Thursday, July 7, 2011

The ILC’s Maiden Voyage to Vanderbilt: Hotlanta’s Higher Education

Greetings from Atlanta, Georgia; we are at a burger spot called “The Varsity,” in the middle of a day filled with college exploration. This morning I awoke early, eager to start my day. We planned to attend admissions sessions at both Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology also known as Georgia Tech, but before we could go there, we had to fuel up with breakfast at the Waffle House. There I enjoyed a simple layout of waffles and grits, which I began to gulf down as soon as it hit the table. As we sat and talked with each other during breakfast, I learned an important lesson from my cohort Julia: I learned that even though as people we may be the same, we can be totally different due to our exposure through the time of our development. In this instance, I had subconsciously chosen grits because I've been eating them for years, but Julia asked me what grits were. I was shocked to hear she had never eaten grits. I offered her some and she accepted, an action I do commend her on because trying new things isn't easy, and she found them interesting yet enjoyable. Examining the depth of the experience I had witnessed was cut short because we got up to leave the restaurant to go to Emory.

After some navigation blunders, we finally made it to the school. I was immediately taken by its modern appeal that still made attempts to capture traditional architecture by incorporating marble. I was pleased to learn that Emory is not only need blind, but it promises to meet 100% of its students financial need. I was also pleased to hear that Emory examines students against Georgia’s own high schools. Sadly, I was disappointed in the fact that applying early decision to Emory meant that upon my acceptance I’d be forced to attend that school. It has a rich history, with origins outside of Atlanta.

Its original building is about 40 miles away in Oxford, Georgia.

In 1915 they received $1,000,000 in stock and land in Atlanta from the President of Coca Cola and was rechartered as Emory University. Since then the two have maintained a great relationship. As we walked around, I was excited to see all of the new buildings and development across campus. Examples of this can be seen in Emory’s new themed freshmen dorms and Woodruff library.

The next college we visited was Georgia Tech. This school I had heard of many times but I only knew of them through their well known athletic programs. We arrived at the campus and the first thing I noticed was the huge stadium that the football team plays in—it’s featured constantly on ESPN during the NCAA football season. Although the stadium was an engineering feat, I wasn’t impressed because I see this side of Georgia Tech all the time.

Admissions Counselor Ashley Brooks changed that perception as she gave her admissions presentation. I was surprised to find that Georgia Tech was ranked 7th in the country among all public universities. I enjoyed the philosophy for learning that Georgia Tech illustrated. They stressed work not only inside but outside the classroom. I agree with their teaching style, which is application based, hands on, practical, experimental teaching creating problem solvers. They are a huge campus made up of 400 acres with over 20,000 students. They have plenty of majors to choose from—35 in total. The school is so large that they have developed their own efficient transportation, serving the main campus itself and the community. Their buildings are made of majestic red brick capturing the origins of America’s oldest technological school.

Emory has amazing athletic facilities, a state of the art recreation center with 4 stories worth of basketball gyms, dance rooms, pools, an indoor track and more. Academically, Emory is also a top contender with their impressive computer center equipped with touch screens and Mac computers.

The student life at Emory is as vibrant as any; walls are filled with lines of potential opportunities for students. The DUC—Dobbs University Center—the student hangout, is always mentioned as the place to be on campus. It is apparent that the students truly love their school.

After taking some time out at the hotel, we ventured to “Ecco” a restaurant in downtown Atlanta to meet Mrs. Meredith Ray, the Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at the Georgia Institute of Technology. As soon as we met her at the door we immediately began asking questions. She didn’t falter and answered every question; even when we enclosed her at the door while waiting for our table, she stood confident. It was easy to talk to her because she had experience with the Bay Area, so we were able to compare Georgia Tech’s environment to what we see every day in California. I learned about getting around the massive specimen which is Georgia Tech’s campus and Atlanta using MARTA, the main public transportation agent for Atlanta. I learned in depth about campus life from Mrs. Ray, employee and alumni of Georgia Tech. She portrayed Georgia Tech as a balanced environment where students work hard and play hard too with concerts, athletic events, Greek life, even parties, and more things. The campus and the community are tightly knit in a cycle of service and support shared by both sides. Studying abroad is a definite possibility at Georgia Tech because they have many worldwide campuses and if your destination has no campus, there is a good chance Georgia Tech has a good relationship with that school. Research is a requirement at this school so she suggested we partner with a teacher for research.

We talked so much this evening, but the only thing that allowed us to separate was the delicious food served by the Ecco staff. As the night went on, sometime after dessert, we decided to part ways. We had enthralled ourselves in conversation so much that we forgot to take a group picture with Mrs. Ray. Spending time talking to Mrs. Ray on a personal level really showed me that admissions officers are normal people. Since they have the power to admit or deny you from college, one could be intimidated by them, but in truth they only want the best for the student and the university.


  1. Hi Kye,

    I love the pictures you have taken of the food (specially the ice cream :). You have learned a lot not only about the schools, but the people behind the processes. Great job.

  2. Kye,

    As you know, grits are something of a cultural icon of the South and they're not enjoyed all that much by people either not from the South or without ancestral ties to the South.

    You may have noticed but Julia probably does not hail from the South.

    On the other hand, whereas the staple at your home is probably potatoes, at her home it's probably rice. Once again, this is cultural. Go to her home for a meal and it's most likely you'll see things put before you that you've never heard or seen before.

    Before you get all tied up in the college admissions process you need to discuss with Sue Kim exactly what it means when you apply Early Decision, Regular Decision and Early Application. They're all different and have different rules that apply. The process can be complicated and that's why you need someone to help guide you through it.