7 Things Every Incoming MIT Student Needs to Know

1. First year will not be what you think

This is not to scare you, but most incoming MIT students have no idea what MIT will be like. Most students imagine it to be all about social media, classes with cool technology and projects that give you real life experience. However, first year is very theory based. You will learn about a number of media theories that you didn’t even know existed. You will learn that the medium is the message and that you either love or hate political economy. You probably have no idea what I’m saying right now, but you will.

2. Don’t let first year discourage you

If you hate your classes and feel like the program isn’t what you expected, don’t freak out. You are not alone! Talk to your SOPHS and get them to tell you their favorite part of MIT and how they felt in their first year. As second year comes, you start to learn more about current media and get to know what actually interests you. My personal suggestion is to take some upper-year electives in MIT or digital communications if you’re looking for a more hands-on approach. Digital communications has a lot of fun classes and you can actually get your certificate while pursuing your degree in MIT.


3. You will write. A LOT.

If you don’t enjoy writing, or you absolutely hate it, I would advise staying away from this program. You’ll find that while many of your business and science friends have midterms and exams, you will have essays. It’s not uncommon to write an essay every 1-2 weeks in MIT and that’s just the way it is. If you don’t mind writing but you don’t think it’s your strong suit then that is completely okay! Western has so many resources to help improve your writing and your professors and TA’s will help you as much as you need. The main point here is if you hate writing, you won’t feel comfortable in this program.

4. Create a relationship with your TA

Unlike other programs, MIT is very subjective in that your TA will have a specific style in which they want you to write. In order for you to learn, grow and succeed, you need to meet with your TAs and get a better understanding of what they are expecting from you. Not only will this help with your grades, but your TAs have a lot more experience in university and they will be able to help you with any other problems you might have. There is never any harm in having a good relationship.

5. Know and follow the progression requirements

In MIT, you need to keep a specific average and get a certain grade number in your required courses. If you do your work it’s not hard to do, but make sure you’re aware of what you need in order to continue with the program. In university they want you to succeed but no one will be holding your hand reminding you to get your grades up. If you need help, ask for it. If you don’t know the requirements, look it up, ask a counselor or talk to your SOPH.

6. Practice how you will explain MIT to family, friends, and strangers

Nobody has ever heard of the word “technoculture.” You might not even know what it means, but try to think of a way you can explain this program to people when they ask. This is especially important for job interviews because if you can’t explain your own program, it doesn’t make you look very good. Personally, I tell people that my program teaches me ways in which the media effects mass culture and provides me with perspectives on communications, media history, writing skills and more.

7. Don’t let your grades define you

Western has one of the highest entering averages in Canada, and MIT requires above an 80% high school average to get in. Many of us did the bare minimum in high school and still somehow managed to get by with grades higher than average. Coming into MIT and writing your first essay will most likely send you into a mode of panic. If you consider yourself a good writer and are used to getting 90s on essays, you need to prepare yourself for what’s coming. That being said, you can’t let a 65 (actually a pretty good mark) on your first essay define how you will proceed throughout this program. Instead of focusing on getting super high marks, focus on doing what you enjoy. MIT keeps their students’ grades in a specific range and it’s hard to break that barrier, so forget about it! Do your best, ask for help, but enjoy yourself.