Friday, July 6, 2012


Visiting Brandeis University was yet another unique and amazing experience. We went to an information session and a tour today, and during dinner I got to mingle with some Brandeis alumni and admissions officers. Brandeis is a huge research university, and is also very focused on social justice.

The information session was definitely the most accessible info session out of the three that I have been to on this trip. The admissions counselor who was leading the session, Meghan, was very informative and enthusiastic about what she was explaining. She covered a lot of topics regarding Brandeis' academics, admissions, and financial aid. Additionally, she had a powerpoint that was really helpful in allowing me to follow along with the presentation.

I was interested to hear that Brandeis has general education requirements that are similar to Dartmouth's distribution requirements. According to Meghan, a lot of small liberal arts schools have these kinds of general ed requirements; these schools want their students to have a holistic education, and explore subjects outside of their majors. I think this is a great way to make sure people have a well-rounded education while still being able to take subjects that interest them.

Brandeis is also similar to Dartmouth in that students have several options for majoring, and can even triple major and triple minor! I think that I would rather focus my studies on a couple areas, but it's still nice to have that option.

Brandeis has a holistic approach to student's applications, so they look at each section as part of a whole and try to evaluate the student in context. I think it's important to not just look at one test score or just the transcript of a student, so I like this approach. Dartmouth is similar to Brandeis in that it also has this holistic approach to looking at prospective student's applications.

Brandeis offers financial aid based on need, and also offers merit scholarships. This is the first school that we have toured so far that offers merit scholarships in addition to financial aid. This has been a concern for me, although there will be options outside of a specific college in terms of getting merit scholarships and other types of scholarships.

After the info session, we went on a tour that was led by a Brandeis student (a "Brandeisian") named Margaret. She took us all over campus and went in to a lot of detail about housing, food, and life on and off campus in general. We even got to go inside a freshman dorm, which was really nice to experience. We also passed a castle that is on campus - sophomore students can live inside it! Margaret told us a lot about different meal plans, and what she recommends for freshman. She pointed out several different cafes and food areas on campus. It was also interesting to hear about what sort of events go on both on campus and off campus. Brandeis is only 9 miles away from Boston, and there is a free shuttle for students to the city, so students visit a lot. However, there is always a lot happening on campus, too, including concerts, theater performances, and many interesting Brandeis traditional events.

After heading back to Hotel Providence and relaxing for a while, we went back to Boston to have dinner at Mistral. This was the largest dinner of the trip, I think, with over 40 people in attendance. Students, alumni, and admissions officers from Brandeis, Dartmouth, Yale, MIT, Wellesley, and Brown all came to dinner with us. I mingled with several different people at the beginning, and eventually ended up at a table with several people who had graduated from Brandeis. Julie and Meghan (our info session presenter!) are admissions officers at Brandeis, and are also graduates of Brandeis. Liane and Alana both graduated from Brandeis as well. Everyone at the table had countless positive things to say about Brandeis, which was encouraging. I talked to Alana about her experiences living in the dorms, her major (she is a politics major), and what extracurriculars she did at Brandeis, among other things. Everyone at the table gave great advice regarding applying to schools; I've heard from them and several other people that it's important to write an essay that really shows something personal about you and that is genuinely important to you.

Everyone looking fancy before dinner

At the end of the dinner, I went to the Dartmouth table and introduced myself. Dartmouth has been my favorite school so far out of the three we have visited, and the Dartmouth students and alums that I talked to tonight and yesterday have made me feel even more strongly about wanting to apply there in the fall. Everyone who attends Dartmouth just seems to love it so much, everyone is intellectually curious, and everyone has a big sense of community with the school and with each other. From talking to a couple of the Dartmouth grads, I discovered that Dartmouth is a great place to go mountain biking. This was exciting for me because I am on the mountain biking team at my high school, and I think it's a really fun and thrilling way to experience nature.

Our dinner table

Overall, today was interesting because I am really starting to compare and contrast the schools that we tour. I had a good experience at Brandeis, and I enjoyed hearing more about it and about Dartmouth from the people at dinner. Tomorrow should be exciting as well - we are touring Harvard University! I'm really looking forward to it. 

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