Friday, July 22, 2011

To Be Remembered...

New York, the city of dreams and wonders. Today the Yalies arrived in this giant metropolis via train, around 11 AM. Like Philadelphia, New York was blistering hot and it made all of us groan as we walked with our luggage through the heat. Our first stop was to quickly get to the Empire Hotel. We rushed to the side walk and tried to find a cab as quickly as possible. Luckily within the next 5 minutes we were in a cab, and well on our way to our hotel.

Lunch today was planned at the fabulous "Modern" in the NY MOMA. As soon as I walked into the restaurant, I could tell that this was part of MOMA. Modern's architecture accurately showed off its name, as did the decor, the salt and pepper dishes (instead of shakers) and the plating. As for the food, the food was delicious. However I did have trouble eating the Maine lobster salad, it was a bit nasty and hard to stomach. Now onto the guests. Today we had the star of the ILC dining with us, Peter Chau. For those of you who don't know Peter, he was the man who helped facilitate the very first ILC program at Dartmouth College and the program has grown ever since then. Peter offered his insight into a variety of issues. College admissions, what goes on behind the scenes in the admissions office, SAT tips and tricks, and what is important in terms of applying to college. The two things that I appreciated most about what he told us was how long the admissions officers actually looked at your application (about 7 min for Dartmouth) and the SAT tips. He brought real issues into the light for me, including how to train yourself to combat focusing issues during the test, and to test in the actual location.

The college of the day was Columbia, and in order to make our 3 PM information session we had to rush out of the restaurant. The day was hot, my bladder was full and I was eager to get to Columbia. Lori, Tom, Dyana and I arrived at the university first and I didn't hesitate to talk to the first people I saw to find out where everything was. It turns out that we had missed our informational session which was actually at 2, and not 3 however we still had time to catch up to the guided tour. We came up to our guide, whose name was Dakota, and heard him start talking about some of the old traditions of Columbia. The one that he was talking about when we came up to him was about the swimming test. Every Columbia student has to pass a swim test before graduation, just in case Manhattan sinks, except the engineering students. The engineering students petitioned the dean of the school to exempt them from this requirement because they said that they could just build a boat to traverse the Hudson. Unfortunately we didn't get to see much of the campus before we had to depart. However what we were departing for was for something that no one else received that day.

Thanks to the connections that Mr.Ramsey has he was able to arrange a private meeting with the admissions officer for NorCal, Mr. David Buckwald. David was able to inform us about alot of the things that we missed from the informational session. We also had two current students of Columbia with us, a girl from Wisconsin, and a boy from California. Between these three wonderful resources we were able to get a good grasp at college life, admission rates, the way the school runs, how the different schools at Columbia run, etc. I was, and still am, extremely thankful to David for taking time out of his schedule to privately meet with us. He was able to answer all of the questions that we had to throw at him. Mr.Ramsey shot a barrage of questions, one after the other, to both the students and David, and they all answered them without fail. However we only had about an hour with them and our time soon came to a close. I was the one with the honor to end this meeting and I ended it with a thought that had been on my mind for a while now. I asked him,

"David, when I got into the ILC I heard about all of the fabulous dinners that we were going to have, and all of the admissions officers we were going to have them with. I've also heard stories of these admissions officers remembering students whom they chit chatted with and when they actually applied that they remembered them, advocated for them and that they got accepted. However after dining with all of these admissions officers, and hearing about how long they spend on these applications and at the sheer number of applications they have to read, I find it hard to believe that they truly can remember us. Do you remember people that you've met who then apply?"

David was a bit confused at the question but Mr.Ramsey helped clarify what I was asking by saying "once were out the door are you gonna for get us."

David's reply was well thought out and convincing. He told me that there was a lot of people who apply, and that he doesn't remember the ones who don't get in. He does remember people though, the admissions officers do talk about people over and over again, back and forth, and he recognizes these people. That these faces do not go forgotten. He even assured me himself that he would not forget me. I find this comment, no matter if it lacked in true meaning or not, very comforting and it made David seem more like a human friend, than a scary admissions officer.

The rest of the day was free except for dinner. Dinner was at the luxurious 21 Club. I had the honor of arranging this reservation for our party. Gosh, I'm so sorry for being so repetitive but this dinner was one of the best dinners I've had in the ILC, it ranks right up with the dinner with Yale alums at Prospects and the UPENN dinner at Le Bec-Fin. We had the great pleasure of dining with 3 current Columbia students, all three of them rising-sophomores. I sat between Matt Chau, a poly-sci major with a computer science minor, and Yoachim Haynes, an environmental engineer major. Unfortunately I did not sit next to our third guest, Suhas Thalapaneni and as a result didn't talk much with him. I found both individuals to have a gold mine of information. First Matt, while talking to him about his major we wound up the Yale program Tom, Dyana, and I are taking. As soon as I mentioned the words "grand strategy" Matt's face lit up like a candle. He then burst out saying "you're taking grand strategy!? I took that class with Matt back in 2009!" From there we ended up talking about the program itself, including the general structure of the class, what we'll be doing, what the lectures and seminars are like, and of course the martial briefing that we'll all have to turn in eventually. Tom chimed in on the conversation and also partook in the wise words of Matt. Yoachim on the other hand was in the department that I was interested in. He told me all of the core classes special to engineering. He told me what engineers are expected to do at Columbia, his personal experiences, and also his hobbies and life at Columbia. One of the most important things that Yoachim said to me was about some of the core classes. Yoachim told me about a class that makes you divulge into all of the other fields of engineering to help you experience everything so that you could, if you wanted to, change your major to a different discipline of engineering.

Dinner ended with much laughs and conversation. Yaochim and I discussed how great our creme-brulees were with each other. I talked with Matt a bit more about his own experience at Columbia. We all filed out together, as one big happy group of friends just hanging out now. We stood, smiling for a group photo, said good bye to one another and continued on with our night. Since it was our only night in NYC we decided to go on top of the "rock", by that I mean Rockefeller Center. We saw the dazzling lights of NYC from atop that building, and we even drove through Time Square to see it up close and personal. All in all, this day was great and bad. It was bad in the aspect that we couldn't attend the information session at Columbia, nor could we finish the tour. However it was great when we think about David Buckwald, the dinner with Matt and Yoachim, and the night to end NYC. The fact that David took time from his busy life to attend a private meeting with us. How Matt and Yoachim gave me so much insight to what I truly wanted to know from them. Finally how I was able to wrap up NYC with a glimpse of how the "city that never sleeps," truly never sleeps.

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