I love college: Class of ’09 in their own words

Sandy Huang Stanford University Major: Computer Science Stanford is a medium-sized private university with about 1,500 students in each class. When it comes to being urban or rural, Stanford is a hybrid. It is isolated enough that there is a tight community and campus is quite safe, but San Francisco and San Jose are both close- only 40-minute train rides away. I decided to go to Stanford because I had a great time when I visited in the spring. Visiting colleges is really important when it comes to deciding which is a good fit for you. I liked the laid-back atmosphere at Stanford when I visited: people here are smart, but they know how to balance academics and life. I also wanted to go to Stanford because it has a strong computer science program. I absolutely love Stanford so far! It’s gone by quickly. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Grades are definitely not the main concern, so there is not widespread cutthroat competition. The thing I love the most is the community of students here; everyone is supportive and works together. Stanford also does a great job in matching roommates. My roommate and I (pictured) are best friends, and we pride ourselves in being the best-matched roomies in the dorm. Ames High actually did a great job of preparing me for college! The AP classes I took at Ames High helped me learn how to study. I expected college to be so difficult, but so far I’ve actually never felt overwhelmed by academics. Because of my experiences at Ames High, I never felt my classes at Stanford were impossible to handle. Ian Herrman Iowa State University Major: Global Resource Systems Iowa State University is a moderately large public university that has about 25,000 students (undergraduate and graduate). ISU is also on one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. I come from a middle class family that never really has a lot of money to spare, so ISU, with its tuition at only $6-7000 a year, quickly moved toward the top of my list. I had also heard about a new major at Iowa State, global resource systems, that seemed interesting and contacted Dr. Acker, the major’s creator. Interaction with Dr. Acker and time spent on campus showed me that all the staff here are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to communicate with students. The fact that ISU is in Ames also played a role in my decision. I enjoy being able to get around Ames without a map, being able to walk two blocks to my house, and being around my best friend, Rex Fernando (also attending ISU). So far my time in college has been quite pleasant. I have found it about as academically challenging as high school, but more rewarding. I believe I’m receiving a quality education from professors who really enjoy their subjects and teaching. Overall I think ISU has been a good fit for me: great people, decent food, and a passion for education. AHS did an excellent job in preparing me for college. The rigors of the AP program at Ames High more than prepared me for the academic challenges at Iowa State. Matt Lee Washington University in St. Louis Major: Undeclared Washington University in St. Louis is a medium-sized, private university of approximately 6,000 undergraduate and 6,000 graduate students. It’s actually located in the suburb of Clayton, so while it’s very easy to get into downtown St. Louis, it’s nice to be in the more relaxed environment of a suburb. The area around the university is definitely more urban than anything in Ames, but not quite Des Moines either. I chose WashU because of its excellent academic reputation and friendly atmosphere. I applied because it had a very good reputation, it was closer to home than most of the schools I was applying to, and its application had no required supplement. After I had gotten acceptance decisions back from colleges, my final two choices were Northwestern and WashU, which are really similar. My final decision was based on a campus visit to each university. While it might sound cheesy, WashU just felt right when I visited. The campus was beautiful, and the people were all friendly. So far WashU has been a great fit for me. It has been everything that I could have asked for in college (except Division I sports). It is truly a national university and the student body is composed of people from all around the United States and the world. While not knowing anyone at the start was difficult, I have had a great time meeting people from all over the country. I believe that Ames High did an excellent job. The best exam score I got in Calc II was on the first exam. I credit this to Mr. Sparkman and AP Calc at Ames High. Steve Stark University of St. Thomas Major: Legal Studies in Business St. Thomas is a private university of about 5,000 undergrad students and 6,000 grad students. It’s in a pretty residential area smack dab in the middle of the Twin Cities. One of the things that attracted to me most about this college was the ability to swim on a D3 swim team. It also has an outstanding business school. Another aspect that was important was the fact that it is a Catholic school. Oh and Playboy magazine rated St Thomas as one of the top 3 hottest college campuses, that too. I’d say my college has been a great fit. I was worried I would think the school is too small for my liking, but my school is in an area with about 5 other colleges around. The work is extensive for all the classes, but you learn how to work through it really quickly. I’m happy to say that Ames High did an unbelievable job of preparing me. Many people I’ve gotten to know through my classes complained about the material and course load, but compared to many of the classes I took at AHS, it’s been very manageable. The class sizes are nearly identical to what you would run into at Ames High. The biggest class size I’ve had was 31 students. Two of my classes had 16 total students which meant each professor knew our names, and we got to know each other really well. In fact, each one of my classes had a participation grade–that’s something you don’t normally see in a Gen-Ed class for freshmen. Laurel Tuggle Grinnell College Major: Global Development Studies Grinnell is a small, private, rural school, with student population at about 1500. It’s more selective than most places, but not as selective as the Ivies or other similar schools. I love Grinnell’s relatively large population of international students. For example, my roommate is from Tunisia, and I’ve made friends from people from New York City, Seattle, Nicaragua, India, and Seychelles. I knew Grinnell pretty well before I applied because I had taken harp lessons here. I had heard that the student population was incredibly open and welcoming and the professors were very dedicated. I think visiting a college and staying overnight with a student is very important, and I basically took every chance I could [to stay]. I loved the friendly people and I could feel a difference from the east-coast schools I had visited with my sister. I LOVE GRINNELL. I couldn’t imagine being at a better place. I’ve made wonderful friends and the professors I’ve had have been completely committed to teaching and to helping their students. Grinnell is rigorous but not so terribly difficult that everyone is always in the library and never having fun. Actually, studying is fun here. The class sizes are also terrifically small. This semester, my largest class was 18 people. I think Ames High did a fine job of preparing me for college. For [my major], writing is much more important than test-taking. Classes like Advanced Composition, APLAC, and AP European History helped me to be a better writer. The various requirements in high school were annoying at times but at least they helped me to realize what I absolutely did not want to do. Lucy Ma University of Toronto Major: Human Biology University of Toronto is a huge public institution! It is comprised of 3 urban campuses that are all in the Toronto area. These 3 campuses combined have 60,500 undergraduate and 15,000 graduate students. I chose University of Toronto because I wanted to be with my family. Regardless of where I would be attending college, my family was moving to Toronto. The fact that my campus is only 30 minutes away from home really appealed to me – I go home literally every weekend! It’s so nice to be able to experience that homey feeling after a week of stress! Not to mention, I am paying domestic tuition fees, whereas if I attended Rice, which I had originally planned, the cost would have been much, much higher. The fact that U of T has a very large student body really intimidated me because I prefer to learn in a small, close environment. 4 out of the 5 classes I took last semester were held in big lecture halls with a 500 student capacity. Even though my classes were completely different than what I had imagined, I adapted quickly in my first two weeks. I’m going to have to do a lot of reading and self-learning. Overall, I am thoroughly enjoying my experience at University of Toronto. I am learning so much! In high school, I was pretty passive about learning. But now, I actually look forward to attending lectures and doing my readings. It’s so much fun! Ames High did a wonderful job in preparing me for college. My advice is to take advantage of the AP courses Ames High offers: they are definitely more detailed and more challenging, and exactly what you will see in college.