Friday, July 9, 2010

I Fell In Love (With A College)!

It seems like all our bad luck from yesterday was reversed. We were on time to our morning college tour of Wellesley, which is a 30 minute train ride out of Boston. The weather wasn't as stuffy as it was yesterday, either. As you can see, the campus is absolutely gorgeous. It seems that everyone connected with the college cares about its well-being - physically, academically, and culturally. We met the student who was going to give the group information presentation, Monica, on the way to the admissions office. We walked and chatted for a bit, and then she started the presentation.
The Interfaith Chapel, With A Meditation Room and Free WiFi!
Monica turned out to be a Political Science and French double major, if I'm remembering correctly. That was exciting because I'm considering Political Science as an area of study, and she had plenty of information to give me. Wellesley has distribution requirements, and around 1,000 courses to choose from. Lucero grabbed a course catalog, so I'll be borrowing that to look at the amazing course choices more in depth. If you can't find a course that you want to take, or you want a dual degree, Wellesley has partnerships with schools including Babson College, Brandeis College Olin College of Engineering, and MIT.

You can create your own major. Some of these "custom" majors have become standard majors because they are so popular, such as Latin American Studies and Cinema/Media Studies. The average class size is about 18 students. The students I talked to experienced class sizes ranging from 2 to 30 at the very largest. All classes are very discussion-based, which I like a lot. The professors are very involved with the students and often go way beyond their required office hours to help out students. They will even invite whole classes over to their houses for dinner and discussions! There are absolutely no TAs and all classes are taught directly by the professors. A full 98% of the professors have either a doctorate or the highest degree in their field.

Undergraduate research is very highly encouraged, but not required. Monica was interested in the differences between Clinton's and Obama's efforts towards health care reform. She talked to her professor, and that little spark became an entire semester doing independent study on this project. When the bill passed, she wrote an essay on it for her final project. In the sciences, you can design your own experiment and present at national science conferences. Research can happen either during the year or over the summer, can be funded by 100 different grants, and can start as early at 1st semester freshman year. MIT supports Wellesley student research as well. If you research in conjunction with professors there is the possibility of getting paid by the university.
A Reading Area in the Library
The Student Activities Center
Before the tour, I wasn't even really considering Wellesley because it wasn't strictly urban and because it's a women's college. But everything else in the picture fits so well that it didn't even matter. Anyways, it's a short bus or train ride to Boston, and many students go to Boston for the weekend. Plus, students from the four colleges mentioned above can also take classes at Wellesley, and that includes some men.
Science Presentations in the Science Library
Cool Staircase in the Science Library
A Typical Dorm Room
The Outside of the Dorm
At Wellesley, there is everything you could ever want academically and in extracurriculars. There's lots of student activist groups, focusing their efforts on both outside and inside the campus. While I was on the subsequent tour, I teared up a little bit thinking of how perfect Wellesley is for me. I am definitely applying, and I will try my best to get in. On the train back into Boston, we ran into two Wellesley students going to Boston for the weekend. Mariana and I struck up a conversation and they answered all our eager questions. Becka (woman on the right - I'm sure I'm butchering her name, it's actually more complicated) explained to me what the Peace and Justice major is. It's basically a way to look at world events that's a little different than sociology or history. It assumes that something is wrong where there is no peace or justice and that something should be done to change this. Peace and Justice is often combined with other majors, such as Economics or Political Science. This really appealed to me and just reinforced my liking for Wellesley.
Boston College, next on our schedule, just couldn't measure up to Wellesley. Our group gave each other disappointed looks as soon as we walked on campus and felt the entire atmosphere change from engaging and honest to almost generic and rather uninteresting. The student presenters for BC were interesting enough, but they didn't have the same passion and academic caliber as Wellesley students. The thing I liked the most about talking to those students on the train was that they weren't being paid by the admissions office to present, like the tour guide and Monica were. They were giving us their honest opinions.
A Statue at Boston College
The Emphasis on Sports and School Spirit at Boston College
We concluded the day by eating at a very elegant restaurant called L'Espalier. It was some of the best food I've ever eaten. I ate tempura crab, beef tenderloin with many different ingredients that I'd never heard of, and strawberry Bavarian ice cream. It was wonderful.

I talked to Ms. Kronenberg about possible ways to improve the Ivy League Connection for future years. The program is so great already but it could always be better. Hopefully, our group will work on informing students who are interested in the ILC. We also plan to present about student nominations at the first faculty meeting of the year at El Cerrito, and share our presentation format with the other ILC groups so that they can present at their own high schools. It felt great to be treated like an adult and have my ideas valued. I'm very grateful to everyone who's made it possible for me to be here right here, right now. Today, my special thanks goes to Mr. Crosby, who initially nominated me for this program. He wasn't required to nominate anybody at all, but he picked me out of all his classes. I really appreciate that he cared enough to do that. Thank you so much. I'm having one of the best experiences of my life right now.


  1. Irene,

    Very nice blog--thanks for sharing.

    Glad to hear that your luck has changed for the better. You certainly had enough bad luck at Connecticut College to last a lifetime.

    Sounds like the trip to Wellesley was well worth it for you all. Here you're going to Brown to take a class to help empower you as women and you visit an all women's college where you feel empowered even before you leave. What are we going to do with you all when you get back to West County? He will we keep you all in line after this? :-)

    Loved the photos, Irene, I'm glad that we got that little problem all worked out. I particularly loved the one of you all talking on the train. But what's with that statue of the panhandler at BC? That looks more like something the people of Berkeley or San Francisco might commission.

    Between the comments made by your group as well as the Brown-I group about Boston College, it may be dropped from our tours after this. If there's nothing about the school to pique the interest of our ILC members, then we need to find other venues where that interest CAN be piqued. It's a fine school but it just doesn't seem to be a fit for ANY of our students.

  2. It was definitely worth it. Yes, we'll be extremely empowered, haha.

    Ms. Stewart saw the perfect photo op and borrowed my camera in the middle of the conversation to take it. That was very nice of her, and we kept right on talking.

    I do think that it should be dropped from our tours. It's sad to take a college off the list, but hopefully it will be replaced by one that will be a more likely fit for ILC kids.