Friday, June 17, 2011

A Day in Connecticut

It’s amazing how much the weather changes from one area to the next. This morning in New Haven, Connecticut, it had just rained and the air was chilly and breezy. In the afternoon in Middletown, it was hot and humid. Now in Providence, the temperature is beginning to cool down a little.

In New Haven, we visited Yale University. As we walked with the tour group, water from the trees overhead poured down each time the wind blew through. But the unfortunate weather did not overshadow the grandiose of the college. Yale greatly resembled a European castle, or in my opinion, Hogwarts, the wizarding school in the Harry Potter book series. The Sterling Memorial Library was magnificent. It was built to be a “cathedral for knowledge” with its design resembling that of a cathedral. Yale has taken over Dartmouth as my favorite college out of the ones we have visited. I prefer larger schools over smaller schools so Yale better suits my interests than Dartmouth or Wesleyan.

For lunch, we ate at the Union League Café with Yohanna Pepa, a current Yalie and former ILCer from Pinole Valley High School. Erin, Frank, Andrew, and Ms. Larson already knew her, but Erinn and I just met her today. She was very friendly and helpful in explaining the different aspects of Yale, including the rigorous course load, extracurriculars, and social life. She applied to Yale through Early Decision, which binds you to the school you are applying to. This was the right decision for her because she was set on Yale, but for me, I don’t have courage to be binded to a school. I’m considering applying Early Action though, which gives you the option of choosing to matriculate, or not, to your school of acceptance. Yohanna also showed us a picture she took with Sam Tsui, a YouTube star who Erin and Erinn love and are introducing me to. Her stories were very humorous and informative at the same time. For our meal, we all ordered sandwiches, and my eggplant Panini was absolutely scrumptious.

We also visited Wesleyan University, a liberal arts college in Middletown, Connecticut. The school was nice, but I didn’t get that “this is the school for me” feeling. One of Wesleyan’s highlights is its coexistence with Middletown. There is no distinct border separating the city from the college, but that aspect doesn’t appeal to me. I actually prefer being able to tell a college apart from its surrounding city. Many of Wesleyan’s buildings look like large houses, not college facilities. This may work for some, but it’s not my cup of tea. My favorite part of Wesleyan was its expansive green lawn where many students can be found during school days and events are sometimes held. We didn’t see anyone on it because students don’t stay around for the summer, but our tour guide pointed out that on nice days, hundreds of students can be found on the Green. Wesleyan also has an open curriculum, like Brown, allowing students to freely choose their courses. The open curriculum is one of the reasons Brown is one of my top choices for college because it gives its students freedom to explore subjects they might not have otherwise. Don’t get me wrong; Wesleyan is a fantastic school, but it's just not for me.

Andrew, Erin, and I received an email today from our Macroeconomics professor, Nicholas Coleman, introducing himself and welcoming us to his class. I can’t wait until we go to Brown in two days!

Platform Nine and Three Quarters

I walked onto the Yale campus and stood awestruck; this was the closest I came to going to Hogwarts. Yale looked entirely different from New Haven. Once I stepped onto the campus, I was in a different place, ignorant to the world happening outside the gate of the University. The Gothic style of the buildings complemented the trees to create a style similar to old English cathedrals. The buildings were accented with iron doors to further the transition to a different age. I was in colonial times, and I could not wait to see what other features the school had within its walls.

The first impression left me expecting the best and I was not disappointed. The orientation, although we had missed a considerable portion, was a music video the alums and students created titled “Why I chose Yale,” and was organized by two Youtubers I was familiar with—Kurt Hugo Schneider, Sam Tsui and some of the cast of College Musical, a continuation of High

School Musical. I was entertained and it looked like the students creating the music video also had fun; I could see why they went to that school. We then went on our tour.

On the tour we got to see Theodore Dwight Woolsey's foot, and we got to touch it for luck. Erin touched the wrong foot, but defended herself claiming the luck of the bird poop was enough. As I walked through, I got a greater sense of the culture: popular melodies played by the bells, numerous extracurricular centered and the tour guide’s enthusiasm and pride of the school. The library also reflected the school’s humor and educational values. A library built as a cathedral, commemorating scholars and dedicating the position reserved for the deity to a mural of Yale’s goddess. And we saw the Beineke Rare Book and Manuscript Library equal to and greater than the magnitude of Harvard’s rare book and manuscript library.

Even though Yale has everything to offer, it is surrounded by a dangerous city and one of the fraternities pledge about rape towards women. I looked up the rate of acceptance for Yale and the most searched topic after I typed in Yale and the first two letters ra, I got in the suggestion was Yale rape. The tour guide did say that there is a lot of security at Yale, but even then the fraternity is discerning.

Union League Café was a nice French restaurant where we meet Yohanna Pepa and her friend. Ms. Larson had not foreseen the extra person, and instead of waiting for another seat, she left, which I thought she would have felt embarrassed. Her stories were very interesting and the story that made the biggest impression to me was her attempt and success at getting a picture with Sam Tsui, which she showed us after. Yohanna appealed to my interest when she talked about her friend that applied to Yale, but after a few weeks tried to transfer to MIT. She told me that if I was interested in MIT and get accepted I should apply there because the transfer rate is very small.

Wesleyan continued the theme of Harry Potter reference when the orientation talked about a class that focused on popular media such as movies and literature, which one of the textbooks being Harry Potter. Although Wesleyan had an extensive science program as a Liberal school, I felt it was just a school. All the other schools I have went to had something special about them

that made me consider them, with an exception of Boston University. I thought the other schools offered the same programs and Brown as the same open curriculum and their science program has a legacy of scientists. I also thought the town surrounding Wesleyan looked too much like a neighborhood. I think I would mistake someone’s house with a dorm and mistakenly go into their house. Ironically, the school was centered in the middle of nowhere but, after searching up the college to find anything that the orientation may

have left out, it was an urban school. It is a good school if you just want to learn; it feels like how you choose a high school, you just go there without the consideration of what else may be out there.

The week is almost through, and I anticipate meeting other students and drawing my own blood at Brown.

Yale & Wesleyan

In front of the library at Yale; the architect purposely
made the building look like
a very old chapel. The photo looks quite old as well!
On the campus of Yale University
Yohanna, Erin, Frank, Andrew, Kathleen & Erinn
Wesleyan "green"
Posing on the Wesleyan terrace

No Traffic Today!

This morning was not very charming for me. I woke up at 7:15 AM feeling groggy and exhausted. Perhaps it was the change in weather. The sun was nowhere to be seen and it was raining. Erinn was hoping for thunderstorms, but I was not so hot with the showers. Oh well, we all knew it was coming.

We arrived at Yale University after a manageable 2 hour drive. I had heard from my brother, Connor Miller (he went to Yale last year with the ILC), that New Haven was a sketchy town. The thing is, all towns have their perks, and nothing’s perfect. Our tour guide was a bit difficult to hear, but the campus was a sight to see. The entrance to the inside of Yale reads: "For God, For Country, and For Yale." The buildings were very old fashioned and colonial-looking. I would be interested to see the inside of them.

Yohanna Pepa (Pinole Valley High School Alum 2010 and rising sophomore at Yale University) met us at the Canoe Club Cafe at approximately noon. We had a really snotty waiter but the food was good. I got a grilled chicken sandwich with veggie chips. Yohanna talked to us about the rigor at Yale but that there was also a lot of fun things to do at an Ivy League college. I enjoyed seeing my former drum major from marching band two years ago. It is great to see that a PinoleValley High School alum is adjusting to east coast life so well. That made me feel a little more comfortable since I am considering applying to some colleges out here. Of course Yohanna misses the Bay Area, but she has grown to love Yale in New Haven. Before we parted, I gave Yohanna a list of the marching band tunes I picked for the Spartan band for my senior year. We are drum major buddies.
Our next college tour was at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. We met Dan Heinrich at the informational session inside the admissions office. He welcomed us after his presentation because he knew we were the group from California. Dan also took part in the Summer@Brown program when he was a sophomore in high school. He took a class in digital design and studio art, which is also offered at Wesleyan. That information was appealing to me. Wesleyan is a rural college like Dartmouth and it has a loose curriculum like Brown. One thing that I love about college campuses is the plentiful and freshly cut grass. Wesleyan has an open Green that is used for social events and sports. Ms. Larson really enjoyed Wesleyan!

Unlike Boston University, the freshman dorms are spacious. Student housing only improves with seniority. Seniors have the opportunity to live in fancy and large apartments on campus like the one at the right. One thing about rural colleges that I do not like is the fact that students spend too much time on campus. They are very restricted to places they can go and they cannot take out their professors to dinner like other colleges can do in their nearby towns. Other than that, I enjoyed Wesleyan in Connecticut.

Out of the five colleges we visited, my preferences in order would be:
1.    Boston University
2.    Wesleyan University
3.    Dartmouth College

Here's to the Ivy League Connection - Brown Cohort #1!


After a good night's sleep, Andrew and I made our ways down to the hotel lobby to start our trip to New Haven, Connecticut. There, we were able to tour Yale and watch their creative information session video. It was a rainy day, and thankfully Don had advised us to bring umbrellas.

Yale's campus was beautiful. It was built like a large castle and our tour guide said that it was often compared to Hogwarts. We walked around the lovely campus and learned the history of Yale, myths, and funny stories. The tour was very influential, we were able to see what Yale was like and to determine if we would like to live there. Unfortunately, we didn't get a the best glimpse of campus life and liveliness because most students weren't on campus.

Afterward, we were fortunate enough to have lunch with Yohanna Pepa--former ILC member, PVHS graduate, and student of Yale University. We enjoyed a meal at the Union League Cafe. It was an enjoyable meal and everyone loved the food.

My steak sandwich
Yohanna talked to us about her application experience, her life at Yale, and reminisced with us about Pinole Valley High. It was a breath of fresh air to see a familiar face in an unfamiliar territory. Sadly, she leaves tomorrow for Italy. We wish her luck on her studies there!

Very shortly after separating from Yohanna, we made our way to Wesleyan for another tour. The Wesleyan campus was nice and green and more homey than Yale's campus. We had an information session, where we learned about their binding early action application. That was definitely a down-side of early action, but the school is definitely worth applying to.

We took the tour and discovered that Wesleyan has an extremely impressive center of recreation and sports. They had an Olympic size pool, an indoor track, indoor tennis courts, and indoor basketball courts. Outside, they had a baseball field and football field on their large field. They also sported a huge fitness facility a little bit off the main campus.

Wesleyan seemed to have a very close-knit faculty and staff. Our tour guide told us that when the students feel like eating outside, the staff accommodates and brings the food outdoors. We also learned that Wesleyan has an open curriculum, similar to Brown. They also don't have minors, so many students have multiple majors.

After our tour, we returned to the hotel and relaxed. Our group went out for dinner together at Cuban Revolution Restaurant & Bar. I ordered the JFK (another steak sandwich). We all enjoyed each other's company and spent a couple hours indulging ourselves in our meals.

Once we were back in the hotel, the group digested our food over an hour and then decided to exercise again. Kathleen, Erinn, Andrew, Erin, and I spent over an hour working off the calories we had accumulated.

Now, I'm here finishing my blog about the day and looking forward to the next.

A Little Taste of Cuba

Today started off fairly swell. Our adventure today began by traveling approximately two hours to visit the prestigious Yale University. At this point in our college trips, little to sometimes none of the information we learn in the informational sessions is new. But that is a good thing because we have all learned or gained the general gist of how the college application and acceptance process works. Also we have learned all of the common financial aid packages and other valuable information. So by going on this stream of College visits, personally my college horizon has been broadened. I am feeling substantially more confident in the exact type of college I want to attend.

Yale’s campus was very mystical, as a visual aid it looked exactly like Hogwarts from Harry Potter. The campus has deep and long roots. Yale was seemingly closed off by gates. What I took from this was that at Yale they want the best students to collaborate together to produce the best possible outcome, and to avoid any riff-raff from the outside surroundings that could corrupt this learning process. Yale has an impressive library system that contains over 12 million books! This shows that at Yale, they want the students to have every possible resource imaginable. 

After lunch we had a real treat. We ate lunch with Yohanna Pepa, a 2010 Pinole Valley graduate and current Yale student. Our timing was so perfect because today was her last day in the country for a while. She will be taking advantage of Yale’s study abroad program in Italy. It was such a pleasure to talk to her, and gain her experience pertaining to the entire college experience that she has experienced so far. Seeing her gave me encouragement to work even harder than I am now. So though lunch was very delicious, having the opportunity to talk with Yohanna was the highlight of my day.

After leaving Yale we headed to Wesleyan University, about 30 minutes away from Yale. This Liberal Arts College has amazing facilities, and also an open curriculum. This means that there is no required, introduction classes needed to graduate. This always gets me excited about a college because few colleges offer this option and also it would allow me to get started on my true interests quicker. I am glad we visited Wesleyan because if not for this visit I would have had no knowledge of this great institution for higher learning. Because of Wesleyan’s open curriculum it makes it easier to double major. About 33 percent of Wesleyan students double major. This also interested me because I am very interested in the two fields of Political science and economics. That is also why I am really looking forward to my class in Macroeconomics to help spark the economics interest of mines.

We traveled back from Wesleyan to our Hotel in Providence. We went out to eat at this great Cuban Restaurant. Many of the paintings on the walls represented Cuban history, but also American History. So it was a good cultural experience in the little known restaurant. After waiting for our food to digest, we all headed to the fitness center to get a good work out. Not only is Brown Session 1 mentally fit, but physically fit as well.

Show Me The Money!

You have the brightest child in the neighborhood and everyone knows it.  Any university in the country would be lucky to have your child.  Without exception, though, all of the top flight schools cost a fortune to attend.  We’re not talking about new car kind of money.  We’re talking about the kind of money to buy a decent house—the kind where you have to keep paying for it forever and ever.  The kind f money it takes a regular working family decades to prepare for.
What are you going to do?  You make decent money—at least enough to keep the rest of your family living comfortably—but it’s not really enough to keep them living comfortably and leave enough to pay for that college education.  The cost of living here in the Bay Area eats up most of your paycheck—when you get a paycheck—and leaves little to sock away to pay for a decent education for your children.
You and your child could take out loans to pay for that top flight education but what kind of life would that be for your child to graduate owing almost as much as the National Debt?
Your child could get a job but what kind of money could an 18 year old make before acquiring the skills that the college education will help provide?
What’s a parent to do?  How are you supposed to take care of your family and provide them with a quality education—the kind of education that will open the right doors once your child has that sheepskin firmly in her grasp?
What are you supposed to do?  You’re supposed to turn to The Ivy League Connection’s very own Sue Kim—a professional educational consultant specializing in admissions and financial aid counseling since 1991.
Sue has helped many dozens of ILC students and others from the WCCUSD find the perfect fit of a college and then find a means to pay for that education.  She knows what she’s doing and she’s good at it.
On Thursday June 16th Sue hosted 39 ILC and WCCUSD students and parents in a financial aid workshop where she helped point the way for the parents to find ways for other people to pay for the education of their children.
Between grants, scholarships, gifts and other options that may be available to the students and parents in our area, more and more of our students have opportunities to attend better schools than they might otherwise have been considering.
Sue explained that although California has an outstanding 10 campus University of California and a 23 campus state university system, both systems have little money to offer students in the way of financial assistance.  The cost to attend these schools is prohibitively expensive and the costs are steadily rising.
On the other hand, there are numerous private colleges spread throughout the country that have large endowments designed to help the very kinds of students we seem to have an abundance of: smart but needy.
Tonight’s session was only a primer but it laid the foundation so parents and students can start their preparations.  Once their students enter their senior year of high school, the college application process becomes a full time job requiring a tremendous amount of dedication and attention to detail.  There are openings at these schools and there is money to be had but if our students and their parents don’t do the necessary homework and prepare themselves, those opportunities may go elsewhere.  We want everyone around the world to have the option of getting a top education but if there are limited funds and limited openings, then we’d rather that our people be taken care of first.  Call it selfish if you will—and you’d be right—but such is life.

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