Friday, July 8, 2011

Wait, are we actually at Hogwarts?

Mariko and I awoke around seven thirty this morning to begin today's adventure: our tour of Wellesley, an all-women's college in Wellesley, Massachusetts. We left Hotel Providence at eight thirty, and, unfortunately, it was pouring rain. I was surprised that while it was raining very hard, the air was still warm. The drive to Wellesley did not take very long and before we knew it, we were pulling up to the admissions office.

We were originally going to attend the information session as well, but it was decided by the chaperones, my dad, and Mrs. Kronenberg that we would attend the later tour and then get lunch. The admissions ladies were very friendly, offering us free coffee and hot chocolate. They also had a cubbord full of free brochures and packets about Wellesley.

After looking at the brochures for about ten minutes, we were taken downstairs and met with our tour guide, Anna Pinchuk! Anna is currently a junior at Wellesley and is an Admission Student Assistant. She is double majoring in Cinema Studies and Spanish. Throughout the whole tour she was very upbeat and informative about Wellesley. It was apparent that she loved the school very much.

Interesting facts about Wellesley: 
  • Anna said there are about 2,300 undergraduates, which means there are about 500 people per class. There is no graduate school at Wellesley, but there is an 80 percent graduation rate in the college. Class colors are assigned like Hogwarts, so the Class of 2016's color will be green like Gryffindor. 
  • There are about 54 majors, and there are minors at Wellesley, too. Each minor is also a major, except for Education. 40 percent of students, like Anna, double major.
  • The dorms were very nice; they were probably the nicest I've seen out of the two dorms rooms we've seen (we didn't see the dorms at Dartmouth). Double rooms go to underclassmen, and singles go to upperclassmen. There is no air conditioning in the dorms, but it is pretty non-affective. Students can buy/rent fans if they really cannot handle the heat. 
  • The campus is very active. There are over 150 clubs/organizations, and a lot of fun campaigning can go into that. Wellesley is a Division 3 school, with 14 varsity sports, and even a Qudditch team! While we did not get to visit their sports facilities, Anna noted there is an indoor pool, tennis courts, a gym, and indoor and outdoor tracks. There is also a two semester Physical Education requirement, and Anna noted she took a Salsa dancing class! 
  • As for Macbook and PC use, there is a 50/50 share. Wi-fi is in all of the buildings, as for the lawn, Anna did not know.
  • The "First Year Mentorship" program interested me the most. Freshmen are assigned a "Big Sister", and on Flower Sunday, they meet their mentor. Their mentor presents them with flowers and they have brunch together. I am in the Brown mentorship program, so I also thought of that. 
The biggest question that came up during our tour was: "Is it weird to be in a school with only women?" While I feel that if I were to go to Wellesley - or any all women's college, for that matter - it would take a little getting used to, seeing as though I've been through the co-education system since preschool, I could adjust well. A lot of the girls on the tour - not even the ones in our Brownie group - seemed a little uncomfortable about the thought of going to a single-sex school.

Anna answered the question with grace. She reminded us, as she had stated at the beginning of the tour, that she had been through co-education before college as well. She said, "Academically, single sex educations can be intimidating due to socio-economic education. But, by attending Wellesley, I feel like I have gotten a sense of empowerment. The social life is how you make it."

She also made it clear that about 46 percent of Wellesley professors are male. So, while there are more female professors, the male perspective is not completely demolished by attending a single-sex college. Also, Wellesley does a cross-distribution program with schools such as Olin School of Engineering and MIT, so sometimes a "brave male" will end up in a Wellesley classroom.

Anna stated that while it is nice to have the male perspective, being in a classroom with only women can bring them closer and give them a new perspective on discussion topics, which I found interesting. It was also nice to hear some of the Brownies state, "I'm hoping my mind will change about single-sex schools after we finish the Women and Leadership course."

The Wellesley campus is absolutely gorgeous. The architecture is breathtaking, and the campus is lush with nature. It definitely reminded everyone of Hogwarts, and when we went down an off hand (or secret, as Rebecca referred to it as) staircase, everyone thought of the marvelous and frightening secret passageways seen in the Harry Potter films.

After our tour at Wellesley, we headed to the Blue Ginger, a nice restaurant where we had lunch with one of the Admission Officers, Lucy. Lucy provided us with a lot of information about Wellesley. Even though she did not attend the college, she DID attend Barnard College of Columbia University, the all-women's college where students receive Columbia University degrees. Her advice and intellect about the Wellesley admission process and what we should do if we wish to apply really helped.

When we got back to the hotel, we had about 4 1/2 hours to rest. Mariko and I took a two hour nap to catch up on sleep. When I woke up, I received a text from Cindy and unfortunately I had missed out on a shopping trip. Instead of being sad that I was asleep, I took advantage of my time to make a quick stop to CVS and look at more of Providence (up to where CVS was). It was nice to see the sights and how different the people are here than they are in the Bay Area. It had also stopped raining, so it was nice to get some fresh air.

I returned to the hotel after not being out for more than thirty minutes to get ready to go to dinner at Camille's, where we would meet a Wellesley alum and her husband, who would be attending the Brown brunch on Sunday. Joan and Gabe were very nice and provided lots of information about Wellesley and Brown, and made good conversation with everyone at the table. The restaurant was nice and the food was amazing. I had a very good time and felt that this Wellesley filled day was one of the best ones I've had since arriving at Providence.

Wellesley is definitely at the top of my list at schools to really research for when the time comes for when I will apply to colleges. I absolutely loved the campus and what they had to offer. Even though the school is small, I can see myself adapting very well.

Tomorrow is the last day of college tours and the last night we will be in Hotel Providence - we are visiting Harvard! My Uncle Ismail, my dad's youngest brother and my godfather, is a Harvard alum and is a criminal defense attorney back home in the Bay Area. He went to Harvard for his undergrad years and for law school. Every time he talks about Harvard he gets a twinkle in his eye, and I can tell he loves the school. I certainly cannot wait to visit the school. I have visited it before, but not to the point where I can truly remember it. However, I know I will especially have fun tomorrow because Brown Session 1 will be coming with us! We finally get a whole day together, and I cannot wait.

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