Friday, April 4, 2008

East coast college visits, part 5

Today the tension between my daddy and I began to crack again, as we discussed (debated?) where I wanted to go to college and where he wanted me to go to college. It started immediately after my visit to Vassar College:
Vassar College: Poughkeepsie, NY
Vassar College has almost everything I could ever want in a college -- two of their best academic departments are art history and English! All of the students rave about these two departments, even the ones who aren't majoring in these fields. The art history department organizes an exclusive study abroad opportunity in St. Petersburg, Russia -- which I heard is quite phenomenal. The only distribution requirements are foreign language, quantitative reasoning, and freshman writing seminar -- the rest of the classes are free range for all students in the liberal arts tradition!

Vassar College is truly top in the humanities. My tour guide actually founded the school's fashion magazine -- apparently much of the student body is fashion forward. Poughkeepsie isn't the most exciting town in New York, but New York City is only a 1.5 hour train ride away! The campus atmosphere is very vibrant too -- I spoke with a student there who claims that there is always something to do on campus.

In fact, Melissa Walker, former features editor of ELLEgirl and Seventeen Prom, and Evonne Gambrell of Teen Vogue both attended Vassar. Not too shabby.
So I left the college feeling extremely pleased because this is a wonderful liberal arts college with so many undergraduate research opportunities for me to pursue -- and of course, I proceeded to tell my daddy with a beaming smile.

He frowned at me -- "Are you kidding me?" he said, "You'll have no future if you attend this school."

He launched into his speech about how students who attend Harvard, Yale, or Princeton are at the "top" of the world and there is only so much room at the very "top" -- and that attending one of these three institutions would help me network with some of the most successful and powerful people in the world. That may very well be true -- but I grew more and more frustrated by the very minute as my at-the-moment enthusiasm for Vassar was immediately thrown out by my dad's preferences for Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.

"You need to think about your future ten years down the line," he said, "Internationally, employers only recognize Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Stanford."

...Do I want to be hired by someone who only recognizes four colleges as top institutions? I asked my daddy this question, only to be responded with a sigh and a deathly glare.

"Vassar could offer me so many undergraduate research opportunities!" I said. My daddy replied in a very stern and irritated tone of voice: "That's why you need to go to a large research university like Yale."

The frustrations continued to escalate throughout the day -- until I locked myself in a study room at a friend's house in Massachusetts and cried. Yes -- Yale, Princeton, Harvard -- these schools are wonderful and I am going to try my best in college admissions, but who I am in a sea of ambitious and dedicated students? I do not have national awards or innate talents in musical instruments or dance, nor am I a particular genius in any academic subject at school.

What happens if I don't get in? I asked my daddy this question -- he responded coldly, "That's why you cannot let yourself go for the rest of the year."

Right now, my daddy is in the next room, chatting with his friends about my chances of getting into various colleges. "The perfect daughter," his friends call me, vastly overestimating me. I will not lie -- I am in love with Yale and Princeton and I'm relieved that my daddy and I agree on at least some colleges -- but the pressure is frightening me.

I tossed my Vassar brochures on a nearby table afterwards -- I don't want to read the glossy inserts if I can't even discuss them openly with my parents.

Miss Couturable
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