Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Conneticut College Circuit

After a day in Connecticut, two tours, Nardelli's in Middletown, and lemon sorbet with Yale alums, I think we've finally grasped the meaning of a liberal arts education. Honestly, I dismissively had not considered it as an option nor, like most students, really knew the implications. Today's tours really revealed the benefits. The long drives have also been primetime for jetlag-recovery napping and Mr. Crosby's travel tips.

First stop: Wesleyan. 
While we unfortunately missed the chance to meander down Middletown's Main Street hub, our guide Danny brought us up close and personal with Wesleyan and the unique campus living. The charming campus is centered around the giant green complete with a baseball field and a fabulous view from the hill where Van Vleck Observatory is situated. There's the Olympic-sized pool and the ice rink which at times doubles as a concert arena in the centralized fitness center, where working out alongside professors is not uncommon. Themed program housing adds to the sense of community which attests to the ease of access that the institution is all about. 

The podium in front of Wesleyan's Olin Library
where Obama was the commencement speaker in 2007.

Wesleyan's philosophy revolves around the impassioned, driven undergrad student body. The cozy environment of 2,800 undergrads and the 9:1 student-staff ratio fosters a standout of strong involvement. As a student interested in outreach and looking to continues those pursuits in college, I was struck  by the fact that 80% of students are involved in community service. Wesleyan's student body- two thirds of which partake in athletics and half of which study abroad- feels very close-knit and proactive, but it also reaps the benefits of a larger research university. For example, the funding and research opportunities for undergrads is the highest among liberal arts colleges. Students also have access to professors in a small class size setting. It was fascinating learning about the  5 for 4  life sciences program, and I'm glad to be opening my eyes to incredible new options. All I could think of was an analogy to the tip of the ice berg of the Center for the Arts (a labyrinth of underground tunnels and basement music and art studios accessible to all students).

New England foliage is lovely, rain or shine.

I confess, I'm in love with the New England foliage. Just strolling down to the admissions office from our New Haven parking lot, I marveled at the foreign plant life. I'll take long limbering oaks over wildfire-prone California chaparral any day. There's something serene, which just impels me to grab a book and plop down in the shaded green- and I'm not much of a reader. Even under overcast skies, the light filters through the leaves alluringly. It's not just the architecture which makes this place a wholly different world.

Yale's Old Campus freshman dorms

Then there was New Haven. It's easy to feel daunted by the enormous prestige; I feel like you never have to ask alums why they chose to become a Bulldog (after all, it is Yale.) However, by the time of dinner at Providence Prime with Yale alums Charlotte, John, Nate, and Chris, I felt a lot more at ease. Part of it was visiting the campus, because when Yale is so absolutely breathtaking and not at all intimidating, previous expectations and misconceptions vaporize. Although I didn't get as comfortable with the university as I felt with Wesleyan, Yale has an amazing community which sets itself apart. Yale's shopping period does the most for students, and the residential colleges invigorate the whole social scene and university experience. It's beyond admirable, and I'm thrilled for all lucky enough to live it.

Beinecke Library's 800,000 volumes of rare manuscripts

Theodore Dwight Woolsey's lucky left shoe.

1 comment:

  1. What happens in a hundred years when that left shoe has been rubbed so many times that it's just a stump? Even from this photo I can see where the patina of the bronze has worn through so the shoe is brass colored.