Saturday, April 16, 2011

Clark University Admitted Student Open House

“Challenge Convention. Change Our World.” -Clark University Motto

Today was the day that I would finally get to see Clark University in person. Before my father and I reached the campus in a way I felt unsure and worried about what lay ahead. There were countless thoughts going through my head from whether I would like the life of the student body on campus to whether Clark could be my home for four years. I felt like a little girl going into a fun house except that there no silly mirrors obscuring my view, everything was out in the clear. We drove up little by little until there it was Clark University with its green lawns and red brick buildings.

We had woken up early in order to be on time for Open House Registration. From La Quinta Inn, it was supposed to be about a ten minute drive, but before we could leave my dad reminded that we needed to have breakfast, which of course is the most important meal of the day. We grabbed a quick bite, I only ate a yogurt because of my anxiousness and the fact we were running a couple minutes late. We drove out of La Quinta’s parking lot and made our way down through Auburn, Massachusetts until we reached Worcester.

What caught my attention the most was the clear change of surroundings between Auburn, whose big and fancy homes gave it a more sophisticated, and high class look, and Worcester, whose streets seemed to be surrounded by liquor stores and smoke shops giving it a gloomy and lower class look. Surprisingly, Worcester reminded me in great deal to Richmond, CA. Though on different sides of the United States they shared many things in common, which in part eased my worries of not being able to transition into living here if I were to attend Clark in the fall, but also made me think about what so many people back home desire which is to get away from the poverty and violence. A question immediately surfaced in my mind, the moment I saw a Latino father and his child walking out of a market: Was my goal in attending college to escape my community and all its problems? That little boy I saw reminded me of all the kids I see in Richmond walking to school. I asked myself, was he too in danger like the kids back home of falling under the influence and of crime? I didn’t know the answer to that, but before I could continue pondering the answer we reached the parking lot.

We had run a couple minutes late, but apparently many people had come to the event because every parking spot was already taken, so we had to park outside on the street. All over Clark University there were students posted to give visitors instructions on where the Registration was for open house. We made our way to the second floor of Higgins University Center. In order, to get there we crossed through the campus square passing right in front of the famous Jonas Clark Hall, which is the building shown on most material sent by Clark to potential students. I never imagined that I would stand right in front of the building that I had been seeing on pamphlets and on the Clark website,, since the fall. This would of course not be possible if it were not for the Ivy League Connection, who has opened so many doors for me.

Once we were inside I had to check in, receive a lunch ticket, obtain a red Clark tote bag that contained all that I would need throughout the day, and make myself a name tag so that I could be identified. We were offered to get a light breakfast of: coffee, tea, orange/apple juice, bagels, and muffins. We grabbed some food and looked for a place to sit. There I became completely aware of the great amount of people who were present. All the seats had been taken at the tables, but people had made due with the surroundings and sat on a stage that was to the far left of the room facing a huge window that overlooked campus square. We went and joined the people sitting there. Immediately I faced what many back home had warned me about which was the culture shock. I in the second went from being a majority at RHS to the lowest minority at Clark. Including my father and I there were probably around five Latinos in the room. There were approximately ten African Americans present and approximately twenty Asians, as well.

After some time, of just looking around at the people, who were concentrating on their own personal conversations I looked behind me to the view from the window. I took a couple of pictures and talked a bit to my dad. The attention of the room was suddenly switched to a man directing everyone to exit and follow onto the welcome or introduction of the day’s events at Atwood Hall. Everyone filed into Atwood Hall and soon enough the place was packed. My father and I grabbed a seat and waited for the presentation to begin. The speakers in this section, welcoming us to campus, were President David P. Angel, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Don Honeman, Student Council President Lisa Johnson ’12, and Assistant Director of Admissions Liz Magier ’09. The each told us about Clark and why we were all here. They told us that each one of us, were potential class of 2015 “Clarkies,” as Clark students are called, because each one of us demonstrated in our applications certain qualities that matched with life at Clark and the university’s goals. They read the profiles of a couple of the students who had along with me applied and become accepted. From a person who engaged in research while in high school to a person who traveled with a circus for an entire summer while in high school, Clark’s diversity and wide ranged student body came into view. I thought about what about me had matched with Clark. In the end, I concluded it was probably my dedication to serving my community and academic performance. The congratulated all of us and told us they hoped we joined them in the fall before directing us the next part of the program which would be a classroom experience.

There were several choices to choose from, many appealed to me, but I would only get the chance to attend two courses. I chose out of all the available choices: (1) Are you an Adult Yet? The New Life Stage of Emerging Adulthood and (2) John Edwards Comes to Methods Class: Analyzing Language and Body Language. Both of my choices are courses offered by the Psychology department. The first, which took place at 320 Jefferson Academic Center, was more of a lecture experience for me. Professor Jeffrey Jensen Arnett spoke to us about the importance of the stage of life were a person is emerging into adulthood. To introduce himself he told us how he ended up teaching at Clark, from his early days as an undergraduate and his experience in the different jobs he gained though his major in Psychology. I was very interested in his lecture and enjoyed the points he made throughout. In addition, I liked how he gave us the audience a chance to ask questions or discuss certain points he had made.

Afterwards, we made our way to my second choice which took place in 001 Jonas Clark Hall. We arrived a bit late because the previous class had ended a bit late and because of the extensive crowd of people making their way into Jonas Clark Hall. This class, taught by Professor Michael Bamberg turned out to be much more interactive. Professor Bamberg was humorous and allowed everyone to have a say in the lesson he was teaching. He made jokes but kept the audience under control at the same time. The classroom environment consequently was alive, but not too chaotic. I really enjoyed his lesson and it got me thinking deeply about the topic at hand.

Next on the list, was lunch at the Higgins Café for the admitted students and at Basset Admissions Center for parents or family members. I got to eat along with the other class of 2015 students, but also with current Clark students. The food was good they had a bit of variety, but it is not the reason why I enjoyed my lunch. Another student visiting from Connecticut came and sat at the table where I was sitting and soon enough another student from the East Coast sat with us too. The three of us had a great conversation about college, school, and what we liked/disliked about Clark so far. It was interesting to hear about the colleges that my two lunch “buddies” had applied to. Not only where the schools mainly in the East Coast, but they were small privates just like Clark. What kept our conversation going the longest was talking about our lives in high school and the classes we got to take. Both of them compared to me went to rather small high schools. From our conversation I could tell that their schools were very high on having their students take AP/IB classes. One of them had even enrolled in virtual AP classes that are taught online. In addition, they mentioned how a couple of their friends had even gotten into Ivy League colleges. When we spoke about our likes and dislikes of Clark one clear thing was that like me they also were greatly considering how much financial aid Clark University was offering them. After, I ate I reunited with my dad and we took a tour of the residential halls.

During the tour, was when I got to hear about how actual Clark students felt about the school. A couple of them showed that they had started off not to into Clark, but that now they really enjoyed their time there. A main topic they brought up was the excellent academics and the vibrant life on campus. I for one was greatly looking forward to seeing more of the student body out doing things around campus, but seeing that it was Saturday a great majority of the students were at their dorms resting. Bullock Hall, which was the residence I visited and the home of freshmen, was completely renovated. It looked quiet modern and very innovative, with recycling bins available throughout the entire building. In addition, it not only had laundry rooms on the bottom floor, but on the top floor as well. The rooms where quiet spacious and cozy. The rooms I saw where each two people, but Clark also has dorms with more than two. Roommate wise the students I spoke too where quiet pleased. Apparently, Clark staff individually looks at each housing applicant and categorize so that they can better match them with someone that is much like them. The housing staff therefore gets to know each student that lives on campus pretty well. They brought to our attention that if we end up going to Clark and applying for housing that we should be as truthful as we can in our application about pet peeves and our ways of acting.

After my tour, I returned to Higgins University Center for the academic fair, where I got the chance to speak directly to more Clark students, faculty, and staff. Everyone was very nice and helpful. They answered all of my questions and also helped me realize that I am really interested in not just pursuing one degree, but maybe even a double major. One thing I really liked was the chance that Clark gives its students to create or more like combine majors to make one for themselves. Not only did I speak with the representative from the psychology department and women studies major but also with the head coordinator for the pre-med program at Clark. He told me that he begins working with students from day one because the process to get into medical school is long and hard. He gave me the requirements for medical school and in a way they reminded me of my A-G’s. I guess applying to medical school will be much like applying to college except that I will need to demonstrate my abilities in the medical/health field only.

Later on, I got to attend to sessions of my choosing to help me get a closer look at Clark through the voices and experiences of Clark staff. I attended: (1) The First Year Experience (Week One Orientation & Clark Trek) and (2) Study Abroad. In the first session, I learned about Clark’s summer programs that begin a week or two prior to school actually starting. All of the programs mentioned are aimed to help incoming freshmen with the transition into college. Students who take part in these summer programs move onto campus a week or two before the rest of the student body. I would definitely want to participate in the ALANA (African, Latino, Asian, and Native American) summer program. I did not get to meet with any current Latino students while I visited, but I learned about what they do on campus. In addition, I realized how much priority is placed on helping new Clarkies adapt to their new surroundings and college life. The Study Abroad session was very informative. Clark provides its students with numerous opportunities to study abroad from London to Japan. The program they offer that caught my attention the most was definitely their Central America one. In this program students of any major can go for a whole semester to Central America. You spend one month in El Salvador, another in Nicaragua, and lastly Guatemala. I would definitely want to take advantage of this opportunity. I think it would be incredible to study in my native country even for a short period of time and have the chance to visit the bordering countries.

The last part of the day was the farewell session, were admitted students and their families were treated to some snacks and each student got a complimentary Clark gift. It was sad to see how the day just went by so fast but I was satisfied that I got to visit Clark and I even got a Clark water bottle! After, we said our farewells my father and I took the chance to take some last pictures on campus.

Overall, I had a great day visiting campus, now all I need to do is make my decision!

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