Saturday, July 7, 2012

All Brand New

My morning definitely started on the right foot.  I was certainly looking forward to getting a better look of Brandeis University. By 10AM, we arrived the place right on time for the information session. Since I had difficulty soaking in the information from yesterday's session at Dartmouth, I equipped myself with a handy dandy notebook and pen. Admissions counselor Meghan gave us an overview of Brandeis' history, statistics, student life, setting, academics, curriculum, graduate school, and application process (see, I took notes this time). It was interesting to learn that Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and other very successful figures planted their roots in Brandeis. Even the owner of Tootsie Roll and the creator of Friends are Brandeis alumni! What I found most unique about this university is its experiential learning. Brandeis not only provides its students with privileges to study abroad, but also with state of the arts research facilities and paid internships to ensure the best learning experience for each student. Meghan repeatedly mentioned the commitment of each Brandeisian (that's what they call themselves) with their busy schedules. She stressed the fact that every student in Brandeis is highly engaged, challenged, and motivated to achieve what they want to achieve. This is new, I thought. Like I've mentioned time and time again, the school that I come from does not necessarily consist of many college-bound students. It's quite upsetting given the fact that everybody has potential, but no one really has motivation to thrive. I believe it's safe to say that this information session was the best of all I've attended!

I spy Boston!!
Our tour was exclusively scheduled for our group, which was something special. I felt a lot more comfortable asking questions since I didn't have to worry about sounding silly. Throughout the tour, who was led by a rising sophomore named Margaret, I've noticed the modern architecture of Brandeis' buildings. The buildings even had solar fins that help condition the air (in other words, the fins keep the air cool during hot days and vice versa). The past colleges that we've toured lean on a more classic or medieval-looking environment. Brandeis is a lot younger and seemed way more modern than the other places. Its location was also something I highly appreciated because it's near Cambridge and Boston. I'm really a city person and I found it convenient that Boston, for instance, is only 9 miles away from the university. Brandeis' easy access to city life immediately captivated me to want to learn much more. At the end of the tour, I pulled out my pamphlets that individually talked about certain majors (pictured below). Judging by the unwelcoming glares from a few Brandeisans, the atmosphere didn't appeal to me as much as Dartmouth's very friendly feel. However, Brandeis' amazing academics give me a reason to consider this university as being the place for me.

I was extremely anxious about tonight's dinner! It literally took me about 25 minutes to get ready. Being the girl that I am, that set a new record. Our designated restaurant for the night was Mistral in Boston. Upon arrival, we were instantly sent to our private dining room. When Ms. Timmes and Ms. Kaplan asked me for my college preference, I replied with “Dartmouth! No wait, Brandeis! Wait, just kidding! Dartmouth!” I was really that indecisive! I acted like I was already choosing the college that I’d be attending, but in reality, I was only choosing the table in which I’d sit in for dinner. Unfortunately I ended up in neither of those tables. I still kept my chin up and mind open for every possible thing.

Turned out that my table was a mixture of colleges. Carol, Neil, and Mariya are Yalies, Jonathan from MIT, and my personal favorite, J from Dartmouth (yay for Dartmouth!). Around the table, we basically discussed the different systems for each school. I didn’t have much to say about Yale or MIT because my Brown cohort did not and will not tour these schools. I was grateful that J was there. Otherwise, I would have been completely out of the loop. J and I talked a lot about student life in general. I was absolutely fascinated because Dartmouth appears to have a strong sense of community, which I love. Later on, I started to realize that J and I have a lot in common! We both are picky eaters and have one younger sibling of the opposite sex. Another one of our similarities was our love for Dartmouth (his in a deeper, more profound level, of course). It was such a pleasure meeting him and getting yet another insight of a Dartmouth student. I’ve talked to about five by now and everything I hear are positive things, and by the looks of it, they were giving us their most honest opinions about Dartmouth. 
A really huge mixture of people

All of a sudden, I felt the urge to spread my wings and fly to different tables. I aimlessly wounded up in the Brandeis table! I introduced myself and shook hands with each person. I created small talk with Julie Carroll, the assistant director of admissions. I attacked the application process with her and she willingly gave me tips for it, which I am truly grateful for. Then I walked over to Meghan, whom I was more familiar with since she led our information session! I enjoyed our little conversation and I complimented her speaking skills with any way I possibly could. I hope to be able to develop that type of skill by the time I return home.

I was so bummed out that I didn't get to know the Dartmouth crew!
As we concluded the night, I pranced around for group photos and exchanging of contact information. Now that I’m staring at these business cards, I realize how blessed I am to be a part of this program. Ynah and I recently talked about this. Why us? What did we do to deserve this honor of being able to connect with these elite individuals? It’s all still surreal and extremely overwhelming.

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