Hi everyone! I just got back from a college tour, which is part of the reason for my lack of post activity. I have some book reviews in the works, but those take FOREVER to write. I mean, I like to write them, and if I did not like to write them, then I would not write them. But, they are time consuming, especially when I have multiple ones I am working on at once. So, I decided to write to describe my recent college tour to put something out there on my blog (after all, isn’t that what a blog is for?). I hope someone finds this interesting, amusing, or otherwise worth their time 🙂
So, to begin with, I went to seven campuses on the east coast. In order, I went to Princeton, Columbia, Yale, Brown, Harvard, American, and Georgetown. Ya know, the unattainable, unaffordable, and unwelcoming ones? But, I’m always up for a challenge. However, the most remarkable thing about this trip, besides the price tag, was how little of my cynicism was reasonable. Overall, the universities were more welcoming, affordable, and warm than I expected.
For a little background, I did very well on the SATs, pulling in a 760 reading score and a 770 math score ( my school did not pay for the writing), and I maintain a 4.0 GPA and 5.0 HPA. So, I thought, why not?
I then mentioned to my dad that it would be neat to actually experience the college campuses in person before applying. We then planned a trip, flying into Newark and out of D.C. and driving using a rental car.
Let me tell you, this trip was f*cking expensive. I mean damn. A freaking Holiday Inn cost my family $200 a freaking night. Yeah, a Holiday Inn. It ain’t the effing Plaza. Not to mention, the rental car company, Avis, took us to the cleaners. $500 baby, with a three-day-early return. And airfare. Jesus Christ, $1100. So, there goes my college fund. Thanks a lot, I appreciate the help Avis, American Airlines, United, Expedia, and Holiday Inn. Love ya.
Now that I have that out of my system, I shall now impart my opinion on these schools here, so if any strapped for cash student wants to hear about my experience, listen up.
Princeton: One thing that can be said about Princeton is that it is beautiful. Seriously, this is one of the most beautiful places I have been. When you hear ‘Ivy League’, this is probably the image conjured. The buildings looked like castles and everything, from the chapels to the restrooms, were amazing.
Another notable facet of Princeton is that frat houses are not recognized. Rather, the students reside in themed housing or little eating clubs. This was a common theme among Ivy Leagues, but some, like Brown, were a little more open with frats and sororities. I thought that this was a good idea, an effort to keep away bad press.
Columbia: The best part about Columbia is not necessarily about the school so much as the area it is in. Centered in NYC, a bustling metropolis, Columbia has many opportunities for students to get part-time jobs or internships to boost their resume. This is mainly why I am interested in Columbia.
Columbia’s academics seem focused around the Core, a set of classes required by all undergraduate students, including a physical education component. Fitting is with a more liberal arts education, Columbia was the most formal when it came down to distribution requirements, which may be a good or bad thing.
Yale: This school was my favorite! It was beautiful, had great academics, and had residential colleges. What are residential colleges, you ask? Well, I had no freaking clue either, but I really like the sound of them. Basically, groups of undergraduates are placed in groups and all live in one little area/building with their own crest and name. Think of Hogwarts in Harry Potter. Yeah, sounds pretty cool, right? That’s what I thought, at least.
Along with this, the requirements were different than Columbia. Rather than having classes be required for graduation, certain areas were required for graduation. So, instead of taking only ENC1101 and only ENC1101 for the credit, you could take a creative writing class, a science fiction class, or a how to write lab reports class. I really thought this flexibility suited me better than the rigidity of Columbia, while not being as loose as the next university, Brown.
Brown: I have conflicting feelings about Brown. On one hand, it is a very exciting school, full of opportunity and freedom. Brown does not have any distribution requirements, a far cry from Columbia’s Core curriculum. That being said, there are many cases where your concentration may require many credits for completion and as an incoming freshman, how does one know what to take?
Another component that had me a little leery was the financial aid package (btw, I’m hopefully going to do another little rant post on this…needless to say, my family cannot afford $60,000 a year, that’s bullshit). All the Ivy Leagues, and most other colleges, provided financial aid packages to incoming students on a need-basis. I really agree with this. How can the best institutions in the world offer merit packages? Isn’t getting in merit enough? Most of the Ivy Leagues provide financial aid without loans, but Brown automatically works a loan into the award. I know that it is only like $5,000 a year, but any mention of loans (and therefore debt) has me running for the hills.
Besides these observations, Brown was a terrific university.
Harvard: Harvard was probably my second favorite school that my family and I visited on the trip. Very similar to Yale, Harvard had area requirements for graduation, allowing for more freedom in scheduling. Again, Harvard also had a shopping period whereby students could try out different classes without committing to a schedule. I really liked this idea, because I am sure everyone has experienced that time when you signed up for something and had the realization that it was not really for you ( there was a time that this hippie lady kept saying I was a crystal child or something, but I was just trying not to piss my pants from laughter. Ah, the good old days). The only thing that was a downside for Harvard was that students had to declare their major at the beginning of their sophomore year rather than the end of the year. I don’t think this would bother me too much, but some people may not appreciate it.
American: The accessible and attainable school of the bunch, I really liked American University. Their internship and study abroad opportunities are what really drew my eye. Being centered in Washington D.C., American had connections in the embassies (half a mile away) and the capitol ( a subway and bus ride away). The acceptance rate was 25% rather than 6%, so I will definitely apply to this school.
Georgetown: This school is probably my least favorite. I just thought it was a tad uppity and rather snobby. That may be just my own impression, and I am sure that there are plenty of nice people who go here ( I had the pleasure of meeting a few). However, the requirements for entrance are worse than the Ivy Leagues and the campus was definitely geared for more graduate students. The main benefit of Georgetown is its situation in D.C. and the opportunities afforded to the students. Overall, while a very prestigious and excellent school, I feel that it was not for me.