This morning seems so long ago! I was in the Boston Park Plaza Hotel then and now I'm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania sitting in the Sheraton and remembering the tour of the University of Pennsylvania. For a majority of my sophomore year, my dream school has been UPenn. Heading over there after checking in to the hotel, Michelle reminded me to keep an open mind since for the previous college tours I have come in with a preconceived opinion of the school. I tried my best not to be biased, but I hung on to every word the admissions officer said in the Irvine Auditorium even though I have heard it all before. That goes to show just how excited I was about being on campus.
After the hour long informational session I tried to keep my cool as we walked out of the massive and beautiful auditorium on campus. There were 400 people there today! It was intimidating because I knew that all of these people were as interested in UPenn as I am which means a lot of competition in my senior year. Regardless, the tour was very nice. Our tour guide Jordan Holmes, an architect and UPenn senior, was very nice and helpful. His bad jokes were always enough to keep the large crowd interested, but I thought that even though all these people are interested in UPenn, I can stand out in the application process when the time comes. ILC has given me a new sense of confidence in myself. Before this program which is offering many dinners with university students and admission officers, college tours, and adult experiences, I thought there was nothing special about me that would be good enough for a university. Now, I know better. I am a unique individual (says the completely typical teenage girl) and I am passionate about pursuing my studies to make a difference in the world during college. I feel that UPenn is a perfect fit for me for a lot of reasons and they were all reinforced at the dinner tonight with admissions officers Alex Feison and Landon Reitz, and students Jordan (yes, the one that gave us a tour. What are the odds?) and Josh.
I am beginning to get a better understanding of the school I want to attend for the four years proceeding my graduation in 2016. I favor a private liberal arts school: a school that focuses on its undergraduates focuses in the arts and sciences before having them decide a major. In addition to its curriculum, these schools generally have good financial aid which of course is amazing- or maybe I have high expectations because I have the blessing of a free scholarship to the East Coast. In a university, I also look for an urban or metropolitan setting because I am so used to my small ton where I know just about everyone. Kind of contradicting the setting I am looking for, I want a feeling of community at the university I choose. It is a long list, but I was ecstatic once I went through it and realized UPenn satisfies all of my highest expectations. The highest expectation I have, however, is on myself. Getting into UPenn or any of the other schools the Columbia cohort has visited so far is my main goal. I know I will have to work hard, but speaking to Alex and Josh at dinner makes me feel like I can accomplish the task of working hard enough to get accepted to UPenn or any of the other liberal arts schools I have toured this past week.
Alex is the admissions officer for UPenn undergraduates in Northern California. This means every application from this region for UPenn goes to her and she is the primary person making the decision in who does or does not get accepted from the region. Even though she is actually from the New England Coast, Alex is a great supporter of the "West Coast, Best Coast" mindset and could have fooled me that she was a San Franciscan. I was also taken aback by how non-judgmental she is for a person who is paid to judge people's college applications. She answered all the questions I had about the admissions process and showed me that getting accepted to college is hard, but if it is meant to be, I will be accepted to a college that fits me best. This assured me that even though I will face rejection in my life, I will end up where I should be, and that may not always be where I want to be at the time. Also, talking to Josh, a senior and History major, was insightful since he was honest about his feelings toward UPenn. He loves his school, even though it was not his first choice. His state school, University of Wisconsin was, but he chose UPenn and not only loves it, but is active in the community and admissions office. I appreciatted his honesty on his attitude toward UPenn. He mentioned the good and the bad, which attracted me more to the school .
I feel that every other school I have seen is too perfect. Now, I feel that UPenn may not be perfect, (but it is pretty close!) but neither am I. I think it is my perfect fit because it meets all my expectations without me having to sacrifice a social life in college or worry about not being good enough to fit in. I think the goal I am working toward is an achievable one and I am pursuing it with an open mind and a positive attitude. I am incredibly lucky to have this opportunity with the ILC as an upcoming junior because it is showing me what to expect for the application process as well as what I am looking for in a school. I fell in love with UPenn today and I plan on working hard so that as a senior I will be ready for the college application process, starting in Philadelphia.