Friday, July 19, 2013

Massachusetts, the Home of Brandeis and Boston University

After we ordered our bagels and drinks at Dunkin' Donuts, we left Rhode Island and headed towards Massachusetts. 
Matt, our tour guide at Brandeis, emphasized the noncompetitive culture of the student body and the personal relationship students are able to have with the faculty. Interestingly, Brandeis offers vouchers to its students to have lunch with their professor (free lunch while learning!!) This grabbed my attention since professors are known to be have a tight schedule. Most classes are discussion based and students are seated at a conference table, and the average class size is around 19 students. The discussion based learning encourages collaboration and deeper thinking since students feed off one another in this type of setting. I enjoy having classes in which all students are expected to collaborate. This gives you the opportunity to reinforce the material and it offers immediate help if needed. The student to faculty ratio is 10:1, so Matt occasionally described his fondness of his professors. I would definitely consider applying to Brandeis because I prefer to work in a setting that is not competitive. Another reason as to why I would consider Brandeis is because of the campus’ diversity. Catholicism, Protestantism, and Judaism are the primary religions represented at the college, but there are many other religions that are practiced by its students. The architectural style and landscape is the aspect that I least like about the campus. The buildings were too modern for my liking. The buildings reminded me of corporate offices and I found the campus to be barren. Trees were scarce and I cannot recall seeing a single outside patio.  A few of the buildings apparently represented objects: Q-tip, a Polaroid, a top hat and a grand piano. The appearance of the buildings did not resemble the objects in any aspect. I could not find any similarities between the said objects and the buildings. At the end of our tour we were able to purchase shirts from the book store. By the end of this trip I'm going to be completely prepared for "college swag" days at my high school.
Average classroom set-up at Brandeis

Matt, our tour guide


The Q-tip building
Our next stop was Boston University! I was surprised by how windy Boston is. Boston is a unique

college because its campus is located within an extremely busy city. The city is a part of the campus because halls are placed in different areas of Boston. Imagine any city and then add campus buildings to it--that's Boston University. It's not in a centralized area within the city--the campus is the city. In addition to the city’s interesting layout, it also has a unique touch. Boston is your typical all American city that still resembles its past. There was a Yankee versus Red Sox game today. We walked around the stadium which was essentially like walking down memory lane. The stadium had a brick façade and banners hung from the top of the building that displayed the year they won a world series. We walked near a side entrance to the stadium and saw a player who was a member of the Yankees. We had no idea what was going on and we just wanted to get around the bus without going in the street. Although I am not into sports, it was still exciting to be near the players.

Boston University (BU) logo 
The informational session, at Boston University, provided good advice about the application process. Caitlyn Fairfield, an alumni and international admission officer of BU, emphasized the importance of your transcript. By looking at a transcript, a university is able to determine what type of student the applicant is. I was not aware that the transcript has as much significance as the standardized tests. I have always believed that an individual’s test scores made more of an impact on your chances of admittance. She mentioned that you must remember to describe yourself if you choose to write about someone who has influenced you in your personal statement.  Applicants who have written about someone who influenced them failed to describe themselves. The same advice was offered at Brandeis. When it is time for me to write my personal statements, I will keep this advice in mind. Our tour guide, Shaun primarily described the campus itself but did not elaborate on culture of the student body. Due to the fact that the campus is located in Boston, I imagine that the students are extremely independent. A majority of students are expected to stay in apartments within the city. There are a limited amount of dorms so only freshman are encouraged to stay in them. Michelle and I had a discussion about the campus. We both agreed that we would rather attend Boston University as a graduate student. The location of the campus requires more independence since it is located within a city. A conventional campus is consolidated so the student community is closer and easier to navigate. By the time we are graduate students we will be more independent and will be able to care for ourselves in that type of setting. On a different note, I discovered that Dr. Martin Luther King attended Boston University. Boston University has the largest Martin Luther King archive in the nation. In the main library, there is a free exhibit that allows you to look at archives behind a glass pane. The theme is occasionally changed, but currently the topic is related to World War Two. It has a mold of Abraham Lincoln’s hands and a mask of his face that was made when he was alive.  Boston University has established this exhibit to allow students from around the word to view primary sources for their research.
Dormitory at Boston University 
Both speakers at Brandeis and Boston University emphasized the "test flexibility" of their college. If a university is "test flexible" the school will not put a major focus on an applicant's test scores *cue the sigh of relief.*Instead they will rely more on the other information you submit. The universities that we have visited allow students to have a double-major and give students the freedom to choose a majority of their classes. They also all promote traveling abroad and as a result I am considering to do so.  It would be interesting to attend a university in South America. I wonder how similar or dissimilar their educational institutions are to ours in the US. The universities are primarily different in the landscape of the the campuses. Boston seems to have the best campus out of the three, but Wellesley has the most beautiful and peaceful campus. When talking to my cohort, I discovered that the landscape of the campus has a major influence on their decision about whether they will or will not apply. Although I do not prefer Brandeis' campus landscape, I will rate Brandeis as my first choice. The culture of the student body and the relationship between students and the faculty is an aspect that is significant to me. Most people say that professors are hard to contact due to their hectic schedule, but Brandeis defies this stereotype. I believe I will be successful in this type of setting. After going on these tours I realize that there is so much more I should do to help increase my chances of getting into these colleges.

When the college tours were over, we finally headed back to the hotel and prepared for dinner. The majority of us ordered from the kids menu, and two other ILCers ordered macaroni and cheese. We all felt like children again because it has been years since we have ordered from that menu. I miss the proportions of the children's menu because lately I have been eating more although I may be full. The food is delicious and I feel awful if I waste it. 


 I already know tomorrow will be amazing since I will get two extra hours of sleep and we will be touring Yale (go bulldogs!). Today I received information about the homework that is due on the first day of class. It reminded me of how much longer I have until I will be checking into Brown.  One more day and I will be bound for Brown!
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