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Yale is the best...relative to Princeton and Harvard. Because instead of having a polo shirt uniform, people mostly just wear Yale shirts. I think that's an improvement. I definitely wish I didn't have to take fill so many requirements, and think maybe I should have gone to Brown. But the size is perfect; I always run into people I know, but I definitely don't know everybody. And it's near NYC which is perfect for when campus feels too stuffy. When I tell people I go to Yale, they usually just say "oh, cool." I'm the one who blushes. Living off campus is ideal for me, because I like feeling like I have a home away from the school. But you can't move out of the dorms until you're a junior. New Haven is definitely the best part of Yale; amazing restaurants, diversity, people who aren't between the years of 18 and 22...basically, actual culture. Not just college culture. And we have a dance club/concert hall that attracts a lot of great performers. The biggest complaint I hear from my friends is that the environment is so claustrophobic and competitive that it's unhealthy for your self-esteem. You lose sight of why you're actually learning. But on the up-side, a lot of alumni make a lot of money and then give it to us, so Yale can subsidize just about any project you're interested in doing while you're here. I just got back from an internet-themed dance interpretation of Alice In Wonderland, written directed and performed by Yale students, but payed for by Yale. School pride generally comes in the form of, "Well, this IS Yale..." which gets really tiring. But the student body is split into 12 residential colleges,which are assigned randomly to Freshmen, so there's some lighthearted fun rivalries and intramural games between the colleges.
The best thing about Yale is, to put it broadly, the people. Going to Yale was hands-down the best choice I've ever made. All of my closest friends are people that I met during college, and while I get a range of responses from "I'm impressed" to "So you think you're so great, huh?" when I tell people I went to Yale, I can't possibly imagine myself having gone anywhere else and being as happy. It was perfectly sized, the "shopping period" method of classes was a really interesting and effective way to make sure that you were going to take classes that you like and allowed you exposure to all sorts of academic topics. Honestly, one of the best things about Yale when I was there was the administration's lax approach to drinking on campus. The residential college system worked better on paper than it did in reality, especially for those of us who were stuck in Morse.
Most people have the idea that Yale is some sort of exclusive gentleman's club. This is completely true, in a way: Mory's, the Yale Club, secret societies Ð they all exist. And of course, when you graduate, there are tons of successful Yalies who would be happy to give you a job or put you in contact with a colleague. Yet people seem to think that only rich white legacy kids have access to this, when the truth is that it is available to anyone who works hard enough to get in. Yale goes out of its way to let in a completely diverse group of students, both racially and economically. Now, anyone can be part of the Yale legacy.
One of my favorite things about Yale is the residential college system. When you are accepted , you are sent your residential college assignment along with your acceptance letter. Each freshman is randomly placed into one of 12 residential colleges: Silliman, Timothy Dwight, Trumbull, Saybrook, Ezra Stiles, Morse, Berkeley, Branford, Jonathan Edwards, Davenport, Calhoun, and Pierson. This becomes your community for the next four years. You get to know the approximately 120 students in your class in your college (for example, Silliman class of 2010) extremely well, and they are your support group through the good and the bad. For a girl from an incredibly small town, like myself, it made going to college a lot less scary than it could have been. In fact, the frat scene here is much smaller than in other colleges, in part because we get that brother-sister feel in our residential colleges. Plus, there is layer upon layer of administrative support in the colleges for all you academic and social problems. The system makes it easy to make friends, and everyone is so wonderful-- how could you not??
Jesus, you've asked way too much here. I know i can answer what parts of it I want to, but still it's overwhelming. The big picture with yale is that I guess i'm glad I went there. I have fond memories of it now, although I think i spent way too much of my time there unhappy. I met the people who remain my very best friends in the world there, but I also almost never hear from the people who were my very best friends while I was there anymore. I learned how to learn, how to think in totally new and dynamic ways while I was there, but I don't think the yale name or "network" or even its reputation for excellence has helped me once in getting work in the real world.
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