Leading up to this three day trip in Boston, I had no idea what to fully expect. Sure, I had some ideas based on movies such as “Good Will Hunting,” but not a concrete picture of Boston or a university with such prestigious backing. Not only was this my first time in Boston, it was also my first time touring a university with a guide. However, each college I visited had its own unique charms, making each college visited during the trip memorabile in its own way.
With sprawling green lawns and a mix of modern and brick buildings, Boston College’s campus caters to those who love the outdoors in an evolving environment. Located in Chestnut Hill, Mass., this school offers a liberal arts core curriculum with a Jesuit influence that comes from its founder, Jesuit St. Ignatius Loyola. The Jesuit presence on campus shows everywhere, from religious decoration to a strong emphasis on community service. As for the campus itself, the main heart of it is broken up into four main parts, with one of them being freshman housing a seven-minute bus ride away from the main campus. Based on my three hours on campus, I felt as though the gorgeous campus emoted a feeling of home and warmth, from a chocolate shop that sells cookies bigger than my face to the multiple nooks perfect for curling up with a good book. From what I gather from the campus itself and the informational session before the tour, Boston College seems like the right place for those who want to study at an absolutely stunning college with similar beliefs.
In contrast to the reflection of Jesuit beliefs in Boston College’s courses, Brandeis’s Judaic roots subtly mix with the curriculum. With 31 majors and 17 broad fields of study, the curriculum varies among a range of subjects. The campus, situated along a hill, displays modern buildings with a historical point of view, such as the building in which John F. Kennedy announced his campaign for presidency Jan. 2, 1960, on “Prospects of Mankind,” a televised program hosted by Eleanor Roosevelt at Brandeis. What really separated Brandeis from other schools to me included the tight-knit community atmosphere. Walking inside the dorms, the tour guide explained how room halls come together to host events, such as a spa night in one of the all-girl halls. With an atmosphere consisting of a mix of history and modern times, Brandeis offers a unique take on the college experience.
As someone who prefers the humanities over STEM studies, I anticipated not favoring MIT. However, after touring the campus, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I wished MIT offered humanities classes without a STEM focus. The dorms, situated opposite the classrooms, formed a horseshoe of buildings that host many student activities. As for the actual classrooms themselves, the layout seemed predominately like a place that favors discussions and interaction between students. In terms of scenery, MIT’s central building, complete with a dome which once sported a car stuck on top as a “hack” (the MIT equivalent of a prank), opens up to a grassy yard overlooking the water. This view, so scenic, caused the majority of the tour group to stop and take pictures (myself included). Taking the school in as a whole, the curriculum and beauty of the campus makes the perfect university for those interested in studying STEM courses with a photo-worthy setting, if, of course, they can make it past the eight percent admission rate.
Considering the reputation around the highly prestigious school, I expected Harvard to leave me star-struck. However, upon arrival at the campus, I felt “meh.” Walking around the freshman dorm area and heart of the campus, the brick buildings almost reminded me of the campus here in Plantation, something I was unsure how to feel about. Although the scenic campus lived up to my expectation in terms of looks, the amount of tourists added a degree of uncertainty. All throughout campus, tourists donned Harvard geared, making one of the few factors separating tourists from students the tourists’ cameras and poses in front of iconic buildings and statues. Overall, while the campus proved as scenic as the movies (“Legally Blonde” anyone?) portrayed it, Harvard felt more like a tourist attraction than an actual learning hub.
Of the six colleges I visited, Northeastern easily proved to be my favorite. With an absolutely stunning campus, filled with modern, contemporary buildings, Northeastern felt like a place where ideas could flourish. The first building the group entered hosted many courses, such as journalism (yay!), and when stepping outside, the cool air and multi-colored leaves reminded me of my expectation of Boston as a whole before visiting the city. Upon arriving at the dorms, the modern buildings seemed like a favorable place to spend four or so years. In fact, according to the tour guide, from some of the buildings students could see into Fenway Park (home of the Red Socks, Boston’s famous baseball team). However, one personal downside of the school was it’s lack of a football team. Although having a football team is not a make-or-break for me, I would like an exciting, hyped-up sporting event to go to. In total, the campus provided everything one would want in terms of academics and views, but falls a bit short in terms of stereotypical sports culture.
Looking back at my three days in Boston, my expectation versus reality varied greatly, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. Overall, I’m glad I had the chance to tour these five different schools to better narrow down the factors I look for in a university.