Saturday, July 7, 2012

I ♥ New York University

Today marked the final stop of our college--New York University, more commonly known as NYU. Today also marked the hottest day thus far with it being 100 degrees with humidity and a chance of thunderstorms. With our packed schedule and the unbearable heating, I was immediately reminded of our first week in New York--just like old times, right?

Mrs. L had us meet her at the university's Welcome Center, where we waited for the start of our scheduled information session and tour. Like all of the our other tours, NYU's tour was preceded by an informative seminar. NYU's information seminar was somewhat unique, however. Not only did they have a video presentation, but they also had a Power Point presentation, which I found to be very  helpful and informative when used  in conjunction with the admission officer's words. 

NYU has a total student body of about 40,000 spread across their 14 New York-based buildings. NYU does not have an conventional campus, instead it has various "colleges" scattered around the city. Each department specializes in a certain academic field, such as the College of Arts and Sciences, which houses the school's humanities and sciences departments as well as many of NYU's general courses. Students are given a pool of over 280 courses to choose from. To ensure that all of their students remain well-rounded, NYU requires all of its students to various general education courses that may or may not relate to a student's major. The student to teacher ration is about 12:1 and the average class size is less than 30 students. Students are guaranteed to have 4 year housing, and there are currently about 10,000 students residing in NYU's several residential halls. NYU also has a wonderful abroad program, with it's major programs being set in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. The Abu Dhabi and Shanghai schools are considered "portal campuses", as students spend their entire four years their, effectively making them independent institutions. For more orthodox abroad options, students may choose to study in places such as Berlin, Germany or Sydney, Australia.  In addition to that, NYU also has a internship program that has over 90% of participants acquiring full- or part-time jobs.  

In terms of admission process, NYU is pretty standard. They only have three major guidelines:

  1. For students to have chosen their desired portal school upon admission; they have can choose between NYU's New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai campuses.
  2. To complete the common application as well as NYU's supplement essays. 
  3. To submit all files by the given deadline. 
During the admissions process, things such as a student's grades, extracurriculars, teacher recommendations, standardized testing, and essay responses are taken into consideration. The average student GPA is between 3.6-3.7 and the average SAT score ranges from the low 600s to high 700s. Topics for NYU's supplement essays include "Why NYU?", "What are your academic interests?", and a random "wild card" question, with last year's wild card being "What intrigues you?"

Due to the research I had to do for a certain blog post, I actually knew a lot this information beforehand. That's not to say, however, that I didn't learn anything knew at all. I was able to find out a lot more about NYU's abroad programs and admission process, which proved to be very vital information that I wished that I could have added into the original blog. 

After the information session, came our tour. We visited some of the local major buildings including the College of Arts and Sciences,  Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, and their main dining hall, Hayden Hall. I really loved the school's campus as well as it's atmosphere; it was both beautiful and unique, while still being able to  create a sense of community. All of the facilities were state of the art, well designed, fully equipped, and most importantly, air conditioned

In case you couldn't tell, I really love NYU. Everything from the campus, to the academics, to the student body itself is absoultely perfect. Ever since I did my research on the school a few months ago, I knew that I was certainly interested in attending, but after experiencing it in person I can definitely see myself going to NYU--it's practically my dream school!

Before going back to campus, we visited the World Trade Center Memorial. Being able to stand right where the tragedy struck was almost too overwhelming, especially after seeing all the names of those who passed away on 9/11 inscribed on the memorial. Seeing such an awful tragedy be converted beaufitul piece of art was somewhat uplifting.

We later returned to the dorms to get ready for our final dinner with Vassar alumni, Ken Miles and Alexandria Dempsey. A third alumni, Brian Farkas had planned to join us, but was unfortunately unable to do to work.

During dinner, I spoke with both Ken and Alexandria about their lives before and after Vassar as well as why they chose Vassar. For my entree, I had a short rib that was an edible portion this time along with a piece of sword fist. As for dessert, I had an assortment of chocolate chip themed pastriesI really enjoyed tonight's dinner, as well as Ken's and Alexandria's enthusiasm--this dinner only helps to secure Vassar's place as one of my top Ivy League schools.

I honestly can't believe that we've made it this far so quickly. We've gotten through a lot so far, 6 colleges tours, 4 dinners, and 2 full weeks school at Columbia University. Now the only thing real obstacle standing before me is a 5 page research paper due Monday afternoon. 

Is NYU for You?

And my wait is finally over! My AP scores at last have arrived. I’m quite content with my scores, I at least passed both my AP tests without studying much the prior week.

My day began at 8:20 AM when I awoke for a shower and change of clothes. But as usual, my suite mate beat me to the bathroom and I had to wait for a few minutes. Once I finished, I headed down to meet with the others to leave via subway for New York University. But plans don’t always go as scheduled and we arrived a few minutes late to our information session and were pushed back to the next one.
What really interested my about NYU was the study abroad opportunities they provided; NYU even has three branches in New York, Shanghai, and Abu Dhabi. The information session was very helpful in my opinion. I learned about the NYU application process, internships, and costs and financial aid. The aspect of NYU that won me over was the open campus; I liked the idea of it being integrated with the city but it wasn’t as scattered as people described it as. My tour advisor, Pheebe, not only gave us a tour of the campus but supplied us with tips on her experiences from being at NYU. From her study abroad opportunity at Argentina to her all-nighters in the library, which she doesn’t recommend, her enthusiastic talk of NYU got me excited. The NYU staff also encouraged students on thinking about applying to the university in general; the uniqueness of having one's campus as a city is not for everyone and the staff wants one to apply knowing NYU would be a fit for oneself.

Victim Names of the 9/11 Attack
Tribute to the FDNY
Once the tour ended, we then headed to Ground Zero Memorial. But we of course ate a nice lunch of pizza and philly cheese steaks before. As we passed through the security checks to the memorial, Ms. L’s words of wisdom hit me. She spoke of how impacting the 9/11 attack was for the nation. She reminded us that without the attack, we wouldn’t have as much security measures in airports and such. We passed by construction sites for the new Freedom Building that showcased the various workers from around the world; from San Jose to Montreal, 9/11 only struck America but the whole world in one form or another. Walking through the memorial and seeing the names of the people who lost their lives left unsettling feelings within me. The name of a mother and her unborn child was probably what hit me that most; that so many innocent lives were lost on this horrendous day and the whole nation could only watch in silence from various parts of the country in horror. 
Street Performers at the Park
Singing Preacher on the Subway

Before we headed back, we decided to watch a group in the park nearby. A group of five or so men were dancing and doing tricks, such as jumping over people. What really drew in the crowd was the humor the group displayed. They cracked a few jokes and made the atmosphere and show much more enjoyable. Also on the subway, we experienced a preaching singer on God. He sang about the enlightenment he gained from following God after a rough life. What really surprised most people was that he sang and preached for non-profit; every time someone would offer him money he would decline.
Columbia Cohort and Vassar Alumni
After seeing the eye catching performances in the park and subway, we headed back to our temporary respective homes to get ready for our dinner with Vassar alumni. Second times the charm I guess but we arrived on time with Ms. L and the alumni at Oceana. Vassar alumnus Ken majored in political science and works at NBC while Alexandria majored in psychology and economics and works in the business department for Food Network. The great aspect about Vassar is the internships they offer their students; it was through the internships that Ken and Alexandria found their jobs today. We also talked about Vassar being only an undergraduate school; therefore undergraduates get the most attention unlike most colleges in Alexandria’s opinion.

When dinner ended, we all went our separate ways and headed back to the dorms. Only six more days here in the Big Apple and a lot more of my research paper to go.

A Spread Out City full of Love

Instead of being able to sleep in, the entire cohort woke up early to go to the downtown section of Manhattan to see New York University. New York University does not have a formal campus, so I was a little vary of where we were going, but we made it to the admissions office in enough time to go to the information session. Then we took the tour, where we made lots of stops in air-conditioned buildings. This was a relief because the temperature had reached a scorching 100 degrees.

Brochure we received before entering the information session
New York University buildings are designated with purple and white flags 
Interesting Facts about New York University:
1. New York University was described to be a "big cultural experience with many opportunities." NYU has three campuses: one in NYC, another in Abu Dhabi that opened in 2010, and a Shanghai campus that will open in 2013. NYU is truly a "global network" of a university. Study Abroad is also extremely popular at NYU and students take advantage of the 11 international programs of study that are offered.

2. NYU has ten colleges within it and has 230+ areas of study. The most populated school within NYU is the College of Arts and Sciences, and there are other schools such as the Tisch School of Arts and the College of Nursing. There are also core programs, such as the Liberal Studies program, which I was really interested in.  
3. There are 400 student clubs/organizations, along with Division III and club sports. Since NYU isn't a formal campus (refer to number 4), many suspect that it isn't a formal community. But our tour guide Phoebe really stressed that NYU gives its students the incentive to put themselves out there and really meet people. Students also really focus on getting a "real world" experience through internships and work-study. 

4. NYU's NYC campus is located in downtown Greenwich Village, which is pretty urban but also has a very nice feel to it. NYU's founder didn't want students to be gated in; he really wanted the students to explore the city and make better connections. However, most of the colleges within the university are in their own "section" of sorts, along with dorm and dining halls. There are 21 residence halls and housing is guaranteed for all four years. There are two types of meal plans, the week-plan and the semester-plan (Phoebe really suggested the semester plan).

5. Even though NYU has over 20,000 students, majority of the classes are less than 30 people. If students choose to do the Liberal Studies program, their classes will be even smaller, mainly capping at fifteen students. This really appeals to me because if I went to NYU, I would be in a big university but still have small classes, which would be absolutely great. 

6. NYU offers three types of admission plans: Early Decision I & II and Regular Decision. In terms of Early Decision, there is no deferral to the regular decision admission pool, admission officers don't want to make students wait. There are no interviews offered for NYU due to the high amount of applications sent in. In terms of standardized testing, students can either send in the SAT, ACT with writing, or three SAT subject tests - even all three! 

I absolutely loved NYU. It was the most urban campus we saw, and I really liked the feel of it and the different opportunities offered there. At first I wasn't very open to a school without a formal campus, but I realized that that is what makes NYU unique. They really force students to get out of their comfort zones, meet new people, and experience new things.

After visiting NYU, we took the subway, had lunch at a pizza place, and then walked to the World Trade Center. To be honest, looking around and seeing...nothing was somewhat terrifying. Ms. L told us when she saw the attacks on television it didn't seem real. Just looking around and seeing pools where the twin towers used to be was so...sad. There's not other way to describe it except for that it was just very saddening and extremely eerie. I got chills as we left.

United States flag with names of those killed in the 9/11 attacks

South Pool
North pool

Only tree that survived the 9/11 attacks
When we got back to Columbia, we had about two hours before our Vassar dinner. I spent this time doing research for my paper and beginning to write it. By the time I had to stop to get ready, I was three pages in. I'm happy that I'm getting along well so far.

The Vassar Dinner:
Before this dinner, I had already set my mind on not applying to Vassar. After this dinner, I can still say I have no plans on applying to Vassar. That is not to say I did not have a good time at the dinner or did not enjoy the alumni's company. But at the end of the day, I still don't feel like Vassar is a fit for me. The two alum that came were absolutely great, though, and I appreciate that they came out to tell us more about themselves and Vassar. I feel like if Vassar was in a more urban location, then it would be a great school for me. As for the alum, Ken graduated early from Vassar in 2007 due to personal reasons, but he is content with his decision. He graduated with a major in political science and works with NBC. Alexandria graduated from Vassar in 2009 with a major in psychology and a minor (or "correlate" as Vassar calls it) in economics - public policy. 

Filet Mignon!
We went to a really fancy restaurant named Oceana
All of us! Fancy, fancy
Tomorrow is going to be more a free day since we have nothing formal planned. I plan to work on my research paper by getting the first draft done, have someone edit it, and then write the final draft. Should be a fun day! 

A Night Atop the City

The Empire State Building at twilight.
Our first class today was similar to what it usually is, with today's topic of discussion being the role of racism in previous Supreme Court decisions. We reviewed and discussed the Supreme Court cases of Dred Scott v. Sanford, Plessy v. Ferguson, and Brown v. Board of Education (I and II). I knew that, during these times, America was very racist (Sorry to be so blunt); however, I had never expected to see Supreme Court justices so blatantly violate the laws they are supposed to enforce, or twist the interpretation of these laws into actually supporting segregation. It was truly stunning. In fact, that was sort of the theme of the day; in our second class, we watched a video about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay after the 9-11 attacks. I'm not going to give a synopsis of the movie, but I will say that while I am very proud of what America is in comparison to its past and most nations, America is VERY far from a perfect nation, and there is much work to do. After watching this movie detailing what America was doing to these prisoners, I felt much less proud to be an American. Of course, I had no control over what was occurring, nor did most other Americans, but the American government, I believe, should be charged for war crimes in the case of this treatment. I also find it very ironic that George Bush had said that he would "return integrity to the White House."
After the video, we had a big class discussion about when torture of prisoners could be justified. For example, if you have a room full of 30 people to interrogate, and 15 of the men have information on how to stop a bomb that will go off in Manhattan and kill thousands of people, is torture justified? I said, though, that this was not completely relevant to the torture actions of the United States because, as George Bush said himself, we were trying to "bring justice to our enemy," not just save lives. The bomb situation is purely to save lives. I'm just kind of spewing out random things that were interesting, right now; I'm not sure if this is making complete sense.
After my second class, I went with my roommate to the gym to play some 1-on-1 basketball. We have a best-of-5 series going, and although he beat me 11-5 last time, I beat him 11-2 today. After finishing our game, we were able to join another game (it became a 3-on-3 game with us), which we played in for close to an hour before I had to leave to go shower and get ready for going out tonight.
After showering, I met with Tomi, Morvarid, and a girl we met here at Columbia named Brittany. We walked to the subway, and after a transfer, we got off at 53rd Street and 5th Avenue. We walked down to 51st Street, where we visited Saint Patrick's Cathedral, the largest Catholic church in the United States. The church was very impressive, inside and out, although we could not get a picture from the outside due to construction. It was also very important for me to have the chance to pray once again, especially being so far away from my family.

After visiting the cathedral, we walked a few blocks over to the Rockefeller Center, where we would take the elevator up 70 floors to the sight of arguably the best view of New York City! We paid the $25 dollars, which was pricey to me, but then again, anything with a price is pricey to me. We also found it interesting how John D. Rockefeller is STILL getting rich from his grave, charging $25 dollars for an elevator ride and a view! It ended up being well worth the money, though, as you can probably tell from the pictures below. Definitely the best view of a city I have ever had, you could see across both the Hudson and East Rivers and much farther into the distance, although the amount of smog was very disturbing (there is currently an Air Quality Advisory in effect). The views from the Top of the Rock, though, were breathtaking nevertheless. We spent more than an hour up there, and we came at the perfect time of day, as we were able to see the city at sunset, at twilight and at night. I will let the photos explain the rest.

View to the South (Lower Manhattan). That is the Empire State Building.

Southeast. That is the East River, and on the center-right, the tallest building is the Chrysler Building.

To the North, with Central Park