Share your experiences and excitement about service through social media, post what you do on Facebook and Twitter, talk to your friends, attend service-related social events, keep us updated on your service accomplishments, and keep the spirit of service fresh.

    One of the best ways to get advice on engaging in service in the local community is by meeting with a Public Service Center staff member to discuss your interests. Email us at psc@mit.edu.

    Here are some ways you can get involved locally:

  • 283
    Q: What is the role of art in a tech-focused university? How can synergies be created between the arts and sciences? [Fall 2012]

    The arts at MIT are rooted in experimentation, risk-taking and imaginative problem solving and thus have a natural affinity with the forces that drive science education and research at the Institute. As Institute Professor and Nobel Laureate in physics Jerome I. Friedman has said, “Serious engagement with the arts encourages disruptive thinking and requires students to explore new problems, not just find solutions to existing ones.”

    MIT has a history of efforts to integrate artistic thinking and art-making in a research institution focused predominantly upon science and engineering, from the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) in the 1970s to the Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) and the Media Lab today, just to name a few. The newly established MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) was created to foster this tradition. A joint initiative of the Office of the Provost, the School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), CAST will encourage the creation of new cross-disciplinary subjects and bring visiting artists to MIT whose practices are embedded in new media and innovative technologies. This semester, Bang on a Can composer, guitarist and instrument-maker Mark Stewart and Glass Lab Director Peter Houk will teach MIT students how to design and build a glass orchestra from scratch – which involves all kinds of interesting sonic, technical and material complexities, including the problem of the “Prince Rupert Drop.” Tomás Saraceno, an artist who creates inflatable and airborne biospheres with the morphology of soap bubbles, spider webs, neural networks, or cloud formations, will participate in an Art/Science seminar, architecture studios and meet with numerous research groups in EAPS, chemistry, physics and elsewhere. Learn more about CAST.

    Students themselves are one of the most important reasons that new synergies will emerge. MIT students today possess a distinctive combination of artistic aptitude and proficiency in scientific, engineering or technological domains. A majority of freshmen participated in the arts in high school -- 80% in the class of 2016. Many students have advanced skills, and will pursue design, visual or performing arts at the highest level throughout college, while majoring in science and engineering. More than 2800 take an arts class each year, and many minor or concentrate in the performing arts. Alumni from MIT’s graduate programs in art, architecture and media have transformed the creative industries and the cultural landscape. I would say that having the arts “in the mix” with science, engineering and technology will become even more crucial to MIT’s culture of creativity and innovation in the future.

    For further insight, view The Arts at MIT, a white paper published in 2011 that details the role of the arts at MIT.

  • 285
    Q: Are there ways to provide incentives for professors to be better lecturers? [Spring 2012]

    In the promotion/tenure process, the categories evaluated are: research, teaching, and service. One of the best ways for students to provide feedback is through subject evaluations at the end of the semester. Departments value student input and do consider it when determining promotion and tenure cases. At the same time, many faculty members and their Department Heads review the evaluations and make necessary adjustments and improvements when the subject is taught in subsequent semesters. In many cases, they are not aware of the issues until they are pointed out.

    I encourage all students to take the time to complete subject evaluations. It makes a difference.

    As another incentive, most departments have a teaching award voted upon by the students. There are also Institute-level awards for teaching excellence, such as the MacVicar Faculty Fellows Program.

Digital Learning

  • 657
    Q: How can we incorporate digital tools in a way that enhances the sense of community among MIT students? [Fall 2013]

    This is the digital generation, and we all use digital tools to stay in touch already -- whether it is Facebook or LinkedIn or Skype. We use digital tools in the operation of MIT -- whether it is SAP or Concur or COEUS. It is a puzzle to me that we don't leverage the digital world to conduct our primary business though -- teaching. That is about to change with the availability of the edX platform, which MIT has pioneered. Now we can create teaching and social content not just for one-time use but for repeated global use. Moreover, imagine if we could leverage the community to develop content in a way that is modular and of value to the community.

    I suggest starting small. Perhaps we start with an internal MITx class on "what every grad student should know about research." One of you might volunteer to shoot a 10 minute module on intellectual property. Another might shoot a module on basic statistics. A third on issues like ethics, and reporting. A fourth on styles of writing papers, quoting results and on referencing. Pretty soon you might have a mini-class on the topic, and in doing so, you will likely become experts on the use of the edX platform which can be accessed by thousands of graduate students not just at MIT, but worldwide as well. Creating content is only one piece of the puzzle. Content must also be maintained. For example, IP law changed in the US this year (but stayed the same in Europe). Content must be owned and updated by the community.

    An effort like this will build community, as well as give it an adopted project with global reach that the community must take charge of for the foreseeable future. I can think of no better way to build community than to create a lighthouse project that the community owns, administers, sustains and celebrates. And if you need help doing this, come ask us. Trust me when I say that MIT graduate students should able to master the edX platform and make it their own.

  • 5
    Q: Can students get MIT credit for taking and passing MITx subjects? [Spring 2013]
    Read response from

    Professor Susan Silbey, Chair of the MITx Subcommittee, and Professor Samuel Allen, Chair of the Faculty

    At present students cannot earn MIT credit for taking and passing MITx subjects. Rapid developments in areas associated with online education, including the launch of MITx, have generated a number of policy questions that the Institute’s faculty governance system is working to address. Currently MIT students may get credit for an MITx subject only by passing an Advanced Standing Examination created specifically for that MIT subject for this purpose. This spring, the Faculty Policy Committee charged an ad hoc subcommittee to examine this and other issues in more detail. The subcommittee expects to submit a final report in the early fall to guide the faculty committees’ discussions about setting policy for matters related to MITx.

  • 8
    Q: MIT has a new Director of Digital Learning. What does that mean to students? [Fall 2012]
    Read response from

    Sanjay Sarma, Director of Digital Learning

    Over the years, MIT has been at the forefront of innovation in digital tools for learning. For example, Project Athena, launched in 1983, was one of the first distributed campus-wide computing platforms in the world. Not only did it make educational computing widely available, it also influenced tools we know today -- such as instant messaging, X Windows and Kerberos. Recently, projects such as OCW, edX, MITx and STAR have made a big impact on education and learning not just at MIT but worldwide. As these new innovations proliferate, it is becoming more and more important to channel and institutionalize them so that students have a streamlined and cutting edge learning experience. The Office of Digital Learning, of which I am director, will focus on working with the MIT community to develop a strategy and an action plan to bring the advantages of digital learning to our community and to the world.

  • 9
    Q: What's the plan for engaging students in using online education to reimagine the residential learning model? [Spring 2013]
    Read response from

    Sanjay Sarma, Director of Digital Learning, Office of Digital Learning

    Last month President Reif charged an Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education to consider ways that online education can be used to strengthen the residential learning experience and deliver MIT content to those around the world. Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz and I are co-chairing that Task Force.In addition, the Office of Digital Learning (ODL) has established an extensive network of studies to examine all angles of MIT's online learning strategy, from learning environments, to video, to gamification.

    The Institute-Wide Task Force and those being run out of ODL all include representatives of the undergraduate and graduate student bodies. If you have specific comments, questions, or suggestions, I encourage you to engage the student reps so that your feedback can be shared with the appropriate bodies. The UA and GSC can help you to identify the students who are serving on the task forces.

    In addition, in the near future, I expect that we'll have a mechanism, such as an "Idea Bank," for engaging the entire MIT community in these important discussions. Bottom line, the student voice is an essential part of the conversation and will be invaluable in shaping MIT for future generations.

  • 292
    Q: What does MITx mean to MIT students? [Spring 2012]

    Two months ago MIT announced the launch of a bold, initiative in online education – MITx. As the MITx website notes:

    MITx will e-publish interactive online courses that:

    • Empower students to learn at their own pace
    • Offer online laboratories where students can experiment and apply their learning
    • Connect students to each other in online discussion groups and wiki-based collaborative learning
    • Challenge learners with MIT-rigor course materials
    • Assess individual student learning as the student progresses through the course

    MITx students who demonstrate their mastery of a subject can earn a certificate of completion awarded by MITx.”

    While MITx will have a significant external element – providing access to MIT quality material to any learner with the desire and capability to master it – I want to stress the role that MITx will play in an MIT education, especially how it will strengthen the residence-based experiences that are its core.

    First, MIT remains deeply committed to a residential-based education. You learn at least as much outside the classroom as within it. You learn rhetoric, communication, and the art of negotiation over food in a dining hall; leadership and teamwork on the athletic fields, in a performance hall, or in a student group; a myriad of research skills in the laboratory; ethical obligations inherent in engineering and technology through discussion, and how to place technology in context through service opportunities. An online experience will not replace these elements, and an MIT degree will continue to be associated with a true MIT experience.

    However, we also hope that MITx will improve the residential-based experience. First, MITx will be coupled with an MIT-wide research initiative into online learning to study ways in which students – on campus or in a virtual community – learn most effectively. To the degree that MITx creates highly effective online learning tools from which campus-based students might benefit, such as self-paced online exercises, online assessment and feedback tools, or systems that enable students to share perspectives on online material, those tools will become part of an MIT student’s experience. Thus, the MITx platform may help students to reinforce what they are learning in the classroom and lab. We have observed that the same is true of OCW: MIT’s residential learners use OCW materials to augment their residential experience; we hope to use MITx in a similar manner.

    Second, we expect that tools like these will enable our faculty to automate some of the more repetitive and less creative tasks, such as grading, thereby liberating more time to devote to innovative ways of teaching and to additional contact time with resident students. We have already seen this with experiments in leveraging online tools in subjects currently taught on campus –online tutors that allow faculty and staff to spend extended time in laboratory settings working closely with students, instead of grading problem sets; tools that augment traditional office hours with online discussions at any time of day; or tools that enable rapid simulation of real experiments that can be conducted on the student’s schedule, not the lab’s schedule. We also expect that the availability of online learning options can break scheduling conflicts and allow our students more flexibility.

    Finally, we expect that MITx will help us learn about learning. MIT will conduct institute-wide research initiatives that examine how students learn, and especially how online tools augment learning and complement the one-on-one interactions that are essential to a residential-based experience. We will build on existing experiments to design new ones, and will use the results to enhance the personal interactions on campus that are essential to our learning system.

    Clearly MITx is a work in progress – we will learn a great deal about how to leverage the tools developed as part of it to enhance the residential-based experience. We hope that you will help – by providing feedback, participating in educational experiments, and suggesting opportunities in which online tools can strengthen our traditional MIT education.

Careers and Jobs

  • 711
    Q: In addition to producing high-quality scientific results, what other steps are necessary as a PhD student for a good start in an academic career? [Spring 2014]

    Great question! By an academic career, you probably mean a tenured (permanent) professor position. There are also less permanent research or teaching positions at colleges or universities that may be a good fit.

    But it’s important to note that while an academic career is one excellent option, a PhD is a stepping-stone to anywhere. Many MIT PhD candidates will make outstanding contributions in other careers such as industrial research, finance, management, health professions, law or K-12 teaching to name just a few.

    Okay, here are some key aspects of getting a good start on an academic career.

    1. Ask yourself how much you like doing research, as it is a huge part of life in academia. You need to love thinking about what questions are important as well as carrying out the research to answer them.
    2. Learn how to write well scientifically, since publications are an integral part of research.  You will also need to find funding for your research by writing grant proposals. Ask your advisor if you can help with one s/he is submitting, or write a fellowship application for the NSF or NIH, for example. 
    3. Teach! You will need to be a competent teacher in academia. Try being a TA if you have not, and see whether you enjoy teaching recitations.
    4. Supervising experience. You will need this to run a research group. Supervise a UROP or two, or a summer student during your PhD period.
    5. Communicate your research through talks or posters. Give posters, and when possible, give talks at MIT meetings, nationally or beyond. You’ll make lots of useful contacts, and a smart graduate student catches the eye of future employers.
    6. Get three referees in place for letters of recommendation. These should be faculty members, including your thesis advisor, one or more members of your thesis committee, your graduate program officer or a collaborator at MIT or elsewhere.
    7. Finally, in Science and Engineering, you will likely become a postdoctoral researcher before looking for an academic faculty position. Start planning for this about a year in advance of graduating. You’ll want to apply for several positions and think strategically about the research area and mentoring commitment of a potential postdoc advisor.
  • 684
    Q: Is there a way to make Career Services opportunities more visible to graduate students as they approach the end of their tenure at MIT? [Fall 2013]
    Read response from

    Natalie Lundsteen, Assistant Director of Graduate Student Career Services, MIT Global Education and Career Development Center

    As part of the office's core services, MIT Global Education & Career Development (GECD) works with graduate students as they explore career choices and pursue job opportunities.  Our broad range of services for graduate students is detailed on our website.  We advertise by sending e-mails of upcoming opportunities to departmental graduate administrators and our career news list. We also post events to the Institute calendar, the GSC Anno, and to our Facebook page and Twitter feed.   We put up posters along the Infinite Corridor, in most buildings including Stata, and in all Athena clusters.  We also partner with the Graduate Student Council's Academic, Research, and Careers committee to advertise any relevant events. We are always looking for ways to let students know about our offerings. 

    We'd like to turn this question around for you: how can we make opportunities more visible?  We look forward to your reply!

  • 276
    Q: Are there any short-term on-campus jobs for students? [Fall 2011]

    Student Financial Services keeps a central listing of campus jobs. You may find part-time work during the term, or part-time or full-time work during the summer. Be sure to check on any relevant employment policies.

  • 288
    Q: I'd like to discuss the possibility of having more career help / mentorship for graduate students. [Spring 2012]

    Current career and mentorship resources for graduate students include:

    • MIT Global Education and Career Development provides a wide range of career development support including individual advising and counseling, job search assistance for both academic and industry jobs, real time and online workshops, and a PhD transition group to assist with self-exploration and career decision making.

    • Path of Professorship is a one-and-a-half day workshop for graduate and postdoctoral women who are considering a tenure-track position in the fields of science and engineering.

    • Graduate Women at MIT (GWAMIT) promotes the personal and professional development of MIT's graduate women.

    • ODGE Mentoring Program connects underrepresented junior graduate students with mentors who are senior graduate students or post-docs. Contact Monica Orta in the ODGE at mmorta@mit.edu.

    • The Institute Career Assistance Network (ICAN) connects MIT alumni with students to facilitate career strategies, gather quality advice, and open up important networking connections.

    • International Graduate Student Mentoring Program, jointly sponsored by the GSC Academic, Research and Careers Committee and the Alumni Association, matches current MIT graduate students and alumni as mentors to incoming international graduate students.

    • The GSC Academic, Research and Careers Committee works to improve the quality of mentoring and advising for graduate students by promoting best practices in all departments and exploring new ways to improve the resources available.

    • Professional Development Videos - ODGE maintains a growing archive of professional development video content that you can access 24/7.

Student Activities

  • 787
    Q: I've noticed that compared to other schools, the administrative barriers to setting up events seem much higher at MIT. Can the process be streamlined? [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    Leah Flynn Gallant, Assistant Dean and Director for Student Leadership and Engagement

    SAO (Student Activities Office) and CAC (Campus Activities Complex) staff are available to meet with all student groups - undergraduate and graduate student organizations alike - on events in order to help them put on a successful event. We work as a team to assist students on the varied steps along the way. Of course, planning an event involves some red tape; however, we find that when students meet with us in a timely manner and we are able to walk them through policies and procedures, they find it easier to navigate event planning processes. 

    In regard to streamlining the future process for registering events, there is a working group of representatives across the Institute (including offices such as CAC, SAO, Institute Events, MIT Police, student representatives, etc.) working with IS&T on getting all event registrations online. This is planned to go online in June 2014, expanding on the Atlas system. Included within online event registration, we will also have a training module for students in order to bring them up to speed on event planning processes. We hope that these improved methods streamlines event planning for students and staff alike. 

    We are always open to suggestions from students and addressing their specific needs, since events can vary from group to group.  Please send any comments to laflynn@mit.edu.

  • 686
    Q: How is the Institute addressing the lack of storage space and space in general for the student organizations? [Fall 2013]

    As the number of student groups grows—there are more than 470 now!—and the amount of available space stays the same, room for group storage and activities is at a premium. The Association of Student Activities’ biennial reallocation process looks at each group’s stated needs in relation to its membership and allocates space as equitably as possible among hundreds of applicants. There is no easy solution for the space crunch; ultimately groups need to work together and share the space as best as possible. If there are issues regarding the sharing of space among students groups, please contact the Student Activities Office.

  • 783
    Q: If students are unhappy with some aspect of campus, what is the best way to effect change? [Spring 2014]

    One of the hardest things about affecting change on campus is knowing who the decision-makers are. If a student is curious about whom to contact, they might want to begin by contacting a member of the UA, GSC, DormCon, IFC, Panhel, or LGC. These student leaders can direct people to the right people to speak to. Students can also contact the UA Student-Admin Collaboration Committee (SAC) at ua-sac@mit.edu.

    After figuring out who ultimately makes the decision, students should talk with them to understand how much they can influence the decision. When doing so, they should make sure to have data which could be collected from tools like surveys, that highlight the problem and provide support for a solution. Moreover, student buy-in helps show admins that many students actually want a change. This buy-in can be shown with data, Tech articles, or other methods of providing student input.

    The timeliness of knowing about an issue can also make it difficult for students to have enough of an opportunity to provide input. Some issues, like DAPER cutting varsity sports or the Chancellor instituting a new residential life position (the Residential Life Area Directors - RLADs), were brought to students’ attention at such times that students were very pressed for time to give actual input. In other areas, though, like in planning for MIT 2030, students have had a voice in most of the process and continue to be involved with the relevant Institute and UA committees.

    The UA SAC committee encourages students to check out its research document on past actions related to student-admin communication  at http://ua.scripts.mit.edu/wiki/sac/research.pdf. The SAC will be releasing a report this semester in which it will delineate specific methods to improve communication between both students and admins, and students and students. To see and comment on a draft of the report, students should contact their UA Councilor, the UA Council at ua-council@mit.edu, or SAC at ua-sac@mit.edu. Once the report is finalized, we will email it to all undergraduate students.

Wellness

  • 626
    Q: What is MIT doing to support/promote cycling? [Fall 2013 - Spring 2014]

    At the MIT Parking and Transportation Office, we are committed to providing amenities to support and encourage students to commute by bicycle.  Over 3,000 outdoor bike racks have been installed and replaced to provide secure, accessible, and well-lit spaces close to building entrances.  We have placed bike racks indoors or in covered areas when possible.  We continue to provide additional parking spaces to meet the needs of our growing and enthusiastic cycling community.

    We currently have 6 fix-it stations on campus, and will be installing a new indoor fix-it station in the basement of the Stata Center.  Last month we replaced all the tools on all six fix-it stations for the new school year.
     
    We encourage everyone who brings a bike on campus to register their bikes with us.  This will grant bike owners access to the four indoor bike compounds to keep their bikes safe from inclement weather, and allows them to store their bikes during the school year. Registering a bike gives access to these compounds via their MIT ID at no cost.  
     
    We offer a $25.00 subsidized Hubway membership, and we are currently working with the City of Cambridge to put two new Hubway racks in the northwest and west campus.
     
    We have partnered with Cambridge Bikes and given away free helmets, 1,500 bike lights, 1,000 reflective leg bands, and 500 flat tire kits to students, and Cambridge Bikes does several free small repair clinics throughout the year on campus.
     
    Lastly, our most recent annual bike auction netted almost $4,000 that will go to pay for the free bike repair clinics and for more Dero bike racks on campus.
     
  • 705
    Q: What is MIT doing to provide more of an opportunity for discussion and training around issues of sexual violence and assault on campus? [Spring 2014]

    Campuses around the country are figuring out how best to address sexual violence, including sexual assault, in their communities and MIT is no different. Right now each incoming freshman is required to complete an online training program called Unless There’s Consent. This program debunks rape myths, shows the inherent sexism in our language, features bystander intervention tactics, educates students about what to do in case of a sexual assault, and more.

    In addition to strong learning outcomes, long-term studies of this program are beginning to show reported behavioral changes. For instance, of those women who found themselves in applicable situations, 73% used information from the program to stop unwanted sexual activity. Of those men who found themselves in applicable situations, 70% used information from the program to make themselves or someone else safer.

    At the same time, MIT’s Violence Prevention & Response program (VPR) that runs out of Community Wellness at MIT Medical, works hard to provide opportunities for trainings and discussions across campus. They offer programs to any student group that is interested. Topics range from consent, to men and masculinity, to healthy relationships and beyond. There have been several extensive training programs in various graduate residences including Sidney & Pacific and Ashdown. MIT is also potentially developing its own on-line training module for graduate students. There is also a student group, SAFER2 (Students Advocating for Education and Respectful Relationships), that offers peer trainings around campus on similar topics. SAFER2 is hoping to sponsor an event on February 28th called One Night Stand for Student Rights featuring anti-violence activist Staceyann Chin and nationally recognized anti-sexist activist Jackson Katz.

    MIT takes this topic very seriously. While there are many things happening on campus, there is always room for improvement. If you are interested in getting involved, or would like a program for your student group, you can contact Duane de Four defo@med.mit.edu or 3-1307.

    If anyone has any questions or is in need of victim advocacy services, there is a 24-hour hotline available at (617) 253-2300. All of those calls are strictly confidential.

  • 268
    Q: There were a lot of interactive events to start the year, but as classes and labs get going, academics definitely become the focus. What do you recommend to help keep them in balance and avoid a burnout? [Fall 2011]

    Though opportunities may be somewhat less visible after September, there are always great ways to engage with other students and the MIT community. Here are just a few:

    You can find great events every day on the MIT Events calendar, and other ways to connect on the Life on Campus page.

  • 269
    Q: Most MIT students don't get enough sleep on a routine basis. I think that sleep is incredibly important. Are there resources on campus to help advise us on balancing sleep, school, and our social life? [Fall 2012]

    Absolutely. Adequate sleep is associated with better memory and academic performance, supporting the immune system, and maintaining a healthy weight, among others. Community Wellness at MIT Medical maintains a number of resources to help, including downloads to help you sleep (print or mp3), information (books, CDs, DVDs), and one-on-one consultations.

    If you get to a point where your lack of sleep or level of stress is affecting your health or you are feeling overwhelmed or out of control, MIT Medical has a 24-hour Urgent Care number you can call 617-253-4481 or you can make an appointment to see a doctor or talk to someone in MIT Mental Health and Counseling.

  • 270
    Q: I tend to be very social and hate to miss out on things, but I of course want to excel in my classes. How can I make the most of the resources at MIT while I take a 'drink out of the fire hose'? [Fall 2012]

    Finding the right balance between academics and extracurriculars is an ongoing challenge for everyone at MIT (and not just students!). As public speaker Michael Altshuler said, "The bad news is, time flies. The good news is, you’re the pilot."

    When prioritizing your time, it may be useful to treat each day like you’re building a terrarium. Big rocks (your top priorities, the must-do items) go into the space first and take up the most room. Second, there is room for some pebbles and sand (your less urgent priorities and less time-consuming activities). Finally, pour in the "water"; it flows around everything else in your day, it's is not time sensitive, and you can add more or less of it depending on the other elements.

    The number and type of "rocks," "sand," and "water" will be different for each person based on your interests, goals, and time management. Learning to say "yes" to balance sometimes meaning learning to say "no" to great opportunities that don't fit in today's terrarium; and it means always knowing what your "rocks" are. Here are some more resources to help you find your own solution:

    • Community Wellness at MIT provides resources and designs programs to help all members of the MIT community learn about making healthy choices that will allow you to get the most of your time at MIT.

    • Time Management on the MIT Center for Academic Excellence site offers specific suggestions and resources to help you with time management and a well-balanced schedule.

    • The MIT Work Life Center offers consultations on balancing academic work with family and personal life, work-life stress, and many other topics such as the timing of childbearing and child care. It also has a 24-hour resource hotline.

    Specific to Grad Students:

    Specific to Undergrads:

    • The Deans in Student Support Services can suggest strategies and resources to help you maintain a better balance.

    • The MedLinks student in your residence can offer insight and suggests on what resources would be helpful to you.

Spirituality

  • 734
    Q: How does spiritual life at MIT affect the other aspects of MIT life? [Fall 2012]

    This is not an easy question to answer. We live in an environment that often demands data to answer questions and the spiritual realm does not lend itself to data driven answers. I find it helpful to think of much of MIT life as driven by problem solving. We know how to solve problems, but often do not think about the why of what we do. It is our spiritual side that challenges us by asking the "why" questions. Value questions come out of our more reflective nature. We can do such and such, but should we? If so, why?

    So often we get caught up in the challenge of the moment, but in our reflective moments we step back and look at the big picture. Education as a holistic enterprise demands that we draw on our talents for doing as well as our talents for analysis; it is the difference between what we do and why we do it. I think of the spiritual side of our nature as the side of our intellect that asks the "why" questions.

    If you’re interested in reflecting on those “why” questions, I encourage you to reach out to me or one of the Chaplains. You can also attend our weekly “Tuesdays in the Chapel,” which offers a chance to pause, reflect, and meditate every Tuesday at 8:30 am in the MIT Chapel. It’s a short service, each week featuring different speakers who bring their own reflections to share with the group. All are welcome to attend this gathering. Here is a list of the speakers for the spring and if you are interested in reading the words of earlier speakers, explore my blog, The Spire.

Future Direction of MIT

  • 257
    Q: Will MIT be more focused on new building projects and new laboratories, or renovations of old buildings? What construction plans in general are in the works, and for what departments? How are these building plans and projects decided? [Fall 2012]
    Read response from

    the Associate Provost Martin A. Schmidt and the Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz

    The continuous renewal and renovation of MIT’s physical facilities is an essential component of the Institute's mission to advance knowledge and educate students. As we respond to evolving needs, we are guided by the MIT 2030 framework, which defines our overarching objectives and principles and helps the Institute make thoughtful, well-informed choices about its physical development and renewal in support of its mission.

    Details about MIT’s planned, current and recently completed construction projects can be viewed on the Capital Projects website. In addition, the Institute has recently launched a program of accelerated capital renewal, and we are now in the process of prioritizing work. The Institute will devote $250 million over the next three years, so that we may begin to address our overall deferred maintenance backlog.

    The capital renewal program is complemented by a new comprehensive stewardship program for MIT’s buildings. Our goal in launching the Comprehensive Stewardship Group this fall is to proactively maintain newly constructed and renovated buildings so that they will remain current with modern standards and continue to serve the needs of occupants.

    The ongoing physical renovation and renewal of MIT’s campus is a collaborative endeavor under the stewardship of the Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz and Associate Provost Martin Schmidt working together with the Provost, Chancellor and Deans. All parcels that abut the campus under consideration for development require the oversight through our governance structure. This includes review and endorsement by the Committee for the Review of Space Planning (CRSP), the Building Committee and the Executive Committee, and this process is followed rigorously to ensure that academic interests are protected.

    MIT invites anyone in the community to offer insights and ideas about the future of the MIT Campus. Share your thoughts by emailing: mit2030ideas@mit.edu.

  • 293
    Q: There are fewer manufacturing resources for the growing number of students here. Is MIT planning to improve the facilities to insure a true mens et manus research experience for students? [Spring 2012]

    MIT places a high value on manufacturing, as evidenced by President Hockfield’s participation as co-chair of the White House Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), as well as broad faculty involvement in Production in the Innovation Economy (PIE).

    Ensuring appropriate space for manufacturing activities by students here on campus is an endeavor that requires a lot of planning, so change will take time. Here are some things we’re working on:

    • We are in the process of creating of a set of co-located spaces in N51 and N52 where we can relocate the Edgerton Center, D-Lab, the International Design Center as part of our collaboration with the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), part of the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program, and several student clubs. The vision includes common access to shops with built-in supervision for those with less experience.
    • We hope to be able to expand the MIT Hobby Shop, although this may require identifying additional space and funding sources.
    • New space for innovation, entrepreneurship, and manufacturing is very much under consideration. The MIT 2030 process is currently engaged in developing a thoughtful vision for the future of MIT’s campus; this is a great place to share your ideas about manufacturing space with those most involved.

    If your need is immediate, consider networking with other labs or centers at MIT. It may be possible to work out an agreement that allows use of specialized equipment within the Institute.

    The Institute is committed to the principle of mens et manus. Finding an existing space to re-envision and the funding to make it happen is challenging, but high on my list.

  • 295
    Q: It feels like MIT is moving in a direction that would make us similar to other traditional colleges while we want to keep MIT's unique experience and culture for future students. Can you address this disparity? [Fall 2011]

    I am not certain why you feel that MIT is becoming more like other traditional colleges? Certainly, we are always open to examining best practices of other excellent schools: not all great ideas are unique to MIT; we should learn from the experiences of our peers and adapt their best practices to meet the specific needs of MIT.

    One example, perhaps, where you might feel we are becoming more like our peers is the recent changes in dining options for undergraduates. While some of these changes might be seen as making us similar to our peers, in fact the decision was driven by a fundamental desire to improve student experiences: more opportunities for dialogue and interaction, more opportunities to refine rhetorical skills, more opportunities to build community. It is reassuring to see that this meets many students' expectations, with more than three-quarters of freshmen opting for dining plans and over half the participants either voluntarily enrolling or opting up from their minimum required commitment. At the same time, in keeping with MIT's tradition of offering choice, many dormitories preserve other options for cooking, and we are working to improve the support for students who select this path.

    While some changes may bring MIT more in line with best practices elsewhere, there are many aspects of MIT life that remain a unique and essential part of an MIT experience.

    • UROP is an integral part of an MIT experience, and one that we are looking to strengthen. While other universities have tried to emulate this approach to undergraduate research experience, MIT remains unique in the breadth and depth of the UROP experience. Moreover, research in a broader sense is central to an MIT education, and thus we continue to incorporate new research ideas and results into our classroom presentations.

    • Additionally, a residence-based educational experience is central to MIT, and while we continue to expand global experiences for students, we seek to do so in a way that complements a fundamentally resident experience. Thus we are interested in opportunities such as MISTI or departmental internships, and support only a small number of high quality semester abroad approaches (such as CME).

    • And since innovation and entrepreneurship are a critical element of MIT's brand, we will continue to strengthen that element of an MIT experience, by finding new ways to, foster and support entrepreneurial student groups.

    Of course, these are not the only defining aspects of an MIT experience, but they demonstrate our desire to preserve and strengthen the essential aspects of an MIT education, both within and outside of the classroom.

Administrative Structure of MIT

  • 789
    Q: Why are there so many administrators at MIT? Why is the number growing? [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    Israel Ruiz, Executive Vice President and Treasurer

    While it is true that the total number of administrative, support and service staff combined have grown from just under 4,000 in 1981 to about 4,600 today, an increase of 15% over a 33 year period, the overall number of individuals engaged in research and teaching have also grown significantly, as has the size of the student body. The number of research and academic staff including postdoctoral researchers has more than doubled during that same time period to over 5,100 today. This year, 11,300 graduate and undergraduate students are enrolled as compared to about 9,000 in the early 80’s. On campus research expenditures have more than tripled to $674.3M in fiscal 2013, and the physical footprint of the campus has expanded. Our infrastructure continues to evolve to meet MIT’s expanding academic and research needs.

    The Preliminary Report of the Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education (Figure 28) shows how the headcount on campus has evolved since 1981. The ratio of administrative staff per faculty member hovered at just over 4.0 over a thirty year period. Download the preliminary report.

  • 280
    Q: Can you please share with me an administrative map or "org structure" for the university? [Fall 2011]

    There are several online resources that can help you understand the administrative structure of MIT.

    Each of these links can be accessed by browsing the MIT homepage.

    The Chancellor's Office includes the Offices of Dean for Undergraduate Education, Graduate Education, and Student Life as well as the Office of Digital Learning. Together, the programs and services within these offices support and enhance the undergraduate and graduate student experience at MIT.

    If you are unsure of where to send feedback, you can email whatsonyourmind@mit.edu. The Offices of the Dean for Graduate Education, Undergraduate Education, and Student Life jointly manage this email and will follow up with a response or route your question to the right person.