Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hot Weather, Taxi Mishaps, Sarah Lawrence, and more UPENN

I awoke at 9:45 this morning, excited for our adventure in the Bronx. Unfortunately, as I fully awoke, my foot stiffened and inflamed in pain. Over the past couple of days, a blister and bruise has developed on my right foot's heel. I tried covering the bruise with band-aids but it just wasn't enough. After getting on the subway and arriving at Grand Central station, we went to the pharmacy, where I brought an ankle brace. I'm happy to report that even though my foot is still in pain, the pain has decreased tremendously due to the ankle brace and will hopefully be fully recovered when we settle in at Columbia.

On a more positive note, Grand Central Station is not only humongous, but beautiful! After Ms. L brought our tickets, we headed over to the food courts to buy lunch (originally it was going to be brunch, but we found more lunch foods than breakfast ones). Aurea and Morvarid settled for chicken and cheese sandwiches while Lenny, Lucas, Tomi, Ms. L and I indulged in some classic New York pizza. I am happy to report that the pizza was absolutely delicious, even though I only got one slice of cheese, it was very fulfilling.

Grand Central Station
Hustling, bustling people
New York City pizza, which is absolutely delicious and completely lives up to its reputation
After getting off our train ride to the Bronx, we took two taxis to Sarah Lawrence College. By this time, it was afternoon, and the heat wave was starting to roll in. We had actually arrived to SLC about an hour early, so we took that time to relax in the admissions office and read brochures before the information session started.

Welcome to Sarah Lawrence College
This whiteboard is painted many different things every week, ranging from Doctor Who sayings to this nice welcoming (-:
Interesting Facts about Sarah Lawrence College:

1. SLC is really into the "one-on-one" experience. There are two types of classes at the college: discussion-based and lecture-based. Discussion classes are usually capped at 15 people for more interaction between the students themselves and with their professors. Lecture classes are typically in between 30 to 45 people, although some are 60 people, which is considered large. For reach discussion based class, you can have conferences with professors each week to check on your progress and talk about any difficulties you might be having with the class. This appealed to me because I definitely know what it feels like to be in classes that are so large that there you can barely talk to the teacher about your work or even hear the teacher. For example, in my AP Literature class, it was filled at 35 students. Mr. Jepson, my teacher, sometimes wouldn't be able to write comments on our essays because he had to give them back to us in quick fashion so we could move on to the next novel we were supposed to be reading. But in my Physiology class, which had only 12 students, the interaction between student and teacher was so much better. Not only did we get our work done faster, but Ms. Holman was able to lecture faster, answer more questions, and even give us more extra credit because we were able to do extra research projects because there were so little of us. I think having small classes definitely benefits all students. Back to SLC, students do a project at the end of the year called "conference work" that is their own research project, possibly a paper or film, etc., about something they love or want to pursue. If students want any help, they need not to worry, because they assigned a "Don" (hehe) that is a full-time faculty members that works with them for their entire college career and is a mentor to them.

2. There is no core-curriculum at SLC, but students due have to take classes in 3 out of the 4 subject matters:
  • Social Science 
  • Creative Arts
  • Humanities 
  • Natural Sciences and Math 
Students register for classes when they are on campus and can interview teachers about their classes the week before classes start; this is called "Interview Week." There are year-long and semester long courses, although most students take semester-long courses. And what about majors? There are no majors at SLC! Instead, students have "concentrations", which are more flexible than a major. Students can specialize their concentrations by combining them with others, for example: instead of simply concentrating in Writing, students can design their concentration into Children's Literature and Illustrations. 120 credits are needed to graduate with a B.A. (bachelor of arts), and students can even participate in SLC's 3-2 Engineering program with Columbia University: students spend three years at SLC pursuing a liberal arts and sciences B.A., and then spend two years at Columbia's engineering school and receive a B.S. (bachelor of science). This also appealed to me because I started thinking of different concentrations that I could design, such as Applied Psychology with an emphasis in writing and music - playing music and writing down my feelings has always been therapeutic for myself and others, so why not provide it as a form of therapy and really see what I could do with it? I could pursue that at SLC.

3. Sarah Lawrence has six year-long and semester-long Study Abroad programs ranging from Florence, Italy to Havana, Cuba. They also have two summer abroad programs, one in Berlin, Germany and the other in Buenas Aires. I have been lusting over Italian for a while and want to study it in college and then study abroad in Italy, hopefully for a semester.

4. Sarah Lawrence has guaranteed four year on-campus housing, whether it be single-sex, co-ed, substance free, or "quiet person" housing. Students can have apartment and suite-style living as well. SLC doesn't have common rooms in their dorms, so students can sit in the hallways "tapping away on their keyboards while eating cheap takeout food." Speaking of food, there are four different eating halls with food that has been proclaimed as "delicious." Security also patrols the campus, even though it is considered to be pretty safe.

5. Sarah Lawrence uses the Common Application and accepts three types of decisions:
  • Early Decision I - Apply by November 1st and find out on December 15th 
  • Early Decision II - Apply by November 1st and find out on January 1st 
  • Regular Decision - Apply by January 1st and find out by late March/early April 
Applicants need to fill out the Common Application and the Sarah Lawrence supplement, which consists of:
  • One Supplemental Essay, with the prompt being: "Why Sarah Lawrence?"
  • One graded analytical paper 
  • Optional: students can submit work through the Arts supplement, such as a short story or a piece of art
A really interesting concept of Sarah Lawrence is that reporting standardized testing is optional. If students feel that their ACT/SAT scores do not reflect their strengths and would put them at a disadvantage, they do not have to send them in and they are not seen differently than students who did submit their standardized testing scores. This also appealed to me because although I took the SAT, two subject tests, and ACT, I am not a very good test taker and do not feel that standardized tests really reflect me as a student at all. I do not feel that a four hour test determines my intelligence or makes me a different person. Moving on, interviews are available for students if they want it, and they can even set up a Skype interview. Even though interviews are not required, they are highly suggested for students.

6. Students submit the FAFSA and CSS profile for financial aid. Sarah Lawrence provides need-based aid, gifting/grants/loans, and some merit scholarships. AP scores of "4" and "5" are awarded, as well as community college credit for classes taken before high school graduation. Lastly, the average high school weighted/unweighted GPA for a SLC student on a scale of 4.0 is a 3.6.

Admissions Office at SLC
One of the pathways at Sarah Lawrence
Outside of the Admissions Office

Inside of the admissions building

Where the information session was held
Several brochures about SLC
Tea House, where tea and several breakfast pastries are served. All the money from this goes to scholarships for prospective SLC students!
Outside of one of the dining halls
Outside of one of the dormitories
I absolutely loved Sarah Lawrence. Not only am I intrigued by their design-your-own-education mentality and process, but I really loved that it is a smaller school - only about 1,400 students attend the school - and focuses more on student-teacher interaction. They also have wonderful writing and music programs, not to mention a beautiful campus. I'm disappointed that we aren't having any lunches or dinners with SLC current students/alum/admissions officers, but hopefully that is something ILC will think about for future ILCers.

Unfortunately, the heat wave definitely turned up and reached to a roasting one-hundred degrees during the tour. The tour was nice and our tour guide was great, he even knew about Connor Miller, a previous ILC and PVHS student who attends the school. He proudly stated, "I love Connor Miller!" Even though the tour was nice, the heat was definitely distracted and everyone was burning up. To make matters worse, the taxi service didn't even arrive until forty-five minutes after we called them, causing us to miss three early trains! We didn't end up getting on a train until 4:50, when we were supposed to leave the Bronx at 3:55! This set us back an hour, which wasn't good at all because we had an early dinner! After a train ride, we decided that instead of taking a shuttle and then the subway, we would take a taxi. This wasn't great either because traffic was horrible. We ended up arriving at Hotel Beacon at 6:05, which was awful because Ms. L gave us strict instructions to be downstairs at 6:20. Given only 15 minutes to get dressed was awful because we were all very sweaty and feeling gross. However, we pulled through and arrived in the lobby on time, looking great and ready for our dinner with Penn students and Ms. Kronenberg at Brasserie 8 1/2. After taking the subway, we walked to the restaurant and met two Penn students, Lisette and Carlon. Unfortunately, the two other Penn alum were not able to make it to the dinner.

Inside of the restaurant

My delicious dinner
Group Photo
Aurea and I
Aurea, myself, and Morvarid (I am the short one)
Opinions about the Penn dinner: 
1. Yesterday, the information session and tour at Penn left me feeling disjointed about the school. While I felt that it was a very nice school, I felt like the tour and information session did not do it much justice. I was hoping that this dinner would quench any negative opinions I had about Penn, and my hopes came true. This dinner really helped me see how Penn is special in its own way and also helped me realize how much Penn students are indebted to the school.

2. I sat next to Carlon, a 2010 graduate of Penn. Carlon was an international student, having lived in Saudi Arabia because his dad was a petroleum engineer and worked for a company based in Saudi Arabia. However, Carlon went to a boarding school in Massachusetts for high school. He applied Regular Decision to Penn (Early Decision isn't offered to international students, and he even stated that if that option had been open to him he would have chosen it for Penn). He was accepted to Penn and Princeton, waitlisted at MIT, and rejected to Stanford. He chose Penn over Princeton because he liked the openness of the city and felt more comfortable with the people at Penn. He was in the engineering school at Penn and majored in Computer Science and Fine Arts. He said he had always been interested in Computer Science but took a drawing class at Penn and "was hooked." I thought it was interesting how he majored in two different subjects and was able to fall in love with both at Penn.

3. Lisette, a 2009 graduate of Penn sat across from me at the table. At first I did not speak to her very much since she was deep conversation with Lenny, Lucas, and Tomi, but she was later able to give me great information about Penn's English department, which she deemed as "amazing." Lisette is from New York City and went to boarding school is Massachusetts. She applied to a twenty five colleges, which I found ridiculous, but I was impressed that she accepted to all of them except for two: waitlisted at one and rejected at Georgetown. She decided to go to Penn because it was in a city and has a great pre-law program. She majored in communications and minored in Latin American Studies, and just finished her first year at Columbia University's Law School. 

4. Both Lisette and Carlon emphasized on the many opportunities Penn gives it students. Lisette stated that it is very easy for Penn students to create clubs if Penn does not originally offer them, which can be harder to do at other schools. Carlon also said that Philadelphia has lots of fun things to do, such as summer festivals. Lisette also said that she wanted to live in Philadelphia because "college is its own little bubble, so it's nice to be able to go to a city and experience "real people and real places."" I definitely agreed with this, seeing as though I am looking for a college that will be located in an urban setting.

5. Lisette said that since she went to boarding school, she was not interested in having the whole "dorm experience" again because she had already done that for four years. She said a Penn aspect that appealed to her as a prospective student was that they provide apartment and suite style housing. She lived in a suite-style dorm with three other girls: one was in the C.A.S. with her but the other two were not, one was in Wharton's Business School and the other was in the School of Engineering. Lisette said she also liked how Penn had four different schools because everyone was well-rounded and could talk about different things they were learning with one another and about their experiences as well.

6. Once desert was served, questions about Penn were placed aside and the topic of the night became politics! (Carlon also mentioned to me that Penn has a fantastic political science program). We discussed presidents, Supreme Court cases that annoyed us or that we disagreed with, and the issue of America's decisions in terms of morality, for example, we all agreed that the internment of the Japanese Americans during World War II was very immoral. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this dinner and have a newfound appreciation for Penn. Tomorrow we tour Vassar in upstate New York and I'm excited to see what that has out for me! 

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