Waking up was a great feeling today with more energy and relief from all the commotion in the past. It has been a godsend to have a cozy bed to sleep in and wake up to the chill morning breeze from the ongoing air conditioner in our room. I woke up early because we arranged our college tour of the University of Rochester this morning and also to have a lunch with one of their admissions officer. All of the Cornell students gathered at the lobby, refreshed, and we took off in quick fashion in our two vehicles to Rochester, which was about an hour and a half drive from our Sheraton Hotel in Syracuse.
The campus size of the University of Rochester was seemingly small but actually had a feeling of a large presence once entering under the overpass with a large sign declaring, “University of Rochester.” We learned that this university was built on an old golf course that moved to a different location, but fortunately provided the beautiful scenery created by the trees, streams of water, and the well-cut patches of grass. The university was covered with older looking buildings that did not have the excessive modern feel but was more mature in its classic fashion. It was a mix of a British modern building with a grand entrance accompanied by two pillars and a grand series of white, marble staircase. We found the Office of Rochester Admissions and were welcomed by a secretary who was happy to see the ILC come to visit her college. She kindly referenced us to wait a little bait in a gorgeous waiting room which was actually a lobby for the staff; displaying board games and books to entertain visitors as well as complimentary drinks. Chris Habash and I attempted to play a board game called “Nine Men’s Morris,” a game similar to the Korean game “Go” but ended up getting nowhere. But it was still worth trying to learn a new game that in my opinion fascinated my strategic side for games.
In no time, an admission officer named Patrick O’Neale who informed us on interesting facts about Rochester, why undergraduates prefer it over other decent options, and the flexibility in the curriculum offered there that allows for the cumulative success of the student body there at Rochester. First of all, many factors such as the small sized school body of 4,500 from that at public institutions allow for greater social interactions between people as a community, give students chances to know the teacher, work with them more closely in their respective fields, and overall gives students more attention both in terms of education as well as financial aid. One enticing piece of info was that Rochester met 100% of any student showing need of financial aid. With rising prices in different schools especially the UC system, it is an attractive factor to offer financial aid and also numerous merit scholarships. Another was a curriculum that allowed students to choose their favorite classes to study in and be free of a strict class schedule to graduate. This translates to students at Rochester getting to study in their selective fields and most likely generate the most out of their work, which sort of resonates the feel of Plato with having individuals doing jobs their best at and avoid the havoc of doing others. The officer Patrick offered insightful information that was then followed up by a former Kennedy student named Jerard who currently attends the University of Rochester.
I was definitely interested as to how Jerard made the decision to attend this university over others and he seems to be having a great time both studying as well as pursuing enjoyable activities such as sports. He talked about some of the personal achievements he has done back at Kennedy and how he maintained an outstanding GPA of 4.5 and also participated in extracurriculars. But at the same time he was a truly sincere person, who did not pretend to be anyone else but himself when it came to applying to Rochester and surely other universities; doing activities and classes that interested him. I see him as a great person that many of us including myself should emulate and attempt to give to others to let them carry the torch. It was also nice to see someone from the Bay Area to bring some familiarity.
Our tour guide eventually came to lead us with Jerard accompanying the campus tour of Rochester, which was simply beautiful especially on an unexpected sunny, breezy day. All the scenes of nature with the occasional sculptures and buildings made this place literally a paradise of knowledge and peace. It was quiet, relaxing, and many of the names processed in my mind such as Frederick Douglass, Augustine, Plato, and all these philosophers or advocates that earned their name to be chiseled in the Rochester buildings. I extremely appreciated the library, where in the front had a gigantic trim engraved with the names of philosophers which included those mentioned and many more. We entered and walked up a symmetrical marble staircase to be immersed in a learning sanctuary. There were many of these smaller study rooms that had a classic style to it that made it so calming to the mind that there were some students sleeping on the couches. Aside from the interior, the environment of Rochester was invigorating and had its own sense of independence that is surely embodied in the student body.
At that point in time, we had not eaten any breakfast because in our anticipation arranged lunch with a Rochester admissions officer at the Dinosaur BBQ in the outskirts of the more urban sector of Rochester. We all got to personally meet the officer, learn some more material about Rochester and reaffirm common things when applying to any university in general. I just appreciated how friendly she was and willing to spend her time with us to brighten our futures and really show how much Rochester cares about its potential undergrads. As an aside, the barbeque was great and definitely the best bbq in a long time.
The highlight of the day was visiting the Susan B. Anthony Museum and her actual home with her sisters for over 40 years, where it eventually ended up being her real place of death for the most pivotal activist for woman rights. I remember Mr. Wilson of my AP U.S. History class putting a large emphasis on woman pioneers such as Susan Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who all changed society today due to their commitment to bringing equality to women regardless of their circumstance. It was like visiting a small Smithsonian museum, but it did not need all the fancy setup because the understanding of who this woman was and walking in the same house she lived in made it so interactive. It was rewarding to see how my old knowledge from APUSH seemed to come to use in understanding the tour and was only substantiated with this visit; letting me come to reality that Susan B. Antony was not a story but a true phenomenon of her time.
We concluded this amazing day with another engagement with a Cornell admissions officer who met us at the Scotch and Sirloin restaurant. As I ate one of the most scrumptious New York steak in my life and a homemade, angel-like cheesecake, we all listened to Jill Schaffer explained to us pretty much every facet of Cornell from the details of admission which includes tuition and housing, to extracurriculars including sports, Greek life, the four colleges, and some history of its establishment as one of the biggest Ivy League schools. It puts emphasis on the idea that in this country and for that matter the world that there are so many universities that offer a great course and opportunity for all students regardless of who you are but for what you have done. When I come back from this program at the end of the summer, I will continue my work to apply to all schools, keeping my options open but specified to my interest, but also put more time in motivating friends as well as classmates to pursue these opportunities. So many people need to be here to understand the enormous impact college is going to have, and with so many out there there will be that one for you to embrace.
So I hope to get some good sleep as tomorrow we will be finally leaving Syracuse to go to Ithaca, NY and begin the long-awaited CORNELL summer school.