Monday, June 27, 2011

College Visits Day 1-4

Day 1 Friday - Columbia
An early departure, well early for summer, and mildly uneventful trip to New York City mark the beginning my first long string of college visits. First stop on the tour is Columbia. Columbia's information session takes place in the most filmed classroom in the nation. Highlights from the admissions officer included a string of bad jokes and a focus on the Core Curriculum. The Core is the academic hallmark of a Columbia education. (I would discover over the course of the next few days that most of the schools have the exact same litany advantages: Small "average" class size, focus on undergraduate research, 100% of demonstrated need-based aid will be met, the list goes on.) The trick, or at least my trick, is to find one special thing about each college to remember that will stick with me. The Columbia campus is beautiful, an enclave within the heart of the city. There is a belief that New York should be used as a resource for learning and many classes go downtown as part of the curriculum.
Day 2 & 3: The Weekend
Saturday involved a trip into NYC with my Dad and the two Scarsdale cousins. We went into Times Square and got half-price tickets to see Chicago. With a slight detour to visit the Harry Potter Exhibition, we headed off to the theater to thoroughly enjoy the Chicago revival. After the show ended, we returned via trian to the suburbs and headed out to Fairfield , CT to stay the night with some old neighbors. Sunday morning we visited the new Jesuit house at Fairfield University. Then we swam in the near-by lake before driving up to Boston. Early afternoon brought us the Boston suburbs, where we hoped the Green Line into the city. Once there, we walked over to the Boston Commons. There we played some frisbee. (A very good player joined us for a bit. He likes to play shirtless apparently.) After a enjoyable time where we learned a new throw, we walked along the Freedom Trail to the wharfs. After enjoyable dinner and ice cream, we returned to the hotel and promptly fell asleep.
Day 4: Monday - Harvard & Tufts
An other early rising. An aborted drive to Cambridge, and a better thought out 'T' trip to Harvard marked the start of a sunny Monday in Boston. Our visit to the oldest college in the United States was a mainly positive one. The admissions officer offered some good insight into the application process and what it means to apply to a selective school. Harvard isn't always looking for well-rounded students. Rather, they admissions staff is responsible for creating a well rounded class. This means that they will sometimes pick very not-well-rounded people to admit in order to fill out the class. (An attempt to rationalize why good students don't get into Harvard.) The important thing about Harvard to remember is the "house system" of upper clansmen housing and the rich Harvard tradition. After our Harvard tour concluded, we grabbed a taxi and headed out to Tufts. Here we were greated by an especially insightful officer. He posed some truly thought-provoking questions (I'll finish up with those), as well as discussing the small college feel that Tufts holds onto even as a small university. Our tour guided lead us through the beautiful campus, which is also quite hilly. Apparently it's good sledding. Also, there are 25 shows per semester, all of which need Tech. I don't hink I'll be out of work in college. Here are some questions you should answer about college before you apply:
Where am I going to be in a year? Why do I do the things I do and how do I do them? Why do I want to go to college?

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