Tuesday, August 15, 2006

playing in the ivy league

with b applying to university this fall, we thought it would be worthwhile to take a short trip down the east coast to take a look at some of the schools she is considering. so we packed up the van (and cousin t!) and we got to sit in on the academic information sessions and take the campus tours at harvard, brown, yale, and princeton. some impressions:
  • the sense of history and the beauty of the architecture (especially at yale) were notable at these institutions; there's simply nothing comparable in california.
  • while exceedingly expensive — on the order of $45,000 USD per year — these schools have a remarkable commitment to financial aid. at least they say they do (maybe we'll get to test that!).
  • the communities surrounding the schools were very different. cambridge was people-dense and in our experience, somewhat rude. providence (at least the part we were in) was beautiful, but had a homey feel about it. new haven was urban and gritty. princeton was suburban and off the beaten track.
  • we met students at each of the four schools, and while we realize it was quite a small sampling, it made a big impression. without naming names (of universities or individuals!), it was clear that some of these folks were very bright, but not terribly well-socialized. others seemed to be classic 'legacy' admissions; we had one student tour guide who talked and talked but just didn't make a lot of sense! finally, we met a few folks who were very impressive — obviously smart but also very good with people.
  • as expected, all of these institutions are extremely selective, with admission rates of 8-10%. nothing like aiming high!
as a result of the trip, one of the four schools became a major favourite (i won't ruin the surprise by telling which — if you want to get the details, e-mail b!), and two schools suffered a bit, though i think b knows better than to base her whole opinion on one brief visit. her research continues, as do her preparations for the standardized tests and for turning in her applications.

she also expects to apply to some schools in california, though the list changes from time to time. as i recall, cal poly - san luis obispo, ucla, uc berkeley, and stanford were in the running.

n got to take a look around as well, and while it was probably a bit early for her (some of those academic information sessions got a little, well, boring for her), i think she and cousin t still had a good time on the trip. getting to watch some movies and eating brushetta chicken pasta and the occasional plate of chili fries helped to make the experience more palatable!

1 comment:

Eva said...

I'm plugging for Boston! ;) B will always have a place to crash if she needs a little R&R from the campus life... if that's any incentive.