Friday, June 22, 2012

That's why I like Yale

Getting up today was especially difficult. We got back from the dinner after midnight and I didn't get to sleep until about three in the morning. Tomi and I woke up at 7:15, allowing us only 15 minutes to get dressed and head on down to the lobby so the cohort could depart for New Haven. We had to wait for about twenty minutes because some of the cohort members overslept, but we were able to make it to the train station on time and pick up breakfast as well. Then we were off for the two hour train ride to New Haven, Connecticut.

My first impression of New Haven was that it looked rather run down. I was wary about the town because I'd read articles about how it was very dangerous, possibly more than Oakland, California. However, I decided to put on a smile and be positive about Yale. We took two taxis to the university and before we knew it, we had pulled up to the beautiful campus.

After going inside of admissions and picking up brochures, we went into a separate room and watched the now famous video "That's why I chose Yale." The video begins with an admissions officer answering questions in an information session about Yale. Just as he is about to finish the session, a woman asks him, "Why did you choose Yale?" The admissions officer then breaks into a song and sings about all the reasons why he chose Yale. The video then switches to several other Yale students/alum who belt out why they love Yale, along with interesting facts about the university. At the end, the admissions officer and all the students/alum run out onto the green and break out dancing. Then it switches back to the information session, where the shocked adults compose themselves and give him a round of applause. The video was hilarious but the love for Yale shone on.

After the video was over, the group walked to a nearby auditorium for the information session. The session was held by Keith Light, an admissions officer. I have actually seen Mr. Light give information on other colleges before back in California and was definitely surprised to see him again. Nevertheless, the information session was very informative and I learned a lot about Yale.

Interesting Facts about Yale University:

1. Yale was founded in 1701 and is a co-educational and residential liberal arts university. Yale makes good use of the undergraduate education and wants students who help others yet question themselves. Yale also wants to help develop their student's minds and prepare them for life at and after their four years at Yale. There are about 5,200 undergraduates and 6,000 graduate students, but Yale truly focuses on the undergraduate experience. All faculty members teach undergraduates. 

2. Yale is on the semester schedule, which means there are two semesters a year and students usually take 4 or even 5 courses a term. It is very hard to pick courses because Yale's "Blue Book" contains about 2,000 interesting courses to choose from. Freshmen are assigned a Freshman Adviser to guide them and help them with their classes, though. Students usually get the classes they want, except if a professor really aims the classes for seniors (and the student isn't a senior) or for students who need that class for their major. 75 percent of the classes at Yale are lower than twenty students, and 30 percent of the classes have less than ten students. AP credit is offered to students for scores of "4" and "5" but often given for placement instead of "skipping" classes. Yale doesn't want students to graduate earlier than four years; they want students to truly immerse themselves in the Yale experience.

3. Yale students don't have to decide their major until the end of their sophomore year, and the amount of classes at Yale definitely gives students a good base to figure out what they would like to study. There are no minors at Yale, and twenty percent of students typically double major. There are eight hundred labs for scientific research and many libraries; Yale has so many opportunities for research and learning. 

4. There is no core curriculum at Yale but there are distribution requirements. Most of these requirements cover writing, a quantitative course, humanities, science, etc. It's advised to students to not spend their first two years at Yale filling out requirements. 

5. There are lots of study abroad opportunities at Yale. Students are given an ISA (International Summer Award), which is a scholarship that is pro-rated the same way as one's financial aid that Yale allows students to use during one of three Yale summers to cover the cost of study abroad. Students still can spend a semester or year studying abroad. Many Yale students study abroad to immerse themselves in a new culture or find a way to travel. Students can even live with a host family! 

6. There are 12 residential halls at Yale that house about 400 undergraduates. Students are in these houses for all four years (think of Hogwarts housing system!). There are also four cultural houses at Yale. Students don't live in dorms, they live in two-bedroom suites with four roommates with two sharing each bedroom. There is also a kitchen and a common room. 

7. Yale's acceptance rate currently ranges from 6 to 9 percent, meaning it is a highly selective university. Yale is looking for the best and the brightest! Applicants fill out the Common Application and the Yale Supplement, which has short answer questions and then an essay (two if you are applying as one of the engineering majors). There are two decisions in terms of Yale, Early Action (non-binding) and Regular Decision. Yale also provides need-based financial aid.

After the information session, Yohanna Pepa met us outside the auditorium. Yohanna participated in the ILC during the Summer of 2009 and took the Grand Strategies course in the Yale Ivy Scholar's Program. She even won an award during this time. She applied Early Action to Yale and was at first deferred but later admitted in the regular pool of applicants. She graduated from Pinole Valley High School in 2010 and will graduate from Yale in 2014 with a major in Ethics, Politics, and Economics (it's all one major). I have seen Yohanna grow so much from when I first met her about two months after she had finished the Grand Strategies course. She is a smart, sweet, and definitely sharp woman. In her time at Yale, she has participated in the year-long Freshman Directed Studies (er, "Directed Suicide") program (a program that focuses on Western Thought, requiring students to write a five page paper every week, take three year-long courses, and read novels such as The Peloponnesian War), participate in many clubs, maintain great grades, and even teach a seminar at the Grand Strategies program (last year she taught the seminar “Everyday Machiavellianism”). 

Yohanna took us a restaurant called "Soul de Cuba Cafe", where we met two of her friends, Chris (a rising junior) and Lorenzo. Chris a biology major that has a focus in neuroscience, whereas Lorenzo (a rising senior) is a Biophysics & Biochemistry and Linguistics double-major. All three of them gave fantastic advice about the application process and Yale life. Lorenzo advised the rising seniors in our group to really start working on our essays when we get home from New York and told us that we definitely didn't want to go crazy during the first semester of our senior year. Chris told us that he had never met humbler people at Yale and that he didn't even know that four of his roommates were legacy students. Chris, Yohanna, and Lorenzo all stated that they felt very comfortable at Yale, with the people, faculty, and professors. Chris also advised us to sign up for interviews with the colleges that we really like and that it can only help us. I expressed concerns about New Haven to Yohanna and she assured me that the area about Yale - the "Yale Bubble" - is very safe and her only caution would to not venture out at night alone, and Chris agreed with her. My fears were soothed.

Gooey black beans, fried onions, white rice, and sirloin steak
Yale is absolutely GORGEOUS

(From right to left) The Yalies - Lorenzo, Chris, and Yohanna

It rained during the tour but that didn't take away from the utter beauty of Yale's magnificent campus

Harkness Tower
Outside of Yale's biggest library

Commons, Yale's Hogwarts-esque dining hall. A scene from Indiana Jones was filmed here and one of Lorenzo's professors was an extra in the film!
Outside of a Yale residence hall
One of two volumes of a Guttenberg Bible
Even though it rained during the tour and one of my flip flops broke, Yale was absolutely incredible. I loved the campus and the sense of love, care, and community I got from hearing Yohanna, Chris, and Lorenzo's testimonies about their times there. I am definitely applying to Yale. It seems like such a magnificent university. I couldn't be more excited for the Yale dinner tomorrow! 

We were originally going to go to Bar Masa for dinner tonight, but Ms. L has become concerned at the obvious lack of sleep we have been getting. Instead of going to Bar Masa, we decided to go to the Stardust Dinner, a local and casual diner on Times Square. Majority of the waiters and waitresses are wannabe singers who each sing when everyone is eating, hoping that a producer or agent will be in there and take them to stardom. After getting back to the city and resting in the hotel for an hour and a half, we took the subway to the diner. The songs were great and we all had a great meal. Afterwards, we spent thirty minutes on Times Square, basking in the greatness of the city. 

Outside of the Stardust Diner

My dinner of crisp fries, chicken fingers, and onion rings
Malted chocolate milkshake
Morvarid, Aurea, Lucas, and I
Times Square!
Lucas and Momo!

We're at the very bottom left corner :D

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