Friday, June 25, 2010

Hidden Gems

Today, the Cornell crew visited many amazing “hidden gems” in the city of Rochester, NY. We began our day at 7:15 a.m. in the lobby of the hotel and piled into the cars as we began our 1.5 hour drive to the city of Rochester. Mr. Ramsey, Alex, Andrew W. and I, were all in one car and Ms. Kaplan, Jacky, Wing, and Andrew G were in the other. We arrived at the University of Rochester a bit ahead of schedule and waited a bit in a very nice lounge area in the University of Rochester admissions building.

I had a very positive first impression of the University of Rochester. However, my first glance of the city of Rochester was not very encouraging to me as a prospective applicant. It seemed like a small, historic town, which was a turn off for me as I was looking for a big urban city very close to school. On the other hand, the campus was absolutely beautiful and our information session was amazing. The setting was an intimate conversation-style information session held in a conference room with only the ILC team. The admissions officer leading the presentation was Patrick O’Neill, who was very enthusiastic and gave us a lot of great information.

For me, the most impressive piece of information I received today was the absence of a core curriculum at the University of Rochester. Their philosophy is “college should be about learning what you want.” This really resonated with me and it reminded me very much of the Open Curriculum at Brown University. I find that I am more inclined towards schools such as Rochester and Brown where they really stress taking courses because you want to, not because you are required to, like high school. Another program at the university that captured my interest was the Take Five program- which allows students to stay a fifth year of school at the University of Rochester tuition free to learn about a subject, as long as the subject you are studying is not the same as your major. Their retention rate (or “happiness factor” as Patrick called it) is about 97-98%, which is very impressive. Both Patrick and John stressed the importance of having an interview, as it helps in the admissions process, and also in applying for merit scholarships.

We also got meet with Jerard who is a graduate from Kennedy High School in WCCUSD. He has just finished his freshman year at the University of Rochester and is spending his summer working in research labs on campus. He is both assisting one research project and performing one of his own. Our tour guide, John, noted that there are more research opportunities than people to fill them. And with their 240+ student clubs and organizations (which includes a Quidditch team!), John assured us there is plenty to do in Rochester. I soon found out that it is the 3rd largest city in New York. As we left the university to head to the Dinosaur Bar-B-Q, I was able to see the real city of Rochester. There were many impressive buildings and skyscrapers and it certainly was very much an urban city. The University of Rochester is truly an undiscovered gem and I will definitively consider applying.

Now, I have a riddle for you. The following is a nursery rhyme that we heard today:

“Send in the doctor,

Send in the nurse,

Send in the lady with the alligator purse,

Mumps says the doctor,

Measles says the nurse,

Vote says the lady with the lady with the alligator purse.”

Do you know who the lady with the alligator purse is?

It is Susan B. Anthony, and today, we visited her home in Rochester. We were led on our tour by Joann Middleton and she gave us a great overview of Susan B. Anthony’s life and lasting influence. All I can say is this woman was amazing. She was president of the Woman Suffrage Association, which was headquartered in the attic she had built on top of her home and was even arrested for voting! It is amazing to see how much has changed. I learned that for 39 years, Susan would travel to Washington D.C. and address Congress pleading with them for a new amendment that Elizabeth Cady Stanton and she had written. Now that is dedication!

After our eventful day in the city of Rochester, we headed to the Syracuse airport to return the cars we rented in Connecticut and get new ones. We then had about two hours to ourselves to freshen up before our dinner at the Scotch and Sirloin restaurant where we met with Jill Schaffer, a Cornell School of Engineering admissions officer. The evening was wonderful. Not only was the food fabulous, but I also learned a lot from Mrs. Schaffer about Cornell. She told us that there is one weekend in April when the Stalter Hotel, the hotel used as a training ground for the students in the hotel school, is completely run by the students. She also noted that Cornell is the most diverse of all the Ivies in terms of ethnicity and geographic location as well as the fact that faculty live in the dorms and are easily accessible to students, if they reach out. One thing that I thought was very interesting was the Freshman Writing Seminars. All students are required to take two, but after that you can take as many as you want. There are about 150 topics available and it really intrigued me.

Today was definitely a very busy day, and it was well worth it. Tomorrow, we are meeting in the lobby at 8 a.m. and we will drive off to check into Cornell, our home for the next three weeks.


  1. I know who the lady with the alligator purse is! Invaluable information

  2. Hi Beilul,

    Glad to hear you all finally reached the intended destinations!

    I'm enjoying the Cornell blogs.

    We're having a terrifc time in NYC. Students move into ther dorms tomorrow.