Friday, June 17, 2011

A Fun And Informative Night In El Cerrito

On Wednesday night, five of my ILC cohorts and I headed to the beautiful El Cerrito High School Theater to attend an info session about Northwestern University. An info session for Northwestern, of all schools, may seem a bit random to some of our readers, what with us going to Cornell and all. However, luckily for my fellow ILCers and me we will have the great privilege of stopping in Chicago for a few days to tour prestigious schools such as Northwestern and University of Chicago, thanks to the ILC.

The information was both entertaining and informative, and actually was able to pique my interest in Northwestern, a school I originally knew almost nothing about. The school’s overall fun loving nature really appealed to me, and many of the programs within the school seemed spectacular as well. I have always been interested in math and science, so naturally, I am leaning towards some sort of engineering major, and Northwestern’s engineering school, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, fascinated me. I found it very interesting that this engineering school actually had students help businesses with their real-life problems, which seems like it would be great work experience.

After talking to alumni from Northwestern about can’t miss locations at the school, my fellow El Cerrito ILCers and I headed over to Nation’s for a study session of sorts in preparation for the Freedom and Justice class we will be taking. In preparation for the course, we have been reading Plato’s Republic and Princeton Readings in Political Thought. It has been great getting to hear this group’s brilliant takes on everyone from Plato to MLK Jr. to John Locke, and I feel fully equipped to take on this course in a few days.

Kelly Xi: First Impressions of Northwestern

First impressions are everything.

And what I got out of my first taste of Northwestern University from Wednesday’s presentation was invaluable. Northwestern is a school especially equipped for their students to discover what they want to do with their lives, then as soon as they figure that out, to immerse themselves into learning everything they need: gaining real work-force experience and accessing resources found nowhere else, all the while enjoying the amazing social activities of college life and the amenities that Evanston and Chicago offer. 

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly my first exposure to the school. Let’s just say I’ve been encouraged from a young age, but my desire to learn more about Northwestern also comes largely from all the wonderful feedback I’ve heard from family friends proud to call themselves Wildcats.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading up on their HPME program (Honors Program in Medical Education), which particularly interests me not because some consider it a fast track to medical school. It’s a rare, hard-to-earn opportunity which once accepted to, opens up doors for research, internships, and other opportunities to explore and gain that solid foundation in medicine as an undergrad, without having to juggle it all with separately applying to med school. No distractions :) 

While I’m somewhat familiar with background information about Northwestern University, I had a lot to learn from Wednesday’s information session. Mr. Daniel Fleishman, our presenter, was absolutely incredible. He had me sold on Northwestern, and I could tell some of the other audience members felt the same way.

Prior to his presentations, I had always had this focused plan (extremely narrow-minded now that I look back on it): I was definitely going to be a Biochemistry major, unquestioningly work my hardest to get straight into medical school to become a radiologist.
That all changed, because now I understand that at Northwestern, there is no single, direct route I would be limited to; I’d be free to choose my own path, to explore. At Northwestern, I can get what I need while enjoying everything that I want to do.

Part of this magic is Northwestern’s quarter system. Compared to the semester system, (which offers up to 8-10 classes per school year) that most colleges have, Northwestern University’s unique quarter system of up to 12 classes per year is a huge boon for students. The quarter system allows more time for students to take the classes they need, and in turn, more time to study what they want, to delve into other areas of interest.

This flexibility brings us to the Rule of Three, in which Northwestern students can manage to major in a subject and pick up two minors, double-major and take on another minor, or even triple major.

Open registration and access to all the amazing schools at Northwestern University along with their one-of-a-kind programs and world-class professors add to the endless possibilities; it’s as if Northwestern students have the world at their fingertips.
Not only does Northwestern have so much available to explore academically, all of its schools seem to have a wide range of opportunities to hone students’ skills for the work force. Countless off-campus (even abroad) work-study programs, internships, research and service opportunities, etc are available for students to gain hands-on experience in the real world. Northwestern prepares its students with the resources and networks they’ll need in the professional field.

Mr. Daniel Fleishman’s presentation of Northwestern academics was an eye-opener and I thoroughly enjoyed grilling him afterwards, but I was also impressed hearing about the social scene at Northwestern from him and the Bay Area alumni. However, I’ll save that for when we actually get to experience Evanston and Chicago first-hand next week.

So stay tuned! You’re all in for some of my nervous, anxious ramblings as I start to realize that this is all really happening, and that we really are going to have dinner with Mr. Aaron Zdawyczk, Associate Director of Admissions at Northwestern University.

Because first impressions are everything, haha.

P.S. Before I go, I have to express endless thanks to the ILC for opening these doors for me to acquaint myself with these prestigious schools of my dreams.

I can’t believe that in less than a week, I will know if I truly am meant to be a Northwestern Wildcat!  

Show Me The Money!

You have the brightest child in the neighborhood and everyone knows it.  Any university in the country would be lucky to have your child.  Without exception, though, all of the top flight schools cost a fortune to attend.  We’re not talking about new car kind of money.  We’re talking about the kind of money to buy a decent house—the kind where you have to keep paying for it forever and ever.  The kind f money it takes a regular working family decades to prepare for.
What are you going to do?  You make decent money—at least enough to keep the rest of your family living comfortably—but it’s not really enough to keep them living comfortably and leave enough to pay for that college education.  The cost of living here in the Bay Area eats up most of your paycheck—when you get a paycheck—and leaves little to sock away to pay for a decent education for your children.
You and your child could take out loans to pay for that top flight education but what kind of life would that be for your child to graduate owing almost as much as the National Debt?
Your child could get a job but what kind of money could an 18 year old make before acquiring the skills that the college education will help provide?
What’s a parent to do?  How are you supposed to take care of your family and provide them with a quality education—the kind of education that will open the right doors once your child has that sheepskin firmly in her grasp?
What are you supposed to do?  You’re supposed to turn to The Ivy League Connection’s very own Sue Kim—a professional educational consultant specializing in admissions and financial aid counseling since 1991.
Sue has helped many dozens of ILC students and others from the WCCUSD find the perfect fit of a college and then find a means to pay for that education.  She knows what she’s doing and she’s good at it.
On Thursday June 16th Sue hosted 39 ILC and WCCUSD students and parents in a financial aid workshop where she helped point the way for the parents to find ways for other people to pay for the education of their children.
Between grants, scholarships, gifts and other options that may be available to the students and parents in our area, more and more of our students have opportunities to attend better schools than they might otherwise have been considering.
Sue explained that although California has an outstanding 10 campus University of California and a 23 campus state university system, both systems have little money to offer students in the way of financial assistance.  The cost to attend these schools is prohibitively expensive and the costs are steadily rising.
On the other hand, there are numerous private colleges spread throughout the country that have large endowments designed to help the very kinds of students we seem to have an abundance of: smart but needy.
Tonight’s session was only a primer but it laid the foundation so parents and students can start their preparations.  Once their students enter their senior year of high school, the college application process becomes a full time job requiring a tremendous amount of dedication and attention to detail.  There are openings at these schools and there is money to be had but if our students and their parents don’t do the necessary homework and prepare themselves, those opportunities may go elsewhere.  We want everyone around the world to have the option of getting a top education but if there are limited funds and limited openings, then we’d rather that our people be taken care of first.  Call it selfish if you will—and you’d be right—but such is life.