Thoughts on Columbus Day College Visits

On Columbus Day, Scholars visited colleges and universities around the country. For many Scholars, this was their first time participating in a college tour or observing a college class. This week, three Scholars from Waukegan High School reflect on what they learned during their college visits. 

Ohio Wesleyan University 

Over the Columbus Day weekend, I was given the opportunity to attend Ohio Wesleyan University, or as they call it, OWU. It was a 6 hour drive with other scholars that seemed to take forever. When we arrived at the hotel, I got put in a room with two other girls from different schools. I talked to them a lot about Schuler, and the difference between our schools. I was really proud of myself because I was branching out and talking to people that I didn't know. I was challenging myself by choice. The campus was vast, but the architecture and the small amount of people there who were connected to each other made it feel more homey. It was a small town that was a bit urbanized, but still had its history in the architecture and nature around it. I really liked the people at OWU. The student body was very diverse, and it did not seem to favor one particular type of student than another. People were very eager to answer any of my questions, so that made me feel more comfortable to ask many questions. I got to take part of a beginning acting class. It was a small class of 8 students, but both the students and the professor were very involved in what they were doing. They were very welcoming towards me, which made me feel comfortable in the class. I got to get a different outlook on how college classes differ from high school classes. I also got to take a campus tour to get more information about OWU. I looked around at the many different facilities that were available at the school, and asked questions to my tour guide who was a student there. I left the school feeling more confident about the fact that OWU is a good school to go to and I'm glad the students and faculty at this school made my short time of a few hours a knowledgeable and easing one. I would be glad to visit this schoo again, and get a deeper look on whether this is truly the right fit for me. 

By DJ Wright '18, Waukegan High School

When I recently visited Ohio Wesleyan University, I met Michael, a really wonderful tour guide and OWU senior from Costa Rica. Throughout the tour, there was something in particular that stood out to me: student life. I had been observing students all day. I attended a geography class with about 10 college students. I passed by one of the cafeterias and made note of where students were sitting and their expressions while they were talking to their friends. I watched students make flyers for an upcoming festival. Overall, I learned so much about OWU’s student body, but it was also important for me to get to know people on a more personal level. So I did and it was during the final minutes of my OWU tour when Michael said, “Ohio Wesleyan was the first university I visited in the United States, and it was the only one I applied to.” Throughout the entire day, I could not stop thinking about this. The way he described his first and only college experience in the United States was truly inspirational. He told our tour group that right away, he called his parents and told them that OWU was the one, this was home for him.

As for me, although the college of my dreams will probably not be the first college I have ever visited, or the only college I apply to, I want to feel the exact same way that Michael did. I want to feel so in love with my campus - to know, deep in my heart, that this college is the best decision to help me succeed. I know I will feel this way someday, but until then, cheers to future college visits!

By Jackie Renteria '18, Waukegan High School 

Grinnell College

What is in Iowa? There are fields of corn, Trump/Pence signs, and Grinnell College. I didn't think I would like it there: there was nothing but field around the campus, the trusting environment between students and faculty seemed to be too good to be true, and, to be frank, I had never heard of the college until last year. But I got there with the other twenty-some scholars, and it was amazing. We had Italian food the night before, watched the uncomfortably sassy debate between the leader of those "with her" and the politician with the blueprint to build a great America, or something to that extent, and slept in our hotel rooms to get up for 6:30 breakfast. Before I knew it, everyone had gathered on the bus, excited and anxious, ready to see what Grinnell College had to offer us. We received two meal tickets, and I went into breakfast with a group of friends to see what it was like. Some students ate quickly, others had all the time in the world. Either way, they all seemed so old and grown. It was hard to think that I could be one of those students in less than two years. The school had its own napkins! My friends and I finished our apples, eggs, and hash browns, so we went and chose the tickets for classes that we would observe. I luckily grabbed the last Calculus 1 class ticket, and I found myself enjoying the teacher and all of her energy. As much trouble as I had finding Noyce room 2517, I found it rewardingly worth it. I met another Scholar, and we worked together on the examples of second derivatives from the professor. As we struggled, we enjoyed how much we were learning and how much we saw our subject material at school translating into this class. At the end of a class, I had a new acquaintance, a new perception of Grinnell College, and a new craving to learn about the college and what made it different.

I attended a presentation on the mission and process that goes on within the school. I was really interested in the tutorial course taken by the first year students to be introduced to their advisors and what they might want to do as a major and career. I joined a tour led by a third year student who was fun and impressed me with her backwards walking. She knew a lot about the campus, gave many interesting facts about the tech shop and library (introducing us to the jungle-gym-styled study quarters), and she was from the Chicago area. We learned about the married original and modern styles of Grinnell College architecture and saw the trust students had in one another: most students never locked their dorm doors (where there is money, food, and anything anyone would want to keep safe). Going to lunch, I found a group of friends and talked to two males about life at Grinnell. One was hilariously in the Calculus 1 class I attended. Before heading to work, the guys talked to us about the different clubs there were and how easy it was to be funded (as the endowment was a popular topic among the Grinnell students). All you needed was two people and an idea to start a club. 

For many reasons--a trusting environment, creatively beautiful ways to study, and a school pride that runs from the blood of the students to the logo on the table napkins--Grinnell College made an impression upon me that I cannot forget. It was not that it was the second college campus I had visited. It was about how I learned that I liked a campus where everyone trusted each other. It was about how I assured myself that I wanted to go anywhere where I felt safe and comfortable to be myself and enjoy my classes. I learned how excited I got about energetic teachers and classes. As I probably should have brought home one of those wickedly awesome napkins, I definitely took home a Grinnell College experience that I will never forget. So maybe I don't need the napkin, but I do need to remember what I learned and who I am when I think about and apply to colleges for the next year of my life.

By Matthew Tantengco '18, Waukegan High School


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