Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bulldog Days

I woke up Thursday morning feeling sick still, but determined to make the best of the day regardless. The only problem was that I had woken up late, and was almost about to miss the tour of Science Hill that I had wanted to join. We rushed over to Dwight Hall, located in Old Campus, to try to join the tour, only to realize that the tour had already departed. Luckily, my dad still had his car, and he was able to drive until we found the tour, at which point I leapt out of the car and made a mad dash to join the tour.

Unfortunately, there were two tours that depart from Dwight Hall, one for science majors and one for engineering majors. I had stumbled upon the latter. But a tour is a tour is a tour, and it was actually fortunate because I had been thinking about possibly changing from a chemistry major to become a chemical engineering student. The thing about Yale engineering is that the student to faculty ratio is actually an astounding one to one. The ratio for the other sciences is a still amazing three to one, and for the rest of the college the ratio is eight to one, which is very desirable by any standards. The current president of Yale actually strengthened and enhanced Yale's sciences and engineering, by building many new facilities and laboratories as well as hiring the top scientists and professors in each field to teach at Yale. Moreover, every professor at Yale is required to teach underclassmen. At Yale, they really focus on the undergraduate experience, and they're willing to lengths to help underclassmen. Everyone I talked to at Yale really expounded on Yale was willing to accommodate the requests of undergraduates, by giving undergraduates access to upper level division classes, or by letting undergraduates switch specific classes out of prerequisite order to accommodate schedules better. In addition, undergraduates often have sole access to some labs and areas of campus, which ensures that they don't have to fight graduate students to use labs for work or to do research.

-Pictures of Science Hill-

After the tour, my father and I tried to go to the Freshman Experience Panel, which had freshmen from Yale talk about their experiences, but the entire room was filled beyond capacity, with prefrosh sitting not only in the seats of the auditorium, but also in the aisles and on the stairs.

We decided to go to lunch instead, as it is difficult to enjoy the beauty of Yale on an empty stomach. We had lunch in the Commons Dining Hall (where the ice cream social was held the night before).

-The Outside Rotunda of the Commons Dining Hall-

-The Commons Dining Hall-

The food was surprisingly good, even if mass produced. The vegetables didn't taste bland, the fish was tasty without being too fishy, and the sweet and sour pork was delicious. I even considered getting seconds, but I was already too full on the asparagus and the lemon herb chicken. They even had soft serve ice cream, which I can already tell will be a problem for my waistline if I go to Yale.

After lunch, my father and I went to the official welcome address from the deans of the college. The address was held in a giant auditorium, where they use it for official concerts, addresses, and performances. As we entered, we were welcomed by the melodious sounds of the giant organ in the hall, played by one of the professors at Yale.

-Welcome Address-

The welcome address was surprisingly informal, as the deans introduced us to Yale University, and to our futures as Bulldogs. Most of the stuff they told us was stuff that we could have easily found online on the Yale website, but it was reassuring to hear it again from them, especially because all were very in touch with the students. The informality that they presented is a testament to how the staff at Yale really make a point of being approachable, so that they can get connected with the students of the university. In contrast, the faculty at some other colleges and universities have an elite status, and an air of superiority that makes them unapproachable by the students there.

After the welcome address, I went to the Academic Fair and the Extracurricular Bazaar, located in the Yale Stadium. Outside, the Yale Precision Marching Band was playing the Yale fight song to encourage us to go inside.

-Academic Fair-

At the academic fair, I was able to visit the chemistry table and meet with one of the chemistry professors in the department. In chemistry at Yale, there are multiple tracks and specializations of chemistry, and I was able to learn more about each of them from him. The best part is that none of them are mutually exclusive, so I have the option to take the classes that I'm most interested in and slowly specialize my way up. In addition, I was able to learn more about the Yale STARS program, which is designed to help underrepresented minorities in the sciences get extra help and assistance in succeeding in college, as well as paying for summer classes to get ahead. I plan to apply during the summer to be a part of STARS. I also had a chance to learn about PERSPECTIVES, a program for undecided freshmen science majors. It offers those students a sampling of a variety of science classes, to help those students get a feel for every field so that they will have a better idea of what they are interested in pursuing.

-Extracurricular Bazaar-

Next I went to the Extracurricular Bazaar, which was conveniently located adjacent to the Academic Fair. Inside, there were throngs of people everywhere, and the atmosphere was electric. There were glee clubs singing, bands playing, people cheering, and everywhere I looked, prefrosh were being recruited to join clubs. As I made my way through the aisles of clubs, I did my best to learn about every club, but I must admit that there so many clubs that it was all very overwhelming. From Mock UN to Ultimate Frisbee to the Yale Symphony Orchestra, there were clubs for every type of person with every interest. Among the most popular interests at Yale must be singing and acting, as I was barraged people asking me if I sing and invitations to watch improv shows later that night.

Among the clubs I'm really interest in joining are:
  • Yale Symphony Orchestra
  • Yale Precision Marching Band
  • Yale Debate
  • Yale Political Society
  • Yale Chinese American Student Association
  • Yale Student Roundtable
  • Building Bridges
  • Chemistry Club
  • Model UN
  • and many others...
I know that there is no way I'll have enough time to do all of these extracurricular activities and go to class at the same time, but I'm really interested in doing at least some of these activities.

Afterwards, I met up with Yohanna Pepa, a current Yale student who graduated from Pinole Valley High School last year and was a member of the Ivy League Connections, for frozen yogurt. I got disoriented trying to find her at the start, but luckily enough she was able to save me from getting completely lost in Yale. She bought me frozen yogurt (which I really appreciate), and told me a lot about Yale. Before I talked to Yohanna, I was very scared about Yale, and about fitting into a college which is drastically different from Pinole, not only academically, but also in the composition of the student body. But after Yohanna explained to me how well people get together and become friends, I felt a lot better. In addition, she also explained how the atmosphere is not competitive but cooperative, because there is no need to compete for resources or classes, as Yale will accommodate the students needs. Unlike at a University of California, Yale classes are rarely too full, and there is greater professor and student interaction. Yohanna also told me a lot about student life, and about how important it is to balance academics with extracurricular activities, so that I won't overextend what I can do. Honestly, before talking to Yohanna, I was very intimidated by the prospect of attending Yale. After talking to her, and seeing how well she is doing at Yale, I feel like I have a chance to succeed at Yale as well, and I don't feel as if I won't fit.

-Thank you Yohanna for helping me out so much!-

Later, I met up with my dad who had been listening to the Yale Symphony Orchestra, and he was completely blown away by how great they sounded. Throughout dinner in the Common Dining Hall, he could not stop talking about how great they sounded, and how much he wished I could have been there to listen to them as well. Dinner tasted great as well, and afterwards we quickly headed over the Law School to listen to a presentation on careers and opportunities at Yale.

-Presentation on Abroad Programs-

Yale has the intention of having all of its students spend at least a portion of their four years studying abroad, because they intend to transform Yale into an international university. There are so many opportunities presented by Yale, but there is also the option to get a fellowship by discovering your own program you want to help and Yale will help fund your trip. In addition, there are many internships that Yale will also help secure for students so that they can have the maximum potential to learn.

Thank you to Yohanna again, and I learned a lot about Yale from everyone. Thank you to the ILC for making this possible for me!

Austin Long

Pinole Valley High School
Brown '10

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