CPW 2014: Showcasing the Magic That Happens at MIT

Kris Guay, Communications Manager, Admissions

The Admissions office and the entire MIT community welcomed 1045 prefrosh and about 900 parents for Campus Preview Weekend (CPW) on Thursday, April 10 through Sunday, April 13. Volunteers from all over campus came together to welcome the newly admitted students and their families early Thursday morning on the second floor of the student center.

Campus Preview Weekend 2014

“This year, we wanted to build on the icebreaker idea we tried with prefrosh at last year’s CPW, so we planned 20-minute orientation sessions and gathered students into small groups right after check-in,” said Katie Kelley, assistant director of admissions and CPW coordinator.

Some students arrived on Thursday morning to take advantage of the over 650 events planned for them over the weekend, while others checked in later in the weekend to sample the campus just for the day or an overnight. As soon as students arrived at the desk, they received a neck wallet to house their key cards and other information and were directed to another room to meet with their fellow admitted students and admissions officers. “We thought the orientation would help to facilitate the check-in process, and give us time to explain the program guide, the weekend ahead, and have some fun with the kids. And it did. It was magical,” said Kelley.

“This was technically my second CPW but my first in the admissions office,” said Holly Hinman, an admissions counselor. “I had a blast running the orientation sessions and taking photographs over the weekend. The students were excited and engaged during the session and I could tell they couldn’t wait to jump right into all of the events.”

Social media really took off this year, with members of the admissions staff, current students and offices, and prefrosh creating a constant stream of tweets and selfies and posting them to Facebook and Instagram. Tim the Beaver even came in like a wrecking ball, according to one of the Admissions bloggers.

As in prior years, there is something for everyone at CPW, and there are so many events it’s impossible to do it all. For the game lovers there were sessions called Random Plays Video Games, Pizza and Games at Hillel, and the Next Big Game Night at Next House. The truly studious could sharpen their skills at the Life Skills Seminar Series at East Campus, or solve problems at Math Until We Die and Overpowered Programming with the Experimental Study Group. And for those looking for action there was Zorb Ball Soccer, Juggling in Lobby 10 or the Marauders' Open Quidditch Practice, to name a few.

“What's really amazing about CPW is that you have all of these kids from all over the world coming to campus and feeling comfortable trying out something new with perfect strangers,” said Latasha Boyd, an admissions counselor. “They may not even watch or read Harry Potter, but they saw something happening that looked fun and jumped in and learned about it together.”

While tons of food and fun is a tradition over the course of the weekend, parents appreciated the many informative events. “I went to the student financial services session, and on a tour of the dorms, and had a great time at the Tim Talks,” said a parent. “I am so impressed with this whole weekend.”

Every year, new events make their way into the CPW program. Sanjay Sarma, the director of digital learning at MIT, presented a new session on the topic of digital learning on the residential campus. His remarks prompted one parent in the audience to ask why he should invest in a residential education when so much is offered for free online. “MIT is all about doing, about learning by hand,” Sarma responded. “Students master the material when they can really hone in online in certain classes and it leaves more time for labs and workshops. Online learning is just another way of increasing and distilling the special magic that happens between students and faculty every day at MIT.”

Some featured highlights over the weekend for both students and their parents included:

Morning Coffee with Staff, with representatives from MIT Mental Health and Counseling, Student Support Services, Student Outreach and Support, Dean on Call, Health Educators, MedLinks, and EMTs.

The President’s Welcome and Featured Faculty Speakers, including Maria T. Zuber, the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics, and David Kaiser, the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science, department head of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and a senior lecturer in the physics department.

The Minority Women’s Brunch, sponsored by the Black Women’s Alliance and Admissions Ambassadors, which featured guest speakers and current students sharing their experiences as women of color at the Institute.