Problem Sets Edit
These are like examples papers, but they’re officially marked and count towards your final grade, so you’re actually going to be examined on stuff within the first two weeks of arriving at MIT. It takes some adjusting to, get a p-set group together so you can work with them and save yourself a lot of time.
Difficulty vary by subject and course, but in general cover much less material on each exam than exams at Cambridge, but you’ll also only have a couple of days to revise for them compared to several weeks. Self reliance and thinking on your feet are much more valued at MIT.
Most MIT classes have 2 or 3 lectures a week and 1 or 2 recitations. Recitations are an hour long and normally have 10-20 students and one instructor, either a professor or a student teaching assistant. The style varies a lot. Some recitations are lecture part 2, others are more problem solving sessions and some are used to review the material in the lecture.
Office Hours Edit
All MIT classes hold office hours. This is a where a professor or teaching assistant books a room for a couple of hours and is there to answer any questions you may have. They are entirely optional but can get quite busy sometimes. Some students also do the psets while in office hours so that they can get help as and when they need it. Office hours are probably the closest thing to getting the personal attention that you get in a supervision in Cambridge in most MIT classes.
Class Load Edit
A standard MIT course load is 48 credits per semester, normally four 12 credit classes. Some people do take more than this though. It may be worth starting the semester with 5 or 6 classes and then possibly dropping one or two once you get a feel for what the classes are actually like and which ones you want to continue with. You can drop a classes up to about ⅔ of the way through the semester without it appearing on our transcript. You can also add classes within the first month but it’s better to take too many and drop some than to add classes and have to catch up.
Student Status - Regular, Listener, and Pass/Fail Edit
At MIT you can choose your status when you sign up for a class.
- Regular - The standard type. You will do problem sets, projects and exams, and your grade will be recorded on your transcript.
- Listener - If you don’t want to be assessed, you can take classes for interest by signing up as a listener. You can participate as little or as much as you want, but you will receive no credits and it will not appear on your transcript.
- Pass/Fail - There is no real reason to take a class on a pass/fail basis. A pass is considered to be only a ‘C’ grade, it does not affect your GPA, and it does not count towards your CUED total.
Buying Books Edit
Like at all American universities there exists a culture of buying books for your classes. This is even more annoying when the lecturer is the author of the book and is clearly looking to make a quick buck. Some professors only suggest you get the books, whilst others assume that you have it and will assign chapters from it to read.
Borrowing from the library is not really a viable option since there are limited copies, and it is very unlikely that you will be allowed to take out any books that are necessary for classes (it's their way of forcing students to purchase books). Buying new textbooks is hideously expensive, so what could you do instead?
- See if you really need it for the class. You might get away with not having the textbook if there are enough resources elsewhere.
- Purchase second hand.
- Make friends with a classmate and share a book together.
- You might be allowed to read the books in the library if you don't take them out of the library.
- Check the library's collection of electronic material - if you're lucky you might find a pdf version of what you're looking for.
- Not entirely legit, but you could ask around or scour the internet for a pdf version of the book.
Satisfying the CUED requirements Edit
If you’re doing engineering, then CUED’s learning agreement outlines some rules you have to satisfy with regards to your course selection. You need:
- A GPA of at least 3.6/5.0 for the year
- At least 36 credits per semester (this is actually a visa requirement)
- At least 90 credits total for the whole year
- At least 72 credits from “engineering-based” or “technical” courses
- At least 48 of the “technical” credits must belong in your chosen final year Engineering Area (recommend at least 60 credits)
- For institution accreditation, at least one course must have a substantial laboratory element
Management, economics, and finance courses can count towards the UK accreditation requirement of taking at least 2 management modules in your part II portfolio, as long as they’re worth at least 9 credits.
UROPs are a great way to do some interesting work outside the classroom. There are genuinely interesting research projects, and almost all MIT students do at least one UROP during their undergraduate degree. You can choose to take the UROP either for pay or for credit, but not both.
A lot of UROPs are not advertised on any official channels, so you should talk to professors directly to see if they have any opportunities available.
If you take a UROP during the semester, you will be allowed to work a maximum of 20 hrs/week. This increases to 40 hrs/week during IAP. IAP is an ideal time to do a UROP since you’ll have had a semester to get your feet under the table at MIT and it won’t get in the way of classes.
Course 6ers should get themselves on the EECS jobs mailing list which advertises a lot of available UROPS, internships and full-time jobs.
Planning your schedule Edit
Independent Activities Period (IAP) Edit
The month of January is reserved for the Independent Activities Period, where students are allowed to spend their time however they want. MIT puts on trips abroad and interesting classes (both academic and non-academic), and many students choose to do a UROP. CME students are required to stay in Cambridge/Boston, although no will check/stop you if you do leave.