Thursday, June 20, 2013

Misguided Preconceptions: Shattered

Today we didn’t start so early, but I felt a lot more tired than I did yesterday.  The combination of jetlag and little sleep for the past two nights and an early start today was a devious cocktail for morning-fumbling.  I did manage to get dressed and downstairs on time, something that not all of my cohort can say, but despite our tardiness, we made our train on time and got to Boston okay.  We then took the T from the train station to Harvard Park, and the train was packed.  We hadn’t eaten yet so we went to Leo’s Place Diner, which was great.  We all had different omelets, and everybody liked them.

After breakfast, in the spare time before our meeting, we checked out the Harvard Coop, which is the college store, and Niels and I found some interesting books on economics; they were intros to macro and microeconomics, but in comic book form!  After that it was time to meet the admissions officer, and we walked to the admissions building in Radcliffe Yard.

The meeting was a lot less formal than I expected.  The officer and Jessica, a very recent graduate, met us.  We just sat and talked, even though they did most of the talking.  The officer would ask Jess questions about her experiences in getting to Harvard from high school, what life was like on campus, what her expectations were, what classes were like, and myriad other topics.  We would ask questions whenever we had them, and they would happily stray off topic to answer our questions in detail, so it felt more like a conversation than a lecture.  This conversation really changed my view of Harvard.  They brought up the view of Harvard as being a school for nerds, but I thought of it as more a place full of fraternity jocks and extremely academically competitive people, but that misconception was thrown right out the window.  They discussed how great the environment is and how, as one might put it, normal the student body is.  They discussed how they encourage learning from your peers, especially when there are significant differences between you.  The way they described the school made me reconsider my misguided preconceptions of Harvard.

We then proceeded to go on a tour, led by Jess, and have lunch with her.  It was fun!  The campus is really pretty and the food there is the best food I’ve ever eaten at a college.
Littauer Center of Public Administration
Memorial Hall
Widener Library 

After that, we bid farewell to Harvard and made our way to MIT.  This visit was entirely different, but had very much the same effect.  Gabriel, an upcoming junior at MIT, gave us a little info session and again my ideas of the college were debunked.  I thought MIT was highly competitive, but it turns out that they heavily promote teamwork and cooperation.  There is also a really low student to faculty ratio, and Gabriel discussed how involved with you some of the faculty can be.  They are very supportive and there are lots of support groups available on campus.  It seems like they provide a really good academic experience to their kids.  After Gabriel finished talking to us, we walked around campus for a little bit.  There is some really interesting architecture at MIT!
Crazily Shaped Building

I hadn’t been very interested in either of these schools before today, but now that I’ve been exposed to what the schools are really like, I consider my mind changed, and I will definitely apply to and hope to get into these schools.  They both seem like they would be good fits for me, but they probably seem like that to a lot of people, considering the huge fame they’ve both accrued.
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