Ivy League schools are
viewed as some of the most prestigious, and are ranked among the best
universities worldwide. All eight universities place in the top twenty of
the U.S. News & World Report 2014 university
rankings, including the top four schools and six of the top ten. They
are dream schools for many students, and Linus was fortunate enough to get the
early admission to Yale for class 2019. In order to make a final decision,
we decided to spent our Christmas to visit four top schools: Yale,
Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia.
Getting there ...
It was quite a busy week: Linus just had his
solo performance with ECYS
on Sunday (12/14) , finished school finals on Monday, headed to Chicago with his
school string orchestra on Tuesday, and got Yale's
early admission notice on Tuesday evening; Woanyu and Iris went back to
Taiwan on Thursday night; Linus was back from Chicago on Saturday night, and had
a string quartet
performance on Sunday afternoon (12/21). To make things even crazier,
Linus and I took the red-eye flight on Sunday evening to JFK, New York, and
drove to New Haven to start our college tour on early Monday morning...
Yale & New Haven (12/22) ...
- Yale, founded in 1701 as the "Collegiate School", is the
third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. In
1718 the school was renamed “Yale College” in gratitude to the Welsh
merchant Elihu Yale, who had donated the proceeds from the sale of nine
bales of goods together with 417 books and a portrait of King George I.
Yale College is the undergraduate college of Yale University, and has the
distinctive feature of residential college system, modeled after the
universities of Oxford and Cambridge (or Hogwarts :-) ).
The main purpose
of this trip was to visit Yale and attend the last student information
session and campus tour of the year since the school offices will be closed
on 12/23. The information session (for prospective students) was OK
since we do not care too much anymore (what a relief!), and the campus tour
was good to see the old campus, some residential colleges and libraries, and
learn some Yale history.
After a short break at the hotel room in the afternoon,
we headed back to Yale old campus and tried a nice pizza place ("BAR") in
downtown New Haven.
Harvard & Boston (12/23) ...
- Harvard, established in 1636 as the oldest institution of higher
education in the United States, is no doubt one of the most prestigious
universities in the world for its history, influence, and wealth.
Harvard has the largest financial endowment of any academic institution in
the world, standing at $32.3 billion as of June 2013. Its 209-acre
(85 ha) main campus is centered on Harvard Yard ( in Cambridge,
approximately 3 miles (5 km) northwest of Boston. Harvard Yard, a
pristine grassy area of about 25 acres (10 ha), consists of a large portion
of the university's freshman dormitories, including Massachusetts Hall,
built in 1720 and believed to be the oldest academic building in the United
States. We spent about an hour walking around the old campus.
We left our car parked in Cambridge and took the subway to
Boston downtown, and was able to make the Freedom Trail tour at the Boston
Common visitor center just in time. The tour went through a few
historic landmarks and introduced their crucial roles in American revolution
history. Unfortunately, it began to rain harder during the tour walk,
and it was quite difficult to take pictures while holding an umbrella.
After the tour, we went to the Union Oyster House for dinner. Open to
diners since 1826, it is the oldest continually operated restaurant and
oyster bar in the United States, and was designated as a National Historical
Landmark in 2003.
Princeton (12/24) ...
- Princeton, founded in 1746 as the College of New Jersey, is the fourth
chartered institution of higher education in the American colonies. It
was moved to the current site in 1756, and was renamed Princeton University
in 1896. From 2001 to 2015, Princeton University was ranked either
first or second among national universities by U.S. News & World
Report (USNWR). The main campus sits on about 500 acres (2.0 km2)
in Princeton. In 2011, the main campus was named by Travel+Leisure as one of
the most beautiful in the United States.
It was raining really
hard when we drove from New Have though New York to Princeton. I
missed the exit on Highway 95 because Linus fell asleep in the car, and
probably drove extra 25 miles before I woke him up to ask him for
directions. After lunch in the small Princeton downtown, we wandered
around the campus in the heavy rain...
- We drove back to Newark to return our rental car, and took the train to
New York City and had a nice Christmas Eve dinner at Bryant Park (we did not
dare to try ice skating at all).
Columbia & New York (12/25) ...
- Columbia University in the City of New York was founded in 1754 as
King's College by royal charter of George II of Great Britain. After
the American Revolutionary War, King's College briefly became a state
entity, and was renamed Columbia College in 1784. In 1897, the
university moved from Forty-ninth Street and Madison Avenue to its present
location on Morningside Heights at 116th Street and Broadway occupying
more than six city blocks, or 32 acres (13 ha). Although Columbia has
a relatively small campus, it is like a different world in the busy New York
City, and it is a convenient subway ride from anywhere in NYC to the campus.
- Sunset at the Top of Rock
- Radio City
It was Christmas Day, so we chose to do something
Christmas-ish: the Radio City Christmas Spectacular show. The
Christmas Show has been a tradition in New York City since 1933.
The 90-minute show combines singing, dancing and humor
with traditional scenes in spectacular stage settings, and features
the women's precision dance troupe known as the Rockettes.
The Last Day (12/26) ...
- Brooklyn Bridge & WTC
Linus was kind enough to accompany me to
Brooklyn Bridge before sunrise. It was finally sunny after a full week
of rain, and it was a perfect day (mild and calm) to walk from Brooklyn to
Manhattan . We continued to walk to World Trade Center, which I
did not know actually looked like a pyramid when viewed up from below.
Going Home ...
Visiting four great schools in four days was a great experience to learn
about the elite of education system in America. It will be a milestone and
big step (and a new starting point) for Linus to enter any of these schools, no
matter what his final choice is (although Stanford is still my favorite...).
It was a fantastic Christmas holiday for me and Linus to spend some time
together, and it was definitely one of the most relieving Christmas that
we will have in many years.
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