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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the academic advantages of enrolling in Terrascope?
A. Most of your first year at MIT is comprised of large lecture subjects in which you will attend lecture and complete problem sets. Terrascope is based on a different model for learning. We give you a complex problem to solve in your first semester (Mission 2017--12.000). Working in teams, you will develop and propose solutions that are presented before a panel of experts and the entire MIT community and are webcast all over the world.. This style of learning continues in spring. The skills you learn in this class will help you throughout your MIT career. See video clips of Terrascope students talking about their experiences.

Besides the advantage of a systems-oriented approach to learning, Terrascope students enjoy a small, friendly academic community of faculty, staff, and students who enjoy learning in a way that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. You will develop close working relationships with several MIT faculty, upperclassmen, and alumni early in your freshman year. You will receive tutorial support for mainstream subjects, help with finding UROP projects, and encouragement to develop your ideas into practical solutions to complex problems.

Q. How do I enroll in Terrascope?
A. Go to the Terrascope application page for information on how to enroll in Terrascope for 2012-13.

Q. Does Terrascope have its own facilities?
A. Yes, we have our own 24-hour facilities: classroom/study space, lounge, and kitchen.

Q. How does Terrascope differ from the other programs for first-year students?
A. We are the most flexible of the programs. You can choose all your other subjects from within MIT's "mainstream" curriculum. All Terrascope students must only enroll in Mission 2017 (12.000) during the fall . In the spring you have the option in enrolling in 1.016 or Terrascope Radio but neither is required. Your credit limit is 57 units for the fall semester, as opposed to 54 units in most other freshman programs.

Q. Can I enroll in Mission 2017 but not participate in Terrascope?
A. Yes, Mission 2017 is a stand-alone class that can be taken by any first year student. Enrolling in Mission 2016 in fall does not commit you to enrollment in Terrascope spring subjects.

Q. Does participation in Mission 2017 and/or Terrascope require me to major in either Civil and Environmental Engineering (Course 1) or Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (Course 12)?
A. No. Terrascope was designed to demonstrate that the Earth system provides a valuable context for the study and application of basic concepts in science and engineering. Developing a systems-oriented approach to learning in the first year pays enormous dividends throughout your academic career, regardless of your choice of major. Our Terrascope alumni are spread across the different majors at the Institute.

Q. Can I meet MIT's communication intensive (CI) requirement in Terrascope?
A. YES! Terrascope has a spring CI-H subject called Terrascope radio. This course explores radio as a medium for communication, particularly the communication of complex scientific information.

Q. I am worried that I will be too isolated from mainstream MIT if I enroll in Terrascope.
A. We think that Terrascope offers you the best of both worlds! You will take your science and math subjects with the rest of the first year class. You will be able to take full advantage of the wealth of opportunities offered in the sometimes-overwhelming environment of MIT, but you also have the advantages of our small, friendly community. In Terrascope you get to know other students and faculty in a way not common in "mainstream" courses. You will meet a variety of people as a student in Mission 2017, all dedicated to helping you make the most of your year: graduate and undergraduate Teaching Fellows, faculty members, and MIT alumni mentors. You will also be able to count on help from our network of former students. Getting to know us means that we can help you find UROPs or internships, write recommendations for you, and help you navigate MIT bureaucracy.

Q. I have advanced placement credit for some of my math and science courses. Can I still take Terrascope?
A. YES! Many of our students enroll in other science or math subjects and still take Terrascope.

Q. What difference will enrolling in Terrascope make to my life beyond my freshman year?
A. Perhaps the answer to this question is to hear about the work of Terrascope students in the semesters beyond their freshman year. A large number of students participate in UROP or other projects that in some way continue interests first kindled in Terrascope. The experience of developing solutions to a complex problem as freshmen means that you will be more likely to have the confidence to continue to find challenging projects to pursue at MIT and beyond. See written and video comments by past students.

Q. Can I go on the field trip during the Spring Break of 2014 if I take Mission 2017 but don't take Terrascope courses in the spring?
A. Yes, although in case of limited space, preference will be given those who have committed to the Terrascope program throughout the year.

Q. If I enroll in Terrascope, will I be prepared to take mainstream MIT courses in subsequent semesters?
A. As you will take mainstream math and science lectures along with the full first year class, the material you study in these subjects will be the same as that of other students.

Q. If I miss the June 15th deadline for registering for Mission 2016 and Terrascope can I still add them later in the summer or on Registration Day?
A. You should register for Mission 2017 and Terrascope during the summer as required by the freshman advising office. If for some reason you miss the opportunity or decide you want to join after the registration period we will work with you to register shortly after the beginning of the fall term. More questions arise if you register for a freshman seminar during the summer ... but anything is possible. We will make it happen.

Q. How can I find out more about Terrascope and Mission 2017?
A. The best way is to email Ms. Debra Aczel or call 617-253-4074. For Mission 2017 email Professor Sam Bowring or call 617-253-3775. He is happy to answer any questions regarding either Terrascope or Mission.