Finding More Help from MIT Resources
You don't have to go it alone at MIT, and you shouldn't. Help is all around you, and you don't even have to know the right place to look. Ask any of the people or offices listed below. If they can't help you directly, they'll know who can. Here is information on MIT sources of academic support and personal support.
Early in the term, ask yourself which one or two of your classes seem most challenging. Are you studying a field for the first time? Even in the Science Core, or subjects within your major, are there a lot of new concepts or unfamiliar language? This is your signal to look for extra, preventive help.
- A study group may help you achieve your best in these classes. There may be a study group in your dorm or ILG: ask around. If not, start one yourself. Ask your TA or Lecturer if you can pass around a sign-up sheet in class to recruit three or four teammates for a group.
- Go to lectures and recitations. Go to office hours. Your instructor and TA are there just waiting to help you. Keep asking questions until you understand the material. After all, you are paying for these services: you might as well use them.
- Make wise use of online resources:
- Use MIT's OpenCourseWare (OCW) for practice problems, previous exams, video lectures (sometimes by another professor), and background material. Don't try to watch all the lectures or work all the psets: just zero in on topics giving you trouble.
- Khan Academy offers solid, brief video talks on both science and HASS topics. Use these before class to start learning a topic, and after class or before an exam for review. In HASS subjects a video may give you ideas for a paper or project.
- Further afield, Carnegie Mellon University's Open Learning Initiative offers 12 free, full online courses in subjects ranging from Biology to Visual Design. Here again, use course outlines and the search function to focus on relevant material: the last thing you need is to take another course, even if it is online.
- Search for more information on topics you don't understand using the standbys Google and Wikipedia, but with caution: compare two or more sources to make sure you're getting accurate information.
Every MIT student hits a bump somewhere along the road. Don't worry: it doesn't mean that Admissions made a mistake, or that you're just not cut out for [insert challenging field here]. Take a low grade on a quiz or pset as a signal to reassess your learning strategy. Use the resources on this site to check your time management, note-taking, test-taking, and other study skills—then make some changes.
If you get back two or three psets in a row with low grades, mess up a quiz, or find yourself "just not getting it", call in a coach—a "tutor", an individual who knows the subject well and can help you learn it, too. The Tutoring section of this site will help you choose which people and offices can best help you evaluate and fulfill your academic needs.
Make the most of your tutoring sessions by working on the material in advance of your appointment. The more specific you can be about your problem areas, the more focused your session will be. Although working through complex and dense material can be a frustrating and slow process, it is an acquired skill that does become easier with time. Don't give up!
Life at MIT is full of challenges that change as you move toward your degree. In your first year you need to ramp up your study skills, adjust to a new culture (MIT's if not a new national culture), learn to live more independently, and create new relationships. Later you may feel pressure as you choose a major, seek a UROP, look for an internship, and plan a career. All along the way it can be helpful to find someone who can listen to your frustrations, help you understand your roommates and teachers, connect you with a mentor, or guide you back to health.
Any one of the following offices will welcome you and help you figure out whether you need assistance from another office or person.
- Student Support Services: Free confidential advice for all issues, support for groups. Open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. 617-253-4861. Appointments preferred, but walk-ins are welcome, especially Monday through Friday, 9-10 a.m.
- MIT Medical Department: Offers a single, centralized source for all student health care needs, including comprehensive health insurance, care and treatment at the on-campus medical center, referral to outside specialists and facilities, and an extensive roster of health promotion programs. Check especially the Undergraduate Student Guide.
- Mental Health and Counseling Service of MIT Medical: Walk-in hours Monday through Friday, 2-4 p.m. Appointments available Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (617-253-2916). Nights and weekend urgent care, 617-253-4481.
- Office of Minority Education: Offers programs that encourage the promotion of excellence among under-represented minority students, celebrate academic achievement, and provide opportunities for mentorship and academic enrichment. Sponsors the Talented Scholars Resource Room or TSR^2, open to all students.
- International Students Office: The International Students Office (ISO) provides services which meet the special needs of MIT international students and support programs which help them to fulfill their personal and academic goals. These include advice on travel and other immigration issues, processing of required forms, and a host program.
- Student Disabilities Services: Makes every reasonable effort to provide appropriate accommodations and assistance to students with disabilities (as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA] of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973). The objective is to ensure that students with disabilities receive equal access to all Institute programs and services. To that end, SDS seeks to balance the student's right to access with its obligation to protect the integrity of Institute programs and services.
- LGBT@MIT: MIT and its surrounding communities offer a broad spectrum of services, activities, and resources for LBGT, questioning, and supportive individuals. This site includes information on the Rainbow Lounge, the online Lavender Guide, an events calendar, a monthly newsletter, Trans@MIT, and a report form for homophobia and hate incidents.
- MIT Police: In an emergency dial 100 from any campus phone or call 617-253-1212. The Campus Police maintain the official Lost & Found and register laptops as well as patrolling the campus, helping with medical transport, and educating for safety.