Xander’s College Life Chapter X

A Reflection on applying and college life, and applying again

  Decisions always seem to get harder. The kids of the class of 2005 are finishing up their college apps about now, and in retrospect, I realize that I really had a narrow perspective of the whole thing. I had almost believed that my happiness and success depended on where I went, haha such a silly notion. Now, I know better; happiness and success was, and always is in my hands.

  I think I always knew that through coming here, I made a vow to apply transfer to at least 2 schools because I knew that I would grow to love the school. And really, there’s a lot to like about the UIUC. Not just things to be thankful for, for obviously there are worse schools, but being trained all the time to look higher I had bias towards what I thought were better schools.

  I was just reading old Princeton Review stuff again for the first time since this time last year: the numbers, snippets of anecdotes students said about their schools. Here are some funny ones:

  Some excerpts from Princeton Review:

On WashU: There’s a motto religiously
intoned at Wash U: “Study hard first, then play hard.” “I
definitely study my butt off during the week,” one typical student tells
us. But when weekends come around—or free time in general—students at Wash U
roll up their sleeves and roll out the party carpet. This work hard/party hard
mentality has given rise to the common perception that Wash U undergrads are
“the dorkiest students in the world getting [expletive] all the time.
Amen. Responsibly of course, Mom.”

  On Northwestern: “One-third of
the kids never leave their dorm rooms, one-third of the kids only leave their
dorms to do extracurricular stuff, and the last one-third are depressed because
they wish they had gone to a state school with their friends where there’s
actually a party scene!” -damn straight

  On UofC: Chicago students are “brilliant, on par
with those at any other school, but not the kind of people that you want to
have a casual conversation with.” That is somewhat attributed to
“personal hygiene and social skills [which] are sometimes lacking,”
and partly because “we ask seemingly strange questions. This is only
because, after a few years at Chicago ,
we only see questions in terms of ‘useful’ or ‘useless.’ Strange questions are
often the most useful, and we eventually forget that normal people avoid asking
the strange questions.” The school has attempted to recruit beyond its
nerdish base, bringing in more students of the frat boy/jock variety. Most
agree the efforts are counterproductive. One student writes, ” Chicago has a reputation
for its antisocial, elitist student body, but when it tries to change this
reputation, it just erodes the reason for its greatness.”

On UIUC Renowned research center University of Illinois —Urbana-Champaign offers
students a multitude of options and opportunities, especially in its nationally
acclaimed engineering and business programs. “The size is a huge benefit
because of all of the resources available,” students agree.

There’s not much to do in the cornfields, but the 20-plus bars on campus take care of that problem. The weekend definitely starts on Thursday.  Nonpartiers, including many in the school’s sizeable religious contingent, “often congregate in their dorm rooms with a movie, a bunch of people from their floor, and pizza from Papa John’s, a traditional campus establishment. There are a million organizations to be involved in!”

  As funny as they are, there’s definitely truth in all of them. Knowing that your friends are going to some of these schools changes your perspective of the schools as well I know Northwestern well enough to almost feel at home there haha WE the Naperville (North and Central) Class of 2004 and our highly networked connections.

  But anyway, I don’t know if I can leave this school for a better one, like I had hoped to, even to Northwestern/WashU/or UofC (especially to Northwestern actually). I’m finding myself trying harder and harder to find reasons first was just not my type of school, then that the
research opportunities for undergrads were limited and now I’m saying that I can’t stand the food!. While I don’t know what my perfect match for school (or anything!) is, I can definitely fit and thrive here. This school, maybe because it’s so large, stresses the burden of success on the individual. The school won’t seek to help you out if you’re faltering that’s your job. But hey, how hard is it to go call up a 5 digit number
and ask for an appointment with the TA, or even the prof? The people and resources are there if you want them, it’s something I had to learn but I think dealing with all the high school bureaucracy helped me out a bit. (The one exception there from my experience is with my English prof but hey, now I know not to be a lit majors switching to rhetoric .)

  [blah, more later]

  • Haha! alex…. i miss you!!!
  • you and anubav are NOT leaving UIUC!
  • Dude, Washu is definitely study hard, party hard.  It’s got a pretty amazing balance, I must say.  Stop by and visit!
  • haha that description of chicago is actually pretty accurate. the only thing that isn’t mentioned is how incredible the classes are. i think princeton review ranked chicago as the “best academic experience.” even though i complain a lot about my school and even thought i’ve only been there for a quarter–the classes–all of them, are really just great. i learned an insane amount of stuff in just a few short months, both content-wise and in terms of managing my life. i’m really boggled by how much it’s affected me. not saying you should apply here (the thing about socially and hygenically disabled student body is for the most part true, myself included), but there’s my two cents.
  • NYU


    nono jkjk.  I’m sure there are tons of ppl who want you to go to uChicago, NU, and WashU, and more who want you to stay at UIUC.  College transffering is even bigger than moving.  For me, it means again leaving behind all the familiarities, getting used to the system, the prof, the radio stations, the TV, restablishing my place in student organizations, everything has to be started over again.  It’s hard, no matter how academically or socially appealing, to go into the unknown and start over again.  But how many times have we done that?  moving around, transferring k-12 schools, even though i’m used to it, i still can’t say that i’d be willing to give it a try, especially if i learned to love where i am. 

    Then what do you go to college for?  For friends/parties? for easy A’s? for a challenge?? for learning?  It’s only 3 more years, and again, for me, whichever will bring me a brighter future after those 3 years (good or bad, joy or regrets), is where i’m heading to.  NU isn’t exactly the dream place for me right now, but like you said, it’s what you make it to be.  Well from a weird point its… i guess that u can learn to love the school, but the school can’t learn to make more opportunity for you.   You still have half more year, and come to NU and uChicago and stay over a week or so after UIUC lets out.  Do the research, experience it, and you (only you) make the decision.

    ooo here’s a lil exerpt bout NU:  This place makes u feel stupid.  Especially if you’re in a class of 123 with 50 HPME kids, the elite premeds of the nation.  There are parties though, and those smartos go out on weekends and some come back crazily drunk.  The hallways are always empty from 11 to 2am.  So there are the nerdy premeds, the communications major athletes/jocks who wears sweatpants and NU sweaters all the time, and there are the artsy journalism, theatre, and music majors down at south campus.  OOO… and the relaxed slacker econ majors.  Classes don’t fill up as fast as public schools, but you only get to take 2.  *you’ll need a 3.0 to take an extra 5th class, which shouldn’t be that hard for you.  NU treats their students well.  There are campus-wide homecoming parades on Sheridan street, all-campus picnic, bonfire by the lake, outdoor movie night, etc etc.  OOO YEAH. and 20-minute Firework display on the beach that you could see right from your window.  However, on the weekdays, study like there’s no tomorrow, curves are always expected, as much as a 40% class average.  So no slacking, and no distracting by NUTV (online streaming television). 

    The research opportunity and profs are up to you to research.  oo… and although i hated the experience of moving here from Shanghai, if I could go back, i still would do anything to seize that opportunity.

  • you should come to Cod 😛
  • Haha…definitely interesting reivews. Well, I wish you a very joyful holiday season (off to Winter Camp!)
  • haha–while kaidi tries to beat my word count–actually succeded by blabbering about 50 more words~
  • alex, how long does it take you to write all that?


  • decisions dont get harder, it’s your brain that’s changing.  life changes and your brain will automatically adjust to it.  you will not notice that you have changed, but you did.  i think that’s what’s up with me =..=+
  • alex you amuse me so much. but being a junior…dont have to think about all that yet.
  • haha wow nice pic
    and MERRY xmas