Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Cream of Wheat"

After a refreshing three hours of sleep, I was up and ready to start my day. The Eastern time change, which is three hours ahead of California in the West Coast, is beginning to take a toll on me.

The rays of the warm Georgian sun would not be the only thing we would be absorbing today—we were scheduled for a focus session and tour at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

We had a quick breakfast at the Waffle House by our hotel. I ordered a delicious chocolate chip waffle and a glass of milk. Ms. Bulls and Kye ordered a side of grits, and upon hearing my comment on never having tasted or seen grits before, Kye offered me a spoonful after mixing butter and sugar into it. It tasted alright—creamy and a bit sandy. I am very glad that every day of this trip, I am being exposed to and trying new things. It is really a one-of-a-kind learning experience outside the classroom.

After breakfast, we were well on our way to attend the focus session and tour at Emory University. As we entered the highway, we began to worry when we saw it was packed full of morning commuters. However, we made it to the campus in plenty of time and filed into a neat, overly air-conditioned room to begin the session.

Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia

I learned more than a handful about Emory from the admissions officer that spoke to us at the meeting.

Emory University is a liberal arts college—they encourage students to take courses and engage in activities that are new to aid them in finding an interest that they are passionate about. Therefore, students are able to have an undeclared major until the end of their sophomore year, which allows them four full semesters to explore many options.

Oxford is a college within Emory (about forty miles away from the main campus) set aside specifically for freshmen and sophomores. With an amazing student population of 600, it is very tightly knit, which can be a good or a bad thing.

Incoming freshmen may choose to apply to Oxford or Emory; however, Oxford students eventually transfer to Emory as juniors to finish their four-year studies there.

One thing that makes Emory University distinct has to be its study abroad and philanthropy projects, something I admire greatly. Half of all Emory students travel abroad, serve in internships, or volunteer. The college emphasizes the belief of "giving back to the community", an idea I wholly support and agree with.

At my school, I myself am engaged in many service and volunteer clubs and programs, and I think it truly is wonderful to see the scale in which it grows from a high school to a college environment.

The diversity at Emory is just as impressive. Seventeen percent of students are from Georgia, thirty from the Southeast, and fifteen percent of the incoming freshmen are from all over the globe. A diverse campus is definitely an important aspect for me. Growing up in the WCCUSD, it has become something I cherish and am grateful for, and I no doubt want to study in a diverse, thriving college—the experience of learning and accepting other cultures, I know, is priceless.

The campus of Emory is beautiful. Trees line the paved trails throughout the school, and the architecture of the buildings are lovely and modern—many of them are new and constructed of marble of a light, pearly color. It is quite a sight.

So, how can you, you're asking, increase your chances of seeing these breath-taking constructs and participate in the plethora of student programs yourself?

Well, Emory University admissions officers look at seven main things when you apply to the school:

1) Your transcript: Did you challenge yourself with what your high school has to offer in terms of rigorous academics and courses?

2) Your grades: How did you do in those difficult courses? Keep in mind that an "A" in an easy class may not exactly measure up to a "B" in a more challenging one.

3) Your test scores: SATs or ACTs. The mid-50% range for SAT scores is between 1960 - 2250. ACT is 30-33. However, remember that some students admitted may fall below or above the line in some cases.

4) Your extra-curricular activities: How involved are you in your school? Do you have an activity, such as a sport, that you are committed to? Also, take advantage of the writing portions to describe your activities. The admissions officers read them. Really.

5) Your essays: Tell them about yourself. They don't know you at all; it is, essentially, your voice and your way of telling the officers who you are and what makes you a unique individual.

6) Letter of recommendation: Please, parents, do your kids a favor: leave this job up to your child's school counselor, teacher, or so on and so forth.

7) Your demonstrated interest: Have you visited the university's campus? Attended a focus session? Contacted an admissions officer? They have your visits on file.

I find Emory University compelling—a liberal arts college would allow me to explore new things that would probably never even occur in my mind. In addition, it really is community-based, both locally and globally. Their enrichment programs are fantastic, and there is a beautiful balance between academics and student activities. It is located in the urban city of Atlanta. However, it is secluded from the city, so students there receive and experience a real college setting. Also, as a private university, it is one-hundred percent needs-blind and offers generous financial aid.

However, I am unsure if I want to attend a liberal arts college. I feel as though the type of person I am does not fit in at a school such as Emory. I like to travel in a straight line—figuratively, of course. Emory is without a doubt a great school, but I after the college visits today, I am beginning to figure out exactly what type of college I am looking for and would like to attend. I think I prefer a more strict and orderly curriculum, something that the Georgia Institute of Technology may have to offer.

Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia

As Georgia Tech. came into view, I gazed in awe, once again, at the intricate architecture of the institute buildings. They were a modern take on the many traditional brick buildings around city, but upgraded with crystal-clear glass walls. It is a traditional green campus in a city setting, the backdrop of the school being the proud, towering skyscrapers of Atlanta.

The informational meeting covered many aspects of the college, including the typical learning styles of its students: experimental, hands-on, practical, problem solving, and application based. Georgia Tech. is a "home away from home" for high caliber students, providing world-class academics, and is ranked #7 for the best public university in the country.

One of the things I am interested in this institution is its College of Sciences, which include majors in biology, biochemistry,  earth and atmospheric sciences, and psychology. I may want to study medicine in my fast-approaching future, and I was very surprised to hear that forty-two to forty-six percent of students in this College move on to medical school and an amazing ninety percent advance with specialized counseling.

Overall, it was a very fine day of college touring, and I learned so much from the admissions officers of these two colleges that can apply to any university I may have interest in attending.

One thing that was discussed in both of the informational sessions was admitting students that "fit" into their campus. It really opened my mind, and I suddenly realized why one should not be upset if rejected from the school of their dreams—it simply means that that college was not meant for you, either academically, socially, or more.

After Georgia Tech., we decided to stop for lunch at Varsity, a drive-in eatery. We relaxed in the car as we awaited our food to be brought to us. The server kindly gave us some of their neat hats after Aiyana asked him for one.
We returned to our hotel after trying to locate a Wal-Mart, to no avail. After some blogging and rest, we prepared for our dinner at ECCO with Ms. Merideth Ray, an admissions officer from Georgia Institute of Technology.

We had a pleasant dinner and had the opportunity to talk about Georgia Tech. Our conversation ranged from the application process, which included information about personal statements, to student services for events such as when a student from out of state feels homesick.

Aiyana, Kye, and I shared an appetizer of mussels with preserved lemon, paprika, and coriander. It tasted extremely fishy—more than I had anticipated.

Mrs. Ray was very social and kept us very engaged in discussing the institute, and I can honestly say that my perception of the college has changed after the dinner. I feel more informed and comfortable with Georgia Tech. Although I am unsure if I will be applying there in the future, I am confident that if I do, I will be well-educated about the school and make a wiser, better decision when choosing the college of my choice. I am thankful we had the wonderful opportunity to sit down and talk with Mrs. Ray because all of us took something away from that dinner that will help us wherever we may decide to apply.

1 comment:

  1. Julia,

    What an outstanding accounting of your day. Thank you for sharing with us.

    Traveling world as you are right now (even if it's just a small part of that world) allows you to sample cultures and foods you might not even consider otherwise. I enjoyed you writing about some of those food options but I couldn't help but notice you made no effort to write about how you would try to introduce grits back into the Pinole community.

    Your college site visits seem to be opening up new options for you. This has always been one of the main purposes of the ILC so it warms our collective hearts t read that there's even a small amount of success. Too many of our ILCers ask for our scholarships knowing full well what our goals are even though they've already made up their minds and have actually closed them to alternatives.

    What we have always sought is that when you decide where to apply you've made your decision an informed decision. It's difficult to fathom that when only 16 years of age any one of you knows so much about the world that their your destiny been predetermined by you.