Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fits Like A Glove

Today was spent visiting colleges around the Boston area, namely Tufts, MIT, and Harvard. I first want to say that all the constructive feedback we've been receiving on our blog posts have been taken with an open mind, and as a contingent, we've figured out for the most part what we can do to improve on our blogs. It was just overwhelming at first to have to cover such a wide range of topics each blog post but now I believe that we will be able to give insight to what we each feel about our experiences.

So our first stop was Tufts. Wow what a beautiful campus it was. I was so shocked to see how empty it was too. Almost all the buildings were closed for the weekend, and not very many students were seen on campus. However, the weather today was absolutely perfect in the morning, and I think it definitely helped give us a "perfect" picture of the beauty of the campus. After Mr. Ramsey was able to find a student to talk to us for a bit, the thing that stuck out to me was still just the beauty of the campus.

Next was MIT. We had a great tour guide named Eric who was a Hercules High graduate. He shared so many personal stories and his vast knowledge about the MIT culture. He really helped me capture the idea that MIT is a rigorous, intense, and very difficult academic environment. But after inquiring about social life, I was able to find out that it's not completely out-of-reach to have one. A lot of the culture at MIT centers around traditions and quirks that I found really interesting. Each building has its own history and even though I'm not an intended math or science major, I really wish I could go to MIT. The ways that the students keep the school fun and exciting really fits with how I feel that school should be.

Our last stop was Harvard. Our guide was another Hercules High grad named Peter who had his own kind of twist on the campus life. It was more of an "it's there" type of attitude which really conveyed the kind of humor that can still be found on even the most "serious" of college campuses. I really liked it because well, it's Harvard. Stepping into Harvard Yard and onto the streets around it, I felt like this was what I was looking for in a college, it was a good fit.

I've been talking a lot about fit. And I think I realized that fit was more important than the scores universities require or the prestige early in my college search. I also think it's because that the latter two were easy for me to grasp. I knew I was able to get good grades and good scores early, and I also knew what a prestigious school was. So when figuring out what college I would want to go to, all I really had to think about was fit - right from the get go.

So what do I mean by fit. I'm talking about the location of the school, the people who attend it, what there is to do when you're not in class, accessibility to the city or teachers or jobs, traditions and things they don't tell you in college tours. Which is why I was so glad to have tours not given by the admissions office staff; we were able to get a more personal and reflective look at schools rather than the scripted highlight reel given to the masses. At both MIT and Harvard, when there was something interesting, we were able to actually stop and talk about it, rather than get moved along from place to place. We could ask more personal questions about how they dealt with the pressures and could receive more personal answers that sometimes talked about the school in a darker light.

I've had the good fortune, because of the Ivy League Connection, to be on two different campuses over the summers, Columbia and Brown. They're extremely different. Columbia is in the urban metropolis New York City, and Brown is in the small city of Providence. Two very contrasting schools that have very many things to offer. By being on both I've been able to see how each one may or may not fit me. I like the accessibility, closeness, and busyness of New York, but I also disliked the claustrophobic nature of Columbia's campus. On the other hand, I love the open and free nature of the Brown campus and curriculum, but I loathe the fact that Providence isn't the most exciting city or the fact that the beach is an hour away.

So as you can see, this may be why I like Harvard so much; The college reminds me a lot of Berkeley. Cambridge is like to Boston, what Berkeley is to San Francisco. A college town that's like a suburb to the larger city, but on its own is self-sustaining and has a plethora of things to do. Walking around Harvard Square, I was reminded of the environment that surrounded Columbia and UC Berkeley. A subway station right next to campus and a whole area of shops and cafe's that keeps the area active. Boston is between Providence and New York in size, which gives me that balance I'm looking for; A school where work meets play. Where when you're not busy doing problem sets, you can go hang out downtown. Where if you don't want to study in your room, you can study at the cafe across the street. Where if you don't want to outright work at all one day, you can go to the main quad and find something to do that day or join a pick-up game with some people.

It would have been a lot harder for me to discover this fit for me if I hadn't been fortunate enough to be a part of the program and be able to visit these colleges that are all nearby. If not for this program, I wouldn't have been able to understand how hard people have to work to get into these schools nor would I have realized that certain schools click better with my personality than others.

Just on a side note: The food for dinner today was delicious and I can not question Mr. Ramsey's taste in fine dining.


Good afternoon!

I've been sifting through the blogs about everyone's day in Boston and everyone seems like they had a good day. So did I. I felt like it was a very informative day, and I got a lot of out of it. Whether the tours were self-guided or guided by former Hercules students, it was awesome.

However, one campus that really stood out to me today was MIT. I never thought about the school as anything other than a great school. I thought it would be out of my reach, that only dorks go there. I thought it was only for high achievers, and for people that have studied math all their lives and impossible to get into for people like me. But, today when we took the tour with Eric Trac, I changed my mind.

You can ask anybody that was there, but I was really excited about the campus. It was integrated into the city, but still the buildings were close enough to walk through them without losing our breaths. They were connected by an underground tunnel which is a really clever way to avoid snow days. The buildings were amazing; one of them looked like a sine curve when you looked at the top down view, one of them was a 30-60-90 triangle built from the ground up, one of them was just CRAZY, with all the arches and curves and everything. The buildings and the architecture was so amazing. It made me really excited to visit the campus, and it opened my eyes to a whole new college to consider for the coming fall, when it is time to fill out college applications. Visiting MIT made the whole trip worthwhile to me.

A Day of Incoming Knowledge

Today I felt very Privileged to have been able to get the chance to get a close view at Tufts, MIT, and Harvard. We awoke a 7:30 to be able to eat breakfast and head straight to Massachusetts.
I have been told by me college counselor Ms. Sue Kim about Tufts that this would be a good school for me being a liberal arts school. Now being able to actually psychically be there and get the up close look and learn from a few students willing to talk us I have decided that tufts will be on my list of colleges to apply.

After Tufts we headed off to MIT to meet with a former Hercules High student whom is now a student at MIT to gives us a tour of the school. There were so many interesting things that i learned about this school. Even though I don't think that this school is a good match for me I am now able to go back home and share what I learned today with all of my fellow classmates interested in MIT.

At Harvard again we met with another former student from Hercules whom gave us a tour of Harvard as well. The campus was so beautiful, but once again I did not think that this was a school made for me.

After a long day of exploring on these three school's campuses I along with everyone else was exhausted. Yet I do not regret going on this trip because I got to see that Tufts is a school for me and learned information on each that I can share with everyone I know.


I am sure the students will have so much to say so I will make it brief for my part.

We had a wonderful time in Boston today visiting Tufts, MIT and Harvard. What was very special, for me—very, very special—was that for MIT and Harvard we had two 2008 graduates from Hercules as our tour guides.

Eric at MIT was just amazing, I told him he should be a professional tour guide, he was that knowledgeable. I know we would not have gotten half the inside look without him. He even took us down to the tunnel system, which, after the Pentagon is the longest tunnel system in the US. It was built to keep the students going to classes even during the worst blizzards. Students can ride their bikes or walk through them.

Harvard was a busy place today and Peter showed us a dorm room and the amazing freshman dining and dorm building which looked like a huge cathedral right out of Harry Potter.

All in all, a very enlightening, informative and fun day. We are all resting now in preparation for our formal dinner and meeting up with our new members, Zackery and Tiffany.

Pix are L to R: Harvard, MIT & Tufts

Boston for a Day

No one wants to wake up early. It took much strength and commitment for me to force myself up at 7:15 to get ready for Boston. I washed up, put on some tourist style clothes, grabbed my bag and that was that. Then Courtney, Cynthia, Gina, and I walked to Wayland Arch and anticipated the arrival of Ms.Kent and Mr.Ramsey. We heard a honk, well more like a couple of honks and we ran to the car to grab our seat. Then we headed down to a Bagel Shop on Thayer Street for breakfast. When we were finally full and ready for the journey to Boston, we hopped in the car and set the GPS system to our destination.

It was a pretty long ride so I attempted to sleep in the back seat of the car but failed. I just looked out the window to admire what nature has to offer. When we finally arrived at Tufts, I admit it did not interest me. We walked around for a while and we asked some random students about Tufts. What I found out was that students enjoy Tufts because it is like the best of both worlds. It has an undergraduate population of 5,000 students and is situated in a suburban area. Overall, I really like the campus but I do not think it is for me.

From Tufts, we headed towards M.I.T. to meet up with Eric, a former student of Hercules High, who gave us a tour of the school. The first thing I noticed about M.I.T. was that it is an open campus. No gates or anything limiting the access of the school to others. It is funny how something so simple can impact my decision; I really like the openness of the school. Not only that but I really adore how they comically rally the support for math and science. They seem to relate everything to math and science such as the Student Support Services, they call it S^3(S cube). There was also a building that was built on the concept of balancing 1/8th of a sphere. Another interesting building was the 30, 60, 90 triangle. Eric also pointed out the building that was shaped as a sin symbol. I thought that was pretty impressive.

Next, we went to Harvard. Now going back to Harvard, I find that I am not very interested in applying there. I like that it is integrated into the city to an extent but it also contained it privacy but I feel that there is not enough for me to do there. It do not seem as interesting as M.I.T. I do not know how to express it in words but at M.I.T. I get a vibe that I did not receive from any where else that we visited.

So far, I an considering Brown and M.I.T.

I know that I have to work extra hard to get into these schools but I will not feel discouraged. I feel that M.I.T. can be the right place for me and if I really do desire to attend it, I will strive for it.

By the way, my pictures are taking really long to load thus I will not be able to post them until tomorrow.

Our Day Exploring Colleges

We started off very early in the morning, everyone was exhausted already, but it was only the beginning. First thing we did was eat breakfast so that we would have sufficient energy because we'd be walking a lot and I mean a whole lot! We after about an hour drive we arrived at Tufts, where we gave ourselves a self-guided tour. Mr.Ramsey also stopped a few students to get more information about the campus and college. Arisa, a student from Tufts, informed us on numerous facts about the college. We learned that they have 5,000 undergraduate students, and it was a really small and quiet university. I personally prefer big and urban colleges, so Tufts was something different. Other then that, the campus was really beautiful and peaceful.

Next, we were off to MIT where we met up with a former WCCUDS student from Hercules High named Eric. He gave us a wonderful tour of the University and told us about the rigorous classes there. It seems extremely hard, if not impossible to get into MIT. Once again MIT was a really beautiful and scenic campus overlooking the Charles River. There was this really cool building called the Stata Center, it looked like something out of Dr.Seuss' storybooks. Because the tour was so interesting, it went on 30 minutes more then planned.

We eventually made it to Harvard where another former Hercules High student named Peter gave us a tour of the campus. It was really nice to finally be able to see more then just the front gate of Harvard, since the last time we went there it started raining thus ending our tour. I didn't realize that Harvard was so old, even though I knew it was the oldest University in the country. We saw many historical buildings, that have been there long enough to have housed the founding fathers. After the tour we went to the Harvard bookstore to get souvenirs and just explore. Lastly, we took a photo in front of the Harvard Crimson (Harvard's newspaper building) and we were off to Brown. The ride home was long and rainy, everyone was worn out. I think most of us came back and went to sleep so they could be refreshed for the dinner. I'll leave it off there, Till tomorrow!

A Day in Massachusetts

*I'll be editing this post soon to show the pictures I took today since I'm still learning how to add them.

This morning, at 8 am, we all met with Ms. Kent and Mr. Ramsey. After grabbing a bite to eat for breakfast, we were off to Massachusetts!

Our first stop was Tufts University. We didn't have an official tour, but we walked around the campus a bit and Mr. Ramsey even asked two students (Arissa, an upcoming junior, and Joanie, an upcoming freshman). The campus was truly beautiful with all of its greenery. We found out that there are 5,000 undergraduates going to this college and it is known for its international relations studies. I liked the fact that Tufts seemed like a quaint, private university. It is located in a peaceful environment, which I feel I may need to look for in a college so I won't get distracted from my studies. However, at the same time, it is only 15 minutes away from Boston. Thus, I wouldn't be missing the city life.

Next, we went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where we met up with a Hercules High School '08 graduate, Eric Trac, who just finished his first year here. After eating lunch, he gave the group an excellent tour of MIT. We were able to see the outside of the dorms, the inside of a classroom, and the inside of a lecture hall. I found it interesting to walk through a tunnel that led to the classrooms, which was built since the administrators did not want students to have snow days whenever there was a horrible blizzard. Eric also told us about the Interphase program at MIT where admitted students can go to the campus for two months over the summer to get ahead if they felt their high school didn't prepare them for the fall. He told us he felt behind during his first semester of college and offered us some advice for the future, such as taking courses at a community college during high school. Eric also told us to stay motivated no matter how difficult college may seem.

Our last stop was in Harvard. We met up with another Hercules High School '08 graduate, Peter Hung, and his brother Henry who is currently taking summer classes there. He took us on a tour of the campus where we saw the Widener Library and the Harvard Crimson, where the school paper was made.

I felt today was extremely productive! We were able to see three prestigious universities and came back with a whole new sense of these colleges. I loved how we talked to WCCUSD students since they gave us pointers on how to prepare for college. Not only did I benefit from the college tours we took today, but I know I can show what I've learned to the others at home who do not get the wonderful opportunity to travel to the east coast and see these universities for themselves. We can also tell people about programs, like Interphase at MIT, which help students who may not feel confident when starting college.

Well, I must get ready for the dinner tonight where we will be meeting with Ms. Kronenberg, Zackery, and Tiffany!

Another Type of Learning Day

So today we all went to historic Massachusetts and visited three wonderful colleges: Tufts, MIT, and Harvard. Tufts was our first stop, and might I say, the campus was really gorgeous! The scenery was so green and beautiful.

Although we didn't have any guides or anything, Mr. Ramsey made sure to ask any passerbys if they could tell us a few things about the university. Luckily we found one student named Arisa who gave us a lot of helpful information. Tufts has about 5000 undergrads, which is just about the same size as Brown. There are only 10 required courses that you have to take, but other than that, you can choose your own. And studying abroad seems to be really popular, since about 40% of the students do it. Tufts doesn't seem like such a bad college.

Next on our list was MIT. This time we had a tour guide. An alumni from Hercules High class of '08 who had just finished his freshmen year. Although he wasn't an actual tour guide, he should have been because he gave us a lot of information and took us all around the campus. The first thing he showed us was the Kresge Auditorium, who's structure is 1/8 of a sphere. Next he talked about West Campus, which is primarily dorms, and East Campus which is where all the classes are held. All of the classes are classified by numbers. So if you taking Physics, you would just call it 8. There are 4000 undergrads, and in total there are about 10,000 students at MIT. MIT is a really prestigious school and academically grueling school. A lot of their students come from private New England boarding schools, that cost $40,000 a year. MIT had a lot of interesting qualities, such as the Strata Center and Green Building.

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Our final stop was prestigious Harvard, where our tour guide was also from Hercules, I think. Our first stop was the Harvard Yard, which was surrounded by the Main 8-all freshmen dorms. The rooms are actually suites which can fit up to 6 people. The majors are called concentrations and the minors are called secondaries. There are no fraternities or sororities, only houses. The Massachusetts Hall contains the office of the president and 12 students. I wonder how they were able to be in that position. Overall, Harvard was a very interesting school.

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All of the schools were very nice an different in their own way. While Tufts may be my least favorite due to the lack of hustle and bustle and excitement, it was a very serene and beautiful campus. Harvard is in the middle due to the lack of information we received about it. I wasn't really able to grasp what Harvard was like, but personal Google searching will be my key. MIT was my favorite because it was so eccentric and lively. The buildings were so creatively thought of and I can tell that even though the work will be rigorous, they have lots of fun up there.

I hope this blog suits everyone. Especially my pictures. Goodnight!

The Brown Contingent is Now Whole

Early this morning the last of our Brown cohorts gathered in front of El Cerrito High waiting for their chariot to whisk them off to SFO so they could join the rest of the Brownies who have been preparing Brown University for their coming.

Zackery Taylor and Tiffany Carter will be taking, respectively, Leadership for Social Change and Leadership and the Civil Rights Movement.

Escorting them back east, Ivy League Connection co-founder Madeline Kronenberg also joined them for the traditional departure photo before their Lincoln Town Car arrived at 3:00 AM to ferry them in style to await their plane.

Rather than flying directly to Providence, this group will fly to Boston where they’ll join the rest of the Brown contingent that will be touring historic Boston and visiting the many colleges and universities situated there. Later this evening, after experiencing the dining excellence that Boston offers, the group will take the train back to Providence to prepare for their studies.

Friday Night Lights

My morning began as usual except for one thing; I was extremely tired although I fell asleep an hour earlier than usual. I find that weird and interesting because I had to force myself out of bed at 8:43 (yes, I actually remember the exact time because I looked at my phone to see what time it was before I pulled myself together and got up). The first thing I did was peak out the window to observe the weather. I was really hoping for it to be sunny and warm and I figured it will probably be warm. Therefore, I threw on the summer clothes I was yearning to wear and met up with "the group" for breakfast.

After breakfast, we scattered to Smitty B. What I find interesting is that we always get there early but the room is always packed. I do not remember the class starting at 9:45. Last time I checked, it started at 10 but even so, we still get there by 9:50. We went to grab out seats and I started copying down the notes on the chalkboard. Our first lecture was about depression. We learned that there are two different types of depression episodes, major depressive episode and manic depression episode.

The symptoms of Major Depressive Episode are as following :
- Depressed mood
- diminished interest and pleasure in usual activities (anhedonia)
- Significant weight loss (more common), weight gain (less common) or change in appetite
- insomnia or hypersomnia
- agitation (fidgeting) or slowed down
- feel tired & lack of energy
- feel worthless or too guilty
- poor concentration
- thoughts of death/suicide

The symptoms of Manic Episode are as following :
- fantastic mood (or can also be irritable)
- inflated self-esteem (grandiosity)
- pressure to keep talking
- flight of ideals/ racing thoughts
- attention is all over the place
- doing many things at once
- excessive involvement in pleasurable activities (buying, seducing, starting crazy business)

I found out that depression tends to run in the family and coincidentally, the percentage of the types of people that are more likely to be diagnosed with depression is strictly similar to those of schizophrenia.

I discovered the difference between being a psychologist and a psychiatrist. In the older days, psychiatrist use to help deal with patients but now, they are in charge of the medication and diagnosis. Psychologists try to understand the patient's disorder and help rehabilitate them. Either way, both career fields are dealing with trying to help the mentally disabled.

I want to note something that Dr.J mentioned about depression. He said something I found really strange. He told us that he tends to worry about the Brown students that feel inclined to get straight A's and now I understand why. While going through my notes, the reasoning to his statement emerged from the strokes on my notebook. The students that are getting straight A's are the ones who are pressured to achieve. They rely so much on the stress to attain their goals that their world starts revolving around education and becoming "perfect." Then when they realize that they can never be perfect, they start feeling depressed and feel like they need to fail at something to know that they had hit rock bottom and cannot go any lower. This hypothesis totally changed my perspective on education and striving for the top. Of course it would be awesome to be on top but I want to feel free too. I do not want to spend my whole life trying to be "perfect" and please other people. Now, whenever I get a lower score on my tests that I expected, I will not feel like a complete failure. It is somewhat eccentric of me to say it but knowing that always trying to reach "perfection" and becoming an over achiever can be a bad thing because it can lead to depression.

Now, I will go to bed and wake up early for the trip to Boston. Rest assure that I will be taking numerous pictures to post up on the blog tomorrow. Until then, anticipate the coming of Meuy's photography.

Boston Tomorrow!

Wow, today seemed like such a long and tiring day! In class we learned about the symptoms of depression. Dr.J said that there are two types of depression the ups and the down, and they each fluctuate from high to low. It was really interesting to find out the symptoms, and kind of makes me paranoid that some illness will take over my mind. In our discussion group we talked about finally finishing the book, and we all reflected on it. I felt the book is really depressing yet hopeful at the same time. Because we she her go from terribly ill to almost all better, even though it took her a really long time. For the rest of the class period we talked about intelligence, and this is really helpful for me because our group is doing our project on Just how are you intelligent.

Throughout the whole day we were trying to keep our friend occupied so she wouldn't figure out that we were secretly buying her a cake for her birthday. We celebrated by going to the mall and watching a movie, then going out for dinner at a pho place. She was very surprised, and liked the Asian food that she tried for the first time. Even though we all seemed preoccupied, some of us are excited to be going to Boston and Cambridge tomorrow. I can't wait to visit Tufts because that's where the girl from our book went to college. I also can't wait for the other two to arrive! Then our group will be complete! Well I'm off to bed, got to get up bright and early for the trip!

It's Finally the Weekend!

I finally remembered to bring my camera to class today so I have a few photos to share!

Anyways, this morning's lecture was mainly about depression with a touch of mania. I thought it was interesting that depression, like schizophrenia,tends to run in families. Also, I liked how Dr. J mentioned the signs of this disorder in college students, such as social isolation, dropping grades, and acting out misery since we will all be going to college soon and if we know the signs, maybe we can help someone out.

After the lecture, my discussion group talked about the ending of The Quiet Room and what we thought about the movie, "A Beautiful Mind," we watched yesterday. I thought it was funny how after talking about schizophrenia for the majority of the week, several of us started questioning ourselves and wondering if we really had this disorder and had hallucinations.

Once discussion time was over, the entire class came back together to hear Dr. J's lecture on intelligence. Actually, it wasn't a lecture, but instead he asked all of us what components we thought made up intelligence. Surprisingly, our list was pretty close when compared to the list made by researchers.

I love this class! And I know I made the right choice in choosing this subject to learn about this summer. Although some of the subjects we talk about are a bit depressing at times, the topics are so interesting to learn about and I'm considering psychology as a possible major.

After lunch, I met with my presentation group and we actually finished our PowerPoint today! I was surprised and thought we would need another day to finish, but I'm relieved we got everything done since I know this will be a busy weekend. Then, I went with Joseph to meet up with Gina, Meuy, Cynthia, and Karen (our friend from Texas!) to watch "Transformers" (which I highly recommend!) since it was Karen's birthday today. We then stopped by my room to surprise the birthday girl with an ice cream cake.

I must get to sleep now since tomorrow is going to be a long day! I can't wait to go to Boston, visit the colleges, and meet up with the two other ILC Brown students.