MIT, Harvard, new friends, and a fantastic dinner. It's crazy how much I can accomplish when I actually wake up early! Then again, having an awesome tour guide and finally some rest definitely helped me get through the day. After breakfast around the block at Au Bon Pain, having oatmeal and fruit, the cohort headed to MIT at 8:30 which is located across the Charles River from Boston. Once the taxi dropped us of, the first thing I said was, "Wow." It is in the center of a metropolitan area, but based on the architecture alone, I would have thought it was Ancient Rome or Greece. Tall pillars and grand entrances, MIT is a beautiful paradise in a bustling city.
At 9:30 we headed into the informational session given by Matt McGann, a MIT alum and admissions officer. Some of the things he mentioned were about the amazing research programs offered to undergrads, the Biomedical program, and what MIT calls "hacking", which are pranks that MIT students put on at school. Something Matt said that really stuck with me was that no grades are given first semester and freshmen are not allowed to even pick a major. MIT is an amazing school that has a beautiful campus. Although it is generally thought of as exclusively a technology and engineering school, it has a fantastic humanities and art program which erased a big stereotype I had about the school. I like this characteristic of the university because I am interested in biotechnology, but I also really like political science, government, and music, so MIT offers the best of all worlds for me. Also, there is fantastic diversity among the school which is very important to me, considering that I come from the West Contra Costa Unified School District which is also very diverse.
After the tour, which showed all the buildings, where classes are taken, and how life at MIT works for students, the cohort had lunch in the student union. At one o'clock we headed to Harvard a mile and a half down the road and I was so excited! From what I have heard about Harvard, it is very prestigious and beautiful. We walked onto campus, and once again, I was blown away. The weather was sunny and it was starting to get a little humid, but the sky was the perfect backdrop for the old brick buildings. We entered the building where the informational session was being held and Ms. Thrift introduced us to Roger Banks, a Harvard faculty member who arranged a private tour of Harvard for the Columbia cohort. To put it lightly, I was amazed by what Harvard has to offer. Fantastic funding and financial aid, a beautiful campus, amazing resources, a great study abroad program, and over 450 extracurricular programs. This does not even scratch the surface though! The tour that Emily Zoffer, a second-year majoring in Latin America studies, Drisana Mosaphir, a second-year studying Applied Math, and Joanna Koczuk, a third-year studying Government, taught me a lot.
|Lowell House's courtyard|
I did not want the tour to end. Aside from all the great things I learned about Harvard, like their amazing advisory programs for students, my favorite part was hearing about Emily, Drisana, and Joanna's personal experiences at Harvard. I related to each of them whether it was from Emily's activity in the arts, Drisana's interest in science, or Joanna's passion for politics and debate. I felt comforted by their remarks about the school and their honest love for Harvard culture. They are so down to earth and normal! They completely erased the preconceived idea I had about Harvard that all students must be pretentious and privileged. It was refreshing and made me believe that I can apply for Harvard without thinking of myself as a joke.
Alas, the tour ended, but we promised to meet up with the ladies for dinner along with other Harvard students invited by an ILC alumna, Teraliyn Chen. So we went to the hotel, rested for a little bit and got ready for dinner at the Meritage on Rowes Wharf in Boston. Although we got lost on the way, the dinner was definitely worth it. The food was delicious! I was seated by Drisana, Joanna, and Helen Bae, a Biomedical Engineering major (lucky me!) for dinner. We talked about anything and everything. Nothing was off limits and I really connected with everyone. Also invited to dinner was Shane Bouchard, a Harvard Graduate with a masters in Chemistry and Lizbeth Hernandez, a Government major. Once again, I did not want the meal to end! Delicious food, stunning view, and great company; what more could a girl ask for? The people I am meeting through the ILC are so amazing and have a lot of faith in us students. I am not only more confident in myself for when I have to fill out college apps, but happy with the positive relationships I am developing with intelligent and genuine people who would love to help me excel in my educational career.
|Scallops for my dinner.|
A lot of stereotypes I had about MIT and Harvard were erased after today's informational sessions and campus tours. I now have a better idea of what I am looking for in a school and I plan to apply to both MIT and Harvard my senior year.