Monday, May 9, 2011

More than the Obvious

Tonight the Columbia cohort had the opportunity to attend a dinner at the lovely La Folie for an opportunity to speak with past participants in the program as well as Columbia graduates.

We arrived at the restaurant and the seats were arranged so that all of the students were able to sit near Mitchell Flax, a graduate of the Columbia class of ’09. Mr. Flax, currently a Geometry and Algebra teacher at Skyline High School, spoke to us about the fine points of life at Columbia. He enthralled us with stories that depicted more about Columbia than the stats; he explained the culture, tempo, and inner workings of student life in New York City. (I am particularly looking forward to exploring Columbia’s intricate underground tunnel system.)

Mr. Flax is also a member of the Bay Area Columbia Alumni Association and was able to provide us with invaluable information about the application and interview process. Having interviewed many prospective Lions, Mr. Flax stressed the importance of developing more than just a visually appealing application. He mentioned that many students with outstanding SAT scores, who are valedictorian and participate in tons of extra-curricular clubs, are immediately categorized as “not right” for Columbia because they don’t have a true passion.

In other words, it is more important to genuinely enjoy the activities you participate in, than to try and manufacture a long list that will merely appear impressive to colleges.

The cab driver who felt that the streets of San Francisco were actually a racetrack was a thrilling way to cap off an electrifying night. I am counting down the days to our departure and slowly beginning to grasp the magnitude of the journey I am embarking on.

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