Friday, May 4, 2012

A Little About Lenny

Here is a little bit about the ILC and myself.

If you have been reading this blog thus far, you already know a bit about me, but I’d like to take this time to say (write) a little bit about myself.

Hi, my name is Leonard (Lenny) Eisen, and I’m taking Constitutional Law at Columbia University this summer. I’m 16 years old and a sophomore at Pinole Valley High School in Pinole, California. I was born at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. At the time, my family and I lived in Richmond, but we moved to Pinole when I was seven and have been here ever since.

My interests include playing the trumpet, debating, acting, writing, reading classical literature, and (as you might have guessed) studying Law.

I applied to the Ivy League Connection (ILC) for a few reasons, the first of which is that I thought it would be fun. I get to spend a month away from home, in New York City, living on a college campus, rooming with students my age, from around the world, that share my interests. Not a bad way to spend my time. The past three years, I’ve spent my summers taking classes at UC Berkeley with Academic Talent Development Program. Although I enjoyed these, they could never accurately depict what college life was like, as the courses weren’t at a college-level difficulty, and I was still going home every night.

That’s the second reason I applied for the ILC; I want to experience college life before I decide where to apply. Through this program, I will not only live in on Columbia’s campus, and use their facilities, but I will also get to tour other colleges on the East coast, such as Yale and University of Pennsylvania.
The final reason was the classes. Although I applied for multiple programs in the ILC, Constitutional Law was always my first choice, and I’m glad I got it. I’m very interested in the Constitution and its effects on our world today. I can think of know better way of understanding why our nation is the way it is, than studying the central doctrine that it is founded upon.

You may be wondering at this point, “What is the ILC?” Indeed, earlier this year, I was too. I’ll try to sum it up as best as I can. The ILC is a program run (and I believe financed) by the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD), of which, my school is a part. The purpose is to allow high achieving students in my area to explore their academic options outside of California. It’s organized by Charles Ramsey, Madeline Kronenberg, and Don Gosney.
Members of the ILC from my school last year.

Make no mistake; the ILC is not a vacation. The classes we will be taking are difficult, and the process to get in is highly selective. Only students with an un-weighted GPA of at least 3.85 and a PSAT score of 140 or more are eligible. Students who meet those pre-requisites can apply to the classes in the ILC that they are interested in. For each course, they must write on an essay prompt pertaining to the subject. Students with the best essays make it to the interview stage, where a panel of judges test their critical thinking skills, as well as their understanding of important current events. Do well, and you’re in.

After the interview, you still have to apply to the schools themselves, but this is mostly a formality. The ILC has a number of spots reserved for them for each of these classes.

The ILC pays for all necessary expenses on the trip: tuition, air fair, food, and housing. In return, they expect only the most professional behavior from us. We are expected to stay in touch with the ILC at all times, and during our voyage we must blog every day. Actually, these posts are kind of just practice for the real deal. We may also be asked to speak at dinners and before our city councils and school board.

We are also asked to share our experiences with those around us. The ILC’s goal is not only to have an impact on our lives, but on all those in our community. They ask us to encourage others to consider higher education outside of our local area, so that they may have a positive impact on many through helping just a few.

I’d like to once again thank everyone involved in the ILC for giving me this opportunity. I know this will be a life changing experience.

Sarah Lawrence College:

Over the course of our trip to the East Coast, we will be visiting several universities, one of which is Sarah Lawrence, in Yonkers, just 30 minutes from Manhattan.

Sarah Lawrence is a small private school of about 1200 undergraduates. Their curriculum focuses on one-to-one learning, and the maximum classroom size is 15 students.

Sarah Lawrence was opened in 1926 by real-estate mogul William Lawrence, who named the school after his wife. It was originally an all women’s college, but in 1968 it became co-ed. The school was founded upon Lawrence’s belief in the arts as a central aspect of social development and learning, as well as the principles of equality between men and women.

Sarah Lawrence offers a Bachelor of Arts degree, but instead of having majors, the students take classes focusing in the Curricular Distribution of Creative Arts, History and Social Sciences, Natural Science and Mathematics, or Humanities. If I were attending this school, my studies would probably fall under the category of History and Social Sciences, as that includes Political Science, Anthropology, and Sociology (some of my main interests).

The school has no required courses, and the classes work around a two-part schedule of seminars and conferences. The seminars resemble standard college lectures, only smaller, while in conferences, the students work with the professor to develop personal projects. These projects focus on tying the course subject into each student’s personal interests.

Rather than utilizing standard grades, Sarah Lawrence monitors its students’ progress with academic evaluations. Most classes have primarily replaced tests with final research papers. In fact, SAT scores are optional when applying to Sarah Lawrence, as the admissions process is centered mostly on essays and personal statements.

Famous S.L. alum include Hollywood directors, J.J. Abrams and Brian De Palma, fashion designer, Vera Wang, Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, musician, Yoko Ono, and President Obama’s former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel.

Sarah Lawrence is an amazing school with a unique approach to education. I can’t wait for a chance to see it in person.

Fun Fact: Sarah Lawrence was the first college in America to offer a Masters degree in Human Genet

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