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.
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.
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: email@example.com.
Response from the Chancellor:
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 collaborativelearning
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.
Response from the Chancellor:
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:
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.
Response from the Chancellor:
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.
Response from the Dean for Undergraduate Education:
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.
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.
Response from the Office of Student Citizenship:
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.
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.
Response from the Dean for Undergraduate Education:
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.
Response from Christine Ortiz, Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE):
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:
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.
Response from the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE):
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Response from the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE):
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!
Response from the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE):
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:
MIT TechLink hosts events that link students across all disciplines not only with each other, but alumni and professional networks as well.
MIT Entrepreneurs Club brings together MIT and Harvard students, faculty, staff, and alumni around all aspects of science and technology business creation.
The Office of Educational Innovation and Technology is currently exploring ways of bringing disciplines together through learning spaces.
Global Fellows program is a five-day intensive workshop for 40 PhD students: half from MIT and half from Imperial College London.
Create your own initiative:
The Graduate Student Life Grants can provide funding for your plan to increase interdisciplinary contact.
Response from the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE):
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.
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.
Attend the Exploring the Majors Fair in the fall and departmental open houses in the spring to learn about all the possibilities of a specific major.
Talk to a Career Counselor in GECD who can help you think through this decision, consider it from various angles, and point you toward resources that may be helpful specifically for you.
Talk to your freshman advisor and your associate advisor.
View departmental websites to get information on classes, pre-requisites, faculty, and more..
Join a departmental undergraduate student group.
Introduce yourself to the Undergraduate Administrator in the departments you might be interested in and ask a few specific questions about the program.
Look at UROP postings to see what kind of work/research may interest you.
Use self-assessment tools offered by GECD to help clarify your interests, skills and values. These may point you toward certain fields of study.
Browse GECD's graduating student Employment Survey to get a sense of where students from all departments are going to, once they leave MIT. This also includes salary and internship information.
Browse the Institute Career Assistance Network (ICAN) to find out what alumni/ae from different departments are doing for work.
Response from the Dean for Undergraduate Education:
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.
Read response from Community Wellness at MIT Medical:
There are a number of places on campus who can offer support to survivors of sexual violence, as well as their friends. One of these hubs is the Program for Violence Prevention and Response (VPR), part of Community Wellness at MIT Medical.
VPR seeks to raise awareness about sexual violence, dating/domestic violence, unhealthy relationships, stalking and harassment. They offer a 24-hour confidential hotline (617-253-2300), where an advocate can help you determine your options moving forward. The advocates are available for 1-on-1 support as well.
VPR also sponsors educational trainings and lectures throughout the year in campus residences, for athletic teams and department offices. Along with many offices on campus, VPR sponsors Sexual Assault Awareness Month every April. For more information about VPR, you can visit their website: http://web.mit.edu/wecanhelp.
Read response from Offices of the Dean for Undergraduate and Graduate Education:
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.
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 Deans in the Office of Dean for Graduate Education provide guidance and support to students with any issue or concern.
REFS (Resources for Easing Friction and Stress) students trained to support other graduate students and are likely to have a good perspective on your specific circumstances.
The Graduate Administrator in your department can provide guidance on academic challenges and resources.
The International Students Office staff are available to listen and provide guidance to international students.
If you live in a residence, your Housemaster is available to listen and provide guidance.
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.
Response from Student Support Services:
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.
Response from the Chancellor:
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.
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.
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.
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).
Response from the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE):
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:
Join a student group
Stop by Weekly Wednesdays at the Muddy Charles Pub
Take a Wellness Class
Join a BabyNet Playgroup for MIT parents and children
Create your own! Speak to your department about the possibility of a new event, or propose a Graduate Student Life Grant
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.
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:
The Deans for Graduate Support in ODGE can offer advice and suggest resources to help you maintain a better balance.
Specific to Undergrads:
MIT Medical, MIT Libraries, MIT Dining, and a few more MIT offices have special hours for the holidays and the Independent Activities Period (IAP). Visit Division of Student Life News to see a schedule of what's open and what's closed during the holidays and IAP.
Response from the Office of the Dean for Student Life:
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.
Response from the MIT Public Service Center:
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 email@example.com.
Here are some ways you can get involved locally:
Participate in a Public Service Center program with local service opportunities, such as the FSILG&D Community Service Challenge or the Freshman Urban Program, ReachOut: Help Teach a Child to Read, Community Service Work-Study, Public Service Fellowships/Internships, Public Service Grants, or the IDEAS Global Challenge.
Attend the biannual MIT Community Service Fair to talk directly with representatives from local organizations who are seeking MIT volunteers.
Take a service learning course that includes a project with a local community organization.
Talk to your chaplain about ways to get involved with community service via Religious Life at MIT.
Participate in the GSC Outreach Committee local service opportunities.
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.
MIT Housing assignments start with a mission… and an algorithm. Read all about it.
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.
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.
The Graduate Student Council's Housing and Affairs Committee (HCA) is reviewing the lighting of Albany Street. In spring 2011, the HCA presented the results of their 2011 Northwest Corridor Safety Survey results to the MIT Housing Strategy Group. The report includes information and recommendation on Albany Street lights.
You can also visit the GSC HCA web page, where you will note that community safety is an ongoing project.
Response from the Chaplain to the Institute:
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 non-denominational gathering.
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 MIT Facts site also provides a broad overview of MIT.
The Student Life and Learning pages are a good way to find or peruse the numerous offices, programs, and services available to MIT's graduate and undergraduate students.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Each semester, the Chancellor and Student Deans host informal gatherings of students which encourage open discussion around student submitted questions - Cookies & Conversation for undergraduates and Dinner with Dialog for graduate students.
On this page, you can read some of the recent student questions and concerns.