Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Never Really Liked the Idea...

...of a school such as Yale University, which is wholly ironic given my keen, if ignorant, interest in Columbia. Yale University is prestigious, which is not the problem. It is the #2 ranked university (generally speaking) in the country. Again, that is not the issue; Columbia is arguably ranked #3 in the nation, at that. I just always thought that these schools, of which I would associate the likes of Harvard and Princeton, had a sort-of superior, haughty nature to them—an atmosphere of arrogance.

But, I was pleasantly surprised, and coincidentally convinced that Yale University is not of that stereotype. I loved it, and as much as I really hate going back on my previous notions, I'm definitely applying. The university is astounding for multiple reasons, and it had me in shock at first, which probably amplified things.

First, the university was considerably urban—this is what attracted my immediate focus and appealed to me sharply. I honestly thought it was desolate and isolated. And, I am ecstatic that it is, in fact, integrated in that sense.

Following that immediate realization, I was able to seriously take in what was educating me in regards to the campus and school. And, I am impressed. What made the school so unique was its sense of tradition and timelessness. No other school has provided me with such an extensive and entertaining background on the school itself. There's a mood of unity because identity is the first thing you’re provided at Yale University. The name speaks volumes, and the students speak even louder. They have a home and they are aware of it. And, that, blog reader, is a ridiculously persuasive aspect. The indirect rhetoric even coerced me into buying a sweatshirt. Luckily, it doubles for my high school, 2012 class color, so I have a back-up explanation if my relationship with the Yalies goes south.

That, however, was not the most impressive college epiphany of the night. After leaving New Haven and arriving in New York again, we quickly changed and met both Yale and U. Penn. alumni for dinner at Milo's. It's a seafood eatery (and it doubles as a wallet eatery).

I gravitated toward the U. Penn. alumnus to my left, with fair game as a Yale alumnus was situated to my right. And, this is especially astounding given my shear awe at Yale and in regards to the complete, mental 180 turn in my collegiate relationship with Yale.

The U. Penn alum to my left had just finished his commitment to Teach for America (TFA), a program I hope to pursue, actually, and he graduated with the class of 2009. Given my extensive tour at U. Penn already, in addition to the lunch meeting with an outreach and admissions officer of the school, I had a great idea of the school. But, this time around, I was more excited. Because, with such information already available, the conversation was not necessarily an information session, but, well, a conversation. We discussed, debated, and really delved deep into our lobes to explore the core of the university. And, after such discussion, I am disappointed.

I can't believe U. Penn is now challenging my top-choice university for three years running—Columbia University. I am not gullible, and I do not try to embrace naivety, but after two meals and a couple of hours around the campus, my mind has genuinely settled permanently and comfortably with U. Penn. I cannot wait for tomorrow (our orientation to Columbia University). I need—I absolutely need to hear from Columbia University. The thought of my mind changing is both exciting and frightening, but I feel like I haven't given my top-choice a fair shot yet.

What allowed me to form such potent conclusions revolving around the University of Pennsylvania was its unique atmosphere. At U. Penn, from what I gathered, you have both the rigor and respect of an Ivy League university and the social availability and vivacious mood of a California U.C., for instance. It's just astounding—the genius tangential blending of the best of both university worlds. U. Penn is incredible, and I cannot wait to apply, even at the risk of Columbia University.

Don't get me wrong; I have full faith in Columbia securing that top spot. And, I'll be giving the E.D. decision to Columbia either way, I'm sure. U. Penn isn't nearly as selective, not to imply that it is easy—that is not the case. But, in comparison to the #3 national university, it's simple.

But, sometimes simple is the best way to go. I'll be able to elaborate on this more by the end of tomorrow, after my first experience at Columbia. I never really liked the idea of Columbia being outdone, but the thought is impressive in itself. There is attraction within the concept, and that's one of the things I just so happen to looking for.


  1. "Wallet eatery" -- funny. Glad you are finding out that just because a school is ranked #1 or #2 and doesn't mean it has "an atmosphere of arrogance". This is not to say that places like Harvard and Yale are completely devoid of arrogant jerks--but it does mean one can't know the atmosphere of a place just by its reputation.

  2. Will,

    I'm glad that you're finally fully entrenched at Columbia and won't be making too many more site visits this trip. You can't afford to fall in love with too many more schools--your head might explode and the we have a heck of a problem with insurance and lots of dry cleaning.

    It's not a universal given but we should avoid prejudging anything. We need to approach people, places and things with an open mind and then, once we know more, we can either fall in love or put them at the top of our "no freaking way" list.

    You're the second person who's alluded to the cost of that dinner. Since I'm responsible for some of the money that pays form all of this, I'm feeling something of a twinge on the cheek where my wallet usually rests.