Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Tale of Two Cities: the College Edition.

I won't argue with the fact that I got very, very lucky this year.  A lot of people never get the chance to apply to college, let alone get packages of financial aid that makes attending actually feasible. After looking at my choices of 7 schools, 3 of which were UCs, I narrowed my list down to 2- NYU and American. With the ILC's help, I had the opportunity to attend admitted students days at both of these colleges.

NYU's Admitted Student Welcome!
NYU's "Weekend on the Square" took place on Sunday, April 21. I woke up with enough time to shower, dress, eat breakfast and still arrive early, but due to an elevator's technical difficulties I shot out of the hotel doors with only enough time to grab a taxi. With a freshman class of about 4,800, it was no surprise to see that the line to get into the arena was horridly long. I forgot all about the wait, however, when I stepped inside Cole's Sports Arena. It almost felt like a concert, or TED talk- a huge stage, spot lights, a giant screen were all incorporated into the presentation. After the welcome speech, I went over to the College of Arts and Science, where I was accepted to study economics. They had a separate welcome video there, with more specific information on the college, like its alumni and its job placement rates.

After the CAS session, I had the opportunity to talk personally with my financial aid officer. They even played Disney's Beauty and the Beast while I was waiting! I really appreciated being able to talk to someone in the financial aid office, and I'm really grateful for the package that I received. 

The gate at Washington Square park. Most of NYU's
campus is centered around this area.
New York University is proud that they are "in and of the city". But for someone who's from the opposite coast, having no campus is rather intimidating. I definitely felt better after a campus tour, however,  seeing as the majority of the buildings were centered around Washington Square Park. The park almost functions as a quad for NYU, and plenty of students were out studying during the gorgeous Sunday weather. The hustle and bustle of the city is extraordinarily alluring to someone like myself, who always likes to have something to do. At the same time, it's slightly scary to feel that you can't retreat from all the noise and people.

Some ofAmerican University's campus. Too bad I just
missed the cherry blossom festival!
On Monday I woke up early and ready to catch my train to Washington DC.  American is just outside of DC, a 20 minute bus and metro ride to the Washington Monument, which is an enticing factor as I'm deciding between the two. In any case, I arrived at American an hour early to Check-in so I took the chance to walk around the more traditional campus. The weather was a little colder than New York, but still sunny and crisp. I returned back to McDowell Hall, where the admitted students overnight would start, and introduced myself to a few other students who had also arrived early. People were from all over, though I had travelled the farthest. 

AU at sunset is a gorgeous sight to see! 
I had another "Admitted Students Welcome", though less ornate than NYU's, and then a campus tour. American's campus has an "academic quadrangle", where the all the buildings surrounding the quad have classes in them. I applied to the College of Arts and Sciences, again for economics. American has a gorgeous campus, one that also prides itself on being almost entirely environmentally self-sufficient, which I think is really cool. After dinner at TDR (Terrace Dining Room) we were all assigned our hosts. Unfortunately, my host, Sam, had a final and an essay due the next day so I went with the group to see the monuments.

The Lincoln Memorial is gorgeous, especially at
night. Watch out for those marble steps though!
The last time I was in DC I was in 8th grade, and significantly less mature than I am now. This time around, especially after taking AP US History, I got to more thoroughly enjoy the history behind each monument. After walking back from the Lincoln Memorial (see how casually I said that? It'd be an everyday trip if I decided on American!) I got to meet up with my host Sam. She was really fun and really nice- you have to be nice to agree to have a complete stranger in your room for a night. We went to sleep decently early, as I was exhausted from a full day of travelling and she was in the ROTC and had training in the morning. The next day I had to say goodbye to the friends I had made because I had to run to the airport to get home. 

I'm so glad that the ILC gave me this opportunity to see both the campuses that are options for me. I honestly don't know what I would have done without being able to see them. I've been struggling for a while about where I want to spend the next few years, and loving both of the schools didn't really help. Even after just a day on campus, I remembered how much I loved living like a college student while I was at Brown. I know I can't wait for next year, wherever I end up!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

The college admissions process is almost over for the class of 2013, and what a life-changing and eye-opening process it has been. I applied to eleven schools and was accepted to three - UC Santa Cruz, Sarah Lawrence College, and University of Arizona - and waitlisted at Barnard College. I had convinced myself for a long time that staying on the West Coast for college was not for me, as I wanted to move out, meet different types of people, and become accustomed to a new lifestyle. Therefore, I sent in my Student Intent to Register and deposit to Sarah Lawrence College, which I visited last summer with the ILC and loved. However, even though I sent in my SIR to SLC, I was very conflicted about Barnard College. I had lusted over Barnard since fall, and when I discovered I was waitlisted I was thrilled at the opportunity to have another chance to prove myself to them (note: Barnard's acceptance rate was a record low of 20.5% this year, so I was shocked that I was not rejected). I sent in a packet of additional materials to Barnard, and I wasn't sure if I would de-commit from SLC and re-commit to Barnard if Barnard accepted me. It was a very confusing time for me.

I decided to take some time off from school and go to New York. I made this decision for two reasons: one, I needed to get my thoughts sorted out and figure out which school was better for me, whether Barnard accepted me or not. Second, I really wanted to go to SLC's all-day Admitted Students Day and  get a feel for the school. My Aunt Pat, who lives in Long Island, NY, graciously offered to chaperone me for my four-day trip.

My plane took off from the San Francisco International Airport on Friday morning. The flight went by smoothly; to be honest I slept during most of it. I landed in New York in mid-afternoon and spent the rest of that day spending time with my aunt, uncle, and cousin. We went out for cuban food, watched movies, and went over my schedule:
  • Saturday: Tour Barnard  
  • Sunday: SLC Admit-Day 
On Saturday my aunt drove the both of us to the city. I was really excited to see New York City again, as the month that I spent there last summer at Columbia was one of the best months of my life. When I walked on Columbia's campus again, a wave of nostalgia ran through me. 
Entering Columbia University!  
North Side of Columbia's campus 
Lawn before College Walk, with a great view of the library and alumni statue 
Barnard College is located right across the street from Columbia. Here are some facts about Barnard:
  • Barnard's official title is "Barnard College of Columbia University", meaning that Barnard is Columbia's sister school and they have a partnership with one another. Essentially, Barnard and Columbia students can go to each other's campus events, join one another's clubs, and take classes at each campus. While each school has its own identity, it is considered "the academic and extracurricular best of both worlds." 
  • Barnard is an all-women's college. However, it is possible for Barnard students to dorm at Columbia 
  • Although Barnard is partnered with Columbia, Barnard students do not partake in Columbia's Core Curriculum. Instead, Barnard students are required to take a First-Year Studies course, First-Year English, and nine distribution requirements 
When I got to Barnard, I was taken away by the beautiful architecture, which is the same as Columbia's. However, I was dismayed at the realization that the campus is incredibly small. The facilities were nice but the small size of the campus did not sit well to me. During the college applying process I didn't dwell too much on types of campuses but I now know that I really like spread-out but not too large campuses. 

After talking with one of the assistants in the admissions office, I came to the conclusion that Barnard may not exactly be the school for me. Little things picked at me, such as the fact that Barnard doesn't actually have their own study abroad program like they advertised in their catalogues. A Barnard student has to apply as a guest for approved study abroad programs - for some reason that bothered me because the resource isn't readily available to me. The assistant also admitted that much doesn't go on around on the Barnard campus and that Columbia has the more exciting events and many more clubs than Barnard does. I felt that if I went to Barnard, I would be gravitating more towards Columbia and would be spending more of my time there. I would obviously want to spend some time there but not all of my time - that was another thing that bothered me.

Being on the Barnard campus allowed me time to reflect and put my thoughts into focus. Barnard is a great school, but is probably not the school for me. I was so grateful that I got the opportunity to realize that now instead of being conflicted about it for weeks. 

Welcome to Barnard College, ladies!  
Barnard's opening gates 
Barnard's lovely statue 
A taste of Barnard's beautiful architecture 
Aunt Pat and I spent the rest of the day in the city - we went shopping and then went to MoMa (Museum of Modern Art) and had a great time. Then we went to our hotel in Yonkers and got lots of sleep in preparation for SLC's Admit Day. 

As Aunt Pat drove up to Sarah Lawrence, I couldn't help marveling at how beautiful the campus was and that this was truly the place where I was going to spend the next four years of my life. We made our way to the large tent in the middle of a lawn, where we signed in, got breakfast, and sat down while we waited for the Dean of Admissions to make a speech.
Westlands Tent! 
Students and their families arriving for Admitted Students Day 
Here's the information that I soaked up during the different panels/events that I went to: 
  • Opening Address: Essentially, every student admitted to SLC deserves it. We're all intellectual, smart, amazing people. Sounds basic, right? Not at all when the Dean of Admissions tells you this, with a follow up from the President of SLC. President Karen Lawrence commended us for making it through the college applying process, congratulated us on getting accepted, and reminded us that we WILL have dinner with her during our first-year at SLC! 
  • Alum/Student Panel: SLC alum and a current student gushed over the many opportunities that they were given at SLC, including internships (the proximity to NYC is 20-30 minutes away by train/car) and the chance to work with great faculty (number one in the nation!). Hearing their SLC stories and updates on their current lives was truly inspiring.
  • Theatre at SLC: I walked into this workshop by accident. I was meaning to go into Student Life but ended up with the wrong group. However, I learned so much! The director of the program, Christine Farrell, opened my mind up to the possibility of doing theatre at SLC. I starred in the school play in seventh grade but absolutely hated the process, and ECHS' theatre program didn't actually become a legitimate theatre program again until this school year (therefore making it too late for me to join). My view on theatre has been dreary due to those experiences, but it was enlightened again after this workshop. Ms. Farrell informed us very early that the theatre program is not a conservatory, but a studio - students are there to learn and grow from one another. The program is so broad that if students are ready to design/build sets, direct, or write plays their freshman year, they are allowed to do so. The faculty want their theatre students to be well rounded, so they will not only be acting in plays, but learning how to write scripts, design sets and costumes, and do a certain amount of hours of theatre tech. I've heard that the plays at SLC are fantastic, and while I can't wait to see them when I come here, I'm even opening my mind up to the possibility of being in them! 
  • Study Abroad: Sarah Lawrence has great study abroad programs in amazing locations - Florence and Catania (Italy), Paris (France), Havana (Cuba), Berlin (Germany), Greece, Turkey, a year-long program at Oxford University in London, and two advanced theater programs in London. I was especially interested in the Florence, Italy program, as I've been lusting over the opportunity to take Italian in college and spend a semester or year abroad in Italy during my junior year. 
  • Student Life: I picked up some packets and marveled at the wide range of clubs, community service, and fellowships that will be at the tips of my fingers since I will be a SLC student! 
  • Spring Collective (Diversity Lunch): I was really excited to find SLC's diversity/students-of-color organization. They held lunch in their diversity center, which was absolutely delicious. SLC's Diversity Organization supervises a variety of subgroups, which range in focus from support to social events, activism to literary magazines for women of color, to community service to international feminism. The atmosphere was racially and politically diverse and full of creativity, which is exactly what I'm looking for. I was floored by this amazing group of people and can't wait to check them out in the fall. 
  • Conference Work: At SLC, students take 3 classes per term (5 credits are given for each class). A big chunk of the class is conference work, which is a project - either a term paper that can be 20 pages, independent study, research, you name it! Students meet with their professors every two weeks to talk about not only their highs and lows in their classes, but their conference work. By requiring students to do conference work, SLC is essentially preparing freshman to do a senior thesis from the get-go.
  • Daniel Day-Lewis: Yes, the internet rumors are true - Daniel Day-Lewis was at SLC admit day! No he was not there to act, he was there to spend the day with his son, Gabriel, who was checking out Sarah Lawrence. It was quite touching to see them both there. I thought it was great that SLC respected Mr. Day-Lewis' privacy and allowed him to spend the day with Gabriel and not swarm him for autographs. However, I do consider myself lucky to have sat near him! 
All of these events and information reassured me that while Sarah Lawrence has small, they have a big enough sense of community and diversity. The location (very convenient - a quiet suburb with great proximity to the city), the resources, the friendliness, the diversity of class offerings, personalized attention, and diversity within the students convinced me that Sarah Lawrence is truly for me. This is the best place for me to spend the next four years of my life. The professors really seem to care about the students - not just their academic success but their well being. After my time away and having the opportunity to experience a different lifestyle, I feel so grateful that this experience was put into focus. 

Again, I'm really thankful for my dad for paying for this trip, my mother and sister, my Aunt Pat, Uncle Walter, and Cousin George, the ILC, and Connor Miller for emailing me about SLC (so great to finally meet him!). I have grown so much since beginning the college process. Thank you all so much. 
Admissions building! 
Beautiful cherry blossoms 
Campus tour heading towards the President's house 


Students walking around the lawn

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What’s in Poughkeepsie?

Taking advantage of the ILC’s Fly-In Program, Emily Hayashi Groves is visiting New York City and then Washington, D.C. to check out a few of the schools she’s been accepted to.  Here is her first blog:

First off, sorry about this huge block of text, but it's hard to write about New York City without rambling!

I got in to Newark, New Jersey the night before last, and went straight to Grand Central Station to catch a train to Poughkeepsie. "What's in Poughkeepsie" you ask? Honestly, not a whole lot. But that is where my sister goes to school at gorgeous Vassar College. She's currently a junior and is majoring in Japanese and education and loves it there! It's only a couple hours out of the city and is an amazing school for anyone who's looking for a smaller liberal arts college. In any case, I stayed there on Friday night, and went to the city the next morning.

After Olivia, my sister, checked me into the hotel I got to drop off my bag and walk around NYC, which is an experience that, I think, everyone should enjoy. Because NYU doesn't have an official "campus", it's just a collection of buildings near Washington Square Park, I toured around there and Greenwich Village.

The Village is an amazing place; it's really quirky and almost reminds me of Berkeley! There are a lot of cafes and bistros, and a bunch of tiny little parks that are fun to sit and people watch from. I could easily see myself spending four years there. 

After eating at a little cafe, I met up with Olivia and a couple of her friends from Vassar to go to Chinatown and Little Italy.

NYC is both whimsical and systematic in their streets. For the most part, they make a lot of sense, but there are always a few streets that either dead-end or suddenly start and completely disorient you. We managed okay, and I had a chance to eat some legitimate sushi! After a few more wrong turns, we made it to Ferrara's, a pretty well known gelato place that was indescribable in its deliciousness.

Saturday night I went out to dinner with my sister and a few of her friends. We went to an Indian restaurant that had awesome food but really awful service—where we went afterwards totally made up for it though! I went to my first comedy club (tickets were only $5) and it was a lot of fun. There was a lot of stand up and everyone was hilarious. There's always something I do in New York, which is a definite factor in where I choose to go. I made it back to my hotel room pretty late, but had to wake up relatively early to get to NYU's "Weekend on the Square".

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Perils of Packing

After all the stress I endured while preparing to leave for and from Brown last summer, I can't believe that I forgot how difficult packing is. I can heave baggage off of a conveyor belt, endure hours of sitting between two loud breathers with no concept of personal space, but the hardest part of going on a trip will forever be the packing. I like to start by piling everything that I want to take on my bed. For five days, that's about enough to fill 3 suitcases. So I start picking things out- will I need a parka? Probably not. 8 pairs of shoes? A little extensive.

It keeps going like that until what's left can physically fit into the case. But now, even as I second guess the outfits I've chosen, I keep glancing over at the suitcase filled to bursting. It's so very hard to focus on anything other than the fact that I, in a few short hours, will be on a plane to New York City (all by myself!). I'll be there visiting NYU, and on Monday I'll take a train down to Washington D.C. to stay over at American University. I'm really excited to explore both of the campuses and the cities and I can't express all of the gratitude I have for Don, Ms. Kronenberg, and Mr. Ramsey for making this trip possible for me. But for now, those few short hours between now and my flight are becoming shorter by the minute, so I'll just focus on getting on the plane and see how it goes from there.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How Can We Blog If You You Don't Teach Us How?

On Saturday April 13th the ILC held the first two of four tutorial sessions where our new ILCers gathered to learn how their blog sites work, how to use the tools on Blogger and what we’re looking for in their blogs.

We’ve established some formatting protocols that we want our ILCers to follow so their blogs are pleasing to the eye and there’s some conformity to their blogs.

We also show them examples of “good” blogs and examples of “bad” blogs so they can learn from the examples set by previous ILCers on what makes a successful blog and what will put their readers to sleep.

We had seven ILCers and two chaperones in our morning session and then eight ILCers in our afternoon session.

While everyone was prepared to participate in the hands on sessions where they could post some practice blogs and get some direct instruction on what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong.

Unfortunately, since we were using a District computer lab and needed to access the District’s Internet service, we were flummoxed due to some firewalls put in place to ensure that District staff and students don’t accidently go to inappropriate sites.  How they might see our blog sites as inappropriate is beyond me but there were no District staffers available on this Saturday to provide us with access.

Oh well…

As frustrating as this was, it didn’t stop us from proceeding with the numerous other items to be discussed.

We discussed some of the things the ILC expects from our ILCers, we explained about how to behave, rules they need to follow while back east, what to pack, what kind of loaner items will be available for their use, a few laundry tips, instructions on how to take better photos, what to do with those photos and whether Evil Don should come to the homes of our ILCers.

It would have been very easy to allow these barriers to have shut us down but everyone worked very hard to find ways to proceed.  This is the kind of thinking we like to see.

And for the record, the next two tutorials will be at a venue where we will be able to do what the tutorial is set up to do.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Reflection on the Trip to UPenn

I would have never expected to visit UPenn for preview day. Fortunately, the Ivy League Connection has a Fly-In Program which allowed me to visit for 3 days. While I was there, I learned so many things about Penn ranging from the social life to academics. 

To start off, there are lots of things to do within the school and community. The school is known as the Party Ivy and in fact, students were preparing for one of the largest parties of the year known as Fling. Aside from the parties and fun, students have a wide variety of clubs and programs to join. Also, Philadelphia is a major city so there are plenty of internships available for students. During the preview day, there was an activities fair that showcased many of the student organizations. This exposure allowed me to gain a brief overview of the many interests students share at the school.

During my tours, I was able to learn about the different college houses there. There are a total of 11 houses that either have a small, medium, or large community. What I learned is that each house is unique in their own way and they all have pros and cons depending on your personality. For example, the students in the larger communities/high rises tend to have a more comfortable living area but do not get to socialize as much with the other students living there. This is something I will have to think about coming in as a freshman. Also, I found it really interesting that the four different colleges are interconnected. For example, I was accepted into the College of Arts and Sciences but I will still be able to take courses offered in the other colleges. This is great because I'll be able to expand my interests. One of the most fascinating things I learned about Penn is that the courses offered are really diverse and this allows for students to be flexible in meeting their course requirements.

I was actually surprised that I felt pretty comfortable at UPenn. Of course having Dyana, Alex, and Christina there played a big part, but not only that, I felt like I could actually see myself there for the next four years. It was really a great experience visiting Penn again. I was able to somewhat understand the dynamics there at the school. I must say that I was already set on UPenn the instant I received admission. However, I was unsure of how I would feel there. But after the visit, I can say that I am definitely excited to go to UPenn and I am looking forward to becoming a Quaker in the Class of 2017!

Reflection On My Weekend in Pennslyvania

I've visited so many colleges during the duration of my high school years, but no trip has felt as surreal as the one to Pennsylvania last week. It was a bittersweet feeling, as I am excited to start the new chapter of my life, but also oddly nostalgic and weird because I knew I was about to make one of the most important decisions of my life. When I toured colleges last year, I thought that college was too far away for me to feel like this, even though I am admittedly one of those people who began researching colleges in 8th grade.

Penn was great and I learned a lot about it during my time there. In just one day, my mom and I were introduced to almost the entirety of Penn, including its departments, classes, majors, etc. I really enjoyed how Penn was such a big school, but still felt so small. I met people in Wharton take classes in CAS, students in SEAS (School of Engineering and Applied Science) take classes in Wharton, etc. The combinations were endless, which is good because I don't want to be attached to a particular major/school. Other things about Penn that were great included its social life -- it is not called the Social Ivy for nothing! I feel like most people in Penn really understand to balance school and social lives, which the university almost teaches the students to do. I think this skill is essential, not only in college but also throughout life. The surrounding environment in Penn is vibrant and bustling, as there are always students in nearby restaurants or shops. There is a lot to do around Penn, and though Philadelphia has a bad reputation for being unsafe, Penn is actually one of the safest campuses. The security is camouflaged nicely but always there to make students feel secure and safe.

Admittedly, there were aspects about Penn that were less appealing, too. For example, Penn's CompE program is very new (only 3 years old), which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it has no track record or statistics for students that got industry jobs immediately after graduation or students who went to great graduate schools. Penn is ranked incredibly high for other types of engineering, including Bioengineering, but not for my specific field of study. It isn't too easy to transfer departments, so on the off-chance that I don't like SEAS, I don't have that much liberty to transfer to Wharton or CAS.

Overall, I learned a lot from my final college tour before selecting my future school. It was again a nostalgic experience, as I realized how quickly my high school years are coming to an end. It's a weird thing to think about, but my excitement for college definitely outweighs the somewhat sad feelings.

For now, I am pretty set on matriculating to UC Berkeley for Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). Yes, Cal has a reputation for having huge classes and low funding. However, this is not true for EECS majors -- most of my classes are the same size as what classes are in Penn. I'll have the same attention from the professors, the same focus, funding, opportunities, research, and more. I'm extraordinarily excited to be a Cal Bear, especially because Cal just beat Stanford on rankings and took the #2 rank in the world for what I want to study (only behind MIT)! I can't wait for the next four years of my life and what is in my future, and though my future career seems blurry now, I'm sure this time next year will be more clear.

I again thank the ILC for everything it is done for me, including sending me to Penn to tour last weekend. It was eye-opening and exciting and a nice way to conclude touring colleges -- at least for another four years, when I start touring again for possible MBA schools!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Snapshots Along the Way

Roger drafted this blog with just a few snapshots he took to share with us.  It may be presumptuous for me, as the ILC Blog Administrator, to post this on his behalf but these are some interesting photos and the world deserves a chance to see them.  Roger is invited to remove them at any time without prejudice.

Don Gosney