“Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self. To choose Must is to say yes to hard work and constant effort, to say yes to a journey without a road map or guarantees… Choosing Must is the greatest thing we can do with our lives.”
For the past few days, I have found my head buried in Elle Luna’s The Crossroads of Should and Must, a richly illustrated book my fellow Honors Thesis students and I received as we graduated. The more I draw and write on the pages in an attempt to arrive at the path to my Must, my “calling,” the more I realize that for me, finding my Must began with the process of finding and choosing a university – MIT.
It is difficult to pinpoint when I first heard about MIT, but by junior year, I was vaguely familiar with MIT’s academic reputation and aware that MIT’s Course 6, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, is often ranked the first in the US. I knew from such rankings that I Should apply to MIT. But only when I began to read the MIT blogs in my junior year did I decide that I Must apply. I had feared that MIT revolved only around science and engineering, but soon found posts discussing the humanities at MIT and made little discoveries such as a reference to The Tempest by a blogger. I suggest that anyone searching for a college that aligns with their potential Must look for clues in places such as student blogs to gain insight into the perspective of those who roam the campus buildings every day.
Impressed by my online encounters with MIT and encouraged by my counselor to travel to the colleges on my list, I made plans to visit in the summer. I was moved by the palpable sense of excitement for learning. Even in the summer, the campus was buzzing with activity, pulsing at a rate that matched the beat of my own heart. I learned that most undergraduates are involved in research and about the “firehose,” a symbol for the knowledge gushing into and out of the buildings at MIT. I learned about the labyrinth of tunnels that connects the departments and about the figurative links that connect academic disciplines. I learned that the buildings and majors are affectionately associated with numbers that everyone remembers. I avidly noted details in my college journal, continued browsing the admissions website, and tried to distil my enthusiasm into essays. A few months later, I submitted my application, and after another few months, I received an invitation to join the newest cohort of MIT students.
When I visited post-acceptance, I was inspired by other aspects of the MIT culture, such as the tireless tinkering. I learned that the mascot, Tim the Beaver, was chosen for his skill and diligence. I stayed in a dorm that builds a roller coaster during orientation, met representatives from robotics and coding clubs, and watched in awe as students shared their research. I Must comMIT, I thought.
I know that my Must involves connecting disciplines and ideas at MIT and probably begins with Computer Science and Engineering. But you might be wondering what this beginning of a story means for you as its reader. I challenge you to make attempts to define your Must and take steps to reach it, as Elle Luna advises. Especially to those of you who are approaching college application time, here is a request – consider not only where you Should go but also where you Must go. Let the excitement begin!