Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Travelog - College Visits

New York University.
Columbia University.
Princeton University.

These were the colleges we visited during our trip. We wanted to give our older boy a feel of these higher institutions of learning, since he will start his college applications process in the coming two years.

Columbia University

I know, I know...very lofty aspirations we parents have for our children, but hopefully, by showing our boys what's out there, they may be inspired to reach for the heights! Haha, just kidding. Seriously, these colleges are just a handful of so many excellent schools here in the US, not just Ivy Leagues, but also smaller & academically rigorous ones like Lehigh, Renselaar, Colgate, just to name a few.

Stanford - Corridors of learning

The ones we visited this time ranged from State universities (Berkeley) to private ones (NYU & Stanford) to traditional Ivy Leagues (Columbia & Princeton). All were excellent schools but had very different curricula with foci on different aspects of education. The Ivy Leagues tend to be more liberal arts-centric while the private universities had more professional courses to offer.

UC Berkeley

They all offered information sessions for students & parents, which outlined their curricula, admissions process (generally holistic although given the kind of applications they get, scoring at least 1400 in the SATs is the norm rather than the exception!) & financial aid. College costs are hefty - in these colleges, they were around the USD50K per annum ballpark. Hence schools which give a lot of grants & scholarships (to US citizens) like Stanford & NYU sound very attractive to us parents!

Campus tours were also useful in giving the potential students a sense of the size of the school as well as the atmosphere. For me, I found Stanford, located on over 8,000 acres of land (!) to be less "cosy" than Berkeley or Columbia, while NYU was very vibrant, since its buildings are not confined within the typical college campus, but rather, become part of the landscape of the Village in NYC. Basically, you step out of a school building on to the New York city sidewalk!

Columbia, with its old historical buildings & Grecian columns, had a very academic feel to it. For those looking for a good liberal arts curriculum, this is the place for you.

My personal favorite is Princeton. With a smaller campus than Columbia, it had a more homey feel to it, with the added plus of being surrounded by quaint neighborhoods & nice restaurants :). If I had to do it all over again, this would be my first choice (assuming that I could get in!!!)

Princeton - my favorite!

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