Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Glimpse at Northwestern University

In one week, the Chicago cohort will board a plane and head across the country to explore, learn and bring back knowledge about various colleges and college experiences. One of the schools that we will be visiting is Northwestern University. I was interested in researching Northwestern University because I didn't know much about it other than that it was a college near Chicago. Researching the university, I discovered a lot of information on its history, academics, and culture.
An aerial view of the Northwestern campus, located next to Lake Michigan

Northwestern's mascot is Willie the Wildcat
Northwestern University is a private university located in Evanston, Illinois on the shore of Lake Michigan. It is just 12 miles north of Chicago. The school was founded in 1851, and though it started off small, Northwestern is now a high ranking school with many departments 12 different schools and colleges in a variety of areas. Notably, the graduate program at the Kellogg School of Management is often in the top five business schools in the country. If I were to attend Northwestern University, I think I would probably enroll in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, which is the oldest and largest school for undergraduates. Research is also a significant focus at Northwestern University. While exploring the research department's website, I read an interesting article on a research study that suggests that our genes affect how quickly we show laughter or smiles.

Northwestern also has many interesting, successful alumni, including Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, television host Seth Meyers, and New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Additionally, Northwestern has 2 Nobel Prize winners, Professor John Pople for Chemistry (1998) and Professor Dale Mortensen for Economics (2008). 

An exhibit at the Block Museum of Art
I was excited to learn more about the culture at Northwestern University. I was glad to see that they have programs for music, theater and dance, as well as visual arts. Specifically, Northwestern includes the Block Museum of Art, which seems like an inventive, diverse art museum. Researching the athletics at Northwestern was fun, because they offer many interesting club sports such as archery, quidditch, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, along with more traditional sports programs as well. 

Weber Arch: the symbolic entrance to Northwestern University
In reading about annual events, I learned that Northwestern holds a weekly welcome for incoming students, basically their orientation. Additionally, new students are given a Peer Adviser, who will help guide them throughout their first year at Northwestern. I thought this was a really nice feature for new students that would help prevent confusion or adjusting to life at Northwestern. I enjoyed reading about special events and aspects specific to Northwestern. For example, Northwestern has an arch that is the symbolic entrance to the university, and the "March Through the Arch" is an event held to welcome new students to campus. Northwestern students also hold an annual Dance Marathon to raise money for the support of causes and charities.

Overall, Northwestern seems like a quality university with many typical aspects of college as well as some of its own special traits. Although I learned a lot just from reading about the school, I'm excited to actually get to tour Northwestern because that will make the school seem more real, instead of just words and descriptions. I think that being on campus and seeing Northwestern firsthand will give me the missing information I need to decide if I would consider applying there or not.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Obliging Orientation

The past ILC alumni has told me all about the Orientation, explaining how fun it was. Hercules has a tradition of dressing up in Aloha shirts in honor of all the hard work Don Gosney put into this program to make it possible. I could not wait for this years Orientation because it marked the end of our "ILC training" and we were ready to explore beyond our academic horizons. The day flew by as the clock reached 5:30, meaning it was time to get ready and meet up at Pinole Middle School.

When we first walked onto campus, there was a line surrounding a few tables. Don's instructions in his email said to have my parent and I sign in. I made the mistake of holding up the line by signing the signature cards as well. My father and I walked into the lunch room, where we waited for everyone to arrive. I was pleased to find all my friends from Hercules together.

Don opened with an introduction, then each of the cohorts broke off into groups. Our chaperone Ms. Scott explained to my fellow cohort members and their parents about everything we are going to do on the trip. She gave us a brief itinerary, giving the different dates and events. Knowing Ms. Scott, she also gave out business cards and contact information papers. This is all to keep us safe in case we need to contact someone quickly.

After our individual sessions, each cohort met back in the lunch room, where Don explained all the materials that we may need on our trip. I am extremely grateful that Don is generous enough to let us borrow some of the supplies we need. This way I won't need to go out and buy any extra materials. He had everything from fleece blankets to USB fans. I had a great time at orientation, learning about the great adventure ahead of us.

Aloha Kids

Monday, June 1, 2015


Today was a good day. I got to wake up late today since I didn't have leadership today. It was nice to sleep in a bit. I went to school, came home, and before I knew it was time to go to the orientation.

I signed upon arriving and I also gave my signature for thank you cards for the sponsors. Then we all took a seat in the cafeteria like hall. Don gave a brief talk for what was going to happen today and then we all broke up with our cohorts.

Alana gave a few points on what the itinerary for the trip was going to look like and she also answered some questions. After that Don just talked a bit about what to expect later on. And then it was time to go home.

Since this was our last meeting before we are scheduled to leave, it all just started looking more real. I am so ecstatic to go to Chicago and now its so close. Also my school ends in 4 days so that just a bonus adding on to my good mood.

36 days!

Today was the day of the Ivy League Connection Orientation, the last big group event before we start taking off for our schools. My mom and I arrived at Pinole Middle School with plenty of extra time, since we had allowed a lot of time for traffic. I was ready to learn more about the details of our trip and see all the other ILCers; I really appreciate events that include all the students in the Ivy League Connection.

The Orientation was a lot like the tutorial. We covered the basics of what to pack, what to expect, and more details about our trips. I was excited to finally get an itinerary! Our schedule is busy with site visits, and our chaperone also mentioned that dinners with the admissions officers to the schools we're visiting are also being arranged. I'm looking forward to these because I believe they'll be one of the most insightful parts of my ILC experience in terms of the college application process.

The Chicago Cohort Meeting
The Orientation went by relatively quickly; we managed to finish with sunlight left in the day. I got a lot of questions answered during our specific cohort sessions, and it was also useful to review the packing list and get a peek at various loaner items. I enjoy packing because it always raises my excitement about a trip, and since we leave in 36 days, I think it's time for me to open my suitcase and start filling it up! Our adventure at University of Chicago is approaching fast, and I can confidently say that I feel prepared and extremely eager to see what it has in store for us.

One Last Step

Today was the ILC's orientation! In terms of ILC events, this was the last step before the much-awaited trip itself. 

I arrived promptly at 5:50 at Pinole Middle School, ready to soak in any information Don had for us today. It turns out that most of the items discussed had already been covered at the blog tutorial session, such as what to pack. However, this time Don brought several of the items that he could loan us for the trip. I thought this was very useful, and will no doubt reconsider the need for a set of bright fuchsia bed sheets. 
We're all listening...Right, guys?
Our chaperone hands out important papers.
In addition to reviewing things that we would need to bring, we also received a rough itinerary of what when we would leave, the days we would visit other universities (we will visit Northwestern University, the University of Notre Dame, and Washington University in St. Louis in addition to taking courses at UChicago), and when we would return. 

The departure date on the itinerary startled me: we would be leaving on July 7! That means there's just over a month until we depart the Bay Area for St. Louis, Missouri, and then go from there to Chicago! I honestly believe that this trip will be one of my all-time high points, and hope to return with a new perspective on the world.