Thursday, July 16, 2009

College Fair

So, let me first say how many people were at the college fair. Beforehand, I walked across the street with a friend for a quick lunch. Through the window, we could see Columbia and Alfred Learner Hall, where the College Fair was being held. The doors didn't open until a little bit after 12:30, and line stretched almost across the entire block on which Columbia University sat. Inside, it took my friend and I at least three full minutes just to get around a corner of tables. There was a ridiculous amount of people packed into that auditorium. So with this in mind, imagine how difficult it was for me approach the different tables. Usually, the most I could do was squeeze an arm through and grab brochures and such. Every now and then I got lucky and was able to have a fewe words with an admissions officer, but soon after, another flow of students would push through. And keep in mind that I'm five feet tall, while the majority of kids were at least maybe 5'3". Other times if I was lucky enough to squeeze through but the admissions officer(s) was/were already speaking with another student, I would stand there for a few minutes and listen to the conversation.

I think I was lucky to have gone with the friend that I went with. Almost all of the colleges at the fair were on the east coast, so I only knew some of the more prestigious ones. She, on the other hand, knew a lot of them and was able to give me some general information on them. If it wasn't for her, I probably would have bypassed several colleges that I ended up taking information from. I avoided getting information from the more prestigious universities that I have already researched, like Columbia and Harvard. I wanted to expand my spectrum of choices and instead pinpointed colleges I have not heard anything about, like Clark University, Williams, Marist, etc. In skimming through the different brochures I procured, I selected a few which I read in detail first. Williams sounds like a really good college -- apparently it is ranked #1 in the nation as a liberal arts college. I got a brochure for Boston College, which I have yet to look over -- best for last! The University of Massachusetts Amherst is interesting -- it actually reminds me of UPenn, because of the different colleges within the undergrad program. However, its educational structure has a General Education Requirements component, which seems like a core curriculum. But my favorite college out of the pile I just went over might be Haverford. It is a small liberal arts college just outside of Philadelphia. The student-teacher ratio is 8:1, and 100% of the classes are taught by professors. Their classes are small: maybe thirty-five students at the most. But one of the aspects that struck me in particular was the Haverford values. "...the values of individual dignity, intellectual vitality, and tolerance are central to its character. Students are sel-governing and work to upgold the ideals of Haverford's Honor Code, a philosophy of conduct that strengthens the climate of trust, concern, and respect." This is one of the schools that I will definitely do more research on.

In this search for the right college fit for me, I have realized that I might just be too flexible to pinpoint a particular type of college. For example: I like the smaller classes, and especially because the professors are the sole teachers, and the classes are usually in a discussion setting. However, I still like larger classes as well, and through this Columbia program I have had no problem with being taught mostly by mentors/TAs. In another example, let's talk about the campus. Although I may sometimes seem repulsed by a campus that is in "the middle of nowhere," in reality I probably wouldn't mind. So yes, my flexibility is both a blessing and a curse in this type of situation.


Don Gosney said...


You’re being flooded with information so it’s natural that narrowing your search would be difficult. Sometimes it’s best to gather the information, let it stew in your mind for a while and then when you revisit it your recollections and perceptions may have changed. For instance, you may have fallen in love with a particular college for some very specific reasons but a month later you might have trouble recalling just why it was that you were so enamored by that school. If it’s a good fit today, it will be a good fit tomorrow and next month and next year.

Decision time is fast approaching but you still have time to keep up your search, do some more research and give yourself time to revisit your first impressions. You’re a smart gal, Jackie, so you’ll be able to sort it all out.

Charles Tillman Ramsey said...


Thanks for sharing our insights about the college fair. I am very familiar with Williams College because my younger sister graduated from Williams. Williams is definitely a great college. It is in the middle of nowhere. Western Massachusetts is so remote that it will make Bard look like the big city. Boston is the closest city to Williams and that is four hours away.

Ms. Kronenberg and I are going to Haverford next week. We will get you more information on the college and bring it back to share it with you. We plan to ask their admissions officer to send someone to our informational session on October 17th at Pinole Valley High School. We will also try to find out when they will have their own individual information session in the Bay Area this fall.

Selecting the right college for you is hard. Also having the university or college decide to admit you will be a challenge. Most of these highly selective colleges and universities reject eighty percent of those who apply, so a lot of those who were stampeding into Lerner Hall will receive many rejection letters, but they are at least willing to give it a try.

Anyway, this trip has hopefully given you more confidence about what life will be like when you leave for college. I know that is what I want for each of you and now all of you see first hand that growing up is a lot harder than maybe you or others in the group had imagined.

Have some fun tonight. It is your last night in the Big Apple.

Take care.

Charles T. Ramsey

Post a Comment