(Poorly) Explaining My Commitment

…or the Battle of the Colleges through Pros and Cons Lists, but that title turned out to be too long and it made my OCD skyrocket.

In three of the sixteen hours of the flight back to Hong Kong, I’ve made that pros and cons list as promised to a myriad people (most of whom I don’t even believe read my blog)*.  Of course, everything on that list is extremely personalised because, as much as I hate to say it, it’s technically all about me (I mean, it’s my decision after all).

Then again, some things are worth explaining, such as why I ultimately chose Barnard over Wesleyan after the three-hour argument with myself when making the beautiful pros and cons list table.

Bragging rights Context:  After getting admitted to Barnard and Wesleyan, I had to visit both schools to get a feel of the school for myself.  For the most part, I wanted to try to balance out between two major “criteria” if I may put it that way: stepping out of my comfort zone while still remaining close to something familiar, if you get what I mean.

“But Slightly, you’re Asian.  Why not take the school that has the higher ranking?”

Since I’m fake-Asian trying to be open-minded, I try not to look at the school’s ranking and reputation (in Hong Kong) because these are universities, so they’re not really meant to be a statistic.  Then again, I still have to somehow take the ranking into consideration because of my borderline overbearing high achieving parent’s expectations for their daughter (so much for the patriarchy).

If we rewind to before I got the acceptance letters emails, I was a nervous high school senior who was basically dreaming about getting into certain schools that match different sets of criteria (Please don’t tell me that I’m the only one who does it).  These were a few of mine, hopefully explained to your satisfaction (I won’t explain all because I’m totally boring and generic it would make this entry more verbose than necessary, let alone initially intended:

Small campus:  I’m the type of student who likes to know where everything is in terms of buildings.  If you gave me a map, I’d probably confuse east for west and vice versa because I failed consistently Geography (with flying colours) before it became an elective.  Barnard has fewer buildings within its gates than Wesleyan has, which made it easier to navigate.  I swear, I barely survived getting to places at Wesleyan when I strolled around campus solo.  Also, I’m not a fan of remembering names: it took me two weeks to remember my boyfriend’s name when I first met him five years ago, which probably explains this point nicely.  As for the idea of “campus with(out) gates,” that didn’t really occur to me as a factor until I visited both colleges, so let’s just disregard that because it didn’t exactly contribute much to the decision.  I ended up liking gates, though.

Co-educational and diverse:  The whole co-ed thing is a big deal to me because most of my friends are guys, so I guess it makes life a little easier for me in that context.  It’s probably why the fact that Barnard is a women’s college doesn’t bother me so much.  While it goes without saying that Wesleyan can provide the former point, as Barnard is a women’s college, I’ve come to figure that Barnard isn’t necessarily exclusively female in terms of both academic and social life because Barnard students can take classes at Columbia College, and vice versa.  The experience can still be co-educational.   As for diversity, I try not to look at statistics because I don’t really know how much that’s supposed to tell me.  Instead, I’ll just judge by the people I’ve met at Open House: at Wesleyan, I met many great people, most of whom are Asian; at Barnard, I made friends who were of varying ethnicities and denominations, among others.  Of course, being at both places for only two days isn’t supposed to tell me an awful lot; I’m speaking in terms of impression.

Strong Philosophy and/or English department:  …though who on earth could ever figure this one out?  The Philosophical Gourmet did put Barnard before Wesleyan, but I don’t think it was updated in a while so I can’t really use that as a credible source.  Then again, I’m doing all this based on emotion, so…anyway…well this is awkward.

Family approval:  By “approval,” I do not mean ranking (though Dad and N, my brother, do take that into account).  Like me, my parents were ecstatic about Barnard, and as surprised about Wesleyan as I was.  After some discussion with them, I learnt that the family consensus was that they preferred Barnard to Wesleyan because of the location and their familiarity with the school (we didn’t know too much about Wesleyan, which brings back the “knowledge spectrum” metaphor).  They were more than excited about the “Morningside Heights legacy” if I were to choose Barnard**.   As for N, his twelve year old ego had him disappointed when I didn’t get into Columbia or Princeton.  Go figure.

Reasonable tuition fee:  In reality, this wasn’t supposed to be a problem for me because I’m a lucky girl.  To put simply, Dad’s a corporate lawyer and Mom’s a music professor, so the level of income is high enough insofar as I didn’t need to apply for financial aid.  However, money is still an issue for me because my parents wouldn’t be in the financial position that they’re in if they stopped working, so I’d still be concerned about the tuition figures and all that.  Furthermore, it’s their money, and I often feel like they didn’t need to pay my college tuition in its entirety when other prospective students I’ve met are sweating over their contributions in their package.  Sometimes, I wish I knew how it felt to be in a position where financial aid would be an issue in my application.  Either way, I do tend to look at which university has the cheaper tuition, but I’m pretty sure those figures would be subject to change.  Then again, I guess it’s still good to take that into consideration to at least try to be in that position, even when it’s really not the case…it’s not going to stop me from making some money during my college career.

I really don’t want to have to explain this anymore because then it’d take up about five entries.

At the end of the day, I just think that Barnard is the better school for me.  It might not be the best school for everybody, but it’s the experience that I value.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself when I visited both schools, but ultimately I felt Barnard was the better place in terms of the people, the education…the vibe in general.  Furthermore, its location in Manhattan, the place I call home, is too good to dismiss.

That’s just it, I guess.  This was way easier to explain verbally…

But hello, future!

Thanks for stopping by.  Don’t be a stranger.  That’s a wrap.


*For those who are dying to know what that pros and cons list actually looks like, click here.

**Morningside Heights legacy:  Dad went to Columbia Law School, and Mom went to Manhattan School of Music, both of which are in the Morningside Heights area.  Choosing Barnard would essentially add to that “family tradition,” which is probably why Dad thinks it’d be a good idea to send my younger brother to Columbia.

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4 thoughts on “(Poorly) Explaining My Commitment

  1. You were right – that pros and cons list IS a thing of beauty.

    And your decision is devastating, but I will survive, if not thrive. :”)

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