Thursday, July 18, 2013

From Wellesley to Siena...

Today we started off our college tours by visiting Wellesley College, an all-female liberal arts and sciences college in Massachusetts. We had an info session with Anna Young, a woman who works in admissions at Wellesley. Anna said that Wellesley is looking for women who are risk-takers and adventurers, open to broadening themselves. In order to make sure students broaden themselves, Wellesley asks students to get out of their comfort zone and try new things by requiring them to take certain classes. This means that, although a student may know what she wants to major in, she has to take other classes that may not have anything to do with what she’s majoring in. Anna said lots of students have changed their major because they took a required class at Wellesley that they really enjoyed. In fact, many women have had two majors and some have even mixed together two majors to create a new one. As someone who has no idea what to major in, I like this aspect of Wellesley.

I also like the fact that Wellesley is a relatively small college. There are approximately 2,500 students in the college and the average class size is 24 students (many classes are even smaller). The faculty-student ratio is 1 to 8, which means that students can get the individual help they need to succeed in their classes. According to a couple of current Wellesley students, there is lots of opportunity for discussion in classes. In most cases, the teacher will lecture for the first 20-30 minutes of class then give students time to discuss with each other individually then as a whole class. This style of learning sounds really promising to me because, this way, students can exchange ideas with each other and understand the material better.

Anna Young talked a lot about how women still face challenges in today’s working world. She told us that she was constantly put down at her old job and assured us that, at Wellesley, we would only find positive reinforcement and we’d be supported by the college and alumni in anything we choose to pursue. I love the idea of a whole community of powerful women helping each other out even after they graduate from Wellesley. This also made me think a lot about the Women and Leadership class I’m about to take. Wellesley College is the perfect example of women becoming leaders at their college, in their community, and in the world.

After the info session, we went on a modified tour of the Wellesley campus (it was modified because walking around the giant campus in the blazing heat would have been torturous). The campus is filled with beautiful plants and the architecture is amazing.
Before leaving Massachusetts, we all grabbed a bite to eat at Alta Strada, a nearby restaurant, where I enjoyed a refreshing glass of lemonade and some delicious pizza.
Elia couldn't finish her food...again.
After a quick siesta and blogging session in our hotel rooms, we got dressed up and headed to Siena, a fancy restaurant in Providence, to have dinner with Brown students, Travis and Kenya, and a recent Brown graduate, Hillary. I sat next to Kenya, a rising Junior at Brown, who will be traveling to Vietnam in September for a study abroad program where she will be able to do environmental studies. She was so helpful and answered all the questions about Brown that I threw at her. From what I learned, the class sizes at Brown can range from very large to very small, unlike Wellesley where the class sizes don't get very big. However, like at Wellesley, Kenya told me that there is a lot of room to find a major at Brown and that you don't need to know what you want to major in when you arrive.

Another student, Travis, after hearing our complaints about busy school schedules, told my cohorts and I that life gets a lot easier and less stressful in college because you don’t have such a strenuous schedule. In college, you're on your own schedule so if you manage your time wisely, the school day won't be too hard on you. I'm really looking forward to this aspect of college. After spending my entire life either having classes picked out for me or having to choose from an extremely limited list of classes, I can't wait to pick classes that I will actually look forward to attending.

I feel like I'm a completely different person right now than I was when I woke up this morning. Right now, I'm considering applying to a college that I would never have given a second thought about before today and visiting Wellesley really made me think about what I want to get out of a college and what kind of road I want to take in life. Today I've also learned how many people want us to succeed in going to a college of our choice and are willing to help us along the path: financial aid departments, college staff and faculty, alumni and students. I'm looking forward to visiting Boston University and Brandeis University tomorrow and learning more about what different colleges have to offer.
The restaurant where we had dinner.
Creme brulee for dessert
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