The academics at MIT are top notch. Classes are designed so you learn as much as possible, but learning at MIT doesn’t mean just memorizing a formula and plugging in numbers. Exams at MIT are designed to test your knowledge and understanding of the formulas, how to derive them, and how to apply them in all sorts of ways. Classes teach you how to think. However, not all classes are taught well. Some professors are more interested in their research than teaching, and and some TAs aren’t good at teaching. Most introductory classes are taught as a combination of lectures by professors and recitations by TAs. In large classes, however, students are allowed to change their recitations. Take advantage of this! Some TAs explain things better, some are easier graders, some are more available outside of class, and some are regular, normal people. Try to go to as many different recitations as you can at the beginning of the term to find out which TA suits you best. The extra time you spend looking for a good recitation will save you hours of struggling later in the semester.
Classes are rigorous, but academic opportunities outside the classroom are endless. One of the best academic programs at MIT is the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). As an undergraduate, you have the chance to work for professors who are legendary in their fields. Get involved with a UROP by letting professors know you’re interested. Given the studious culture of MIT, expect to do a lot of work. Not all your time, however, will be devoted to classes. You will want to get involved in extracurricular activities and research opportunities. Despite the heavy workload, the things you can accomplish within and beyond the classroom at MIT are miles above anything you could do anywhere else. This is what sets MIT apart as one of the best academic institutions in the country.