I’ve been feeling pretty fuzzy in this whole college thing lately, but today, things were looking clearer.
Today we visited Yale University. The day started very fused (more than usual). I had set my alarm to 7 AM because on the old itinerary, it said that the group was meeting at 7:30 AM, but apparently we were meeting at 7 AM! Luckily we got ready super quickly and were able to make it out to the train on time! We arrived at the train station about ten minutes earlier, boarded the train, and ordered breakfast. The train ride was a long two and a half hours, but it wasn’t too bad because I was able to get up when I wanted to and there were bathrooms and water fountains.
|On the way to New Haven.|
We arrived at the South Central Station in New Haven, Connecticut at 10:45 AM, a little over an hour and a half before the time we needed to get to the student forum session at Yale. We roamed around a little bit and then grabbed some lunch at a local diner. The student forum, a session between only two Yale students (Mike and Stephanie) and prospective students (no parents or Yale faculty) was incredible; first off, this was something no other school we visited had done. Not having the presence of parents or Yale faculty really made the session feel uncensored and real, which I truly enjoyed. If I wanted recited facts and figures, I would've just read one of their many pamphlets; but at these sessions, visiting students were free to ask whatever questions they desired. As many other colleges' students felt, there was a strong sense of community amongst the students. Additionally, the said that the best way to find that really solid group of friends was to join an extracurricular that you were really passionate about. In their experience, that was how they found that tight knit group of friends.
After the student forum, we headed to an information session, which was just like all of the others. However, this one started out with a video that some Yale students put together. It was a contemporary take on the classic admissions video; it had lots of singing parts and a cute, whimsical production. After that, the Assistant Admissions officer came in to talk about the school, which was nothing I hadn't really seen before. We headed off to campus tours after the info session to see the expansive area. As beautiful as it was, I didn't really feel like the medieval style was really my thing, but that by no means detracted from my interest in the school.
The really selling point of the school was when we had the dinner with the students. This, and I cannot stress it anymore, was the best dinner I've had so far. It was not the food (although my glazed salmon didn't hurt) but the people. Of the students that came (Austin '15, Genevieve '17, Anthony '17, Yasmin '16, and Carie '16) I sat near Yasmin, Anthony, Austin, and Genevieve. I actually knew Genevieve before, because she used to go to El Cerrito High, too, but I hadn't met any of the others. Anthony started out with asking me what my interests were and I automatically started listing things in school that I was a part of, but then he kind of jokingly cut me off and said "No really, I mean what are YOUR interests?" and then quickly followed that with a "Naw I'm just kidding." That really made me realize that having an identity outside of school was very important and that things or achievements I have done in school don't define who I am as a person.
Beyond that, Justin, Anthony, Yasmin, Kendal, Genevieve, and I all had awesome conversation. As much as we did talk about school, we talked about other things too. I loved that the conversation wasn't completely based off of talking about one thing, Yale, but that we could talk like we knew each other forever and talk about random things. I really felt comfortable and like myself when I was at this dinner; not once did I feel pressure to act or speak a certain way just to appeal to the students. This, I realized, was so amazing, and why I decided that I really wanted to attend Yale. They are all amazing, talented, and poised students, but at the same time, are not at all condescending -- they were very approachable and easy to talk to. Those were the types of people who went to Yale, just friendly, kind, and approachable people. The vibe (excuse my hippy-Berkeley roots) I got from them was just really warm, easy-going, and down-to-earth. I sound repetitive, but I really cannot stress that anymore.
Dinner ran much longer than expected; we ate for nearly three hours! Those three hours whizzed by like three minutes. We ended our dinner and headed out to "the green" (just a big field on the Yale campus) to check out a music festival that had been going on that day. Unfortunately, that festival ended by the time we made our way there, so we ended up just heading to the train station early. A two and a half hour train ride back, and we were hailing taxis to go back to our hotel. Today was such a great day; I met some amazing people and discovered an amazing school I hope to attend one day. Pressure is on you, UPenn. Show us all you got.