Friday, May 25, 2007

Campus Visit

As far as intelligently planned excursions go, my first visit to St. John’s College in Santa Fe was a bit of a flop. I arrived the first week of break between the spring and summer sessions so nearly everything was closed. Most students were gone. The book store, cafeteria, public rooms, and several other areas were all unavailable and/or locked.

Despite the lack of planning, I consider the trip a complete success. The campus is amazing. There are three decent hills that can be hiked directly from the campus. The views are wonderful. the buildings fit in well with the Santa Fe architecture on the exterior and the interiors are quirky, colorful and imaginitive, exactly the kind of atmosphere that inspires intelligent conversation and a fun loving attitude.

Tristan (I think), the student who showed us around has just completed her junior year and was a font of information, answering nearly every question I had. She was great fun to talk to and neither Michele nor Mandy seemed bored with the tour. I really appreciate her sharing her time with us, even if the alternative was making copies.

At the end we talked to Randall. (Again, I think, at least I have his card but it is down in the car and I don’t feel like leaving the hotel room just yet.) His insight into selection criteria and the essays was both helpful and encouraging. Approximately 70% of COMPLETED applications are accepted. He said the application process, for the most part, self selects good candidates as most people who will not make a good fit will not complete the essays. In fact, he specifically warned me against one pitfall that will prevent the most interested applications, that being an inability to finish, or bring the essays to a final conclusion. He also suggested that 6 – 10 pages is what is expected and that if I were to exceed 10 pages, they had better be very good. And finally, he suggested that I should only complete the optional 4th essay if I have something very interested to talk about. Choosing to answer this question is not a pitfall in itself, but answering without something good to offer is a bad idea.

The trip was a success based on just what has happened so far and the wonderful campus visit more than made up for the 16 hours of driving over night that it took to bring us into Santa Fe when there were still people around. Now, I am off to sleep in a real bed, and not curled up in the back seat of the car like some sorry aborted fetus. Food, shower, sleep, in that order are certainly the name of the game and I’ve already completed the first 2.

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