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Hurdle #1: Getting in the Door

Research institutions are the primary producers of the nation’s
scientific brain trust. Yet, the record of these institutions for
producing African Americans in these disciplines is spotty. In this
feature, Black Issues examines the experiences of three of the leading
science and engineering institutions, citing examples of strategies
that are yielding favorable results and those that leave senior
scholars scratching their heads over why they’re not working.

In any given academic year, Roland Allen’s travel schedule can take
him as far north as Alaska and as far south as the Virgin Islands. As
the director of minority recruitment and admissions at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he admits that this year
the affirmative action backlash that is sweeping the country is making
his job a little tougher. But not for the reasons you might think.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts, institute is a private research
university in a state that, so far, has not experienced any legislative
or judicial effort to limit affirmative action. So Allen’s challenges
are not like those facing his colleagues in California or Texas, where
affirmative action has been severely curtailed. Allen’s problems are
more a matter of perception.

“Even good people sometimes are anti-affirmative action,” Allen
says, seated in his spacious office on the first floor of MIT’s main
administration building. The orderly workspace complements the
recruiter’s neat, preppie persona. “It is a struggle for some people to
support what we’re doing here,” he adds with a countenance of angst.

Allen, who is African American and has been in the college
recruitment business for nearly two decades, has observed in the past
year that an increasing number of African American and Latino students
don’t want to be admitted through affirmative action.

“It is becoming harder and harder to do minority events,” Allen
says. “People will sometimes angrily reply [to invitations], saying,
`You’ve admitted me and now you’re telling me I’m in a special

“[Yet], we [at the institute] feel there are particular minority
issues that are concerns of most parents and minority students about
support services, social and cultural groups on campus,” he continues,
“and we want to address those.”

While the current political atmosphere hasn’t discouraged MIT from
continuing its affirmative action outreach, it has motivated the
institute to modify the language it uses in materials and programs
aimed at attracting under-represented students.

“Our job is to convince parents [and students] that we only admit qualified students,” Allen says.

Minority Recruiting Strategy: Start Early

Since its inception in 1861, MIT has placed an emphasis on
engineering and science. It is a leading producer of scholars in these
disciplines and has been home to numerous Nobel laureates.

MIT is among the top five recipients of funding from the federal
government, drawing $607 million in the 1993-94 academic year alone,
according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. (NCES). In
1993, it garnered $267 million of the roughly $12 billion spent on
academic research and development funding among the top 100 academic
institutions, according to the National Science Foundation.

On average, MIT receives approximately 8,200 applications annually
from aspiring freshmen, says Allen, adding that only one in four
(approximately 2,000 applicants) is admitted. This past fall, the
freshman class included 1,060 students, 6 percent of whom (64) are
African American.

“Our [applicant] pool is more self-selective,” Allen says,
comparing MIT applicants to most college aspirants. “Most [high school]
students have not even heard of MIT unless they’ve been interested in

Even then, he says, many students neglect to apply because they fear their SAT scores aren’t high enough.

Such consternation is not entirely unwarranted. The average SAT
score of MIT freshman ranges between 740-790 on the math, and 650-750
on the verbal. However, Allen is quick to point out that the SAT is
only one of the factors considered in the application review process.

MIT requires applicants to submit SAT II scores in science and
math, and either English or history. Applicants who do not present
these additional test scores may still be considered, but they are
severely disadvantaged in the screening process. The rigor of an
applicant’s high school record and any extracurricular activities are
also reviewed.

As part of MIT’s commitment to broadening the diversity of the
applicant pool, Allen invests much of his time counseling
under-represented students, their guidance counselors, and parents on
what they need to do months — and preferably years — before they

“We try to counsel kids early. One of the differences [between
White students and minority students] is that White students take the
SAT more often.” he explains.

According to Allen, most colleges and universities only count the
highest SAT scores they see. Students who attend SAT prep courses and
take the exam four, five, and even six times, therefore, may
significantly enhance their chances of achieving a high score.

“Minority students tend not to do that,” he says.

Under Allen’s direction, the institute now engages in an entire
campaign of outreach targeting thousands of Black and Latino teenagers
with the goal of educating them on how to better prepare for college,
particularly if they aim to attend MIT.

For students who are admitted, MIT offers participation in an
eight-week summer transitional program. And while any student can apply
to the program, it is targeted toward under-represented minorities. The
program accepts sixty incoming freshmen each summer and offers a
comprehensive orientation into the MIT lifestyle, as well as programs
designed to help students fine tune their skills in calculus, physics,
chemistry, and writing.

MIT offers enrichment programs for all freshmen throughout the
academic year such as the Excel study group program and the campus
tutorial services.

These extra efforts have yielded modest, but significant, results.
The institute — which competes heavily with Harvard, Yale, Stanford,
and Princeton for the most sought-after science, math, engineering, and
technology (SMET) students — has the distinction of attracting and
graduating the largest population of African American students in
engineering among these five top-tier Research I institutions. Still,
some critics find the distinction dubious since the absolute number of
these graduates is so small.

Out of MIT’s entire student population of just under 10,000,
including graduate students, roughly 370 (3.7 percent) are African
American. In 1996, the institute ranked twenty-third in the nation
among institutions awarding baccalaureate degrees to Blacks in
engineering (28), and twenty-seventh among those institutions awarding
Blacks B.S. degrees in mathematics and technology (46). As
insignificant as these last rankings may at first appear, MIT is ahead

of most of what are widely considered its “peer” institutions within the science and engineering community.

Better than Most, but Not a Panacea

Despite its relative success, MIT, is by no means the ideal. Nor is
it producing the number of African American SMET graduates that it
could, according to Dr. Leo Osgood, director of student affairs for
minority undergraduates. The reasons, Osgood says, are complex.

One problem he sees is the cost of an undergraduate education at
MIT — which, at $23,000 per year, is daunting to many Black parents.
Citing the results of an informal telephone poll of applicants which
his office conducted last year, he says the most frequently stated
reason why minority students do not come to MIT is financial aid.

“This is a student-driven market,” Osgood says. “Mom and dad
sometimes are telling me that they are not going to hock their
retirement fund to send their son or daughter here. They’d rather
invest in a state school, have their sons and daughters do well, and
then apply to a professional school at a tier-one [institution].”

Another factor that deters some Black students from attending MIT,
according to Osgood, is their parents’ concerns about the psychological
toll that can come from being on a campus where they may be considered
less competent than their White peers.

“These parents often prefer an historically Black institution,” he says.

Osgood’s greatest concern, however, is that too often the level of
expectation directed toward Black students is lower than that directed
toward other students. It is this factor, he says, that ultimately has
the most devastating affect on minority students.

“Lowering the expectation is enormously detrimental to African
American students,” he says. “We have to ask to what extent does the
predisposition of the faculty impact students of color and the
faculty’s engagement with those students.”

The perception that Black students aren’t held to the same standard
as other students isn’t just held by MIT faculty. Some teaching
assistants and students have been found to share the opinion as well.

A few years ago, the institute captured such attitudes in a video
documentary series titled, It’s Intuitively Obvious. In one sequence, a
White male student proclaims that White males are the only students on
the campus who can be “certain” they were admitted on the basis of

Students, faculty, and administrators agree that the intensity of
the workload and the fiercely competitive environment at MIT can be
difficult for all students. While Osgood doesn’t feel that alone is a
problem, he says the systemic network of support for White students is
greater than that available to students of color.

“Asking for help is a daunting issue for Black students here,” he
says. “They find themselves asking, do I belong here? Or am I an
affirmative action decision?”

And despite formal processes MIT has designed to reach out to
students when they reach this critical phase, Osgood observes that
“sometimes students are too embarrassed to accept the help.”

Some of the credit for the modest progress MIT has achieved goes to
Dr. Isaac Colbert, now senior associate dean for graduate education.

Colbert initially came to MIT in 1976. Originally from Baltimore,
he had done his undergraduate studies at Johns Hopkins, attended Brown
University for graduate school, and came to MIT as an affirmative
action officer after a stint at Northeastern University. He has held a
variety of positions within the institute, including senior associate
dean, vice president of information systems, and assistant to the
graduate dean. In each of these roles he has sought to move the
institute toward a systemic and outcomes-oriented approach to minority
recruitment and retention at every level — from undergraduate through
faculty recruitment and retention.

Colbert is circumspect in his assessment of MIT’s position as a
“leader” among the most elite research institutions in the area of
recruiting and graduating under-represented students in the sciences.

“We have a measure of success relative to our peer institutions,”
Colbert says. “We work hard for that marginal edge, but this is nothing
to be extraordinarily proud of.”

Redefining Outreach

Some three thousand miles away from Cambridge at another of the
nation’s premiere science and technology institutions, California
Institute of Technology’s (Caltech) efforts to recruit African American
and other under-represented students are far less fruitful.

This small, private institution has been home to twenty-two Nobel
laureates, two of whom–chemist Dr. Rudolph A. Marcus and physiologist
Dr. Edward B. Lewis — remain in residence.

Caltech administers the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the federal
government, which is the primary reason it leads all other research
institutions in terms of federal funding received. The institute also
operates what is perhaps the nation’s most renowned seismology

In 1994, Caltech received in excess of $1.1 billion from the
federal government. It ranked twentieth among private institutions
getting federal research and development funds in 1993, snagging $104
million, according to a study conducted by the National Science Board.

Caltech’s student body is one-fifth the size of MIT’s. Situated in
the foothills of Pasadena, the eucalyptus tree-lined campus is home to
just under 2,000 students — approximately 800 of whom are
undergraduates, It is a Caltech tradition that the freshman class never
exceeds 220 students. This number corresponds to the number of seats
available in the classroom used to teach entry-level physics — a
required course for all Caltech freshmen, irrespective of their major
field of study.

“It is very interesting that these hard core, quantitatively-driven
faculty members use the word `passion’ a lot,” says Charlene Liebau,
the institute’s director of admissions, about the kind of students her
faculty prefers to admit.

“They are looking for evidence of a passion for math, science, or
engineering, [as well as] indicators of persistence,” she says. “And
they like people who go outside of the box.”

Without this “passion,” just getting through freshman and sophomore
year would be akin to torture. The type of misery induced by
fingernails on a chalkboard. Caltech requires all students to take two
years of physics, two years of math, a year of chemistry, and one term
of biology. `

In the past decade, 58 percent of Caltech’s graduates have
completed their baccalaureate studies in engineering and applied
science. An additional 22 percent have earned degrees in physics,
mathematics and astronomy, with another eight percent majoring in
chemistry and chemical engineering.

This acute focus on SMET disciplines appears to be both a help and
a hindrance to the institute’s minority recruitment efforts. It helps
because only those students who really love the sciences bother to

But Caltech has had trouble persuading even those Black students it
admits to actually enroll. These students frequently wind up enrolling
at a competing institution. It is a pattern that appears to perplex

“We lose most of our students to MIT, Harvard, and Stanford — in
that order,” says Liebau, who has headed the admissions staff here
since 1994.

Caltech’s student population is only 0.9 percent Black, and 3
percent Latino. Asian students constitute approximately 18 percent and
foreign students 25 percent. The remainder of the student body (53
percent) is White.

In 1997, Caltech received 2,388 applications for undergraduate
admission. It made offers to 540 students, nine of whom were African
American. But of the 215 applicants who eventually enrolled, only two
were Black — and by the end of last semester, one had already decided
to transfer. Among the seven Black students who declined Liebau’s offer
for 1997, four decided to attend MIT.

In fact, for the past two years, only about two percent of the
students offered admission by Caltech have been African American, and
less than one percent of the enrolled freshmen have been Black. In
1996, six African Americans were admitted, two of whom enrolled. And in
1995, none of the eight Black students who were accepted chose to

The 1995 incident sent chills through the institute’s small
minority community and led students, together with a group of
supportive faculty and administrators, to demand that something be done
about it. In response, a committee was formed to study the problem and
make recommendations on how to overhaul the institute’s minority
recruitment effort. The Brennen Commission, named after its chair —
faculty member Paul Brennen — released its findings and
recommendations a few months later.

One of the commission’s key recommendations was to expand the role
and scope of activities of the minority student affairs office. Cheryll
Hawthorne, a seasoned expert in minority recruitment and retention, was
hired in 1996 to assume the new position of associate dean/director of
minority student affairs.

Hawthorne had been recruited from Stanford University, where she
worked under Dr. Noe Lozano — a leader in the field of minority
recruitment and retention in SMET disciplines. Prior to her term at
Stanford, Hawthorne had done similar work at the University of
California-Berkeley. Her Caltech position came with an enhanced budget
and responsibilities that surpassed that of her predecessors. The new
post also was realigned under the dean of student affairs.

“In my opinion, we still have a lot of work to do in terms of
defining what outreach means,” says Hawthorne, of the institute’s
efforts to attract under-represented students.

Since the Brennen Commission recommendations have been implemented,
Caltech’s performance in minority recruitment has returned to where it
was prior to 1995. But this, says Hawthorne, is hardly enough.

Lack of Added-Value Incentives

One of Caltech’s biggest problems seems to be convincing a greater
percentage of the African American students who are accepted to enroll.

Despite its image as one of the nation’s most prestigious science
and technology institutions, Caltech appears to lack the added-value
attributes that competitive African American students look for when
selecting an undergraduate school. If, for example, they had been able
to enroll all nine of the applicants they accepted in 1997, Black
representation in the freshman class would have jumped to as much as 4

One attribute the institute clearly lacks is a sizable Black community.

Only two of Caltech’s 313 faculty members are Black — and neither
has tenure, although both are on a tenure track. Besides Hawthorne,
there is only one other Black administrator and while the graduate
student population usually includes a few more Black students, they
seldom interact with undergraduates. The Caltech student population is
two-thirds male, which for some students introduces an additional
social problem.

Another potential explanation for the institute’s low African
American enrollment numbers lies in the admissions process itself.
Unlike most colleges and universities, Liebau explains, Caltech’s
entire undergraduate admissions process was executed by faculty from
its inception in 1891 until 1988. And while the institute now employs
her and her staff, the faculty still has the final say on who gets

As is common for private institutions of its size, Caltech does not
rely solely on SAT scores in screening applications, although as Liebau
points out, “If SAT scores and academic achievement are out of whack,
we ask, `Why?'”

Average SAT scores for Caltech freshmen are between 1430 and 1450
combined, but, according to Liebau, if academic performance is high, it
is possible to be admitted with lower test scores.

The institute has no minimum advanced math and science course
requirements, though it does expect applicants to maximize the
opportunities available to them. On the surface, the admissions
screening process appears to take a holistic approach — which,
theoretically, should prove favorable for African American and Latino
students, against whom more rigid, “objective” admissions criteria are
often the greater hindrance.

No one seated on Caltech’s faculty admissions committee officially
represents the interests of the campus’s minority recruitment and
retention effort. Nor are there any African Americans on that panel.

Another problem appears to be the lack of a formally coordinated
relationship between the efforts of Liebeau’s office and those of
Hawthorne’s. High school students who visit the campus through the
retention programs Hawthorne coordinates, for example, have no formal
contact with admissions staff. Nor is Hawthorne’s staff permitted to
encourage these students to apply.

Caltech’s effort to recruit under-represented minority students
includes: purchasing mailing lists of potential candidates who meet the
admissions requirements, waging targeted telephone recruitment
campaigns, hosting events for high school counselors, and inviting
students who are admitted to visit the institute in the spring at the
institute’s expense.

Among the financial incentives available exclusively to
under-represented minority students is the Presidential Scholarship,
ten of which are available annually. On the surface, it seems these
would be attractive incentives, but the poor results show they are not

“Our financial offers have been very good, I think,” says Dr.
Steven Koonin, Caltech’s provost who admits to being stumped by this
problem. “We have tried to create the right kind of atmosphere so that
students are comfortable. So, I don’t know. I wish I had the answer.

“Basically, our attitude is that we’ve got to make ourselves better
known among qualified applicants,” continues Koonin. “It is hard
because we’re not [better known], even for kids who aren’t
under-represented minorities…. So, it doesn’t help to do the mass
marketing that you might do with a larger university.”

Hawthorne, however, insists it’s not what Caltech is doing, it’s what it is not doing that makes the difference.

“We need to change the Caltech way.” Hawthorne says. “We have got
to open our eyes and observe those institutions that are succeeding and
we do need to imitate and replicate.”

Achieving `Critical Mass’

Legend has it that in 1987. when Dr. John Patrick Crecine assumed
the office of president at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia
Tech), he made it known that one of his goals was to make Georgia Tech
the nation’s leading producer of African American Ph.D.s in engineering
and science.

In pursuit of Crecine’s goal, Georgia Tech not only revised its
approach to minority graduate student recruitment and retention, but it
reengineered its efforts at the undergraduate level as well.

Currently, roughly 61 percent of Georgia Tech’s entire student
population majors in engineering. The public university is not only the
nation’s leading producer of all students with bachelors degrees in
engineering — it graduated 1,413 in 1996 — but it is the
third-leading producer of Black undergraduates in engineering —
preceded by two historically Black institutions, North Carolina A&T
and Tuskegee universities. In fact, among the five leading producers of
Black engineering undergraduates, all of which produce in excess of
100, Georgia Tech is the only one that is not a historically Black

Georgia Tech held its first day of classes in October of 1885 with
129 students. Today, the red-brick campus. situated in downtown
Atlanta, is home to just under 13,000 students, 71 percent of whom are
undergraduates (9,469). It is ranked first in the nation by
engineering-school deans in the fields of industrial manufacturing
engineering, and computer graphics/user interaction. Six of Georgia
Tech’s other engineering programs rank in the nation’s top ten.

The average SAT score for Georgia Tech freshmen in 1996 was 1298.
The institute receives nearly 8,000 applications for admission
annually, and accepts slightly more than half. Of those who applied for
admission in 1996, 1,404 (17 percent) were Black. Roughly one in five
of the Black students who applied were accepted, and one out of three
of these students enrolled.

At the completion of the admissions cycle, the Georgia Tech
freshmen class of 1996 wound up with 1,843 students, 102 of whom
(approximately 6 percent) were Black.

Among the undergraduates majoring in engineering in 1996, Blacks
constituted 10 percent of that population, and they represented 7
percent of those majoring in the sciences. Overall, the Black student
population at Georgia Tech, including graduate students, is roughly 9

Realizing the Vision

Crecine’s vision set the stage for what has transpired at Georgia
Tech since 1987. but achieving that vision has required an
institution-wide commitment.

“[Crecine] changed things for the better.” says Gavin Samms, a
Georgia Tech alumnus who is African American and who now directs the
Office of Minority Educational Development (OMED). “He was pushing
[diversity] and was committed to it. That gave us the freedom to do and
try a lot of things.”

In 1991, Georgia Tech’s OMED program was completely renovated. The
old program, which began in 1979, had succeeded in increasing the
number of Black students recruited to the campus, but too many of these
students never made it to commencement. It was decided that if Georgia
Tech was ever to realize Crecine’s vision, OMED’s retention efforts
would have to be enhanced.

So, Samms explains, the minority recruitment component was removed
from OMED’s mandate and returned to admissions, and the
remediation-focused approach of OMED’s programs was abandoned in favor
of an outcomes-based retention model. Together with an enhanced budget
and personnel, the changes have yielded impressive results.

Not only has the overall attrition rate of minority students
dropped — from its 1986 level of 42 percent to that of 27 percent in
1992 — but the freshman year GPA of those students participating in
the institute’s summer orientation program increased as well — from
1986 level of roughly 2.5 to a 1992 level of 3.0.

“We know that what we do works, not just for under-represented
students, but for all students,” Samms says. “We have tried to position
our programs philosophically in an academic success context rather than
a minority context.”

In 1991, Georgia Tech produced 87 African Americans with bachelor’s
degrees in engineering. By 1996, that number had grown to 130.

“Now that we have critical mass, you don’t have to struggle to see people who look like you,” Samms says.

Samms worries that the institute’s new “blind” admissions policy
and its extension of OMED’s services to all students could slow the
progress the institute has made in retaining Black students. Still, he
believes that as long as the recruitment of African American students
continues at a healthy pace and OMED’s programs are there for them to
use, Georgia Tech will continue to offer a nurturing environment for
African American SMET students.

The Attitude’s the Thing

While overhauling OMED has contributed to Georgia Tech’s success,
Dr. Jean-Lou Chameau, dean of the engineering school, says the attitude
of cooperation that exists on the campus concerning the recruitment and
retention of African American students is the most significant factor.

“We’ve had strong, visible, administrative support for increasing
the number of minorities in the system,” he says, noting that Crecine’s
successor, current President G. Wayne Clough, has given solid support
to his college’s minority recruitment and retention efforts.

“I’m [now] trying to work with Gavin to see that he has all the
support he needs,” says Chameau, who did his undergraduate work at MIT
and who has been at Georgia Tech since completing graduate school in
1984. This is his first year as dean.

Evidence of this cooperative approach is in Chameau’s periodic
meetings with the deans of the other colleges on campus. Where African
American enrollment and graduation statistics are far less impressive.

In response to suggestions that Georgia Tech’s success is largely
attributable to its location in the heart of Atlanta, Chameau admits
this makes it an attractive option for Black applicants. But he insists
that without the will and systemic changes that have enabled the
institution to succeed, Georgia Tech would probably still be struggling
like many of its peer institutions.

RELATED ARTICLE: Student Views From The Top Tier


Matthew Turner, a recent graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, selected MIT over the Ivy League schools on his list
because it offered the right combination of social, academic, and
athletic opportunities he was seeking.

The former MIT student body president and native of Amityville,
N.Y., is currently pursuing a tour in the military, and says MIT did
not disappoint him.

“Originally, this was my fourth choice,” Turner says. “But I guess
the defining experience that convinced me to come here occurred during
my campus visit.

“I approached these two brothers and explained that I was
considering coming here,” he continues. “They told me they lived at
Chocolate City (an MIT dormitory where a high concentration of African
American students live) and how cool it was…. These guys seemed so
normal, [they defied] my stereotypes of what MIT students were like —
and they were so enthusiastic about me coming here.”

Turner was able to fulfill all of his goals while at MIT. He became
active in student government, played on the football team, and was a
star scholar, double majoring in engineering and political science.

He explains that the experience was not, however, without its
trials, recalling a 1993 incident in which he and other students
organized a protest in response to a racial insult that was directed at
one of the Black students.

Turner says the diversity of MIT’s campus is what made it such a
hospitable environment for him. But he admits that for some students,
the experience is different.

“It has a lot to do with how you involve yourself in the
community,” he says. “If you stay in your room studying all the time,
then you probably won’t experience” all that MIT has to offer.

“More Receptive” Campus Culture Needed

Ageyman Boateng’s first experience with the California Institute of
Technology (Caltech) was during the summer before his senior year of
high school in his native Paramount, California, when he attended the
institute’s Young Engineering Scholars Summer (YESS) enrichment
program. He decided then that when the time came for him to attend
college, Caltech would be at the top of his list.

In the spring of 1993, Boateng declined opportunities to go to the
University of California-Berkeley (on a Regents scholarship) and
Stanford in favor of Caltech because the latter was closer to home. He
was one of two African Americans in his class, although he points out
that his fellow Black classmate was more “ambiguous looking.”

“I was the only visibly Black person in the class,” he says.

The computer science major left Caltech last fall without a degree.
He says he spent the last two years in denial about how much he
disliked it, but was too proud to transfer.

“There is a stigma around here that if you can’t hack it here, then
you’re sub-par,” says Boateng, who concedes that it is a mindset to
which he still subscribes.

Boateng now admits that the decision to go to Caltech in the first
place may have been a mistake. He doesn’t blame the institute and
believes race had nothing to do with why he still doesn’t have a
degree, though he plans to transfer to another institution this year.
Boateng faults his own unwillingness to admit that he wasn’t as
hard-core about science as most of his classmates.

As he speaks, though, it is not hard to wonder if the pressure of
being one of so few Black students and someone who didn’t really want a
science career, have equally contributed to his lack of success.

“My impression of what college was like came from A Different
World,” he says, referring to the television show about life on a Black
college campus.

Although he knew Caltech’s Black community was minuscule, Boateng
didn’t think it would be an issue because he had also been one of only
a handful of African Americans in high school.

“But in high school, I got to come home,” he says. “At Caltech, I was in the [campus culture] all the time.”

Boateng doesn’t recall having had any overt encounters with racism.
He actually enjoyed the campus culture his first year. And, he says the
institute does provide support systems for under-represented minority

He characterizes the Caltech campus culture as “more receptive” now
to the cultural nuances of Black and Latino students than it was when
he was a freshman. Still, he says, the perception is that this is not a
hospitable place for African Americans.

“I think a lot of African American students choose not to come here
because they sense that it isn’t the right fit for them socially.
That’s why a lot of them go to MIT,” he says.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he adds, “some people love this place. It just wasn’t right for me.”

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