Today was a fairytale. A dream come true. An interview to remember – a college interview that is.
A few days ago, I received an email from Brown University inviting me to New York City for an interview. I was enthralled — even though pretty much everyone who applies is offered an interview. But it’s such an interesting experience to chat with an alumnus, as it allows me to get to know the university a little bit better.
Anyway, Brown University sent us to this very posh building in downtown Manhattan to conduct our interviews. I have to admit, I was surprised. I was hardly expecting to enter a college interview feeling like a pampered princess. The event was very well-organized, while the ambience was classy yet welcoming.
The entrance of the building was very inviting. There were balloons emblazoned with Brown’s logo everywhere, which I thought was a charming detail. When I arrived, the doorman of the building sent me to an upper floor, where I signed in and was greeted by the coordinator of the event. She gave me a name-tag (which I’m still wearing at the moment). I wish I had my camera and took one of those free Brown pens.
I actually got lost on the way to the interview session. I somehow ended up in a building on another street corner, that was coincidentally also conducting interviews for the day. However, the place reeked of cigarettes and everyone was twenty-five. I quickly left, and used a hotel’s computer to find the right building.
But back to the Brown interview. Like I said, it was in a very high-end office building. My interviewer informed me that it was the former headquarters of The New York Times, which came to me as no surprise. The atmosphere was elegant and décor was modern and sleek. After I signed in, I went into a spacious waiting area, where two Brown alumni led a very insightful Q & A session. One was a lawyer, while the other was working as a venture capitalist. Fancy.
They were very reminiscent about their time at Brown, and had nothing but enthusiasm for their alma matter. Most of the alumni I talked to mentioned having only positive experiences with Brown. At some points, one speaker actually slipped out a curse and even brushed upon some touchy topics. The conversation was all very open and relaxed. Overall, they were warm, sociable, and personable, and just exude happiness.
Within the room, there were also about 60 other applicants – although I believe there were many more, as I arrived close to noon and the event started two hours earlier. And wow was I underdressed! I saw one boy outfitted in a full suit and tie ensemble. Most of the other students were very chic and stylish. The girls wore trendy dresses while the guys wore neat slacks. I’ll be sure to take notes for my next college interview.
And of course, there was no shortage of accomplished students. The alumni made us go around in a circle discussion our interests and activities. Many students played musical instruments (violin mainly), some played soccer, one girl did poetry slam, and then another wrote a paper of femininity. These kids are going to go far! I know they will. The boy I was sitting next to was taking copious notes during the Q & A session. The speakers were quite impressed.
I was the only student who wanted to “concentrate” in French Studies, while the overwhelming majority of other students expressed interest in biology, economics, engineering, and political science. Two others were interested in literary arts and English.
In the interim, we were also served coffee and lots of sumptuous food — munchkins, bagels doughnuts, and other desserts. You could tell a lot of money and resources were funneled into the event. Brown definitely likes to keep its alumni connected.
Anyway, about an hour and half later, I was called in for my private interview. There were interviewers of all ages/graduation years at the event. Mine had graduated several years ago, and studied American and Latin American History. She was a true scholar, on her way to earning her PhD to become a professor. I really liked her. To use an SAT vocabulary word, she was erudite.
I’m pleased to say that our conversation flowed like water. She was impressed that I wanted to major in French Studies, and proceeded to inform me about all the professors who would be of benefit me. We talked about immigration in France, affirmative action in the French constitution, literature, and Paris. We had a lengthly conversation, and sometimes she went off on intellectual tangents (it was entertaining!). She was hyper enthusiastic, and definitely exemplifies all the qualities of a Brown graduate.
I’m glad I met her. At Brown, she most appreciated her accessible, caring professors, and expressed admiration for Mrs. Ruth Simmons, the former president of the university.
Brown has a completely “Open Curriculum,” meaning that students can take whichever classes they want outside of their “concentration.” She said that the curriculum could be a potential drawback to students, as it could be too unrestrained. She ended up having to learn statistics/other mathematics at her current university. She then explained to me that at Brown, many of the students were from upper-crust society, and she was happy that the university was moving towards more diversity.
In the end, I fell in love with Brown. Despite a few drawbacks, it sounds like a very positive, upbeat, and open institution, and I’m sure I would enjoy my experience.