Frequently Asked Questions about Admissions
For Prospective SHBT Students
By SHBT alumna Courtney Lane
Updated by SHBT students Sofia Vallila, Jon Sellon, and Ann Hickox (2011)
Q: Where can I stay while I'm interviewing?
A: Interviewees typically are housed with a current student. We believe that staying with a student is invaluable because you get to talk one-on-one in an informal setting. Feel free to pump this student for information! Also, please let your host know when you will be arriving and leaving, so he or she can make sure to be available for your entire stay. More information on who to contact regarding staying with a current student during your interview will be available in your interview information packet and email.
Q: What's the dress code?
A: We recommend business formal attire for the interviews. It's not required, but most men wear jackets (with or without a tie) while women wear a skirt or slacks. Interview day will be your most formal day. Any activities purely organized for students will be informal. Feel free to wear comfortable (warm!) clothing. We pack a lot into interview weekend, so be sure to layer for the cold and be comfortable enough to be at ease over the course of a long day. Be sure to check in on the weather in the week leading up to your visit. Boston can have cold winters and snow covered sidewalks, while other lucky interviewees can see Boston under a beautiful, crisp sun... Either way, you'll want to come prepared!
Q: Can I be reimbursed for my interview trip?
A: Yes. You will be reimbursed for train or air travel, and you will receive more information about reimbursement with your interview packet.
Q: How do I get around the Boston area?
A: The most common way for us poor students to get around is to take the T (Boston's way of saying "subway"). Most of the places that you will need to know about are on the T. The airport is on the Blue Line, Airport stop. On the Red line, MIT is at the Kendall/MIT stop, the Mass. Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) is at the Charles/MGH stop, and the Harvard Cambridge Campus is at the Harvard Square stop. The Harvard medical School is on the Green E Line, at the Longwood medical Area stop. See www.mbta.com. Also, you can take a cab, although it's a bit more expensive.
Q: What is the purpose of the interviews?
A: The interviews (which will last pretty much the whole day) are to both recruit you and to determine if you are a good match for the program. In keeping with this idea, there will be some fun events that you can attend, including dinners with current students.
Q: Why do I keep hearing about the MEEI? What is the MEEI? And what is EPL? And why are there so many acronyms?
A: The MEEI is the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and it's where a large chunk of Speech and Hearing faculty and students have their labs and do their research. There are three big labs at MEEI: EPL, CIRL, and JVL. EPL is the Eaton-Peabody Lab of Auditory Physiology, CIRL is the Cochlear Implant Research Lab, and JVL is the Jenks Vestibular Lab. Many of your interviews will be held at the MEEI, which is right around the corner from the Charles/MGH T stop on the Red Line.
Q: What does the SHBT program have to do with MIT? Why are some present SHBT students at MIT rather than Harvard?
A: The program was administered by MIT from its inception in 1992 until 2011, so many present SHBT students are MIT students who will get a degree from MIT. In 2011, the program moved to Harvard to better match the overwhelming Harvard faculty participation in the program. Some MIT faculty continue to participate in the Program, and Harvard SHBT students may work in their laboratories.
Many MIT-based SHBT researchers belong to the Research Lab of Electronics (RLE), which has almost nothing to do with electronics. RLE is located in MIT Building 36, where some interviews may take place. Groups in RLE that have SHBT faculty and students include Speech Communication, Sensory Communication, and Auditory Physiology.
Q: What should I see while I'm in Boston?
A: I really don't know--it depends on your interests! Attending the student dinner will allow you to go out with several SHBT students and to see some cool parts of Boston. Some of my favorite things are wandering around Harvard Square and having a cup of tea at Lulu's Tealuxe, or a beer and meatloaf at John Harvard's, strolling down Newbury and Boylston Streets (Green Line, near the Arlington stop) to look at the fancy people; or visiting the Museum of Fine Arts or the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Green Line, Museum stop). Of course, there are all those plays, symphonies, and sporting events, but chances are there won't be much time for that this time around.
Q: How's the weather?
A: Who knows how it will be when you come! It could be 6 or 60 degrees--check the forecast. When I came up from Houston in March to interview long ago, I forgot my coat--I nearly froze to death. Do not forget your coat!
Q: Can I see a lab while I'm visiting?
A: Absolutely! You are definitely encouraged to contact faculty members to schedule appointments to talk to them. In fact, it's an excellent idea and shows that you are really interested in the program. Given time constraints for the weekend, the best time to do so would be on Thursday afternoon before the interviews. That being said, you will get to meet quite a few faculty members the day of the interview. If there is a group that you're particularly interested in visiting that you will not be interviewing with on Friday it definitely makes sense to try and get a visit in as it is unlikely you'll have a chance to do so that weekend after the interviews are over.
Q: Do I need to bring my papers, thesis, resume, etc.?
A: If any of these were attached with your application, then the members of the admissions committee already have them. As for your thesis, it's unlikely anyone will have the time to read it. If you have a paper or figures from your research that were not attached to your application, then you can bring along a copy if you wish. What's most important is to be able to talk about your research and interests fluidly and enthusiastically. Be prepared to answer questions about your previous work.