Monday, April 26, 2010

Syracuse University


My name is Stacy Chan, a 2009 Ivy League Connection alumnus who traveled to Ithaca, NY last summer to attend the Hotel Management Program at Cornell University.

Since then, I have a lot on my plate, since college decision letters have all been mailed out. I only have a week to decide which school I want to be my alma mater, and I must admit, this is, by far, the most difficult decision I have ever made in my academic career and my life, in general. As of now, I have narrowed my choices down to two: Syracuse University and University of California, Berkeley.

What I appreciate most about ILC is its effort to provide the sufficient resources to me, even after I have completed my summer excursion. Thanks to Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, Mr. Gosney, Ms. Kim and others, I was able to travel to Syracuse with my dad over the weekend to take a glimpse of the college life and the Syracuse experience.

Coincidentally, there was a Spring Reception on Friday (the last one that Syracuse was holding); it was perfect, since I did not have to make any extra accommodations with the admission officers or make any other arrangements. It was all right there for me.

My day started out by going to the Goldstein Auditorium, where all admitted students and families gathered for a warm welcome. The Dean of Admissions spoke to the crowd and soon thereafter, everyone dispersed into different directions, based on which school they wanted to see. Since my main focus was journalism, I jumped right to the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

After walking to the building, Dean Lorraine Branham was standing on the podium, awaiting all the admitted students. She was ready to announce her opening remarks and of course, congratulate the class of 2014. After the speech, students and families separated and went into discussion groups based on the admitted student's interest. Some of the different majors included Advertising, Public Relations, Television-Radio-Film, Magazine, and even undeclared, for those who are still unsure of which path to pursue. For me, it was easy, since I knew Newspaper and Online Journalism was one of my definite goals.

Along with my dad, I headed to the appropriate classroom with a bunch of other students, led by Christen, a current student who double majors, one of which is in Magazine, and has a minor as well. Professor Steve Davis was on hand to answer any questions and to provide a glimpse of the journalism life at Newhouse. He told his personal experience and informed us that he had to travel to several places throughout his life to stay involved in the media realm. For example, he took some career offers and were also dropped from some. In addition, Christen was able to provide a better portrait to admitted students. She noted that although there was a huge database of graduates to reach out to, the students--the majority of the time--had to find time on their own for internships or any other work experience. Both the professor and the current students' experiences put journalism into perspective for me--it is not a field in which opportunities will be handed to you nor are they easily accessible.

Later on, the professor told the class that all Syracuse students are required to have a major and a minor. Students, however, are unable to pursue both studies at the same school. Therefore, despite my passion for both Newspaper and Online Journalism and Magazine Writing and my interest in Broadcast and Digital Journalism and Public Relations, I can only choose one field. Coming to Syracuse, I had no idea that this was the case. The professor did mention that all Newhouse students will have the same foundation, as they will all go back to the basics. I have always perceived the Newhouse school as a place where I can thrive and tap into all the different subfields within journalism. Thus, personally, I felt uneasy when I found out that I would be limited to learning the ins and the outs of only one particular field. Moreover, having learning about the requirement of having a major/minor, the concept of a dual degree, all of a sudden, did not seem as foreign or stand out unusually to me.

After this session, my dad and I split off. He was with the other parents and sat in on the Dean's presentation, while I, like other students, went to another room where current Syracuse students held a brief Q&A session.

Afterwards, all parents and students gathered under one roof (the stadium dome) for lunch. Encircling the dining tables were booths where students and some representatives acted as patrons for their clubs/programs.

To conclude my day, I decided to go on the dorm tour, and I was fascinated by the camaraderie that existed. The representative gave us a tour of co-ed floor, and I must say, of all the schools I had visited, the dorms there were the nicest. In addition, we took a brief tour of the facilities offered to students as well as the dining hall.

Overall, the trip to Syracuse prompted me to think about my future more closely, including my academic and career goals and whether I would like to pursue graduate school undoubtedly. In addition, it made me question what I look for in a classroom setting, think deeper about my preferences in terms of learning new concepts and material, and essentially, pay attention to the characteristics I possess as a scholar and what works for me.

Lastly, wherever I end up, I know for a fact that it is up to me to make the best of my education ultimately. With the existing help and support from the ILC family and Ms. Kim, I am reassured that the school I end up choosing will certainly be the best fit for me. Again, I want to thank all the ILC members for their continuous support.


Don Gosney said...


Thank you for the VERY thorough telling of your trip to Syracuse.

What's nice about what you wrote is that it clearly explains that you didn't just walk around or drive by for a 'look-see'. You took the time to see things as you might as a student.

We all realize that there are limitations to what you can see on a campus visit and these visits are never the same as when you are actually enrolled but your type of a visit is far better than just reading about the school on the Internet,

I hope, Stacy, that just because Cal is in your own backyard that you're not making assumptions about the school without checking it out, too. It might be well worth your time to pay them the same type of visit and check out a few of the classes before making your decision.

Keep in mind that I attended Cal long before it really got crowded but still we had more than a thousand students in some math, chem and poly sci classes. Attending a smaller school can mean you get the kind of personalized attention that you're paying for. I really can't imagine that it's less crowded now.

I wish you well as you make that tough decision.

And thanks again for your great posting here.

Don Gosney said...

On behalf of Sue Kim--


I, too, want to congratulate you on your extremely thoughtful write-up. You are asking yourself exactly the right questions and I'm glad this trip provided you this unique opportunity.

You didn't mention how you felt in terms of connection and "gut" feel at the school. It's important to ask if you can see yourself there (or Cal) for the next 4 years. It sounds like the students you met were engaged and friendly, especially at the dorms. Pay attention to your instincts since this is usually the most important factor in terms of "fit."

With regards to your observations about the Newhouse graduation requirements, allow me to share some thoughts:

Keep in mind you don't need to declare your major until your second year. Until that time you will be able to take courses in the various specialties that interest you. The fact that you have so many areas of interest within the field of journalism is a good thing and Newhouse will help you to decide what you want to specialize in.

I think a good analogy is a student who goes into engineering; she takes specialized courses in the first 2 years to decide which specialty to go into. Ultimately a student chooses electrical, materials, chemical, etc., but not all three.

In similar fashion, by taking several core classes in magazine writing, online journalism, etc. will help you to choose which area is your 'thing.'

As you are no doubt aware, there is no journalism major at Cal for undergraduate students--only at the Graduate School of Journalism.

I agree with Don and encourage you to visit Cal--spend some time in the Media Studies department. The emphasis there is on the effects of media on culture and politics and touches on sociological implications. Unlike at Newhouse, this interdisciplinary major does not emphasize media production, which is, I think, of the most interest to you--the practice and applications of print media.

So, if major is the important factor in your decision tree, know that at Cal, you will be exposed to various types of writing, through either an English major and/or media studies, but you will not graduate with a journalism major. At Syracuse, you will be learning about very specific forms of communication production applications and can major in the area you develop the most passion for.

Ultimately, as mentioned before, for most students it's all about "fit" and culture -- where do you truly see yourself for the next four years? Where will you be the happiest? That is the right school for you.

Sue Kim
College Counselor