Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sarah Lawrence: Go Deep and Go Far

What started as a fairly relaxing day turned to one of mayhem and rush. My day started at 9:00 AM when the cleaner for my room opened my door to clean. Unfortunately Morvarid and I were still sleeping and our rest time was cut short. Even before we left our hotel, we all felt the heat of the East Coast, ninety-six degrees Fahrenheit to be exact.
Grand Central Station
We then departed the hotel with the others for Grand Central Station. The train station was beautiful with its detailed architecture and engravings. The group then grabbed brunch in the station’s dining center on the lower. After we were had our fill, we boarded the train to Sarah Lawrence.
Westlands Admission Office
Sarah Lawrence Dorms
Once we exited the train station, we took a taxi cab to Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York. Sarah Lawrence is a beautiful liberal arts college in suburban Yonkers and Bronx which concentrates on different subjects instead of majors. The information session was very helpful in understanding more about a liberal arts school. What really appealed to me about Sarah Lawrence is the more one-on-one time students have with their teachers due to the small class size and environment. The tour was also very informative; we walked a good three miles around the campus to different buildings, from Bates Center for Student Life to the President’s House. Our tour guide even knew an old member of the Ivy League Connection, Connor Miller, who currently attends Sarah Lawrence. The college’s 3-2 engineering program really caught my interest as well. Through this program, engineer students study at Sarah Lawrence for three years and two years at Columbia University, obtaining bachelor degrees in liberal arts and the intended engineering major. Another plus is that Sarah is approximately thirty minutes away from the metropolitan area of New York City.

Since the tour was running a little longer than we expected, we decided to leave early to catch our train. Unfortunately the taxi service we called did not have any available cabs, so we missed our train and had to wait thirty minutes for the next one. Once we exited Grand Central Station, we took a cab back to the hotel to redress ourselves for our dinner with the University of Pennsylvania alumnus. Due to our delayed arrival, we all rushed to look presentable after a day in the sun.
Portobello Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart
American Red Snapper
When we finished, we met Ms. Kronenberg and departed for Brasserie 8 ½, located on W 57th Street. There we met with University of Pennsylvania alumni Carlin Yuen and Lissette Duran. Dinner was very relaxing, even though it was at a very upscale restaurant. For dinner I had the Portobello Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart with the American Red Snapper. For most of the night, we all conversed with the two alumni. Carlin combined art and computer science to form his own individual major while Lissette graduated with a communication major and is now studying at Columbia University for law. Being able to have dinner with the alumni gave me a better impression of what the University of Pennsylvania has to offer; mentioned in my last blog was the unpleasant encounter with technical difficulties during the information session. But now after talking to the alumni, I have a better idea of what UPenn has to offer.

Once we said our good-byes we trekked back to the station and then the hotel. Although the middle of the day became bumpy, we all pulled through and ended with a good note. Now onwards to Vassar College.

Hot, Fast-Paced New York

Today began as a much more relaxed day, and when we left the hotel, we had planned on having it stay that way. But New York had other plans. That's not to say I didn't have another fantastic day. Trust me, I did; I am only saying that it didn't happen quite the way we drew it up.

As I said, today began much more relaxed than the previous days. We woke up at 9:30, not 6:30, and in no hurry whatsoever, boarded the 1 for a few stops down to Times Square. We've actually passed under Times Square on the subway 5 or 6 times, but have yet to see it, and today would be the same, as we then took the S to Grand Central Station.
Aboard the 1 heading downtown

Grand Central Terminal
We ate at Grand Central Terminal, which, I must say, is a magnificent place, and soon after, we boarded a train going north to Yonkers for a visit of Sarah Lawrence College. 
Also, I didn't mention earlier, but today was, according to Mrs. Kronenberg, the hottest day of the year so far in New York. World of mouth told me that schools scheduled to end tomorrow (Thursday) made today the last day of school instead, and many even let their kids out early, all to avoid today and tomorrow's brutal heatwave. We had begun to feel the heat on the walk to the subway earlier in the morning, but when we got off the train in Yonkers at around midday, the heat really hit us. For anyone who hasn't experienced East Coast heat, it's completely different from heat on the West Coast; East Coast also comes with a great deal of humidity, which, if you don't like it, can create sort of a suffocating feeling, similar to being cooked in an oven. Personally, though, I absolutely love the heat and love the summer weather here in New York, humidity and all, and I would spend the rest of my life in 100 degree humid heat if I could.
Anyway, we got off the train and took a taxi to Sarah Lawrence College's front entrance. Their campus was very green, full of trees, plants and grassy areas, and was located on a hill (as a result, everyone on the campus is in great shape from walking up and down these hills). I also was very impressed by some of their buildings, although they weren't quite as impressive as the architecture on Penn's campus. Still, though, the setting of the campus was fantastic in my opinion. I wasn't huge on the fact that it wasn't in a very well-populated area, but its proximity to New York (roughly 30 minutes) makes you feel like you're still close to an urban area if you need it (and I feel I do).

Some of Sarah Lawrence College's dorms
Another thing I really loved about Sarah Lawrence was the freedom you have as a student to make your education be exactly what you want it to be; there is no core curriculum, only a few very broad requirements. I'd say I was neutral or favorable toward everything at Sarah Lawrence except for one thing - its size. Sarah Lawrence has only 1300 students and is not in a very well-populated area. I am somebody who loves to explore and see new things everyday, and Sarah Lawrence just doesn;t fit my personality in the sense that with its size, I may not be seeing something new every day. This is just a personal thing, and it may mean nothing to somebody else, but it is very important to me to be discovering new people, places, and things every day. I can say, though, that Sarah Lawrence is afantastic place to go to school for anyone who prefers a smaller setting. I also got a lot out of my visit (and yesterday's visit to Penn as well) in regards to my new interest in schools with loose core curriculums and class requirements.
At the conclusion of our tour, we called the taxi service that promised they would have all 7 of us at the train station within 5 minutes of our call. When we called about 15 minutes before our train left, they told us that they could have 1 taxi, not 2, at Sarah Lawrence in about 15 minutes. About 30-40 minutes after this call, they showed up with one taxi, and we missed not one, but TWO trains back to Manhattan. This wouldn't have been too big of a deal, I was really enjoying myself, but we had a dinner to be at later that night. We got the train back and hopped into a taxi at Grand Central Station, which turned out to be a bad idea during rush hour; traffic was terrible. Also, New York's reputation for having some pretty gutsy drivers is very well-deserved. When all was said and done, we arrived at the hotel with 15 minutes to shower all the sweat off and dress up in a suit for a fancy dinner. Within 10 minutes of leaving the hotel, though, walking through the 99 degree heat in a suit, it was as if I hadn't even taken a shower. And this goes without mentioning the furnaces that are the subway stations.
The dinner, which took place at Brasserie 8 1/2 on West 57th Street, was once again extrememly delicious. It turns out that prime steak tartare is raw meat, which was a complete surprise to me, but I gave it a try and it was very good. As a main course, I had the Crusted Maine Halibut (I'm a huge fan of fish; I'll probably order a lot more over the course of this trip) over some sort of risotto (I don't really know what I'm eating half the time), which was also super delicious. The best part of the dinner for me, though, was the great conversation Lenny, Tomi and I had with Lissette Duran, who graduated from Penn and is currently studying law at Columbia. We discussed tons of the things we love about Penn, including its diversity and cultural integration (although this is not always the case), along with its amazing campus, academic freedom and the flexibility of Penn's system in relation to the social and academic lives of its students. Along with Penn, though, the four of us also had a great talk with Mrs. Kronenberg and Mrs. L about the power of teachers and theiur tenure, Teach for America, the Ivy League Connection, how we can make students in our district more aware of college oppurtunities, and most interestingly in my opinion (although it was all interesting), the relationship between the Constitution and many of society's issues today. 
Well, I have to sleep now; we've each been running on barely enough energy for the past few days, and if I delve into things in any more detail, tomorrow, which includes two two-hour train rides and even hotter weather than today, will not be too easy. We've been doing so much each day that these blogs take forever to write; there is so much to write! I'm having an amazing time so far, and we'll do it all again tomorrow at 6:30!

A Heated Tour Session

Today, on our third day in New York, we set out on a tour to Yonkers' very own Sarah Lawrence College. Fortunately, unlike the day before, we were able to sleep in that morning! Unfortunately, today was also happened one of the hottest days of the week! 

Once again, we gathered in the hotel's Lobby before heading out towards the nearby subway station.
After the subway ride, we arrived at Grand Central Station--which, as it names implies, is certainly grand indeed. 

While at the station, we stopped for a quick lunch. While searching for a place to eat, I quickly found out that the Station was even larger than I originally thought. The Station houses many different restaurant that offer a variety of foods. Because of the choices, Adrianne, Lucas, Lenny, and I ended up enjoying pizza slices from one restaurant, whereas Morvarid and Aurea ordering sandwiches from another. After lunch, we boarded our train and after a fifty minute ride we arrived at our stop. We then took a taxi to Sarah Lawrence and as soon as the taxi pulled up to the front gate, I fell in love with the campus. 

After I had finished gawking at the school's gardens, we entered Sarah Lawrence's Admissions Office to take part in the school's informative seminar. The first thing I learned was that Sarah Lawrence is a fairly small school. For instance, compare UPenn's 10,000 students to Sarah Lawrence's 1,400. Another thing I learned is that a student's education is very personalized. While Sarah Lawrence has 4 main departments consisting of Sciences and Mathematics, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Creative and Performance Arts, they don't have majors. Instead, that have what they call "concentrations", which allow students to choose classes that are related to their main line of study, but are not usually apart of the conventional curriculum.  Upon admission, students are assigned a class adviser called a "don", who helps a student personalize their class schedules and concentrations. Students of all years have dons to assist them when needed, but first year students have the special opportunity of meeting with their don at least once a week for the entire year. Generally, there are on average 12 students in a seminar class and 30 students in a lecture. In terms of admissions, Sarah Lawrence relies on a student's common app, a personal statement saying why they would like to attend Sarah Lawrence, and an analytical essay that includes a previous teacher's comments. Sarah Lawrence also makes interviews and the submission of test scores optional. Once accepted into Sarah Lawrence many students get some form of financial aid, with 60% of the school's undergraduate populace receiving aid that covers over half of their tuition fees. 

Much like yesterday, the informative seminar was followed by a tour of the school with our tour guide being on of Sarah Lawrence's current students. Unlike UPenn's tour, however, we were able to see the entire campus due to Sarah Lawrence's comparatively small size. Some places we visited included the school's music hall, library, dining hall, science department, gym facility, as well as the exterior of the the dorm rooms. While the tour itself was very informative and entertaining, the combination of the heat, humidity, and walking made it almost unbearable. We ended up walking over 3 miles in 91 degree weather! 

After the tour was over, it was time to head home and get ready for our dinner with our UPenn alumni. Unfortunately, getting back to the hotel wasn't as easy as expected. Our dinner was supposed to start at 7:00 PM, meaning that we had to leave at around 6:20, but when we arrived at the hotel it was 6:05. This was because of our taxi being, resulting in us not missing one, but two trains, resulting in us having to spend an extra hour in the heat. The ironic thing is that when we first arrived at Sarah Lawrence, we were an hour early, but when we left we where an hour late. After the disastrous trip home was over, everyone quickly got ready and met in the hotel lobby. Despite out efforts, we arrived at the restaurant, Brasserie 8 1/2 a little bit late. 

We met with two of our UPenn alumni at the restaurant, Carlin Yuen and Lissette Duran. Unfortunately, our third alumni, Monica Chen, was unable to make it to our dinner. Also joining us today was Mrs. Kronenberg, one of the founders of the Ivy League Connection. During dinner I mainly spoke with Lissette about her experiences with UPenn, which she eagerly answered with a passion. 

Lissette helped me see that UPenn really does aim to please their students. For example, Lissette happens be be very proud of her Dominican heritage, and she was surprised to see that her culture was not represented with student union. Because of this, she approached UPenn with the idea of starting such as club, which UPenn immediately agreed too, which coincides with the information I learned yesterday about proposing club ideas to the school. Other things I talk to Lissette about included what she loved about UPenn, her personal experiences with the school's staff, weather, and facilities, and her current experiences as graduate in Columbia's law department.  

For dinner I had sirloin steak, onion rings, bone marrow, and mac and cheese.
Hearing Lissette speak out for the love of her school ended up slightly changing my opinion about UPenn. Yesterday, when I visited it, I really liked the school, but I had a hard time getting a good idea of what life was really like on campus. Now after hearing Lissette speak, I can see myself actually going to UPenn and really enjoying it there. 

Beauty In Every Direction

Today Aurea and I woke up at around 9:30AM and got ready for another day filled with numerous adventures. We went straight to central station today and the site was absolutely beautiful. I tried taking pictures with the architecture but the area was so large that I looked almost like an ant opposed to my beautiful surroundings. Today, however, was slightly different from other days so far. Instead of waking up super early to eat breakfast and catch our ride to our specific destination, we instead voted on brunch to allow for a little bit of rest. Thus far, we have all been running on an average of 4 hours of sleep per day due to our fast-paced schedule. Now although Iwas really greatful of this opportunity to rest, my adrenaline and energy for my Ivy League Connection days certainly does not allow me at night. As I've said before, my body is tired but my mind is not; it's definitely ready to absorb all and every information and experience every aspect of a different world.

Before noon we arrived to Sarah Lawrence college, a college that I can honestly say I did not know much about before our tour. Out of all the interesting things I learned, a few of the things that mainly caught my interest was the flexibility of the ciriculum offered by the college, the strong sense of community and involvement, and the quality of the education with the individual  attention to each student, and last but not least, the fact that for the past few years, 100% of college applicants to medical school have been accepted. All I can say is WOW.

Overall though, I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this but I have an extremely strong passion for arts since a very young age. I draw, paint, sketch, sculpt, anything you can name, and I do have a strong passion for it. The fact that Sarah Lawrence allows me to merge my interests and passions with specialty definitely caught my interest in the University. (heres a sample of some of my artwork, its actually the photos I submitted for my AP studio art class this year. I have a lot of different art work but I do not have access to photos of those to share with you since I am all the way here in New York; )

Now on the other hand, in the more visual and environmental sense the school reminded me of the city of Carmel near Santa Cruz in California. The environment allowed you to feel like you were in an individualized miniscule community of your own within the University.

My lovely Chaperone Mrs.L
By the way on a random note, a previous Ivy League Connection student, Connor Miller, now attends this university and he absolutely loves it. I randomly asked out our tour guide out of curiousity if he had ever heard of him and he screamed, "I love Connor Miller!" But then surprisingly, he later said, "I have never met him, but he is amazing. I've heard great stories about him." Way to go Ivy League Connection students setting examples and inspiring other students!

Finally after the tour, we headed back to NY to attend our dinner at Brasserie 8 1/2 with Penn alumni. I sat midway between Lissette Duran and Carlin Yuen, and must I say they were both equally amazing. Their passion was remarkable and inspiring and their stories equally fascinating. I was especially surprised that Carlin actually visited Iran! I loved speaking to him about politics, the middle east, culture, motives, and apposing view points. I must admit this dinner has been definitely my favorite. We only had two guests but there was much more involvement, connection, engaging conversations. At some points I felt like I was stuck between the two guest because I was eager to listen to both and did not want to miss out on either side. The dinner itself was great as well, on this trip I'm really determined to try new things to make my "new experience" complete. I chose to go with rabbit for my main entree, crab cake for my appetizer, and chocolate cake for my dessert. I enjoyed all three, and ended my night with a little bit of warm jasmine green tea to warm up. Overall, the dinner was splendid in all aspects.

In all, today was certainly an adventure, and I'm sure tomorrow will not cease to amaze me once more.

Good night New York.

Summer Heat

It was hot today. Really, really hot today. That's something that you need to understand about today's events. All the traveling we did through NYC and Bronxville, was done in weather bordering 100 degrees.That being said, I discovered something today. I've found that although I don't yet enjoy heat, I can bare it pretty well, as long as I'm in motion. I can't stand sitting or standing in some place hot, but as long as I'm on the move, I can deal with it, and even appreciate it.

I felt prepared for today's schedule, because it followed the same basic pattern as yesterday's: We went to the subway, got breakfast/lunch, passed through a major train station, toured a school, headed back to the hotel, dressed in formal clothes, went out to dinner, came back and of course, our favorite, blogged. That seems to be the basic daily schedule for this week, with visits to historical sites thrown in. It's a pretty good system, and I'm glad it's consistent. When we are off in a foreign place like this, it's nice to have some regularity.

I can't remember when Lucas and I woke up this morning, but we met up with everyone down in the lobby at 10:15 AM. I wore my new shorts, which, besides PE shorts, are the first pair that I have owned in at least six years (if not more). I don't like shorts that much, but when in Rome, do like the Romans. I think I wore all white or light gray today.

We headed to the subway, just like the last to days. This time, we took in Grand Central Station. I have to say, it sure is a "grand" central station... well, I thought that was funny. I want to say, that everything I've heard about New York seems to be true, word for word. I'm amazed at how much of what I've been told has come true right before my eyes. There really are rats in the subway; I've seen them. There really are huge cockroaches in the streets; I've seen them. The underground tunnels really do become ovens; I've felt it. More importantly, the city really is amazing. The skyline is just as impressive as I was told, and it's true that the city never sleeps. Everything seems to be open all night. All the cliches about the Big Apple appear to be accurate.

We took a train from Grand Central Station to Bronxville, home of Sarah Lawrence College (SLC). Like UPenn, I'm going to post a separate blog about my thoughts on SLC. I'll probably do this for all the schools we visit. The SLC blog probably won't be as long as the one for UPenn, but that's just because UPenn really struck a chord with me, and I took a ton of notes and photos for it. All of the school posts will be thorough, just some more than others. These may not go up for a while.

At SLC, we sat through an info session held by a women in the admissions department. Afterwords, a rising SLC senior named Cody gave us a tour of the campus. I have to say, SLC is quite beautiful. All the grass is a vibrant green, and the tutor style architecture is stunning. It's located in a quiet community of luxurious houses. One drawback though, is it's very small and hilly. I think I would have liked it more if there was less vertical and more horizontal. It was also an extremely unfortunate day to be walking up steep hills in the sun. Cody was an entertaining guide, and the tour was very fascinating, but it didn't end too well for us. We decided to leave early, so we wouldn't be late for our train, but when Ms. L. called taxi service, they told her that a cab wouldn't be available for quite some time. They had promised us that plenty of cabs would be available when we were done at SLC; clearly, this was not the case. We ended up missing not only our train, but the next one after that.

Our tour guide, Cody

Long story short, we ended up boarding a train an hour late. This meant that when we got back to grand central station, we hail cabs to hurry back to the hotel. Another thing that is absolutely true about New York, is that cab drivers really do drive crazy. By the time we got back to the hotel, we only had 20 minutes to change clothes and get ready for our dinner. Miraculously, we all made it down to the lobby in time, where we met with Ms. Kronenberg. She joined us for dinner. The restaurant for tonight, was Brasserie 8 1/2. Our guests were two UPenn alumni. This place certainly had the nicest atmosphere of all the ones we have been two. It combined the modern elegance of Petrossion, with the warm atmosphere of Keens steakhouse. I wish I could show you what it looked like, but my camera died on the way back from SLC, and there was no time to recharge it. I'm sure other people put photos of it on their blogs.

Lucas, Tomi and I sat near Lissette Duran, a UPenn alumnas who just finished her first year of Columbia Law School. We had a fascinating discussion through out the dinner, covering UPenn, Columbia, New York and law school, as well as other topics. The food was excellent there, just like everywhere else that we've been to. I had the steak tartar as an appetizer, rabbit (which I didn't care for) as the entree, and an amazing chocolate cake, chocolate ice creme and chocolate pudding trio for dessert. The conversation, ambiance and dessert made this my favorite meal so far.

The walk back to the hotel wasn't too bad, as the sun had set, and it was beginning to cool off. Tomorrow is expected to be hotter than today was in NYC. Hopefully that won't be the case in Poughkeepsie, because we'll be heading there tomorrow to tour Vassar.

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!