Sunday, July 18, 2010
The past three weeks in New York and Columbia University have been unbelievable. From being able to learn secrets of the admissions process from admissions officers from some of the world's most selective institutions, to being able to sight see across New York, this trip has been a dream come true for me. This has really been an eye-opening experience for me, and I'm extremely thankful to the Ivy League Connection for offering me the chance to be able to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime program.
I've learned many things from this program, not only about colleges and admissions, but also about myself and the world.
First of all, I've discovered a lot more about colleges than I knew before. The visits to Vassar College, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, and of course, Columbia University itself has really opened my perspective on which college to apply to. I love the Open Curriculum at Vassar and how it is easy to double major there, even in totally unrelated courses, due to the fact that there are virtually no required courses, leaving lots of space open for another major. The Wharton School of Business at UPenn is also really interesting to me, as the curriculum of a major in Economics plus a concentration in an area of business really fits what I would want to take if I was interested in majoring in Business or Economics. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to learn a lot about Yale University's programs, but the campus was beautiful and was the largest out of all the colleges we've visited. As for Columbia, I really grew attached to the campus during my three weeks there, and really enjoyed it's location in the heart of New York City. I also really liked the Core classes at Columbia which ensure that students are well rounded and have a common base of shared classes.
The meetings with the admissions officers from Vassar, Yale and Columbia really helped me learn more about the admissions process and what they're looking for in their applicants. The officer from Yale, Alex Richardson, really explained how they're looking for students who they can see as part of their campus's student body. He also talked to us about how important teacher recommendations are in the admissions process, and that they're looking for more than just grades on a paper, they want people who stand out as individuals that they can visualize as part of the campus. David Buckwald, the admissions officer from Columbia, also helped us a lot in understanding the admissions process. He explained that the schools want students who they think fits their school style, and who are going to help build the legacy of the school. These chances to ask questions about the admissions process and what we they're looking for in applications to people who will be reading our own applications soon was a priceless opportunity that will definitely help me in my college applications.
I've also learned that there is much more out there in the world other than just California. The chance to actually visit some of the world's most prestigious schools showed me that I could apply to more schools than just University of California schools or California State Universities. Also, the opportunity to interact with students from many different places in my class or in my dorm, people from Missouri to Macedonia, really opened my world view to see that there is much more out there and that there is a lot that I don't know. I've really gotten to know the people in my dorm better, through watching fireworks with them, or by helping them find the rat that was in their room. I've really been able to forge connections with this program, not only with the other Ivy League Connection students, but with students from Indonesia, Canada, Seattle, and many other places, as well as admissions officers and even my teacher, Mrs. Zebrowski, who wants to know where we are all going to go to for college.
I also feel that I've matured in the program, away from home, as I've had to take a much bigger responsibility for myself than I've ever had to before. I've grown as a person, and I think that I've definitely returned home a different person than I was when I left. I've become much more independent, and am more open to changes and receptive to others than I was before. I've learned how to survive in a dormitory setting and learned how to do college level work in a college setting. The ability to access and work with the vast array of resources of Columbia also taught me how to do research other than by Googling the information I needed or by looking it up on Wikipedia, and I learned how to look for reputable sources and important names in scholastic research. By the end of the program, I almost felt as if I belonged at Columbia, and that Columbia was a part of who I was, because the three weeks I spent there really showed me what it was like to feel as if I was a part of something bigger. This program really has been life-changing for me, and I am grateful to the Ivy League Connection for giving me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in this adventure. Thank you Mrs. Ishmael, Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, Don, and everyone else who helped make this dream possible for me!
Posted by Winston Long at 3:39 PM