5.0: The highest grade point average possible at MIT. An A is worth 5 grade points, a B worth 4, a C worth 3, and a D worth 2. A 4.0 GPA at MIT is a B average.
Athena: shorthand for MIT campus computers. Athena computers run Ubuntu Linux and provide a vast collection of third-party software, including popular packages such as MATLAB, Maple, and Mathematica. Originally an innovative education project known as Project Athena, started in 1983.
Brass Rat: The MIT class ring. Called the brass rat because it is made of gold and features a beaver.
Coop: the MIT and Harvard bookstore. A one syllable word; not pronounced co-op.
Course: A major. For example, someone who is "Course 6" majors in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science. See list of Course numbers.
defrosh: to acculturate to MIT, hopefully during freshman year.
FSILG: Fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups. Refers to MIT housing that is not a dorm. FSILGs were the first university housing at MIT.
hack: (noun) a clever, benign, and ethical prank or practical joke, which is both challenging for the perpetrators and amusing to the MIT community. (verb) to execute such a prank. Also: hacker (noun), one who executes such a prank.
HASS: Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.
hosed: having a lot of academic work to do. Perhaps derived from the phrase, "Getting an education from MIT is like drinking from a firehose."
IAP: The Independent Activities Period. Four weeks of fun and interesting academic and non-academic activities, in January (and sometimes into early February, depending on the calendar).
IHTFP: an unofficial motto of MIT. Can have many meanings. Common expanded acronyms: I Hate This Place; I Have Truly Found Paradise.
Infinite Corridor: the main hallway of MIT; MIT's "Main Street." One-sixth of a mile long. Said to be one of the longest straight corridors in the world.
prefrosh: a prospective MIT student; usually a student who has been admitted but has not yet decided to enroll.
pset: A problem set, the usual MIT unit of homework. Usally due on a weekly basis. (Also: p-set, PSET)
punt: to not do academic work; to goof off or have fun. antonym: tool
recitation: a subset of a larger class, guided by a TA, to discuss the topics covered in lecture, the problem set, exams, and the text.
Smoot: a unit of length, approximately 5'7" or 1.70 m. The height of Oliver Smoot '62. The length of the Harvard Bridge is 364.4 Smoots + 1 ear.
TA: Teaching Assistant. Leads a recitation section. Can be a professor, a graduate student, or an undergraduate student.
tomb: An enclosed, out-of-the-way space created when a new building is put next to an old one without fully coordinating the floorplans.
tool: to study, to do academic work. antonym: punt
unit: the measure of time commitment and credit for a class at MIT. Three MIT credit units = one semester hour at a "normal" college. A typical MIT class is 12 units. In theory, a unit roughly corresponds to the amount of time a student spends on the class each week.
UROP: the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. The umbrella program for undergraduate research at MIT, said to be the oldest program of its kind. Used to refer to both a student in the program and their project.