Sunday, June 26, 2011

Experiences Serve Better Than A Steakhouse

After yesterday’s fun entry into Cornell, I was looking forward to what today would offer. I knew that my day would close with a glorious dinner with Cornell admissions officers, so I was mentally noting down questions to ask later that day. With the few hours of sleep we got from our last night in Chicago, we were all looking forward to sleeping in. Many of us did, and I actually got out of bed at 10:00 AM, knowing that brunch was just around the corner.

Today, all of my ILC cohorts and I congregated at a single table at the dining hall with a few friends our entire group picked up. The breakfast choices were numerous and the meal was satisfying. After our dine-in, all eight of us decided to run a practice walk to our classrooms to figure out how to schedule our mornings. The Hotelies and I walked to Statler Hall, where we would be attending lectures with our professors. All in all, it took 23 minutes considering a few stops and pauses many people take when they walk to class. No matter where people take classes, I think it is almost crucial to run at least one practice run to ensure that you won’t be too late or too early for your first class. As I learned throughout the day, time management is absolutely critical to any success.

After our visit to Statler Hall, we decided to simply stay in the building as that was where we would have our program-wide Crash Course Seminar led by Janet Snoyer. While many of her points pertained to Summer College, it seems as if they are self-guidance tips for life in general. She presented a great emphasis on proper study instincts and how you shouldn’t let your eyes completely dictate what your brain sees sight-by-sight and how some people prefer to interact with facts or how people prefer to express and compose ideas. 

She also spent a large chunk of her time speaking of time management and sleep. She showed examples and ideas of how charting and planning your schedules can make a huge difference in figuring out the optimal times to study and attend leisurely activities. And while people always stress the importance of sleep, I have always felt that when it comes to late nights to finish those major assignments and projects for class, the trade-off was always worth it. However, I was completely wrong. On average, teenagers should get a good 9.25 hours of sleep and if you ask most high school students today, such time would be like absolute bliss. The fact she presented both time management and effective sleep hand-in-hand really worked effectively to prove how they can actually be done if you were to synthesize them. Everyone argues that they don’t get enough sleep because of their mounds of work. But with careful planning and observation of their schedule, they can easily get stuff out of the way so that they can find the best way to get a good amount of sleep. If anything, Snoyer really made me savor every second of my sleep even more.

After our session, we all walked back to our dorms to prepare for the Activities Fair. At the fair was a complimentary t-shirt for each student and various activities you could sign up for. Intramural sport updates subscriptions were available, but people who wanted to join sports just need to attend the activity on that day. I envy the fact that the Freedom & Justice students of the ILC group signed up for a trip to Buttermilk Falls, a state park nearby, for a weekend. The Hotelies and I have very little time for extracurricular activities in our course, but at least we can draw a totally different experience from our other ILC cohorts because of it.

The last event of the day was our final dinner with admissions officers for the entire trip. This time, we actually met with Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg for meals at Jonn Thomas Steakhouse. 

When we arrived, we met Jill and Tara, who were admissions officers, and Ashley, who is a current Engineering student. Sitting right across from Tara meant that I interacted with her the most, but there was certainly a rapport with Ashley and Jill. Because we didn’t have a campus tour prior to the dinner, we were able to ask a much larger variety of questions than when we sat down with Callie and Aaron. We learned of many mechanics within Cornell that made it unique such as that they do not take scholarships, that all standardized test scores are looked at, and that they have an alternative form of application known as “Primary-Alternate” application. While students are required to choose a school in Cornell to apply to, they may choose to fill out a “Primary-Alternate” application instead which is virtually different except for the fact that they may also add additional information such as a different essay as if they were applying to a second school within Cornell. 

I also learned that unlike the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, Cornell relies on the semester system. We also learned of the ins-and-outs of college life. They told us of a place in Ithaca’s college town that served superb bagels, a plantation that is excellent to explore and walk through, and an indoor track to run on in campus. 

While discovering the academics of any school should be the number one priority when students “shop” for potential colleges, most people tend to agree that their surroundings and life is the second priority. Greek life has always fascinated me and I found out that almost a third of the student population is actually Greek. All three of our guests addressed concerns regarding how Ithaca and its surroundings are fairly isolated from major parts and cities in New York. Many people attend college visits to get a “feel” for the area and campus, but you don’t get that experience of deciding whether a small or large community is something you will be comfortable with seeing everyday for quite some time, and programs like Summer College gives you the opportunity to decide whether the area is the perfect fit for you.

While I have said it several times, every day seems to be a fantastic learning experience. Today, I discovered that the events that have been set up for us including the alumni dinner, tonight’s dinner, and Summer College, is meant to give us the opportunity to discover and feel the campus, the student culture, and the academics altogether so that we and other students in our community can discover these schools in a way no high schooler can. We have been able to explore more than what rumors and websites can tell us, what numbers and statistics can tell us, and what visiting and watching classes can tell us. With all the opportunities that have been given to us, we can explore more than what all of Cornell can tell us.

Eighty Twenty

80% of your outcome comes from 20% of your input. I think this statement is going to be the motto of my experience here at Cornell. This trip will be what I make out of it, so the more I put in the more I will get out.

Today was a “lazy” day. I woke up at 9:30 A.M, which for this trip is constituted as sleeping in. After showering and working out the Internet kinks I met my newly acquired friends (and old ones) in the lobby to mod over to the dining hall, which is more or less 25 steps from my dorm. I have been to college campuses before and eaten in the dinning halls but I must say that Cornell’s food was very tasty and just what I needed for breakfast/brunch. After that the Freedom and Justice wolf pack casually walked over to find our class. The lecture hall was AMANZING. I have never called a class room amazing but the room just made me feel ten times smarter and I haven’t even had a class in there yet. The rows of desks leading down to the professors lecture stand made me realize I was actually at college. I cannot wait to get out of high school, to be honest, and therefore this program is a dream come true for me along with the fact that I am so set (currently) on becoming a Political Science major so this course is going to be heavenly for me.

To end the day the Cornell wolf pack ventured off campus with Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, and Ms. Neal to John Thomas for a dinner with two Cornell admissions officers and one undergrad student. I sat next to the undergrad student named Ashley. She was an engineer major from the Las Vegas area. She talked about her experience at Cornell and also about her love for figure skating, which played a major role in her decision process. She told me about how this coming fall she is going to work in Palo Alto, which is home to one of my top choice Universities—Stanford. I gave her some insight on the “hot spots” in Palo Alto (even though I don’t know many besides the Cheesecake Factory). I also sat across from Mrs. Schaffer the admissions officer for the engineering school at Cornell. I am personally (as mentioned before) not intending on being an engineer even though I love math but that didn’t keep me from soaking in every word Mrs. Schatter said about the university.

Class starts tomorrow and I absolutely can’t wait. I unfortunately don’t have class with my friend from JMSG (Julia Morgan School For Girls) but we still are going to get dinner together tomorrow to get all caught up since we have not been part of each other’s live for so long. I also want to shout out my best friend Masao MacMaster who just got to Colombia University to start his ILC program, Good luck Mao Mao.

Until Tomorrow, Over and Out blog readers.

Brunch of Champions

Today I woke up at 9 for once and am glad to say that I felt more refreshed than I have this entire trip. Shortly after a surprisingly warm shower, I headed over to the first brunch I’ve ever had, at least to my recollection. The food was okay at Robert Purcell Community Center, and there was a lot more variety than I would have expected at a college food hall. After finishing our brunch, most of the Freedom and Justicers and a few new friends we met at the ice cream social yesterday headed on a self-guided tour of a bit of North Campus to find our classes and just get a general feel for what little part of the campus we would have to go to. We found our class with relative ease, and the lecture hall’s sheer size was a bit daunting, but I still look forward to the class tomorrow.
We headed straight from our little tour to Statler Hall (not the hotel unfortunately) where we attended a studying crash course that lasted around three hours. I found the speaker very interesting, and she did a few little experiments/tests that really helped me learn about myself. One of these was a survey and packet that helped tell you what kind of learner you were, although I don’t know how well it worked for me, it was still quite fascinating.
We then walked over to the activities fair, where we signed up to see the midnight release of Harry Potter, which we almost missed because we immediately had to leave for a dinner with some Cornell admissions directors.
We ate at the John Thomas steakhouse, another restaurant that showed off Mr. Ramsey’s excellent taste, and I was luckily seated next to the Associate Admissions Director for Engineering, Jill Schaffer, as well as an engineering student named Ashley. Although I already was interested in Cornell heading into the dinner, I did have some reservations about the school. I had heard mostly good things about Cornell (my parents both went so they wouldn’t really let me hear bad things about the school) but I was unsure of whether or not I would be able to handle not being even remotely near a city. Ashley was very reassuring, and gave plenty of examples why even if a city were right next door, I probably would never even have the urge to go. Getting to talk with both a student and admissions director in the field that interests me most was a great experience, and what little doubts about Cornell have all faded away.
Sorry about not getting to go into too much detail about all the anecdotes I heard from both Jill and Ashley, but its midnight and I do have my first day of class tomorrow, so I’m going to have to get a bit of sleep, which just so happened to be the main point of the Study Skills Crash Course mentioned earlier.

Getting Adjusted + Dinner

All Cornell University Summer Program students met in the Alice Auditorium in Statler Hall today for a Crash Study Skills Course. The crash course was a three hour presentation by Janet Snoyer, the Assistant Director for Health Careers and Credentials at Cornell University. During the presentation, we explored four different learning types: Divergent, Convergent, Assimilators, and Accommodators. We were all presented with a set of example characteristics of different learning types. We ranked these- the characteristics, like “highly active” or “acts on feelings”- in order of how much we think they pertain to our learning style.

According to the test, I am an Assimilator, but I disagree with the test. Janet said that Assimilators trust concepts and theories they have learned over real life experiences and tend to not challenge ideas they are taught. That’s not me at all. I am constantly challenging concepts that are taught to me, both inside and outside of school. Still, the exercise was interesting just because I discovered a few of my learning preferences.

Janet covered a variety of topics, all to help us succeed in our courses. We covered the importance of sleep and how the right attitude can make or break our summer college experience. Janet also made sure we knew the difference between college and high school classes. She said high school teachers are very much judged by their students’ abilities, so they reach out to their students about understanding the course material. College professors, on the other hand are not judged by t­­­­heir students’ abilities, and cannot reach out individually to students about understanding. Therefore, it is the students’ responsibility.

Almost everything she covered, we have heard before, but the way she presented the advice was incredibly inspiring because she seemed so genuine.

It was interesting to observe the other students’ reactions to Janet and her presentation. The students in the audience were very respectful, and it made me think of the student body at my high school and how difficult it is to capture their attention in large-scale gatherings.

At the end of the day, the WCCUSD kids and Ms. Neal went to dinner with Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, Cornell Engineering Assistant Director Jill Shafer, Cornell Undergraduate Admissions Director Terra Bubbles, and Cornell rising junior Ashley Harms. We had dinner at John Thomas Steakhouse in Ithaca.

Terra answered all of our more general questions about the Cornell experience and admissions, while Jill answered more of our department specific questions. Ashley offered a more personal perspective of campus life, extracurriculars, and how to adjust to such a prestigious school as Cornell. I haven’t gone on a Cornell campus tour yet, so besides researching Cornell online, talking with them gave me most of the knowledge I have about Cornell. Being able to talk to them was a special experience that not all students have the opportunity to receive. It was nice to get emotion along with information about the school- something the internet could not have given me.

Crash Start

Sunday usually signifies the beginning of the week, or the beginning of something new.  It is not technically the beginning but this is the first time I woke up to the Ithaca birds on a Cornell bed.  The weird part is that I woke up at 6 AM without an alarm.  I guess that is a good sign.

I spent my morning reading up on my Hotel Management material, before we head off as a group to brunch.  It was a very filling, and a very nice way to start the day off.  Then, I left with my fellow Hotelies to map the way to Statler Hall, where our classes would take place over the week.  It was an essential part of learning how to schedule ourselves once the program began.

Following this, Janet Snoyer, an assistant director at Cornell, gave the entire Summer College a Crash Course seminar that lasted three hours.  She gave one of the most interesting lessons of the entire day.  She gave us pointers on how we should set a focus and know how to pace ourselves at Summer College.  She left us with words of encouragement and anticipation.  Most importantly, she (and the video she showed us) told us to sleep, sleep long and well.

Right after, I arrived at the Robert Purcell Community Centre and waded in the sea of people that tried to get Harry Potter tickets.  Seems that college crowdedness is not absent here.

Finally, Ms. Neal, Ms. Kronenberg and Mr. Ramsey picked us up and brought us to the John Thomas Steakhouse.  There, we met with undergraduate admissions director Terra Bubbles, engineering assistant director Jill Schafer and engineering major Ashley.  The conversation was light, but interesting.  We covered the essentials, such as the easiness of transferring schools within the university, and the core classes we were required to take, as well as the interesting sights to see in Ithaca, like the Buttermilk Falls and the Bell Tower.

The food proved to be as good as ever, and at the end of the night, I was tired and informed as ever.  Tomorrow, classes start, and night falls to bring a new day.

The Calm Before We Take Cornell by Storm

Today was one of the best days of the trip so far, simply because I woke up at 10:30AM. Furthermore, I woke up at 10:30AM with absolutely nothing to do. It was an amazing feeling.

My first event of the day was an academic crash course that began at 1:30PM. It lasted three hours and taught us how to handle ourselves in a college environment. The big tips were: 1. Study when you are wide awake, not when you are about to go to sleep. 2. Talk to your professor/TA's if you need help, and 3. GET ENOUGH SLEEP. Apparently the recommended amount is 9.25 hours a night and I would say that I get closer to six hours a night. Hopefully I can change that over the course of this program, but I don't think that's going to happen (although I would be EXTREMELY happy if it did).

After that, I played soccer with my roommate and a few of his friends and so I can now add a Venezuelan kid to my list of foreign students. When we finished that we all went to the Activities Fair where we signed up for all of the activities we wanted to participate in during our time here. I don't know what all of them are doing, but I am now involved in intramural soccer, flag football, ultimate frisbee, and of course whiffle ball. My ILC cohorts and I also signed up for the $5.00 screening of Harry Potter 7, part 2, which we are all very excited about.

Sadly enough, I am having a problem with my Cornell Net ID and I did not have time to talk to the tech people at the fair because I had to rush back to my dorm and get ready for dinner with Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, and three representatives from Cornell. We learned a lot of new things about the University through conversation with these people, including that it is possible to receive your P.E. credits through a class called Relaxation and Massage....where all you do is relax and get/give massages. The other aspects of the school all sound amazing as well. They elaborated on exactly how beautiful the campus is by telling us all of the hot view spots that are around, and explained many of the academic aspects of the school like how much they value the fact that kids don't know what they want to do when they come to college, so they make it extremely easy to experiment with new things and very easy to transfer colleges if you please.

Overall, today was a pretty laid back day, but we have to keep in mind that our classes start tomorrow! I'm going to have to get some sleep now if I want to have even a half-way-functioning brain for our first day tomorrow, so I am going to have to sign off. Good night readers! Tomorrow's blogs will feature the Cornellian ILC'ers as official Cornell Summer College Students!

Resting up for Tomorrow

Today was nice to sleep in on our final day of freedom. I can definitely get used to the food at RPC after an enjoyable brunch and the omelet station. Strolling through the sprawling campus, we tracked down our classrooms, took a brief stop at the athletics centers, and made it back to Statler Hall’s auditorium for the Cornell Crash Course.

As a Division One school, Cornell has some excellently equipped facilities, including an awesome baseball field (which Nick of course enjoyed), stadium, and skating/hockey rink. Apparently ice hockey is HUGE at Cornell, the only school I’ve seen where football isn’t big. I was also excited to discover an indoor track facility enclosed in what appears to be a giant stone fortress by the Cornell police building.

I feel like it’s a great pity that I’m buying a gym pass rather than making the most of the resources available and running in the great outdoors of the beautiful Cornell campus, which I’m dying to explore. The Hotel course schedule is pretty brutal so I’m succumbing out of convenience, and also because no one really is up for a run in the early hours of the morning. While I trust Cornell’s security system, I do not trust in my sense of direction.

The Cornell Crash Course from 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM briefed us of success strategies for summer college especially for the different types of learners. Everywhere at Cornell Summer College, there is so much stress on the immense importance of a good night’s rest. Our professors mentioned it in their speech about “focus, physiology, and routine”, our RCA’s reminded us, and it was a central point in today’s crash course. We even watched a movie about sleep. So in that mindset, I should definitely get to bed.

It's the beginning of a journey of whole new experiences. Last night, I sawy fire flies for the first time in my life! I had my first taste of key lime pie just hours ago, and tomorrow is the first day of class!

Last Day Of Freedom

To say the least, the course and all the work accompanying it are daunting- hence the title of this blog. I am slightly dreading starting classes tomorrow. However, I know that it is the whole purpose of this trip, and am truly relishing the opportunity to discover college life at this top-tier university.
Two friends of mine (one is my roomate) in my dorm room.

I got to sleep in today for the first time in almost a week! The sleep was much needed and appreciated. It worked out nicely that Sundays brunches are served, so I got to grab a bite to eat and practice my violin a bit before we went to the crash-course information session given by Janet Snoyer. It was quite informative, especially on the grounds of getting enough sleep, which is crucial to college students. Did you know about REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and how it occurs every 1 1/2 hours, so that you need like a minimum of 9 1/4 hours of sleep each night. That is the most important part of your sleep that affects your memory and when most dreams occur. I'm pretty sure I need to fix my sleep schedule. We even got a break to work on concentration by tossing up beach balls into the air that reminded me of a concert. One other activity that we did was to determine what kind of learner I am; it happens to be an Assimilator. I'm not sure if what she described accurately described me though.

Almost immediately after we had an activities fair. I signed up for intramural sports like soccer and flag football, as well as a trip on July 4th to Buttermilk National Park to go swimming! I got a free t-shirt as well. The most important activity I signed up for was going to see Harry Potter's movie premier. The other highlight of my day was getting a package in the mail from my mother.
A communal lounge in the lobby

Today was our last night attending a dinner with admissions directors from colleges. We also had the pleasure of the company of esteemed guests in the form of Mrs. Kronenberg and Mr. Ramsey. There were two admission directors, and one engineering student. They all gave valuable insight to Cornell, and we all asked many questions. I think one factor in us all being so inquisitive was because we were all experiencing Cornell ourselves, and seeing campus triggered questions about it. This whole program is so exciting! Now off to bed to get some rest before my first day of classes tomorrow.