My Kind of College
October 14, 2010 § Leave a comment
This is going to be an image-less post today because frankly, I didn’t take any pictures today. Nor am I sprightly enough to search for pictures on Google and post them 🙂
Today, the seniors at my school visited various college campuses around Houston. I went to Rice University with about thirty people and we were given a tour by one of our English teachers who attends graduate school there. Rice was gorgeous in every possible way. I think my favorite aspect of the campus was the openness, the easy structure and layout, and the extreme mellowness embodied by everyone and everything, including the squirrels! My friend Mollie even fed a pretzel to a squirrel. He just came right up and nibbled the pretzel straight from her hand! But as I was walking around, I just couldn’t imagine attending the university. I came home and evaluated what I really wanted in a college and here’s what I came up with:
1. A big campus. I have come to realize that I am not one for small campuses. No, after touring Rice today, I thought wait, that’s it? I want lots of places to roam and explore, I want to get lost once in awhile, I want to take twenty minute walks to morning class so I can work off muffins and chocolate milk. A small campus would be too similar to a big boarding school or a really big high school to me. I’d feel caged. No can do.
2. Tradition and camaraderie. One of the biggest things I crave for college is the tradition and the camaraderie. I love how everyone is connected and united through quirky little rituals that are sometimes completely ridiculous and crazy, but treasured and sacred all the same. I think it is the traditions that define a school. Two, three, four generations later, students will share the same traditions.
3. Small-ish classes. This is kind of contradictory to the first one, but I do want small-ish classes where discussions and lectures are very fluid and full of opinions. It’s less chaotic and easier to focus. It’d also be great to develop close relationships with my professors and peers!
4. Big city location. I like big cities. The hustle and bustle, the activity, the neverending list of things to do, the culture, the easy transportation. I don’t like small towns, though I’ve lived in small towns all my life. San Francisco, New York, Austin, Chicago, St. Louis, heck even Denver would do! I just want a big city! Also, from my personal experiences and from what I’ve heard from people that do attend colleges in big cities, it is a wonderful advantage to live so close to a big city because classes often take place in museums, theaters, or great metropolitan areas that smaller cities just can’t offer.
5. Core curriculum or interdisciplinary curriculum. As of right now, I know that Columbia and Stanford both do this. I’m not too sure about other universities yet, which means… Research! Basically, such a curriculum would (and requires to) give you a taste in several different fields so you get a little bit of everything.
6. Academic rigor, challenge, and interest. In high school, we do a lot of busy work and assignments that are, for lack of a better word, easy. Even tests and research papers that are long and drawn-out and even hard at times are difficult to do because they are required, everyone does the same thing, and frankly, we do it for the grades. In college, on the other hand, I want to focus on fields that I’m truly interested in. For me, that’s history and literature and language, perhaps even psychology and business. I don’t mind working my butt off for any of these subjects at all because I want to learn more. I want to be challenged in these areas because it’s what I chose to learn about.
7. A social scene. It’s not a deciding factor by any means, but I would prefer it if my future university would have some type of a social scene. I’d love a semi-active Greek life because I like the idea of sisterhood and whatnot. But, I’m not just talking about parties and mixers and etcetera. I’m also talking about football games and basketball games where fans get really in the moment.
8. Great facilities. Again, this is more of a bonus than an actual make-it-or-break-it deal. I would love a massive, gorgeous library like Green Library at Stanford or the main library at NYU (so. drop-dead. insanely. beautiful). The suite-style dorms are impeccable over at UCBerkeley and I know that UTAustin has great dorms, as well. The gym at Rice is state-of-the-art and super pretty. Cafeterias… I still love WashU’s cafeteria the best and I’m also pretty hooked on Berkeley’s. Columbia’s point system also sounds amazing, but I haven’t actually seen any of their cafeterias.
9. Lots of extracurriculars. Actually, I’m sure this is true for every school. I’m looking for lots of clubs, lots of programs, lots of organizations. I’m really looking forward to being in various groups and niches in college, having lots of friends in lots of different places. And it’d be fun to have a place to explore all my different interests. For this, I remember USC most clearly actually because they talked about an extracurricular activity fair that they hold on this superlong walkway and they have the most random, cool clubs ever.
10. A strong study abroad program. Now, this one is really important to me. Most of the schools that I’m interested in do support great study abroad programs. I’m a big traveler and I’m so intent on not just learning about but actually experiencing other cultures and seeing the sights and hearing the sounds and tasting the food of different countries. I want to go somewhere mellow and relaxing like Australia or somewhere so full of history and culture like Italy or Spain. So far, I’ve been most impressed with NYU and Columbia’s extensive study-abroad programs, but I do know that most schools do offer really great choices in this aspect.
and just one more:
11. A pretty campus! At Stanford, I was enamored with the pretty yellow buildings with red, scalloped roof tiles and its picturesque murals. I’d look out the window during class and behold a splendid sight of mountains and palm trees. When I visited Columbia, I was drawn into the perfect balance between a traditional campus with its stately, gothic-style buildings surrounded by a contemporary city, cars zooming by on Amsterdam Avenue. I’ve heard that Northwestern’s beauty is unrivaled, with its lake and trees and ivy-covered buildings. University of Chicago, as I recall, looks just like Hogwarts. UNC, where I grew up, is covered with trees and blue skies. Beautiful campuses are everywhere.
What are you looking for in an university?