The second post in a series reflecting on SEEDS’ Guidance Department’s recent Spring College Tour. Visit the post from Day 1 for thoughts on Sarah Lawrence, Vassar College and Bard College.
Day 2: Williams College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) by George Georges (Scholars ’11, Dwight-Englewood School ’15)
Today, the NJ SEEDS Guidance Spring College Tour visited Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Upon arriving at Williams College, we were greeted by three wonderful tour guides. After a brief introduction about their majors, which included art history, economics, and various sciences, we split up into groups and began our tours. Although the weather outside was brutally cold, the sun managed to keep us warm during our trek through Williams’ beautiful campus. We saw various aspects of the campus, including the freshmen dormitories, where we learned about their unique entry system. Students who enter Williams College are placed in a specific dorm house with a junior advisor, forming an “entry,” which is similar to a small family that helps guide each other through the transition into college and possibly even later in college as entry members tend to stick with each other.
We passed by a beautiful brand new library that is still under construction, but expected to be finished by this coming fall. Other highlights of our tour included visiting a student center lounge area and a humanities building, which we learned is LEED-certified because of its extreme eco-friendliness. The science quad at Williams was also marvelous, consisting of separate buildings for each of the main disciplinary sciences – chemistry, physics, and biology. As we explored the science quad, we learned about the excellent opportunities offered to college seniors as they seek out jobs, internships, and applications for graduate schools. A unique characteristic of Williams College was their own mini-town, equipped with a shuttle service and several stores and sandwich shops – which actually record the names of celebrities who visit campus and what sandwiches they ordered! Finally, our tour guides graciously talked to us about aspects of school pride, including their rivalry with Amherst College and their tradition of Mountain Day, during which the president of the school wakes up on a random Friday in October, declares that it is Mountain Day, cancels all classes, and has the entire college hike up the nearby mountains and have a picnic and celebrate life.
We finished our informative college tour at Williams College before noon, headed off to a quick lunch, and then arrived at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Our time at RPI began with an extensive information session, given by an admissions officer who also coaches the football team. He explained the various elements of the different colleges at RPI, including the School of Architecture, the School of Humanities and Arts, the School of Information and Technology, the School of Science, the School of Management and Technology, and the School of Engineering, where the most popular major is mechanical engineering. Afterwards, we embarked on our tour of the campus, splitting up into two different groups. We saw a bunch of different buildings, including the engineering buildings, the dormitories, the humanities building, and the biotechnology building.
One of the most memorable highlights of the tour had to have been the EMPAC (Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center), which is an enormous dome theater built on a $300 million anonymous donation. The theater contains the largest projection screen in the entire country, and its acoustics are based upon the absorption levels of sound waves from cloth. Finally, we concluded our tour at the Student Union and thanked our guides before departing from RPI.