Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Day Three in D.C.

Today started off with another early morning. We met up early this morning at 4 AM and took off for the airport. We took a quick plane ride to Washington, D.C., saying goodbye to our old rooms at the Charles F. Knight Conference Center and hello to our new rooms at Holiday Inn at around 9:30 AM.
Our hotel room at the Charles F. Knight Conference Center
Hotel room at Holiday Inn. Having a blogging party.
We soon left the hotel to grab some food and see the sights. We went to Sweetgreen, a healthy restaurant that serves organic food. I got the Earth Bowl, which had chicken, arugula, white cheddar, and quinoa. The salad filled me up really quickly, which was important because for the rest of the day, we walked for about 2 hours seeing national landmarks in the heat.

We saw the White House (from a distance), which I thought was as impressive as all the pictures I’ve previously seen. We also saw the Washington Monument (aka the “Pencil”) and walked the entire length of the National Mall (which is very shallow), and Lincoln Memorial (though we weren’t able to get too close, since our cab was waiting to take us to our info session and tour). It was my first time seeing all these sights, so I was really excited.

While we were walking, I thought everything we saw was beautiful, but it was so hot and humid! We tried to find shady places to walk, moving from shadow to shadow. What shocked me was how some people seemed unaffected by the humidity, even choosing to jog down the National Mall at around 12 PM. I can’t believe I used to not jog after 10 AM because of the “heat.”

At the info session we had an admissions officer named Heather talk to us about Georgetown U. We learned that the University is the most selective in the nation, its great 11:1 student-faculty ratio, their good basketball and soccer teams, and that they have a Common Core undergrad program that requires students to take two philosophy, two English, and two theology classes. We also learned that Georgetown doesn’t use common apps, but instead has its own requirements, including an alumni interview. After Wash U, I found the info session interesting, but also slightly boring and straight off the handouts.

Of course, I asked if the credits I’ve been getting at Middle College might count at Georgetown. Heather said they might as long as it doesn’t go towards our high school diploma, but really depends on what the professors in each discipline decide.

We then moved on to our campus tour, which was led by a student named Charlotte. She led us through the maze of tall brick buildings, telling us about the dorms, the emergency blue light system they have that ensures each student’s safety by having police come to your blue light in as soon as 30 seconds, the average 18-people size of each classroom, the top step of a building where Abraham Lincoln and other influential people spoke, the Corp (or the biggest student-run non-profit organization in the world), the school’s Christian values and mission to help the world and community, and traditions such as stealing the clock hands to those you want to speak at convocation and avoiding stepping on the seal at Healy Hall (or Hoyas say you won’t graduate).
Charlotte, our tour guide
Average classroom
To be honest, I appreciated the campus tour and the buildings, but it was honestly so hot with clouds threatening to rain above us that it took away from the full effect of the tour. Our cohort talked to Alie about that later, and she suggested that because many people already want to go to Georgetown U, they might not put as much effort into their tours as other schools (which I understand. People would want to attend Georgetown U no matter what the quality of their tour is).

After the tour, we picked up some food from Safeway for our breakfast tomorrow, then went to the City Tavern Club, one of the oldest buildings and the last remaining Federal-period tavern in Washington, D.C. We met Kevin, Andrew (an ILC alumnus at Brown who’s currently interning in D.C.), Trevor, Katherine, Nishaat, and Sean (the head of Georgetown D.C. alum). I was seated between Nishaat and Jimmy, with Alie and Kevin across from me.
Steak with mushrooms and vegetables
I’m so glad we were able to talk to the alums because the dinner helped clear misconceptions I had. Kevin and Nishaat told us how students at Georgetown University are like, and therefore what they’re looking for—hardworking students willing and passionate to make a difference in their community. Kevin and Nishaat both said that though it’s competitive at Georgetown, everyone is friendly and passionate and involved in something concerning their community. They both said how the competition only makes each student push themselves harder, which I think is healthy to an extent.
Delicious peppermint ice cream!
We discussed Summer Fellows, a program that pays for eight lucky students’ expenses that Nishaat is a part of this summer. I learned how internships are valuable for the experience and for discerning what your interests for a profession are, the fantastic international jobs students can get, and how clubs in college are so much more time-consuming and yet seem so much more worth it once you’ve discovered what your true passions are. They told us how many internship opportunities and jobs you can find in D.C., how students can acquire jobs by keeping in contact with people and expressing interest, and how helpful alumni interviews are.
Andrew mentioned something I think many people in our district should consider when applying to colleges: many private universities may have a higher price tag than UCs and may seem more expensive, but the private universities offer larger scholarships, therefore lessening the tuition you pay and giving you better quality education.

After the alum dinner, we took a tour around the famous Tavern Club. It was fascinating to see the tavern myself and step back in time.

I’ve learned so much today. I doubt I was able to put it all in this one tiny blog. It was truly a fantastic dinner with the alums, and makes me want to apply to Georgetown U. However, if Nishaat considers herself just a regular student, then I’m not sure I’m Georgetown material. I’d love to give back to my community, and would love to make a difference internationally, but I just can’t see myself there. I don’t speak five languages and lead multiple clubs like Nishaat and apparently most other students, but perhaps a couple years combined with my passion to help others will cause me to change my mind later on. 

Georgetown University, Washington D.C

Today was packed from start to finish, as usual. We awoke at 3 AM to get the six o'clock flight to D.C. All the transportation went smoothly and according to plan luckily, and by about 9:30 we were in the capital of the country. We only have a few days here so we wanted to see as many of the monuments and buildings as we could in our limited time. We took a taxi to downtown Washington D.C, and looked at the White House, the National Monument, The WWII Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial.  We only had about half an hour to really look at the buildings and monuments before we had to head over to Georgetown University to take our campus tour.
The Chicago Cohort at the WWII Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Georgetown was just a couple minutes outside of the downtown area, but when you were there, you could sense that it was in a small college town, and that it was definitely separate from the city. The streets surrounding the campus were all cobblestone, and the buildings brick or stone with a Gothic architectural style, giving it an old fashioned feel.

The Georgetown Campus
A key difference I noticed right away was that this information session and tour focused much more on the academic aspect of the university rather than more emphasis on the social aspect of the university, as Washington University did. The undergraduate part of the university was separated into separate schools; The school of Nursing and Health Studies, The McDonough School of Business, The Walsh School of Foreign Service, and the Georgetown College. The school of Nursing and Health is probably what I would most like to be a part of, our of all the schools, because of my interest in medicine and biological science.

After our tour and info session we went back to the hotel to take a quick rest before getting ready for our dinner at the Tavern, which is one of the oldest historical landmarks in Georgetown. Sean, alumni of Georgetown, told us all about the history of the location. John Adams and Ronald Reagan had both dined there in the past, and there were many paintings and photos depicting historical figures, and how the tavern looked at different points in history.

The Dinner Table at the City Tavern
I spoke with Andrew Gonzalez, a rising junior at Brown University, about his experience with the ILC and how the experience continues to give him opportunities and connections even years later. I was also seated near Catherine and Trevor, who were both students at Georgetown studying in the School of Foreign Service and very involved in student leadership. All the students and alumni I conversed with were interested in economics or foreign politics and policy. Earlier on the tour, I saw that the majority of Georgetown alums went into economics or foreign policy/politics, which is logical given its location and the opportunities the location provides. Because I am more interested in different subjects, the university might not be the best fit for me, but I absolutely enjoyed spending time with and conversing with Georgetown students and alumni. They had so much great advice to give us having to do with how to prepare for interviews, how to go about the college application process, and what scholarships to apply for. It was so informative, and the food was delicious.

I ordered crab cakes, curried corn, and a tomato and basil salad. The meal was outstanding, and the people I met were so kind and helpful. I cannot wait to stay in touch with these alums and students.

Tomorrow we head to Philadelphia to tour University of Pennsylvania and have lunch with alums and students. 

A Day at Georgetown

     Today we got on a plane to Washington DC at 6 AM to get to Georgetown University. We arrived in Washington 2 hours later, got our bags, got on a shuttle, and was on our way to a hotel called Holiday Inn. After going to our rooms we put our stuff down and met in the lobby. Then we were on our way to explore Washington. First we visited the White House and took pictures in front and back of the White House and the Washington Monument was right across the way so we took jumping pictures. We started this new tradition where we take pictures of us jumping in the air at every state we visit. (It's pretty awesome and fun.)
     At 2:30 PM we went to the info session on campus and met Heather, the admissions person, talked about the things at the school and it's history. I learned that John Carroll founded this school in 1789. I also learned that the school is a Catholic Jesuit institution. There are over 6,000 undergraduate students and over 8,000 graduates. Heather also talked about Georgetown's 29 Varsity athletic teams known as the Hoyas and in the brochure there was a Greek and Latin phrase "Hoyas saxa" which means " what rocks!" I heard their Women's basketball team that is Division 1. After the info session we went on a tour and just like the other tour, we split up into two groups. We went with a tour guide named Charlotte who was attending the school and is going to be a rising sophomore at Georgetown. In the tour Charlotte showed us around the school and let us now about their traditions. One of their traditions to sit on Father Carroll's lap. At the end we stopped in a place where there were a lot of people watching the World Cup. While we waited for the cab, we watched the World Cup and when the cab came we went back to the hotel to freshen up and get dressed before the big dinner.

     At this wonderful dinner called The City Tavern Club, we met Andrew Gonzales, Sean Redmone, Katherine, Nishatte, Trevor, and Kevin. We were all mixed up so that we could talk to them and not have them on just one side of the table. We were able to ask them individual questions. Sean informed us about John Adams eating dinner in the same room we were eating and I thought that was pretty awesome because the restaurant had a lot of history to it. The most interesting thing about the dinner was talking to Andrew, Trevor, and Katherine. We mostly talked about their sports teams and how good they were. We also talked about Andrew's experience in the Ivy League Connection and some tips on what we should do while were out in Chicago. We talked about what our future might be and what my favorite subject is. They told me about the schools that have computer engineering like Brown University or Georgetown. Aside from talking we got our food. I got some sautéed crab cakes after eating a delicious Caesar salad. Then for desert we all had ice cream. The choices were peppermint, vanilla, and lemon sorbet. I chose to get the vanilla ice cream.

Delightful Day in D.C.

After leaving our hotel and taking what felt like a five minute nap on the plane, we landed in Washington, D.C. This was my first time in Washington, D.C. and I was very excited because I have never been to places like the White House, Washington Monument, or the Lincoln Memorial. Luckily, we had a little bit of time today to visit all of these places and I’m happy that I get to check them off of my list. Before we visited all these places, we grabbed lunch and then we took a cab to The National Mall which is a national park in downtown Washington, D.C. and is used to refer the area between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

The White House
First we visited the White House. I noticed that there were no trash cans around and if you wanted to throw something away you had to walk pretty far. I knew that we didn’t have enough time to tour the White House but apparently, you can’t just walk in and you need to plan a tour months in advance. After the White House, we walked around the park to the Washington Monument. You could pretty much see the Monument from anywhere in the park but I was pretty impressed at how large it was when we got up close. The last place that we got to see before we had to leave for our Georgetown University tour was the Lincoln Memorial. We decided to not go all the way to the top because we were all hot and sweaty and tired so we settled for a picture at the middle. For my first visit in our nation’s capital, I’m glad that I got to see some of the main attractions that Washington, D.C. had to offer.

Georgetown University
Once our early afternoon in D.C. was over, we made our way over to Georgetown University. We entered the campus through the main gates and from there we got to see a portion of the campus. The buildings that we saw from there had a sort of old gothic feeling to it which, being from California was new to me. After taking in the view, we made our way inside and to the info session. The info session seemed to cover all of the basics of what Georgetown had to offer and how their school worked academic wise and social wise. Unlike WashU, Georgetown has 6 core classes that everyone had to take. It got divided up to be two classes based on English, philosophy, and theology. I don’t really like this because philosophy and theology doesn’t interest me but I feel like if I had the chance to try it out, I could bring myself to enjoy it. 

On our tour, we got to go all over the university campus and learn some of the stories behind the buildings. A prank that some of the students try and pull if they steal the clock hands off of one of the clocks on campus and they would send it to someone that they really wanted to come and speak at the university. After a while, the handles were stolen too much in the past so the school refused to replace them and the prank sort of died out. I think this is really unique and it has the potential to bring the students together in order for a prank of this magnitude to be successful. 

Once the tour was over, I wasn’t left with that big of an impression of Georgetown like I was with WashU. Personally, I felt like the whole tour was focused more on all the famous alumni that Georgetown had and all the people they had come and speak. I would have preferred to listen to what life was like in Georgetown for the students and see how some of the experiences vary.

Georgetown Alumni Dinner
This evening, we had our alumni dinner at the City Tavern Club. The Tavern is a really historic place and one of the oldest buildings in Georgetown. It has seen many of our past presidents like John Adams, Ronald Regan, and potentially George Washington. This time I wasn’t as nervous about meeting the alumni or the students and I was pretty excited because I wanted to see if I could discover more about Georgetown University. 

Once everyone arrived and introductions were out of the way, we sort of broke off into smaller groups so we could ask more questions. At the info session, I was confused about the alumni interview portion of applying and one of the current students, Katherine, was kind enough to answer my question. I thought it was like a really scary and intimidating interview in front of a panel of qualified alumni and they would grill you with questions but it turned out to be sort of like a conversation. She said that all you needed to do was communicate really well to the person interviewing you why Georgetown University was the perfect fit for you. This is something that isn’t really common for most universities and I really like it because it is like at this point when you really know whether the prospective student is really serious and interested in going to Georgetown.

At the dinner, I got into a conversation with Sean Redmond, the President of the Georgetown Club of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. and that conversation will stay with me forever. He told me about applying to college and how it is important for the real you to come through and that everything is not about what type of classes you take or the number of activities that you sign up for. There are many students at Georgetown who excel at all of these things but it was how who they were was communicated in their essays and their interviews that eventually helped them get to where they are right now. I personally found this really helpful because in a few months, I’m going to be applying to colleges and it will be easy for me to rely on my extra circulars and forget to really show who I am and why the certain school that I will apply to is the school for me. We went further to discuss how I could handle the people at my school who seem to preach that colleges won’t accept you without these things and I am excited to try out some of the tactics he shared with me.
Trevor, Kevin (Back row from left to right)
Nishaat, Katherine, Dani, Victoria, Alexa, Sean, Oyin and Jimmy (Front row from left to right)
I figured that I should take some of Sean’s other advice and ask questions because it won’t hurt right? One of the people there, Kevin, had just recently graduated and part of his major had to do with economics which I am really interested in. He felt that the economics program at Georgetown was different because the professors were really experienced in the subject and in applying it also. This never really left my mind and I couldn’t help but wonder all evening what it would be like to actually talk to one of these professors. Towards the end of the dinner, asked an open question to everyone who had applied to a university about how to stay calm during the whole application process. I got a lot of feedback but the most reoccurring one was stay organized, have a plan, and don’t wait until the last minute to do all the essays. I’m really thankful that I got this advice and I feel like it will prevent me from having any breakdowns come time to start applying. Eventually we broke off into scholarship talk and we soon discovered that we had a Gates Millennium Scholar at our table. Nishaat, a current Georgetown University student, told us about what she went through when she was applying for the scholarship and all the work that she had to do. She was even kind enough to offer us help on applying and she really encouraged all of us to apply.

Chicago Cohort
This dinner was the highlight of my day. Talking to all of the people there was really eye opening and I found myself clinging onto every word that everybody had to say and just being stunned into silence as I let their words sink in and then all of a sudden, a light bulb would go off in my head as what they said finally hit me. I wish the dinner could have lasted all night so that I could listen to everything they had to say but sadly the night had to come to an end. I’ll never forget the words and advice that was given to me at this alumni dinner and I can already find myself thinking differently because of what I heard tonight from all of these people, especially from Sean. This dinner really helped me clear up any confusion that I had about the university and I learned way more than I could have every ever hopped for. Hearing all of the different experiences that everyone at the dinner had will stick with me as I move on in life and I am so incredibly glad that I was able to connect with this wonderful group of people and they can expect that I will be staying in touch all of them.

St. Louis Tour

You know us just hanging around
Today in the morning we had our tour at 8:30 AM, we needed to meet each other in the second floor at 7:40 AM to eat breakfast.  Our tour guide was very detailed about the school and gave us explicit information about the school.  Her name is Samona and she’s from California, too.
Samona teaching us how to use the touch screen map
Samona told us that she chose Washington University, St. Louis because she applied to it and got accepted. 

Then she got an email from the university telling her that if she wanted to come down and visit the school she could.  

She accepted the offer and fell in love with the university because everyone in the school is friendly with people who want to know about you and your experience at the university. She loved that the university provides students the option to take a double major so you would not have to focus on just one major. Something I found very interesting was that the Knight Hall for business was constructed in March of this year. Knight Hall is a very beautiful building and unique because it has modern technology.  They have 6 different touch screens and there’s one used specifically to find where your professor’s room is located and it shows you the route that you need to take (that’s very cool and helpful for freshmen). 

Another thing I like is that they have a career center that you can go at any time to get help and there are always people in the career center trying to support you with school purposes.  She told us that you can go any time to the career center and they have a saying, “Once you’re a Washington student, you’ll always be a Washington student”.  There’s a fun room upstairs in the same building (DUC Hall) where you can go relax and clear your mind.  It has two pool tables and a plasma TV where you can play the X-box 360, PS3, and the Wii.
Fun Room
I can imagine myself playing in the fun room because I like to play pool with my friends.  

Every Tuesday they have a tradition to give free tea at 3 o’clock.  What I really like about this school is that they are like a family and every one helps each other and nobody feels alone.  The dorm rooms have double twin beds with Tempur-Pedic mattresses and they share the hall with 40 to 50 students. There’s a store called Bear Necessities that is by the freshmen dorms and is a non-profit, where students can shop and the money is donated back to the school. On the other hand, there are for-profit stores that are run by students. 

After the tour ended we went to our information session where we learned more about how the professors interact with the students and that sometimes the students and the professors can get close like friends.  They also talked about the steps to apply to the WashU and what are they looking in the essays.  I feel the information was very helpful because it gave me ideas for when I start applying to colleges.

After we finished listening to the admissions information, we went back to the hotel to go blog about the tour so it would be easier for us to finish the blog on the plane and we could rest during the flight.  Alie gave us an hour to blog and then we needed to meet her at the lobby to go the art museum and then to the Zoo in Forest Park.  When we all met in the lobby we headed out to the art museum.  I have never gone to an art museum as huge as the St. Louis one. 
St. Louis art museum
The art museum has three floors and is very wide and has a variety of sculptures and art from around the world.  Alie gave us and hour to go around and look at the art and she gave us another mission and it was to find an art piece we like and read about its history and what was so special about it. After we shared our art piece that we like and discussed it, we gathered up in the entrance of the museum and we walked to the zoo.  The zoo was very big and has a lot of animals such as monkeys, tigers, tortoises, zebras and the list keeps on going.  I like that the zoo had a mist fan so people can cool off.  I saw my favorite animal the lion but he was sleeping.

Triple Play
After the Zoo we went to Fitz’s, famous for their root beer and sodas, and I ordered a Triple Play ice cream for the hot weather of St. Louis. It’s too sad that tomorrow we are leaving.  I really enjoyed being here because the people are very friendly here and you can feel like the city is just a whole big family.  After we refreshed with the ice cream we headed back to the hotel to keep on blogging and to get ready for our dinner with the alumni of WashU.

My cohort and I needed to be ready at 6 PM, so we could head out to Atlas restaurant. I was nervous because I didn’t know what I would talk about with them but I felt confident that I was going to do a good job making conversations with the alumni at the dinner.  

We got there before our dinner partners. When the alumni arrived I felt relieved because they were young so I thought they would be fun to talk to. Their names are Jenny, who works at the admissions office, Nicole, Courtney, and Avery, the office intern/students.  Avery plays Frisbee on the B team at WashU.  This is something cool because I never knew Frisbee was a major sport like that in the universities. Courtney does rowing as a sport but she has some back problems so she’s the navigator, or coxswain, for her team.  Courtney has to wake up at 4:30 AM to go to practice and her practice starts at 6 AM. I think this is something that I wouldn’t like to do because I love sleeping.  During dinner we talked about the Bay Area and which schools we go to and how our high schools work.  I had a fun dinner with all of them because for the first time I was able to be myself and not worry about being professional. I realized that the whole point of the dinner is so they can know me and I can know them.  After we finished eating, we all went outside and took a picture with them and we said our goodbyes. One thing that surprised me is that they have to blog too but not every day just on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (I think). It was a pleasure meeting them and getting to know them.  All of them are so friendly and I like that because it made me feel more comfortable around them. 
My cohorts and I with the alumni.

Our Visit to Washington University

The Front of Wash. U
This morning we all got together and got breakfast in the hotel. After breakfast we left to go on the tour of Washington University. Before we went on the tour, we had to check in and wait for 15 minutes. After the short wait the tour guides split a bunch of people in to 2 groups after they introduced themselves. So we decided that we wanted to go with the tour guide named Simona. She 
Tour Guides( Simona on the Right)
is a current student at Washington University and is from California. I learned that this school is a research institution and that it is encouraging to all students and is a very good environment to be in. We also learned that there are 5 divisions/schools. For example, architecture, art, arts & sciences, business, and engineering & applied sciences.

After the tour. (Photo Bomb!)
On our tour we visited a dorm room, walked around the school while Simona was telling us about the dorms, dining, study areas and more. She talked about how they had all different types of clubs and groups. Some of the clubs were butter churning club, Harry Potter club, scrabble club, etc. She told us that there were about 300 clubs there at Washington University a.k.a. Wash. U. There was a club called the compliment club where they would sit on shapes and compliment people that walk past them. They would even compliment you if you weren't really dressed your best. (That's pretty cool for people to give compliments because it's so heart warming.) After talking about the clubs they have, we walked over to a sculpture of a bunny which was made by an unknown sculptor who did sculptures and put them where everyone to see and sometimes it would be used for advertisement. Sad to say that the person who made the sculptures passed away and the bunny was give to the school because the sculptor's wife didn't want it. There was also another person who knits sweaters for the bunny to wear and just like the sculptor, no one knows who does it and how they get it on the bunny.
The Bunny Sculpture
Another part of the tour was that we went to their career center where there were advisers who help the students with anything they needed. There was a fun room where the students hangout and today we saw people playing pool and watching the World Cup. At the end of the tour we went to the front of the school and she showed us the other divisions/schools across the street and the park. The park is called Forest Park and Simona told us that it is 500 acres bigger than Central Park. That's pretty big!! There was also a dining hall where we went to have lunch after we went to the info session.
The Visit to the Zoo
At the info session, the admissions rep. was Easton Knott and his partner was Ellie. Ellie talked about her experience being there and what it's like at Wash. U They gave a lot of information about how they have 3 concerts every year with people like Macklemore, Black Eyed Peas, and Chuck Berry. Chuck Berry I an American guitarist, singer, song writer, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. Easton informed us that Chuck Berry comes and preforms from time. He also told us that there was a zoo, golf course, and more at Forest Park. So we went to go visit the art museum across the way after the session. After going too the art museum we went to the zoo to see some cool animals. The animals we saw were chimpanzees, apes, tigers, lions, sea lions, gorillas, zebras, and prairie dogs, which were so cute by the way.
Home-Made Fettuccini
Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee
The Group Picture
To wrap up the day we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Jenny Alessi, Nicole Mcamis, Avery Suter, and Courtney Oei. Jenny is a Senior Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Nicole is a rising junior in the school of Engineering and Applied Science who is a Varsity Track and Field athlete and is the manager of  the Women's basketball team, Avery is a rising junior in the College of Arts and Sciences double majoring in political science and physics and is also one of the campus tour guides for Wash. U, and Courtney is a  rising sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

So I asked both Nicole and Avery what was their interest in being at their school and they told me that the school was encouraging, it's a good environment to be in, and the people are very friendly. They talked about them working in the admissions offices, how they became friends with their coworkers easily, that there were eleven of them and they told how interesting most of them were. 

I really liked talking to Nicole and Avery about sports they played. I also enjoyed telling them a story about my school winning the playoff game in basketball and getting a banner for our school. I told them how there were only three players left on our team that could play because three got fouled out and one got ejected from the game and there were only nine on the team. It was a game against Hercules High School at our school (Kennedy High School), 3 vs. 5 and they had a chance to win by free-throws but missed the last one and then they were up one, 71 to our 70. After they missed that one free-throw I caught the rebound, dribbled quick down the court, dodged the Hercules players, and made the game winning layup to make the score 71 to our 72. That was the most exciting game ever as a freshman on Varsity and everyone at the dinner table congratulated me on that. It was really nice talking to all of them and listening to them share their experience at Washington University.

Wash U: A Place of Community and Discovery

Quick continental breakfast
I love Washington University! After a quick breakfast, we took a tour around campus. Our tour guide, Simona (from Pasadena, CA), showed and told us great parts of Wash U.

She told us about WUSAs (Washington University Student Associates), or sophomores that act as big brothers or sisters to freshmen that may feel homesick or overwhelmed. On each floor, there are two WUSAs that get close to the freshmen in the floor they’re assigned to by doing activities like board games and water balloon fights. I’ll definitely be looking for a college that has a program or committee that does something similar.
Our tour guide Simona
There’s controllable air conditioning/heater and a Tempur-Pedic mattress in each dorm. As a freshman, students have the option between a traditional or modern dorm, and can rank what kind of room they want: a single, double, or triple. I definitely see myself falling asleep on the comfy mattress in a traditional dorm.
Apparently there's a tunnel that connects that buildings on the far left and right

A modern building at Wash U
Knight Hall and Bauer Hall
I found it crazy how in the Knight Hall and Bauer Hall, there was a big touch screen TV and mini iPads outside each study room to book time slots. Crazy cool!
It can tell you which room your professor's in. Amazing.
What I loved the most is how students can take classes across disciplines. For example, you can major in engineering but take classes totally different such as pottery, bookbinding, or glass blowing. The classes are small, most of them with around 25 students (with some classes as small as 6 people!), which Simona said is great for developing relationships with professors and students. I want to learn as much as possible in college, so that’s great.

We saw the Career Center, where people can go for interview prep or help with job applications. It’s open to Wash U students anytime. As in, the Career Center is still open to alumni, no matter how old they are. Once a Wash U, always a Wash U. I love that. It’s like having a second family you can always come back to.

Jump shots--it's our new thing.
Which reminds me of the next thing I loved about Washington University—its sense of community. Everyone we’ve talked to commented on the welcoming atmosphere of the school. If Simona represents the regular Wash U student, then everyone here must be really happy and genuinely interested in school and other people, which I’ve rarely experienced in school before. At Pinole Middle, most kids didn’t really enjoy school for the learning experience, and a large part of people at Middle College HS wouldn’t really choose Middle College if not for the college credits we can acquire.

Speaking of credits, I’m making a point to ask if the college credits I’ve been earning at CCC will count. At Middle College, everyone’s goal is to finish high school, get as many credits as possible (hopefully earning that AA/AS degree), and getting into a college/university that counts those credits. When we moved on to the info session at 11 AM, and Easton (an admissions officer who talked at the info session) was asked if dual credits count, he said that if classes are on a University campus, has a similar course at Wash U, and are not counted towards a high school diploma, then there’s a good chance the credits will be counted (there’s a max of 15 credits). I was so glad! If anyone from Middle College is reading this, then guess what? We have hope! We’re not limited to UCs (insert happy dance here)!

Easton and Ellie
Ellie, a tour guide and WUSA from Berkeley, CA, also talked at the info session. She and Easton went over the admission and application process: they basically look at your transcript, test scores (either SAT or ACT, whichever one is higher [awesome]), two letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and common app essay. I like how if there's something that you feel kept you from joining an extracurricular, as long as you write about it and explain, they’ll cut you some slack.

Besides that, Easton and Ellie emphasized the flexibility of the classes of the school, the competitiveness of the sports, the many student groups (300+), the great student to teacher ratio (8:1) and studying abroad opportunities that are available both nationally and internationally (in 50 countries) for internships, research, or studying. I definitely want to study abroad, so that’s great.

Afterwards, we walked to the museum, zoo, then took a cab to Fitz’s where I had the Triple Play root beer float. It was so amazing. It was super humid and I felt foolish for wearing jeans, but seeing the art, animals and having the float was a way that I felt let our cohort get some exercise, sightsee, and bond.
The taco salad a professor suggested I buy

Outside the Art Museum. Saint Louis
The Art Museum
The Triple Play

At the zoo!
Hanging out with zebras
At around 6:30 PM, our cohort met with Washington U alums. We met Nicole McAmis, Avery Suter, and Courtney Oei, students and admissions interns at Wash U as well as Jenny Alessi, an admissions officer. I sat across from Nicole and Avery with Vicky next to me, and together we talked about music (Nicole plays piano and Avery used to play clarinet, while I sing classical music). Nicole recommended taking private lessons, since the music teacher you have is the same you’ll have for 4 years. I’ve had the same voice teacher for the past 5 years, so I know how valuable creating a close relationship with your mentor can be.
Everyone except Jenny and Alie

Rigatoni with meatballs at the dinner with alumni
Nicole also explained how having a music minor works. You have to test to get to the 100 level, then test to get to the 200 level, then the 300 level. Once at the 300 level is when your classes go towards your minor.

We talked about traditions: WILD (Walk In Lay Down), which is a concert everyone goes to, concerts by acapella groups, how there are concerts almost every week, how at the first snow people take their dinner trays and sled down hills and make s’mores, how people are so much friendlier here compared to the West and East Coasts, how people work together instead of competing with each other, how Wash U people walk visitors to buildings, how all 11 of the interns this summer are close knit friends, how changing majors are as easy as signing a couple papers, how you can volunteer at children’s hospitals and treat, play with, or tutor kids, and discussed the World Cup.

Based off of everything I’ve heard today, Washington University students have a friendly, laid-back, close community. I’ve loved Wash U and can totally see myself there someday.