Friday, July 19, 2013

From Waltham to Boston

We had two colleges to tour in our schedule today. . It has been 2 days on the East Coast and by now, I feel pretty comfortable with the time. Today, my roommate, Michelle, and I were up by 6:00 AM, which means we had plenty of time to get ready. 

Before we started the tour, we stopped by Dunkin' Donuts to grab some breakfast. Dunkin' Donuts in Providence must be like Starbucks in San Francisco as I see one at every corner. After grabbing our breakfasts, we headed for the first college in the list: Brandeis University. 

Light Sculpture (The Mandel Center)
As soon as we got to Brandeis University, I noticed that their buildings were built in international style but with simplicity and I was curious to learn more about it. There was still time for the tour so we got to explore around the admissions office. I looked around the brochures and pamphlets for a while and got some information about the majors they offer. I was able to take a quick look at a pamphlet of the pre-med course that they offer and it seemed interesting. The course was one of the strong courses, and it provided opportunity for students to work in labs and research with professors (in depth). Students did not have to take all the science class in order to be in Pre-med course and one could also use this course as a way pursue a career in medical field. Matt, our tour guide, led us around the campus, introducing the buildings (shapes, architect) and classes they offer. One of the music buildings at Brandeis was built in Grand Piano shape with 88 windows. He also informed us that they had a display piano which belonged to Leonard Bernstein, a famous pianist. There were other buildings that were shaped as Polaroid camera or cotton swab. The Mandel Center, which is a humanities building, has different styles of lighting and one of them is the light sculpture which changes its color on a regular basis and is programmed to do so. 

Walking towards the new Science building
Usen Castle
The college has currently built a new Science building due to which more facilities, such as new lab were added. Brandeis also, has their own emergency medical known as BemCo where any students can apply and they are given training on emergency course and were able to provide help around campus. All the members were first certified as Emergency Medical Technician. The service was open for 24/7. However, one of the things that intrigued me was one of the buildings built in design of castle from Scotland, Usen Castle. Only sophomores were allowed to live on the castle and experience ancient way of living. Funny thing is that some of the room in the castle do not have doors so students had to get in through the fire escape. Matt mentioned that one is able to get very good view of Boston Skyline from the top of the building. Even though, we could not go up the building, we were able to get sight of the city; the skyline were visible, the building reached out tall, and it looked like we were looking at a painting hanged on the wall since we saw it from distant view. 

Informational session started after the tour. Rebecca, associative director, gave us detailed information on admissions. I have always liked a college with small amount of students where professor are able to focus on students individually. Brandeis turned out to be that type of college; a small private liberal arts where the average class size is 24 and the professors actually know you not only in academic terms, but also in personal terms. They had a system where student could get vouchers to go to certain restaurants from admissions office and could invite their professors for the lunch or dinner. I think knowing the professors does make a huge difference because they can help student succeed in academics, give us information on career pathways that might be right for us or provide opportunity to be a part of research project or internships. I had chance to talk to Rebecca about nursing program. Unfortunately, they did not have it but she gave me information on Pre-med courses which I had read earlier in the pamphlet. 

It was now time for Boston University. Temperature had risen by then. Stepping outside the car felt like stepping in very boiling water. When we got there, we found out that we still had time for our tour so we proceeded for lunch. After the lunch, we walked around the city. Compared to Providence, there were many other people walking around and I was surprised how they could walk in such humid temperature; it did feel like one is inside steam bath. The walk was short as we had to be back at Boston University by 2:00 for the tour and information session but we got an outside view of Fenway Park. It looked like the building was built in a way the surrounding buildings were built; tall and with red brick. The building was in the city so it must be easy for anyone to get there. I do not think it would be good idea to drive and park near there as streets were narrow and it would be hard to find parking as well. 

One of the Residence Hall at BU
Boston University was an open university built around the city. I think today was the hottest day of the week. Once we stepped outside of the air conditioned buildings of Boston University, the hot air would attack us right away. Walking around in such temperature was not easy but on our way, we were offered free lemonade by some college students which really did help to keep us cool. Most of the buildings were made of red bricks. Caitlin Fairfield, along with Charice Fields (current BU students), covered most of the academic options the students have and, most importantly, they gave tips on the steps we can take to apply to the university and how the admissions process works. Caitlin advised us to take rigorous class offered in high school in order to be ahead. It is definitely true because student needs to challenge themselves and get prepared for college early in order to achieve their goal. According to her, first thing admission officer will be looking at is the student's transcript because it provides them information about the student's academic. Boston University has more than 250 majors and minors due to which one is able to explore and find their choice of study. It is also 4th largest private research college with 2,024 research labs where students have vast options to do research on. Students would often engage in internship programs. Some of the course does have mandatory internships whereas some were electives; students were encouraged to take one of the internship around Boston and another abroad in any area of study. As I plan to pursue my career in the medical field, I was able to learn some about health-related classes. Shaun, our tour guide, particularly talked about anatomy classes where one is able to do hands-on work on cadavers. They also have a pre-med course like Brandeis in which you do not necessarily have to take science-related classes to do the course. The university also had a transportation facility for students. Technologies are very important aspects these days and now that transportations use it, students are easily able to track the bus with their mobile devices and I think this allows students get to the bus stop on the exact time bus arrives rather than wait outside at the bus stop for a long time.After collecting a ton of information, we left Boston around 4:30.

I did have ideas on admission process but informational session provided detailed information on each steps such as, personal statement, SAT/ACT scores, transcripts and letters of recommendation. Now that we have had tours on three different colleges, my personal favorite would be Brandeis because I am a person who loves college that has small amount of students and on top of that, it allows students to bond with professor which is one of the beneficial factor for student. I am fortunate to be learning all this information before I begin my senior year.
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