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

1 comment:

Don Gosney said...

I really enjoyed this, Adrianne. Thank you for sharing. And the photos really added to the post.

It sounds like SLC may be that perfect for for you. Congratulations and good luck.