Friday, July 19, 2013

Brandeis, Boston, Ballparks, and Blogging

The East Coast is currently going through a heat wave, which makes it especially difficult to even step outside, but that didn’t stop us from visiting two colleges today. Our first college visit was to Brandeis, a liberal arts college in Massachusetts. There are a total of about 5,000 students (3,500 undergraduates and 1,800 graduate students). It's definitely bigger than Wellesley but I was surprised to find out that the average class size is 24 students and that 61% of classes are 19 students and under. Although the intro classes are usually larger than 24 students, our tour guide was quick to assure us that no matter how big a class is, the professor will make an effort to get to know each one of the students personally. In fact, Brandeis will give a student $20 to take their professor out to lunch. Our tour guide told us a lot about how Brandeis is one big community, and it's not just the student body—the staff and faculty all make the effort to connect with the students. The tour guide also said that Brandeis has a very active and enthusiastic student body (he was very enthusiastic himself). I’ve gone to relatively small schools my whole life and have had the luxury of really getting to know my teachers well, and I’d really like that to continue on into college. I’d also like to go to a college where students really want to participate in student activities and make an effort to make the college as great as it can be, so the tour guide’s description of the student body sounded very appealing to me.

I thought the architecture at Brandeis was really cool and different from anything I've seen so far. Our tour guide told us that there were buildings designed after a grand piano, a top hat, and a Polaroid camera! They even had a castle, built back when Brandeis was Middlesex College, which is now being used for Sophomore housing.

Interesting building at Brandeis
One of the most modern-looking buildings on the Brandeis campus.
Living in the castle must make Sophomores feel like royalty!
Doesn't the ivy growing on the castle make it look so beautiful?

After the exciting tour of Brandeis, we drove to Boston to tour Boston University. The BU campus reminds me a lot of the Cal campus back home in Berkeley because it is right in the middle of a busy area. The BU campus stretches about 1.3 miles and there are lots of places to hang out on campus. I'm not sure if I'd want to attend a college with such a city-based campus but the tour was still interesting. According to the tour guide, BU is really centered around teamwork and students have to rely on each other a lot. I really like this because going to a college with a good support system is really important. Additionally, BU seems like it has lots of opportunities to travel abroad because there are over 99 abroad programs to choose from. As I have always loved traveling, the abroad programs they offer are of particular interest to me. Boston University students have been able to indulge in the cultures of a foreign country in the abroad programs while also keeping up with their studies by continuing to take their required classes. Some students participating in the abroad program even have internships while they are abroad which is a great way to prepare yourself for work after college.

The architecture at Boston University is very old-fashioned and beautiful.
Those buildings are where most BU students live.
While we were in Boston, we took a short stroll around the BU neighborhood. We walked around outside Fenway Park and even stumbled upon some New York Yankees baseball players getting off their bus to play the Red Sox (although none of us are big baseball fans so we didn't know them).

Outside Fenway Park.
These college visits have really made me think about life after college. Even though, at first, it sounded scary to even be talking about life after college considering I haven’t even started applying to colleges, I can now see that it’s a really important thing to think about when visiting colleges. Now that I’m going through the information I’ve collected from the colleges so far, I’m asking myself: How well will these colleges prepare me for the real world? Graduating college seems like such a distant, foreign concept, but the decisions I make about colleges now will impact my life. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to tour colleges because, had I not had this opportunity, I would still have no idea what to look for in a college, what sort of questions to ask, or how to even go about applying to college. This just goes to show that, even though it's only been a few days, the ILC has already helped me broaden my knowledge of colleges in general. I'm so glad I have more of a sense of what to look for in a college and I eagerly await our visit to Yale tomorrow.
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