Thursday, July 7, 2011

Progressive Independence

Today was quite the adventure. The ILC’s original plan was to have our cohort visit Bowdoin University today, but we realized that making the four hour drive to Maine would be incredibly impractical, especially because we would need to be back in Boston for dinner at 8:00 PM. We instead decided to tour Wesleyan University in Middletown, Massachusetts, which was a pleasant surprise for me because of all of the great things I had heard about it.
When we arrived, my expectations were met or even exceeded. The information session and tour themselves weren’t necessarily extremely impressive, but it was still easy to see all of the positive things that the university had to offer. The campus itself was beautiful, with unique and breathtakingly beautiful architecture. We learned about the First Year Initiative classes, which were specialized classes created entirely by the professors, and how freshmen should really take advantage of this resource. I also learned about Wesleyan’s longstanding commitment to diversity of thought, interest, and ethnicities, which is something that is extremely important to me. Another feature that I liked was the progressive housing system, in which you are required to become more independent with your living situation with each year. This desire for social and academic independence among Wesleyan students was something that all of the speakers stressed, and one feature that was especially attractive to me.

Our cohort was able to sit down with the Northern California admissions officer for Wesleyan, Chris M. Lanser, as well as Cora Shen, who had graduated from Wesleyan the year before. Both of them were extremely knowledgeable and helpful, and really sold the school to me. From Cora I was able to get a better understanding of student life, which is something you are unable to get a sense of during the summer. She was also extremely helpful in that she came up to me afterwards and made sure to inform me of other things that may interest me, as well as elaborate on barely-touched topics.
Chris Lancer was able to provide insight to what admissions officers at Wesleyan look for. He said that although Wesleyan has a diverse student body, they look for students who are “comfortable with being uncomfortable”, and are ok with being pushed to try new things and think in new ways. They also look for well-rounded students who value and can contribute to the community, and can take advantage of resources that the community has to offer. . After this interview, I was essentially convinced that I should apply to Wesleyan.
Later that night we had dinner at #9 Park in Boston with Brown alumnus Amy Tan. This restaurant is one of the highest-rated restaurants in Boston, so we were all dressed our best. Amy answered all of our questions and also asked to us about ourselves and our interests. She informed us about Brown’s Third World Center (its center for diversity), what it had to offer, and what problem issues it tried to resolve or created. We also had other conversations about topics such as Teach for America and ethnic and socioeconomic discrimination. I found her to be refreshingly honest about every topic that came up, and also extremely diplomatic. The food was phenomenal, and we left the restaurant full and enlightened.
Finally I would like to complement Ms. Larson’s driving. She has been the most attentive, patient, and cool-headed driver, and was able to survive as we tried to caravan through Boston. Our “caravan” of two SUV’s got lost on the way to dinner, but this meant we were able to see a great majority of Boston. Ms. Larson has also been an excellent travel companion during our last few days, which is extremely fortunate considering the incredible journeys that we have made so far. We always have a great time, listen to the radio, and talk about topics of interest. Today she told me about her experience in the Peace Corps, which was extremely inspirational for me.

Overall today was a great day. I learned enough about Wesleyan that I am seriously considering applying to it in the fall. I was also able to get perspectives from admissions officers, current students, and alumni, which gave me a broader understanding of the entire college system.

1 comment:

  1. Caroline,

    I don't know it tasted but those photos of your meals sure looked enticing.

    It's a shame that the tour of Wesleyan wasn't better for you. We've always had good luck with those tours. At least they recovered--with a vengeance--with the people you were able to talk with. And apparently the campus wasn't too bad on your eyes.


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