Thursday, June 16, 2011

Considering the Ivies

After a quick blueberry scone and a strawberry smoothie, we were off to New Hampshire. The car ride was three and a half hours to Hanover and we were all very tired from the night before. I was still in the shotgun seat as co-pilot/navigator which did not give me much opportunity to sleep. Instead of dozing off and in between giving directions to Ms. Larson, I did a lot of thinking about this trip.

Before the Ivy League Connection trip to the east coast, all of my college choices were in California. Now that I’m here in Rhode Island, I’ve reconsidered my decisions. Although California has the best weather in the nation, I feel that if I choose to stay there I will not experience the true seasons that are on the east coast. I have lived in California for almost 17 years. Perhaps it is time to explore the rest of this great country.

I was awoken from a small nap (yes, I was slacking as co-pilot) by Ms. Larson who started to scream and slow the car down on the freeway. She was freaking out at a gargantuan brown bird that was flying across the road, which swooped in front of us barely missing the windshield. The temporary shock lifted and we laughed hysterically at the entire situation. Cohort #1 has grown very close in the past three days. Ms. Larson is a fantastic chaperone and a strong woman for driving five teenagers through three different states. Kathleen and Erinn are wonderful and humorous roommates. They are a pleasure to have as company. Andrew and Frank are very sociable and there is never a dull moment with them. This is the part of the ILC where we create lifelong friendships.

The hot weather welcomed us to Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. The college is surrounded by flat woodlands which makes Dartmouth isolated but also a hidden treasure. I was very impressed with the student tour guides. Every student that we met was passionate about their school. They are in love with Dartmouth. They refer to it as their home. As a loyal Spartan at Pinole Valley High School, I am a huge supporter of school pride and spirit. Dartmouth is plentiful in both. All the students know the alma mater song and a huge amount of them participate in campus traditions like the welcoming bonfire and parade. Seeing that students are so enthusiastic about their studies and community gives me hope. This is something I rarely see in the Bay Area. We also had the honor to see the president of Dartmouth College, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, in the flesh. He waved and joyously welcomed us to Dartmouth. All presidents are celebrities on college campuses.

Cohort #1 met John Beck (Dartmouth Admissions) and Peter Chau (also from Admissions and a Pinole Valley High School alum) at The Canoe Club CafĂ© which is right across the street from the campus. They were very informative about the admissions process. They urged us to strive to be more honest than creative in our essays. An admissions essay is an applicant’s only opportunity to talk about themselves to people that do not even know them. I considered this and agreed with Peter. Blogging and journaling really exercises our writing skills. I feel as if I am developing as a writer by blogging every day.

John Beck led us back to the campus by totally jay-walking diagonally across the crosswalks (Hanover loves pedestrians, unlike Boston). We immersed ourselves in historical artifacts at the Raun Special Collections Library. I got to flip through the original Book of Mormon which was amazing. The idea of holding a book that inspired an entire religion was unreal. The book was blotched and yellowing with age, but it was still THE one and only book. John then took us to the basement of the Baker Library. The Mexican muralist Jose Clemente Orozco painted the entire room with his work “The Epic of American Civilization”. I did a research paper on Orozco in Spanish class last year and I had made it a life goal to see one of his works in real life. Who knew that I would be able to check that off my list a few months later? I cannot wait to tell my Spanish teacher.

Peter talked to us in the shade on the grass outside. We chatted about what we should start doing right away to get a head start on the admissions process. I found that talking to an alum that was relatively young was more comforting and understanding. He knew what we were going through and he gave us great tips. Most importantly, Peter told us not to wait until last minute to finish everything. The earlier the start, the better (and less stressful). I am proud to know a Pinole Valley High School and Dartmouth alum. Peter said that because we are in the Ivy League Connection we have what it takes to get into a great school. I plan to make that true.

Although it has only been three days on the east coast, I have developed a fondness for Rhode Island and the surrounding states. I like the different pace, weather, people, and city life. During our long car rides I went into some serious thought about applying to Ivy League colleges. I cannot wait to get to Brown. Ms. Larson says that I will love it.

Frank, Andrew, and I decided to get some exercise in the fitness room at Hotel Providence today. Andrew and I ran a mile and a half on the treadmills while Frank pedaled on a stationary bike.

We are building memories and staying healthy. What a wonderful experience so far! We’ve been here for three days and it feels like three weeks. I love our productivity.


  1. Erin,

    I can see why you are very happy with today's blog. It sounds like your eyes are opening to the possibilities life after high school has to offer. Yes, California is a wonderful place but I agree that if you have an opportunity to experience life outside of California you should certainly go for it. You will either gain a greater appreciation for the place you call home or you will establish a new one.. just like dad did here in California.

    The weekend is coming then off to Brown! I'm interested to know how you like it there and how much you learn.

    Continue to explore and discover opportunities! It sounds like your traveling buddies and chaperon are good fits for you and each other.

    Love and laughter,

  2. It seems like you guys are enjoying yourselves immensely over there!! I can't wait to be at the East Coast myself! Glad you guys are having fun!!

  3. Erin,

    You keep writing about your pensive thinking process you go through while "co-piloting". I don't want to burst any bubbles but I've seen Andrew's photos and what you call "thinking" the rest of us call "sleeping".

    And by the way, your role is more accurately referred to as "navigating". Unless your rental car has a steering wheel and pedals on the passenger's side as well as the driver's side, then you can't co-pilot the car. You can do plenty of side seat nagging but it's not the same.

    I'm still amazed that they let anyone touch that old Book of Mormon. If that book were at Cal it would be under lock and key and only certified registered historians and academics might get a chance to see it and even then they could only touch it under strictly supervised conditions following archival protocols. The oils, acids and dirt in our fingers could easily destroy a book of that age. Plus, the risk that a zealot might destroy it is very real.

    Several of you have written about this book but no photos? You break my heart.

  4. Erin,

    One more thing. If you talk to the police they'll tell you that eyewitnesses to a crime are notoriously unreliable. I'm seeing evidence of such by reading the Brown-I blogs.

    What I'm reading is that you're riding in either an Escalade or a Tahoe. Also, it took either 3, 3.5 or 4 hours each way to Hanover.

    How can I trust any of you when you can't even get your stories straight?

  5. I like your point about school spirit. I understand because of marching band. When school spirit is positive and constructive and everyone in the group is included, it feels like the best thing ever. I think Brown will be a lot more unified than ECHS and probably most of the other schools in the WCCUSD in that respect. It's interesting.

    You've inspired me to wikipedia Jose Orozco. The fact that you got to see his mural and actually touch the original Book of Mormon is amazing!


Real Time Web Analytics