Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ivy League Connection

The concept of this program is truly remarkable. It provides such a wonderful opportunity for the students of the West Contra Costa Unified School District. It sends students to prestigious schools across the country -- all expenses paid. It is meant to help those students experience the college life, help them grow up a little faster, and stretch their skills and selves. Furthermore, it is meant to provide a medium for such experiences to the other students in the district. In that way, not only do they learn more about life after high school, but their eyes are also opened to the possibilities. I understand that these college tours we have been doing were meant to open our own eyes to the different types of colleges out there, and we have to integrate the information not only for ourselves but for others in the district. Many students have a limited view on college choices, whether it is because they think themselves less capable than they are, or because they never thought about leaving home, or even because they only paid attention to the prestige, and thought less about their own personal fits.
This experience in Columbia has helped me loads in trying to determine what I want. Major-wise, I'm still struggling. I find myself very much interested whenever we encounter biology concepts in class, but then I have been told that to be a chemist would make life as a biologist much easier. And even then, I'm not even sure I would want to be in science. Maybe math? I enjoy it, and I seem to do well in it, actually past my own expectations. Then for the last year or so, I've been leaning towards business and/or communications and/or writing. But with media's obstacles nowadays, do I want to be in journalism? And then Columbia University doesn't even offer a business major, despite the Columbia School of Business. So if I wanted to pursue business, how would I even go about a major my last two years in Columbia? And I like the core curriculum here, but do I like it enough for my undergrad education? And I love living here, but would I get tired of it? And just how accurate am I in thinking this is the best fit for me? What if it is because it is the only college I have actually been able to experience beforehand? Would Bard's educational system be best for me, and would I sacrifice the city for it? Would UPenn be a better fit for me? And I can't even begin to contemplate about UCB, UCLA, USC, Harvard, Boston College, Occidental, and some other schools I can't think of right now -- mostly because I don't even know enough about them. Oh, and I also have to take into account the music program at these schools, because no matter what I will be at least minoring in music, but possibly even double majoring with music.
And not being picky about some things makes choices even more difficult for me. In some cases I like big classes, but the small discussion type classes appeal to me as well. I love New York City and after Columbia I can't imagine attending a school in the middle of nowhere like Bard, but when I think about it, I have gone my entire life not living in a big city and not needing the 'urbanicity,' so maybe it wouldn't horrible for me if I went to a college like Bard. And so on and so forth.
Sure, I still have numerous questions to be answered. It may even seem like this program didn't even help me at all. But in fact, it did. My questions have become more specific, because the bigger/broader questions have been answered. Most or half of my questions are actually already half-answered. Furthermore, this program helped me on a personal level. I experienced independence, and having to make sure I am on top of things. For example, it has been a struggle with my time management skills, but I am sure that I can take this experience with me and continue to develop such skills even when I return home. Another example is my determination to do well in class, so I have been trying to ask questions whenever I can. This is significant because usually when I don't understand something, I automatically let it go and wait, because I have been under the belief that if I sat quietly and continued to listen patiently, maybe something said later will clear it up. Lately, I have been forcing myself to acknowledge the questions that rise within me, and make myself actually voice them.
In reality, this program has done so much for me, and for my fellow Ivy Leage Connection students as well. I look forward to bringing my experience home and sharing it with others, hoping to maybe make their own pre-college experiences a little more secure.


Madeline Kronenberg said...


I'm glad that you are forcing yourself to acknowledge the questions that rise within you -- and actually voice them.

This is the beginning of self-insight and a big step in your journey to adulthood.

I am looking forward to having you share your experience with others -- especially the part about being proactive and not letting it go when you don't understand.

I think that you can't overestimate time management skills -- they go to your ability to prioritize and be "conscious" of your time. It is an very important skill and the earlier you develop it, the more it will serve you in many ways.

Answering the "big" questions is really the hard part -- and I'm glad you see that.

Lots to think about, Jackie.

I'm glad you've started your journey and are so far along with the many, many questions that present themselves.

Keep enjoying the Big Apple.

Don Gosney said...


Your last blog really worried me. You were asking so many tough questions I was afraid your head might explode. That would NOT be a pretty sight.

Your questions are outstanding and will require a lot of thought and consideration. Of course, you’re still looking for that right fit of a college and you’ll be exposed to quite a few more before you sign on the dotted line. AT least, though, you now know what kind of questions to ask of yourself and the college admissions officers when you’re standing before them at a college fair.

Sitting back silently while hoping that your question gets answered might work for some people but I’m one of these people who wants to get my questions answered now. You might also be surprised by how many other people in your group are asking the same questions and are waiting, just as you were, for someone else to be bold enough to step forward and ask. Be that person, Jackie.

Be smart about your questions but if you sit back and wait for your questions to be answered you’re going to walk around most of the time with a lot of unanswered questions floating around in your brain.

Think, too, about how many times the discussion had moved on and then someone says that they need to wrap things up. The discussion is now over and your question is still a question. Make things happen, Jackie.

Mirroring some of what Ms. Kronenberg wrote about time management skills, when you’ve mastered those skills you have control over your destiny.

I’m a workaholic. After I wake in the morning I take care of my morning stuff and then head right to work. I tell myself I’ll work for a few hours and then break for breakfast. The next thing I know it’s maybe 10 or 11 at night and I haven’t even stopped for breakfast yet. Or I come across something that demands a little research on the Internet. The next thing I know I’ve visited about 10,000 different web sites and it’s time to call it a night. I’ve learned a lot off of those sites but I failed to stay focused and wasted too much of my time.

Learning to manage your time and work efficiently can be such a blessing, Jackie, but only you will be able to make the changes necessary to master those skills. Oh wait—I just thought of two alternatives for you: commit a horrendous crime where you’ll be locked away in prison for the rest of your life and the warden will manage your time for you or you can join the military and they’ll manage your time for you. Perhaps you can see that mastering it on your own might be a better alternative?

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