Friday, July 6, 2012

A Glimpse of Brandeis

The Science Center!
Today’s adventure began with a tour of Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Like the Dartmouth tour, we began with the info session first. An admissions counselor named Meaghan McHale did a wonderful job presenting Brandeis, especially for those who aren’t familiar with the college. I personally have never heard anything about Brandeis, so the info session really helped open my mind up. I learned that Brandeis has a total of 3,319 undergraduates and about 1,800 graduates. It is 9 miles west of Boston, and I found that pretty cool because unlike Dartmouth and Wellesley, it’s a lot closer to the city life. I mean, I doubt that a lot of students spend most of their time in the city since Brandeis is filled with activities. They have 250 different types of clubs; raging from a Cheese Club to a Democracy for America club. The average class size of a Brandeis classroom is 17 and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. Like Wellesley and Dartmouth, Brandeis strives to give their students a more intimate learning environment, where the staff can get to know a student in a personal level. I’m starting to like the idea of being in a smaller college where I can get one-on-one attention from my professors. It scares me away from wanting to sit in a lecture hall where a professor talks AT you and 600 other students. Brandeis requires 32 courses to graduate, with a chance to fulfill that over the course of 4 years. Though it is a small liberal arts college, it is a major research facility that has more undergrads doing the work in campus. It hones their skills and they end up with more tangible research information. They also encourage experiential learning and like Wellesley and Dartmouth, they have a lot of study abroad programs.

Brandeis castle
All three colleges strive to have a close relationship with their communities. In one way or another, they create networks within their own students that then reach out to their communities. In Wellesley, I felt a more vibrant sisterhood bond since it is an all-girls school. The women of Wellesley College are really all about empowerment. I respect this 100% and I love the idea of surrounding myself with motivating, successful women.  Dartmouth students have a really tight bond with one another and also with the school itself. Our tour guide, for example, waved and greeted almost every Dartmouth student that passed by. That was awesome because he made it seem like everyone is really close in Dartmouth. There are a lot of activists in Brandeis and most are all about social equality and helping out in the community. I really loved this idea of being surrounded by people who really care about social issues.
Inside a  Brandeis dorm
However, unlike Wellesley and Dartmouth, Brandeis offers merit scholarships. I found this really appealing because I love the sound of scholarships! They’re also a need based college and vows to meet 100% of a student’s demonstrative need. They do the CSS profile and allow financial aid. It seems to me that most colleges do offer a whole bunch of financial aid opportunities. I never even thought that I would be considering such prestigious schools because I didn’t think I would be able to pay for them. These past few days of touring different colleges not only motivated me but also informed me about out of state colleges. I can’t wait to share all of this information to my friends and family back home.
We got a chance to tour the campus and visit an actual Brandeis dorm. There were two things that fascinated me about Brandeis. First, they have this state of the art science department hall called the Carl J. Shapiro Science Center. It helps reduced energy costs of the whole science department by 30%. And it looks really really nice inside! The other thing would be the fact that there’s a castle inside Brandeis… and it is actually a residence hall. I mean, how many students can say that their college has an actual castle?! We wrapped up the Brandeis tour and had lunch at their Faculty Club restaurant. The girls and I had some downtime and then met at the lobby before 5 PM to head to Boston for a dinner.
The ride to Boston was interesting since David, Ying-An, and Kelly joined us. Emily and Iris rode with Ms. Kaplan and the rest of the Brown I group. We heard many stories about Brown life and it seems that none of them really want this trip to end. This is their last week in Providence and I have a feeling I will be wishing for the program to be longer when I reach my last week.
After having a small conversation with Mariya, a rising junior of Yale University, all I could think about was what I really want for myself. I asked her what I could do to prepare myself because I’m really considering applying to these top colleges. All she said was that I need to have passion for what I want. I mean, I understood what she meant because ever since I was a little kid, I would be teased. All the little kids in grade school would call me a cry baby, and when I got to high school, I was the “drama queen.” People made fun of me for just caring so much about the things I do or the things I experience. I used to hate being really emotional, but now I’m realizing that these emotions just make me who I really am. So what if I want to cry and feel worried when I hear about children in the Philippines that have to walk miles and miles to get to a school? I actually want to someday help these children and I think that the fact that my heart desires these types of things let me know that I can do it. I am capable of doing what I want to do with my life as long as I put my heart into it.
 I was seated with Guy Sanchez, a Brown alum and Joan Becker, a Wellesley alum. Both were great company. Joan explained a lot of things about Wellesley, including admission and student life. She also told a whole bunch of stories that made Maddie, Emily, and I laugh so much. Thanks to Joan, I’m encouraged to take my chances in an all-girls school and I will try to look into little ivy colleges also. Even though I had already spoken to Guy during the last dinner, we had a better conversation during the Boston dinner. Since I don’t know a whole lot about Brown in terms of its social justice branch, talking to Guy encouraged me to look do more research on it.  Towards the end of dinner, we had a brief talk about admission and applying. He gave me a lot of tips on what I could do with my senior year of high school. Guy and Joan both left their hometowns for college, so they answered a lot of questions regarding the new weather. All I can remember is Joan saying that during winter in Wellesley, you might have to drop looking “cute” if you don’t want to have wet feet. I learned that being practical is much more convenient and beneficial when it comes to East Coast weather.
The coolest Dartmouth students!
During one part of dinner, I floated over to the Dartmouth table, where a bunch of Dartmouth people were. June was also present. She even introduced me to three current Dartmouth students. Let me just say this… Dartmouth students are the best students you will ever meet. Ever. The first thing them was how they like Dartmouth and before I could even finish saying Dartmouth, all I heard was “I love it. I love it. I love it!”  They were so full of energy. They gave me confidence because they kept telling me that they will see me there one day. I couldn’t really ask them a whole lot about Dartmouth because I already know much of what I wanted to learn and because they were partly engaged in conversations about Dartmouth life. I didn’t want to interrupt that because they were interesting.
I’m going to state the very obvious and say that the ILC is a really amazing program. And I’m going to keep saying that until I get sick of it… which is unlikely because I’m enjoying all the encouragement I’m getting from the program.

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