Friday, June 25, 2010

From Syracuse to Rochester

Last night, Mr. Ramsey informed us that we will need to be downstairs in the lobby at 7:15 AM. Today, I woke up when Andrew told me to get up, as Jacky came knocking at our door. It was 7:30 AM. We rushed like a speeding bullet to dress up and bring with us our backpacks. Mr. Ramsey was understanding, as we only got 4 hours of sleep last night. We headed to the University of Rochester, and were amazed by the sights along the way. We arrived in Wallis Hall at 10:00 AM, and our information tour was scheduled for 10:30 AM. Consequently, we waited 30 minutes in the waiting hall. It was a very luxurious one, I might add, filled with spectacular books, games to keep us preoccupied, and even a mini-bar in the corner, where we helped ourselves to water, coffee, and hot chocolate with marshmallows.

I even played an interesting game called “Nine Men’s Morris” with Andrew Woo. We sat around and read pamphlets and talked amongst ourselves, until Patrick O’Neil, an admission officer for Rochester U., greeted us and took us to a room where we all sat around a table.

It was fascinating to hear from a person who helps determine who is accepted to the university. He told us what colleges really want: to see your personality and hear your story. He emphasized the importance of getting an interview, no matter with whom, as long as you tell someone more about yourself and where you are coming from. I could not help but relate this to what I had read. Throughout Isadore Sharp’s memoir, he, as well, strongly emphasized the importance of hiring people with personality and a positive mindset, even if it meant turning down someone who was excellent at the job but lacked charisma. The reason, he said, is that you can train people to do the job, but you can’t instill a different attitude in them. Both he and Patrick were right on the money. While SAT scores and grades are important, the personal statement and interview are just as crucial. Afterward, we had a freshman who attended Kennedy High, Gerard, a sophomore from Texas, and a senior who was our tour guide, to talk to. Especially interesting was Gerard, who was a major rising star in his high school, with a 4.5 GPA, and an outstanding application, as he played varsity basketball for three years and planned his college decision-making since his sophomore year. He was such an inspiration because he came from a similar background as us, from the West Contra Costa Unified School District, and decided to study somewhere outside of California because he believes it is important to explore and put yourself out there in a different environment, even if it’s somewhere you might not necessarily be comfortable.

Then we toured Rochester University. It was simply beautiful. It has to be the most enormous college campus I have ever visited or seen. The buildings there are wonderful and have such a rich history, which our tour guide explained to us. Afterwards we headed for some lunch at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que with another admission officer from Rochester, Haniya Selzer, who was truly delightful. She further explained to us what Rochester looks forward to from applicants and what we can expect from Rochester. It definitely opened my eyes to a school outside of the UC system. I was particularly interested in the Pre-Med and Dentistry school they have in Rochester U.; it sounded great and I might look into it more once I get back home. Unfortunately, we did not make it on time for the scheduled Erie Canal Tour.

We then made our way to the Susan B. Anthony House Tour, where I learned more about one of the greatest suffragists in history. It was just amazing to be in her house, where most things were preserved, but many things renovated to match what old pictures showed. It reeked of amazing history. It was interesting that she actually added an entire third floor on her house, where she headed meetings with her suffragist companions.

Afterward, we went to the airport to switch cars and then we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our dinner at the Scotch and Sirloin Restaurant with the Cornell admission officer, Jill K. Schaffer. The restaurant was very unique, wooden floors and walls gave it a prestigious sense. What piqued my interest is that Jill told us that Cornell has seven different schools from which applicants must choose from to begin their freshmen year. However, they can switch their intended major anytime and simply choose a different school. She, as well, reminded us how important personality is and also that financial aid is always in reach; to not limit yourself to a particular school because of the cost. That should not be the most important thing, and neither is the prestige of the university, as long as you are truly interested in what it has to offer you. After the dinner, we arrived at the hotel at 10:30 and headed downstairs to the pool, where we enjoyed ourselves for about an hour.

Then we returned to our room, where we are currently blogging. I am looking forward to going to finally going to Cornell tomorrow!

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