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Friday, April 30, 2004

Yale 

So, I spent the early part of this week doing the tourist thing in New York and then headed out to visit Yale on Wednesday. A two-hour train journey got me to New Haven and a short taxi ride deposited me at the main University visitor centre, where I picked up a campus map so I could do dome structured wandering before it was time to be at the SOM. I also picked up a copy of the Yale daily newspaper, the headline of which was 'SOM student hit with brick' - not exactly reassuring.

There were six of us visiting that day - a New Yorker on interview, a Canadian who'd applied third round, and then prospecitve applicants from Japan, India, Israel and the UK (ie me). I was the only women. There wasn't a formal briefing session, instead a group of four students showed us round the SOM and then had lunch with us so we could talk and ask questions. This meant we didn't get a 'hard sell' session, which I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, it felt more like we were getting a real picture of the school rather than a 'marketing' one, on the other it would have been nice to have been given an overview of how the school sees itself, and to have been able to ask questions of the admissions staff that were maybe more appropriate to them than to first-year students. I know I can phone or e-mail with any specific questions, but I still feel a formal presentation would have added something.

The tour showed us most of the SOM area, which was a nice blend of old buildings with new facilities. There was a small, friendly feel to the place, but it seemed maybe a little cramped. This concern was backed-up by our student guides, who cited the lack of space as one of the major drawbacks of the school. After the tour through the teaching area and talk about teaching methods, extra-currics etc. we had lunch (paid for by the admissions office) in the cafeteria and a chance to talk some more. All our guides had internships for the summer, although apparently some of their classmates still didn't. All were impressed by the alumni network and how accessible they were (one of our guides had contacted 29 people, all of whom had helped him) and by the accessibility of the faculty. The general consensus seemed to be that living in New Haven was better than they'd expected, and they mentined the cultural life of the university and city, the local restaurants and the easy access to New York and Boston.

After lunch, I headed to a International Economics class, which consisted of student group presentations (which I guess is what happens when you visit in the last teaching week of the year). I know very little about economics, but found one presentation, on the effect of the Chinese exchange rate mechanism with the US$, particularly interesting. In general, the class didn't seem to be particularly engaged, but given that this was the end of term and they presumably weren't going to be examined on the material in the presentations, this wasn't surprising.

When I get home, have had time to reflect on all my visits, and aren't in danger of getting hypothermia from the ac in a hotel business centre, I'll write about what I wanted to get out of my vists, my feeling about each schol before I visited and how I feel afterwards. For now, I'll say that I still intend to apply to Yale, but that visiting didn't excite me about the place as much as I expected, and I'm not quite sure why. The University area is lovely, although I'm not too sure about the rest of New Haven, and I felt a knot of excitement in my stomach at the thought of maybe being able to go back into a university learning environment, but somehow I got a bit of an 'is this it' feeling about the SOM. Maybe it was to with it being the end of term and students being in wind-down mode. Maybe I was just over-stimulated by what I'd read, I'm not sure.

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