Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Look to the Future

Today we got a taste of what New England weather could actually be like. After a very early and brief breakfast everyone piled into the car, and we started towards Middletown, Connecticut. On the way there we were battered with pouring rain. I had had a feeling that all the greenery on the East Coast came with a price. Both sides of the road were bordered by dense brush/forest, making it hard to get an idea of where we were. I dozed off before long without knowing it.

The next time I opened my eyes we had arrived at Wesleyan U. Our tour guide, Danny Sullivan, was a rising senior at the school, and a computer science/music double major. While touring the small but attractive campus, he provided us with essentially everything we needed to know about Wesleyan, from its facilities to curriculum and beyond, as well as his personal insight into student life. Wesleyan was the first liberal arts school I had come across, and I was impressed by everything it had to offer—its small, accessible campus, very approachable faculty, very active student community, and freedom to pursue what you want to do. One point he really stressed was the motivation of each and every student to become socially and academically independent, and the passion for what they do, which adds so much to the school’s learning environment. We also learned about its progressive housing system, which requires students to take more responsibility for themselves as they move through college. The tour was followed by a pretty similar information session. I felt like Danny had pretty much covered everything, and the info session reinforced it. Afterwards, we were able the have a private lunch with Northern California’s admissions officer for Wesleyan, Chris Lanser. He was extremely helpful in answering all of our questions, and offered another perspective into campus life, as well as an idea of what the admissions officers look for. Chris explained the Wesleyan U’s philosophy, being a liberal arts school. The advantage of liberal arts is that it what you learn directly connects to the real world. Rather than focusing on learning certain curriculum, it emphasizes on the process of learning and how it applies to what you will do in the future. By the end of the campus visit, I think that most of us were already sold. I know that I was ready to start on my application that instant. The only thing missing from the experience was having students on campus to model the actual school environment—Wesleyan was virtually a ghost town during our visit.
Wesleyan: Beautiful but eerily empty...
Some of the residential halls
Inside one of the libraries
Our next stop was Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. During the tour, I was astonished by the breathtaking campus. Its amazing gothic-style architecture combined with the abundance of plant life (sound familiar?) gave it a unique feel. For this tour, the cohort was split into two groups; I was with Ms. Kaplan, David, and Taylor, and our guide was Sam, a rising junior psychology major. Sam led us all around campus, visiting facilities such as Silliman residential college, the Beinecke Library, and Cross Campus. Along the way, I took some time just admiring the scenery and school environment. What makes Yale unique is that it combines the big with the small: it is both a research and liberal arts institution.  While it has 13 professional schools, most of its attention and resources are directed towards the undergraduates, which is reflected in its student-faculty ratio. While 3-1 in most science programs, it peaks at an astounding 1-1 in Engineering. I wondered how neat it would be to have a personal teacher all to yourself when pursuing your studies. The incoming Yale freshmen are deliberately randomly divided into 12 residential colleges, which is intended to display diversity across the student body. The different "houses" and the considerable competition between them is similar to Hogwarts School in Harry Potter. What attracted me to Yale was its variety and amount of extracurricular activities it offered, and definitely its high-tier academics. It is Yale. However, there's always the intimidating admissions to consider...
Silliman Residential College
Beinecke Library--windows of marble
Inside Beinecke Library
Cross Campus
Wesleyan and Yale surprisingly had a lot in common, other than being in the same state, that is. Just a few recurring themes included: being liberal arts schools, having a stunning student-faculty ratio, need-blind admission processes, meeting 100% of need-based aid for accepted students, no merit or athletic scholarships, having the option to create new majors, and of course, very selective admissions.

The highlight of the day was definitely the dinner with Yale alums, which took place at a top-notch steak restaurant—the Providence Prime. After trudging around in the rain for a whole day, it was really a great way to unwind. The alumni we met with were: Nate, Charlotte, John, and Chris. They were all very friendly and more than eager to share their fond memories of Yale. We had many interesting conversations throughout the dinner, ranging from sailing to brains, and other things that I won’t mention. The food was spectacular and everyone had a great time.
Nate enjoying his dessert
Overall, it was a very intellectually stimulating—albeit tiring—day. Seeing the schools in the rain wasn’t exactly ideal, but I guess it just shows what life might be like if I do end up living on the East Coast. Today has prompted me to take more time to think about college life, admissions processes, and just the future in general. I’m glad that I have this chance to become better exposed and aware to all my options. Tomorrow we spend the day at Dartmouth College. I know that everyone, especially myself, will be looking forward to catching up with sleep on the three and a half hour car ride!

1 comment:

  1. Ying-An,

    Another great description of the site tours. You all seem to be getting pretty much the same thing out of these visits.

    More importantly, you all seem to be getting a lot out of these dinners. SOme of that food looks pretty nice.

    Every year our ILCers write home about how green the Northeast is and I have to have them compare what they're seeing there against what they left here and ask why they think that might be. It's not that they get significantly more rainfall than we do (your downpour not withstanding). What they get that we don't get is a fair amount of snow that lingers until mid spring continuing to water the area much longer than what we could ever expect here.

    And when you think of snow, keep in mind that it's not like the snow you see on TV and in the movies. This snow lasts from October through April, it's cold, it's wet and it doesn't go away when you turn off the TV.