Saturday, August 4, 2012

College Olympics: Around Campus

In the spirit of the Olympics, the Common Household wishes to bestow these awards to the colleges we saw on our recent tour.  Only the five colleges we saw on this summer trip are in the running. (My son is considering several others.  We had hoped this tour would narrow it down a bit.) 

In the order we saw them, they are
            University of Rochester (The future college student picked this independently, before remembering that it is also the alma mater for the Common Household Mom and Dad)
            M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
            Harvard University
            Lehigh University
            University of Pennsylvania

These are the awards in the ‘Looking Around Campus’ category:

Friendliest to Parents: Rochester.  They started with good directions on where to park. Their website provided links to many local hotels, unlike the other schools’ websites. And they offered free coffee and tea in the admissions office, which was crucial since I hadn’t slept a wink the night before.  The unfriendliest was MIT.  I guess they figure if your kid can’t get you to the admissions office, then he is not savvy enough to go there.

Most Imposing Edifice:  Harvard.  Memorial Hall, where we had our info session, is a huge building with creepy disembodied heads of ancient scholars sticking out from the outside wall.  Plus it has gargoyles. Inside, the Sanders Theater is a large theater/lecture hall with ancient, uncomfortable wooden seats. 
Memorial Hall at Harvard
Cicero's creepy head, plus somebody's thumb

Demosthenes' creepy head.
It's hard to tell who looks angrier - Cicero or Demosthenes.

Most Like Hogwarts:  Harvard.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if Dolores Umbridge had entered Sanders Theater to preside over her magical courtroom. Memorial Hall also houses Annenberg Hall, the freshman dining hall.  Apparently this dining hall contains state secrets, so we were not allowed to see it, but it is said to resemble Hogwarts’ dining hall, with long wooden tables and hanging chandeliers.  Also, at the end of the first year, all the freshmen put their names into a sorting hat, which assigns them to one of 12 houses where they live for the rest of their years at Harvard.

Best Walking Environment:  Penn and Rochester.  (But for me personally, Penn was way too busy.)  Both Rochester and MIT offer underground walking opportunities.  We were told that we could walk through the entire MIT campus without going outside!  MIT prides itself on its ‘Infinite Corridor’ because it claims this fosters interaction between students, professors, etc.  I have my doubts.

University of Rochester
At U. Penn there seemed to be an awful lot of younger children around.

Most Informative Tour:  Lehigh.  Their engineering tour outshone Harvard’s tour by a mile.  Lehigh provided four engineering students to lead the tour, so we got several perspectives and a good explanation of their program.  We talked to one of the professors, and saw a current project they are working on to build a better, smarter wheelchair.  I was very impressed.
Lehigh University prefers to depict the entire body of the Great Thinkers they are honoring.

Most Secretive Tour: A tie between Harvard and Penn.  Except for the info session, we did not go inside a single building at either school.  Why are they afraid of showing us a dorm room or the student union? 

My next post will give the awards for the Student Life category.  Stay tuned!


Angie said...

Choices, choices . . . it's a tough decision. Good luck to him!As you know, we are in the same boat.

Cassi Renee said...

MIT and Harvard think too much of themselves, that's probably why they give bad tours.

Has this child chosen anything closer to home? Or is distance part of his plan? :-)

Suburban Correspondent said...

No Cornell?! It has an excellent engineering school and a beautiful, walkable campus. Check it out!

Common Household Mom said...

SC, I tried to convince him Cornell was a good choice, but he wasn't interested.

Cassi, we told him he had to stay within an 8 hour drive of home, OR near his aunt and uncle (my brother). It's that last part that makes MIT possible, and made it such a long drive for us.