Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Freedom At Duke University

Well, I must say, Duke really stole my heart today. From the meeting with one of the admissions officers to the official university tour, Duke wormed its way to my list of universities I would actually like to attend.
Even though we didn’t get to bed until late last night (1AM), we still made it on time to the Hilton lobby for our 6:55 AM call time. In all honesty, I felt wide awake, ready to absorb all the information that would be presented that morning at the Duke Admissions Office and tour.

As we arrived into the Admissions office, I noticed how cozy everything looked, with its comfortable sofas and warm colors; it felt really welcoming. When the admissions officer for Northern California, Samuel Carpenter, came in, the whole room lit up from his huge smile and strong presence. He each gave us a sturdy handshake, and when we all introduced ourselves we began to ask him several questions about Duke and what the admissions officers really look for in an applicant.
The Admissions Office
Mr. Carpenter made it very clear that Duke does not rely so heavily on SAT/ACT scores and instead focuses more on the personal essays, and letters of recommendation. Even though many colleges do this kind of thing, it is nice to know that Duke does this as well. Like Mr. Carpenter said, “We only know how a student is like in real life if the student actually expresses who he/she is as a person through these essays.”

Another nice thing Mr. Carpenter told us is how affordable Duke is for low-income families. For example, if an accepted student is unable to attend because of the hefty price tag, Duke will try very hard to make it affordable. This is definitely something I worry about since I don’t come from an upper-class family with the money to pay 50,000 dollars per year. However, Mr. Carpenter assured us that there are many methods to take care of this such as numerous need-based scholarships and loans, which only add up to $5,000 a year.

When we finished with the meeting, we all said a friendly goodbye to each other and went off to the informational session. By the end of this meeting, I was excited for that since I would be learning more about this interesting school.

The informational session combined with the tour was very long, (about an hour and a half) but overall, very interesting. Our speaker was Ms. Ashley Taylor, the admissions officer for Southern California and a 2010 graduate of Duke. She was an excellent speaker, and explained the several things about Duke at a pace where everyone could understand.

One of the most important things that stood out is how easy it is to take any class you want to. Duke is extremely liberal in terms of the things you want to do there, and while you may be a Pre-Med major, you can still choose between several class choices that seemingly are not related.

If you were in Pre-Med you would still need to take those few required science classes. However, you can still choose things like politics and history, to give you a broader view of the world around you, and not just for the job you want to take. I believe this is phenomenal plan, and I also believe it helps all students get ready for the world when they graduate. During our tour our guide, Natalie, also told us about the several “shadowing” programs (where you basically see the daily life held by a specific job) which further helps a student get ready for life after college, and even help in choosing the right job in the future.
Overall, the beauty of the Duke campus still astounds me because of the wonderful trees and lush green grass. I can see myself walking through these grounds one day, whether it is on my way to the Pre-Med building, or the university gym, I am able to see myself here. I really feel like this campus is a great fit for me, and when the time comes, it probably will be one of my choices for school.

After our tour, we hurried to the airport to catch our 3:15 departure to Washington D.C. Luckily, we made it on time and with plenty of time to spare. I have mentioned previously that airplanes make me nauseous; they still do – however this flight was not as bad since it was quite short.

We exited the plane “Hollywood Style,” (climbing down the plane’s staircase with the engine fan-things blowing into our hair) and made our way to the Holiday Inn nearby.

Once we arrived, we took some time to unwind and to swim in the cool and refreshing pool. However, I was only there for about 20 minutes because I had to get ready for the dinner at Founding Farmers.

After our bus ride to the restaurant, we decided to do a little bit of sight-seeing, and wandered around the back of the White House. There really wasn’t much to see, since it was behind the White House, so we headed back to the restaurant.

Founding Farmers is a very busy and beautiful place. However, we were told to dress formally, and although that’s fine with me, I don’t think formal is the way to go for this dining place. All the people there were dressed in your everyday clothing and in all honesty, I felt a little out of place. Nonetheless, the dining experience was spectacular. I ordered the 3-cheese ravioli which was huge and yummy. The cheeses coincided with each other perfectly and it was neither too salty nor too bland. The pesto sauce, however, was not as yummy; it was really salty. Even though the sauce wasn’t perfect, we still had a blast enjoying each other’s company in this welcoming environment. I can’t wait to share many more of these kinds of moments with them in the future!
A Lovely Poster 
This day has been long and very busy but I truly I think I learned a lot about Duke and what it takes to be there. What I love about Duke is that it lets us make our own choices, and it doesn’t lead us the same way. I love the freedom this place gives and I am grateful to have visited here. Duke is a university I probably never would have considered, much less toured if not for the Ivy League Connection. I can’t give enough thanks. This has really changed my perspective of eastern schools and made me realize that they are not as imposing as they seem.
Up next: our free 4th  of July in Washington D.C.!

1 comment:

  1. Yessenia,

    Another valuable set of insights about Duke and the restaurant.

    We hear so much when universities boast about the ethnic diversity of their students. I can only imagine their thrill seeing your group. If you look at where the families of the four of you originated, this is something that most universities like to see.

    Even though we are called “The Ivy League Connection”, as you can see we try to showcase universities that are far from the normal geographic boundaries of the Ivy League. Aside from visiting Duke this day, you’ll be visiting schools around Washington, D. C. as well before heading to Nashville to start your classes. Our Penn group went to Chicago and St. Louis and in previous years the Vandy group visited other schools in the South.

    With more than 3600 colleges and universities in the US, we want you to see that there is a lot of diversity out there and if you want to find the ‘perfect fit’ for you, you need to be exposed to more than the standard fare here at home.