When I was in tenth grade, I traveled to Boston with one of my best friends to take a look at Harvard, Tufts, Boston College and MIT. We had two tours each day of the weekend, two on Saturday and two on Sunday, so it was an exhausting weekend.
I remember that our last tour was of MIT. We had the Harvard tour in the morning, and I hated it. I didn’t like the area, I did not feel like I fit in well with the people, and everything seemed too official. I had dyed hair and I wanted a place where I could express myself and not be judged, because the Harvard folk totally judged me for my grungy appearance (I can’t match. Sometimes people think I dress this way on purpose. I don’t.)
Then I went on a campus tour with an MIT student who had green hair and was a senior living in East Campus. She was so cool! I remember her being super quirky and awesome, and she really made me fall in love with MIT. Her personality, the things she did, and her passion for science and MIT were so inspiring.
My friend I was traveling with was so astonished – she kept saying “our tour guide had green hair” in a disapproving tone. I kept saying “OUR TOUR GUIDE HAD GREEN HAIR!” very excitedly. It was that day that I knew that my dream school was MIT.
My friend still applied to MIT, and she got in with me, but spent all of CPW with her parents and chose to go to another school. I knew the second that I stepped back on MIT’s campus for CPW that MIT was where I wanted to live, and I filled out my intent for enrollment at MIT form during my CPW. I kept remembering my tour guide, and got even more excited about MIT when I saw all the cool things going on in the East Campus courtyard, like hair dyeing! I still remember Annie dyeing my hair blue or red, and my teachers getting really pissed off at me when I got back to school because I had really important science and business competitions the two weeks after CPW. (It ended up working out and I got gold medals in those competitions, even with bright blue hair. Moral of that comment: Dye your hair a bright color for all professional things and you will definitely succeed. probably)
I don’t know if I would have applied if it wasn’t for that tour guide. She made me feel special, and mentioned the imposter syndrome, and she seemed like a real, genuine person. I felt judged and unfit at Harvard and Boston College and most other colleges I visited, but not at MIT. Not with that tour guide and her description of where she lived, and how excited she was about living there. If she could fit in and have a bunch of friends with brightly colored hair and strange clothing, then I could too. MIT seemed like it could be the perfect home for me, and that idea would have never crossed my mind if it hadn’t been for that East Side resident with the bright green hair and super quirky personality.