I wasn’t prepared to genuinely like the school.
Just some background on the situation at the risk of repeating myself: at the beginning of my application process, my parents and I looked for schools with ‘good reputations.’ Being one of the Little Three, Wesleyan seemed to be too good a school to dismiss. The SAT scores were pretty high, considering how my scores were a little below its median. The application was easy enough: submit the Common Application and one supplement essay that every other school asks (i.e. you can recycle the response). Thus, I sent in the application without doing further research on the university. I was under the impression that I wouldn’t even get into a school like Wesleyan.
So when I woke up on Saturday, March 29th, I was in for a surprise.
I got my admission exactly two days after receiving Barnard’s, which is a story I won’t really bother telling at this point. The point is that I was put in a situation where I had to choose between two good schools that were on opposing ends of what I called the “knowledge spectrum.” I had a wealth of information about one, and was virtually in oblivion for the other. It seemed too convenient to make the choice, especially when the Wesleyan stone was left completely unturned.
Then again, I knew that I had to keep an open mind. I was pleasantly surprised that I got into Wesleyan for the reasons explained above, so I knew that I really had to make the choice wisely. When the dates for WesFest and Barnard’s Open House fell on roughly the same week (which was convenient for me, as it was during my Spring/Easter Break), I knew that I had to make the trips. Luckily, my parents agreed that it was a trip worth funding, for it would provide me with the crucial insights that will ultimately contribute to my decision.
To be fair, my first impressions of the school (or the area) were not particularly fantastic. I arrived at Middletown, Connecticut and didn’t fall in love with it. It is a completely different setting from the kind I grew up in: I was used to the noise pollution and the buildings, which was what Middletown definitely lacked. While those are not necessarily the things I would miss when I leave Hong Kong, they still constituted to some of my identity. The campus was huge too, to the point that I was slightly intimidated. I’ve been at the same school for fourteen years, and the school and student body is pretty small (the entering freshman class at Wesleyan in Fall 2014 is larger than my school’s student body in its entirety). In other words, I was more familiar with the whole “small school, tighter connections” idea that Barnard could offer.
As WesFest progressed, however, I found myself having a change in heart towards the school. I found many of the buildings to be very homey and comfortable yet suited for academic purposes, such as the friendly ambience of Fisk Hall when I attended a Philosophy lesson there. I was also enticed by the energy and spirit I felt when I was writing my History essays or eating dinner at Usdan Student Centre, which convinced me of the thriving student body at Wesleyan. Throughout the day, I met countless current and prospective students (known as “prefrosh”) who urged the undecided students to “Come to Wes!” which exhibited the level of school spirit that is not evident at my current high school.
In the afternoon, my host welcomed me with open arms, which was comforting. Like my hosts at Barnard, she was very enthusiastic about the school and the life it offered her. I was surprised that we had a lot in common, such as our non-fervent religious views, phobia of moths, interest in History and love for Pokemon. She didn’t come across as the type of girl who enjoyed partying, which is another trait we share because I’m not a partygoer (despite my extraverted guise). She was more than willing to answer my questions about Wesleyan – and to extend on them by whatever means necessary – as well as expanding her knowledge on life in Asia as an international student. I was more than satisfied with my stay with her, and I’m more than pleased with her effort to convince me to “Come to Wes!” such as inviting friends to meet me, all of whom I really liked.
Due to my long-time fascination with a cappella singing, I didn’t want to miss the a cappella show at WesFest. Although I didn’t stay for the entire show because my boring superego (?) reminded me of my workload (it hates fun), I was so impressed by what the groups managed to put together. It goes without saying that every one of the groups I managed to listen to sounded far more euphonious than the group my friend and I founded last academic year. The voices blended together very well, and the smiles on the singers’ faces gave them the rare charisma not found in many a cappella groups other than the popular ones like Pentatonix, for instance. I think this goes to show the amount of dedication and passion put into not only academic, but also artistic endeavours at Wesleyan, which was something that I was really fond of at the end of WesFest.
I really surprised myself after WesFest when I returned to the hotel and told Mom that I had a blast. Admittedly, it has made what seemed to be an easy choice for Barnard a little more challenging, because I have actual grounds for “competition” now, so to speak. I was initially ready to find many things about Wesleyan that would make me avoid it at all costs, but I was greeted by so much positivity. At this point, it’s no longer a battle between the good and bad, but between the good and the better – it just depends on which one’s which, and it’s a choice I’ll be making before I return to Hong Kong. How will that work out? Probably the easiest way out of it is with a beautiful Pro’s and Con’s List…it probably isn’t comprehensive, but it’s better than nothing when it comes to simple justifications such as these.
I’m just glad that I managed to see the better side of things rather than being narrow-minded and tried to pick out the negatives as if they were scabs on my knees. I was telling myself that it’s for the sake of making the decision, but that’s only a part of it now. The other side is the willingness to accept the good in everything and to weigh out the differences between both positives to find the better option. I can’t just look at everything from a cynical standpoint, as it negates the purpose in its entirety.
But which will I choose? That’s the bigger question…and it will have to wait.
Thanks for stopping by. Don’t be a stranger. That’s a wrap.