Saturday, December 29, 2007

Haiku, Tanka, and a Promised Response

I promised to blog about why P's are so awesome the first semester, so here it goes. During our first semester at MIT, all freshmen are on a special grading system known as "Pass/No Record." Basically, if you would have earned an A, B, or C for any of your classes, the actual grade is permanently hidden and converted to a "P" (for Pass). Only the P shows up on your official transcript, although you are told your hidden grades eventually.

On the other hand, if you get a D or F in any class, that class permanently disappears from your transcript, leaving "No Record" it was there.

As a word of caution, some med schools (most notably Johns Hopkins, though I've been told there are two others) have been known to ask for your hidden grades. MIT can furnish an official record of some or all of your hidden grades, but they are very reluctant to do so. Moreover, I'm not sure if Johns Hopkins and other schools ask for grades only in relevant classes (like biology) or in all your first-semester if med school is in your future, I would encourage you to look into the matter more fully. I'll hunt around as well and keep you updated if I find any reliable info.

Anyway, the upshot of Pass/No Record is that you, for all intents and purposes, have no GPA whatsoever during your first term. This is a little awkward on resumes or when your friends ask you how you're doing...but, trust me, in the long run it's worth it. ;)

Come spring term, however, you're on an A/B/C/No Record system. This is basically just like normal grades, and you do start to accumulate a GPA, except that D's and F's still disappear.

There are a few reasons for why Pass/No Record - sometimes mistakenly called Pass/Fail, as in the popular sentiment "All Hail Pass/Fail!" - exists. In my opinion, the most important one is that it eases the transition from high school to MIT. I actually have a lot to say about the "transition," but I'll hold off on that for now, since it's actually a major theme in my next entry for the official MIT blogs. (The enry's about halfway done at this point. Yeah, yeah, I know...)

Other benefits of Pass/No Record? It drastically reduces the stress you might otherwise feel during your first semester, when (for many students) this is the first time they've truly been challenged by academics. Additionally, it gives you more freedom to explore MIT - academically, socially, and extra-curricularly. (If that's even a word.) It gives you a chance to figure out what kind of studying and p-seting, and how much, works best for you. It is not, however, an opportunity to slack off completely. So don't get any ideas. =P

For my own part, I tried not to abuse P/NR too much this past semester, but it still ended up coming in handy. ;)

Anyway, that's the "promised response" part of this post. The haiku and tanka part refers to an interesting conversation I've been having (via Facebook) with my friend Heidi - a freshman at that little school up the road from MIT - about our break. Thus far, it goes something like this:


a haiku:

Talk is cheap, but pokes
are cheaper. Merry Christmas -
how's all with you, Paul?



Seventeen is just
Enough syllables to say
That I am well. You?



well myself, as well.
but you're not s'posed to cheat through
a haiku - details?



I begin to like
This strange method of talking,
Though your words confuse.
I think we may need tanka
To fully communicate.



I mean that I want
to hear how your break's going.
In tanka, of course.
And I've a suggestion, too:
what are your IAP plans?



Of course, I see now.
Though break has treated me kindly,
Here in the Midwest,
Oft my heart longs for Boston
Like a lover his belov'd.

Beginning again,
I anticipate IAP
With spring eagerness:
Lab and the Hunt of Myst'ry,
Charm School and fraternity.


Ah, the things we Boston kids get into. ;)


Anonymous said...

oh my god, mystery hunt. what team are you hunting with?

Omar said...

I've heard that only harvard and john hopkins (medical schools) ask for your hidden grades to be released.

Also, I'm pretty sure it's all your grades, not just the 'relevant ones'.

I hope this helps.

Hank R. said...

I miss the pre-2005 days when the whole school year was Pass/No Record.

De Petagma Saru said...

Congrats on straight P's!

Also, major cool points for the usage of Japanese forms of poetry.

Can't wait for your transition post and something about the Mystery Hunt.

Happy New Years Eve Eve (NYE^2?)

Anonymous said...

you're not going to enjoy IAP w/ so much on your plate.


Heidi Liu said...

Glad I caught this in time - ha. I'm flattered by the inclusion of the wall-to-wall, and have updated that (and the blog) accordingly.

Heidi Liu said...


I found this in my
inbox and found it apt for
this very post -
Talk about timing.

Hunter '11 said...

Anon - all I have to say is, how can you enjoy IAP WITHOUT doing stuff? We have two weeks to lazy around. IAP is time for FUNZ!

katekalb said...

Sounds like IAP will be a blast.

And as for the haiku...hmm. I don't think I've ever had a poetry conversation like that. ;)