#collegetouracrossthenation Day One

Note: written on November 18th. Published on November 19th. 

Hello everyone! I am just about halfway through junior year, so the college tours have officially commenced! We decided that Thanksgiving Break would be a good time to knock some visits out, so my mom and I have embarked on the #collegetouracrossthenation (as I’ve been calling it). I know that a lot of high schoolers are currently considering their options, or are totally lost on the subject of college, and I wanted to keep my college-bound readers updated and informed!

I am currently in Boston, Massachusetts and have completed my first day of #collegetouracrossthenation. I saw three schools and I’m feeling pretty maxed out. I’m now in bed, feet aching, but ready to share everything I discovered!

One thing I must say that relates to all of these schools is that Boston is a great place to be. The Fall weather is wonderful; it’s cold, but not too cold. The Charles River is beautiful, the architecture is beautiful, the food is great, and it’s just a great place to be for college.

First Stop: Harvard

There’s not much more I can say about Harvard other than the fact that it is absolutely perfect. In every way. With amazing academics, a beautiful campus and surrounding city, and an enriching culture, it certainly lives up to the reputation it’s been given.

The center of the whole campus is the “Harvard Yard,” which is filled with beautiful trees and areas of grass. It is also where the freshmen live. The dorm buildings (and every other building on this campus) are gorgeous and historic, giving off that 18th-century feeling. The freshmen experience sounds wonderful, as freshmen dorms have suites with two to four bedrooms and a common room (sounds pretty luxurious to me). Proctors (academic and residential advisors) live in the dormitories with their families and create a sense of community and family within the dorms.

Not my picture

One thing I loved about Harvard was their tutoring system. If you are struggling in a class, you can arrange for a student who has taken that class in a previous year and excelled in it to provide you with one-on-one tutoring. It seems that at Harvard, they will accommodate any needs you may have in order to help you succeed.

A sense of community radiated throughout the campus. It feels like there’s a place for everyone at Harvard. Community and collaboration were two things my tour guide stressed. I instantly clicked with this college because of that.

The only downside to Harvard is that it’s, like, impossible to get into. And I’d sell a kidney to go.

I can remain hopeful, though! Got a Harvard shirt just in case…

Second Stop: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Harvard and MIT may only be two subway stops apart, but, let me tell you, they are two totally different worlds. MIT and its surrounding area had a very modern, almost futuristic feel to it. It felt a little cold and uninviting to me honestly.

I am definitely not a STEM type of girl, so you may be wondering why a liberal arts/humanities chick like me was checking out MIT. It turns out that MIT has Comparative Media Studies/Writing, so that was my main interest. However, I really just did not like the feel of the college and felt that I truly did not fit in there.

Math courses, science courses, and PE courses/a swim test are all required for graduation at MIT. Total turn off for me…especially the swim test. I don’t mind math and science courses, but that’s just really not what I’m interested in spending my college career doing.

The students walking around on campus just didn’t give off a friendly or warm vibe. They were pretty anti-social and non-interactive. Now, I don’t want to generalize the students of MIT, but this was just a quick observation of mine after looking at Harvard. I’m sure there are plenty of awesome, loving people at MIT!

One academic aspect I did enjoy about MIT is that the classes you take for the first half of freshman year are graded on a pass/no record basis. This means that if you get an A, B, or C in a class, you have a “pass” on your transcript. If you get a D or F, it simply does not get put on your transcript, as if you never took the class. This is great because it enables you to take risks and enroll in classes out of pure interest, regardless of skill or prior knowledge. For the rest of freshman year, getting an A, B, or C in a class gets put on your transcript as the corresponding letter grade, but a D or F is taken off of your record.

MIT is a really cool place to be, though, if you’re into innovation, engineering, math, or science. There are also so many research opportunities, which is just really awesome. It just wasn’t the right fit for me, but I thought it seemed pretty great for people who are interested in studying anything of that sort.

The Ray and Maria Stata Center

 Final Stop: Boston University

I really loved BU! I attended the college visit at my school and really loved everything they had to offer, so I went to visit the campus to get a feel for it.

This campus feels a lot less traditional than other colleges (like Harvard). It’s more of a city school, as the school sits on a main road and the different schools are dispersed throughout the city. However, I talked to some students and they said it still feels like a college campus because they see a lot of familiar faces every time they walk down the main road. So, even though BU isn’t isolated, the surrounding area is majorly populated by college students.

Not my picture

I loved how BU sat right on the Charles River. They have a whole walkway alongside the river (think Tampa Riverwalk) and a little green area they call “The Beach,” where students lay or do their homework while looking out at the beautiful river.

I didn’t get to go to an information session or an official tour, but I learned a lot from the college visit at my school and it felt like BU really had something for everyone. I’m interested in the College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Communications, particularly the Cinema & Media Studies and Journalism degrees. BU also has an amazing medical program, which I know many of you are interested in!

After touring three schools, I definitely feel like I fit in at more liberal arts-type schools. I’m still trying to decide if I want the traditional college experience or the city college experience. I’m a pretty adaptable person, so I think I’d be fine in either one. It’s really going to come down to where I can get accepted…

I hope this was helpful for my college-bound frandz back at home! I know it can be scary and tough to figure out what you want to do and where you want to go, but it really is important to spend some time thinking about it, even if it is terrifying. You definitely don’t want to be thrown somewhere you don’t love because you didn’t make the choice for yourself. Think about it!

Stay tuned for #collegetouracrossthenation Day Two, which will feature another Ivy: Brown!

Lainey Shapiro

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