Wednesday, June 19, 2013

No Dreams Deferred

Our second day away was the first day with planned events.We started off by making a quick stop at Starbucks. I'm used to having a warm breakfast, so I was afraid that I'd have to go until lunch with only a cup of tea. Luckily, Starbucks had a few breakfast options. We began walking to the Navy Pier, but it was so far that we ended up taking the bus. There was a beautiful view of Lake Michigan and the area was packed with activities. We briefly walked through the theater, food court, and some shops. It was really cool because we saw a fancy McDonald's with fake columns and statues inside. We continued by riding the Ferris wheel. A fun fact about this Ferris wheel was that a man recently broke the record for staying in a Ferris wheel for the longest time. He was up there for over 48 hours! That's 384 revolutions! To be honest, I was scared to go on the Ferris wheel because my last experience was scary and this one was even higher! I rode with Jenna, Rochelle, and Mr. Chan-Law. The gondola was really rigid and it wasn't scary as long as you looked straight! I didn't even want to try looking down because it would have been horrific and I didn't want to rock the gondola. Once we got off, we had three extra rides on our pass, so Christian, Tamilyn, and Tomi rode the merry-go-round. Before leaving, we stopped by a botanical garden too!
The Ferris wheel
A candid picture of Tamilyn, Tomi, and Christian
With about three hours before our information session at Chicago, we took the next bus down to the subway. The subway station was similar to a Bart station, except with artsy walls. The ride was about an hour long. Once we got off, we had to take another bus to UChicago's campus. All of the buildings were medieval like and covered in leaves. It wasn't modern, but it was peaceful and orderly. Walking to the campus, I didn't like the setting. It was really quiet and it seemed like a residential area. We arrived about two hours early, so we got to eat lunch and visit the student store before the information session. I bought a red UChicago sweater and postcards for my friends! Unfortunately, I haven't been able to acquire any stamps to send them.
A leaf covered building at UChicago. 
We went back to the admissions building and met Callie and Troy, two of the admissions officers. troy also happens to be the officer who reviews the Bay Area's applications and they both joined us for dinner. Suddenly, a clear, loud voice announced that we'd be leaving in three minutes. A man named Alex appeared and guided us to the Oriental Institute. Us ILC girls sat front and center for the presentation. He spoke very eloquently and his speech was appealing. It didn't just tell us about the school and admissions process, it kept us excited to hear what was next. I feel like he would have been able to tell someone they were rejected from the school smoothly just as well. He described the process as a meal. Financial aid was the dessert! He also made us all stand up and introduce ourselves. There were students and parents from all over, ranging from Texas to China! I took a whole page of notes and these are a few of the most interesting things I learned about UChicago:
1)UChicago is home to the most Nobel Prize winners, which was 87 people.
2)It is a liberal arts school which runs on a quarter system.
3)100% of business students in the career program get jobs or are admitted to business schools.
4)The acceptance rate this year was 8%.
5)And lastly, the school requires an extra essay with prompts such as "where's Waldo?" or "X equals".
Alex, an admissions officer at UChicago.

There were a lot more interesting facts, but listing them all would make this blog into a book. The room broke into three groups and we each followed a guide. Again, us ILC girls had no hesitation to make our way to the front of the crowd. Our guide, Mason, showed us around campus and shared more interesting facts. He's a rising junior with lots of school spirit! He told us that two students who created a nuclear reaction were offered jobs afterwards and he told us about some traditions. They have a Hanukkah celebration in the court and festivals where singers such as Nelly perform. During the tour, the only other people who asked questions were parents! I'm glad that my cohort has so much drive and interest in the school. They truly showed that they wanted to attend the college, so I hope the admissions officers saw that today and remember until next year! I must say that after the speech and tour, I didn't even care about the setting the school was in anymore. UChicago is genuinely a unique school that offers so much for its students.  We ended the tour and went back to the hotel.
Our tour guide Mason
On our way back, I noticed a sign at the bus station that said "Harlem" Before thinking of the Harlem shake, my first thought was about Langston Hughes! I read A Raisin in the Sun not too long ago, so I remember his poem Harlem: Dreams Deferred. Not only is UChicago not located in Harlem, but it's a place where dreams are not deferred. The students there are striving to achieve their dreams while the staff is helping them along the way. I'm definitely
applying to UChicago when I become a senior, but even if you're someone who doesn't want to attend UChicago, it doesn't mean that your dreams have to "crust over" or "stink like rotten meat"

We quickly changed and headed down to the lobby upon arrival at the hotel. We took a bus to Perennial Viran in downtown Chicago. The restaurant was really busy and there was a long rectangular table set up. The UChicago students were already there. The admissions officers arrived several moments later. We all sat down in an ILC and non-ILCer alternating pattern. I sat between Mario Gage, a student, and Troy. Mario was the main student who was chosen to attend the dinner and invite friends. He was really friendly and he made me like UChicago even more. He's a rising senior who majors in economics. When I asked him why he chose economics, he said it was interesting to him especially since the schools he went to were geared towards economics and finance. His mother made him distribute his money into a savings, spending, and charity jar. His schools also had programs where the students were given the task of making profit from stocks. I've never heard of schools like this, but I think that if other schools did something like this, the students would be more engaged and they'd be able to learn more about a topic that they're interested in. He also brought two friends who sat at other parts of the table. He says that the most important part of surviving college is having good time management.

I got to ask Troy a few questions and listen to his responses to others' questions too. He graduated from UChicago in 2010 and he majored in economics as well. He says that he looks at essays as the most important part of an application. Over 60% of students who apply have near-perfect grades and test scores, so I see why good grades aren't enough to cut it. The extra essay prompts are made vague because it depicts the way the applicant thinks. Some people are boring, while others are creative. Of course the creative ones are the ones who get admitted. He also said that he looks for people who are sincerely interested in the school. Not people who just like that it's highly ranked, but people who know that UChicago has something that will help them pursue their interests. Life as an admissions officer isn't easy either! Once the applications are sent in, he has to read the essays, review the transcripts and discuss who should be admitted.

We closed the night with chocolate-chip cookies, chocolate cake, rhubarb tarts, and goat cheese bites. I'm glad that I was able to visit UChicago and meet all of these new people. I probably wouldn't have applied to UChicago if it weren't for the ILC or I'd apply for the wrong reasons. I still don't know what I want to major in, but I have two more years. And if I still don't know by then, I know of a cool liberal arts school!

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