Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"We're Looking for Intellectual Curiosity"

Today was our first day of class after the three-day weekend. Naturally, we were all a little out of it as we were used to sleeping in and hanging out. But after adjusting for the first few minutes of class, we were all ready to become educated and hardworking students again! 

In the beginning of class, we had a very interesting discussion on the merits of two of the authors of the books that we were reading in the class (thanks to the ILC for providing the books, by the way!). 

After that, we moved onto individual presidents that each of us had to read up on. I had to talk about Eisenhower, and we talked about how his history in the military and his "behind-the-scene" style of leadership affected his presidency, and the presidencies after his. Right before class ended, Mrs. Z handed back our outlines for our papers, and she had several points on mine that I think really helped clarify some of the parts I didn't know what to do with.

In the afternoon, we did library research again, but the important thing that happened today was that we had a chance to talk to David Buckwald, the admissions officer from Columbia University for our area! He really stressed that they were looking for people with "intellectual curiosity", and that they look at a lot more than just scores and grades. 

He also stressed the importance and weight of teacher recommendations in their application process, which was really useful to know. Finally, he elaborated on the differences between Columbia's engineering school and their school, which was really enlightening on the way that engineering students were put in classes and how their schedules were like. It's really useful to talk to admissions officers to see what they like to see in applications, so I'm looking forward to seeing Penn and Yale on the weekend!


  1. It was very gracious for David Buckwald to meet with us for such a lengthly time.

  2. Winston,

    I'm glad that the advice about the teacher recommendation resonated with you.

    We try to stress the need for students to cultivate a good relationship with a teacher or civic leader who can write an impressive letter of recommendation for you.

    You don't want a teacher who barely knows you and might write on of those generic letters where they simply insert your name in the appropriate space.

    You also want to give that teacher plenty of time to write that letter and provide them with stamped self addressed envelopes.

    The idea is to make it as easy as possible on the teacher. Wait until the last minute and you shouldn't be surprised if the letter comes across like it was written with someone who's unhappy with you.