I went to BDD and absolutely LOVED my experience. I had never visited Yale when there were a lot of students on campus and it seems that everytime I go, the weather is horrible. Besides the HORRENDOUS rain, I had SO MUCH FUN! I got there early on Monday and just walked around for a while. The feeling was amazing! I already felt like a student, to a certain extent. Once people started arriving, I hung out with them and realized just how amazing Yalies are: they were so outgoing, so chill, funny, exciting. When I met actual students, I knew I had made the right decision in going to Yale. They were ALL excited to have us there and to convince us how great Yale is.
I also went to a few parties: that SAE party was HORRIBLE. I can't stress how bad it was. Then I went to Fusion... so much fun!! Yalies know how to have fun. Then we got lost trying to find another frat party and decided to just hang out for the rest of the night. So we just went to the Pierson common room to hang out until like 3:30.
I hate to be cliche, but what really made me see how amazing Yale is was the people. They were all excited to be there (or most of them). I also realized how great all the people were and how diverse, ethnically and in terms of interests as well. Everyone did a little bit of everything and that was really cool. There were your party people, your singers, your actors, your artists, etc. The campus was vibrant and exciting.
Honestly, I can't see how anyone could not love Yale after BDD. Chances are she was never going to like Yale, if they didn't like it when they got there. The weather is New England weather, period. I'm from NY so I was expecting it. If people weren't expecting it, that definitely would have had an impact. New Haven is urban, period. If people from suburbs came expecting to be in a place completely secluded from the real world or in a bubble, then Yale was never going to be a place for them.
I just got back from BDD and Stanford's Admit Weekend (other choice). I was, like many of you, underwhelmed at Yale. I came in leaning towards it, and I left in a rather ambivalent, if not sour, mood. It had mostly to do with my hosts, I think. I hardly got to talk to them or see them, they seemed cooped up, and, worst, they looked dreary themselves. At Stanford, though, I had a blast. The friendliness of the students, their relaxed nature, and their aura of happiness really struck me. They all went out of their way to make it an enjoyable experience. They all talked about my subjects of interest at length and honestly. One of the students told me he wasn't convinced about Stanford and was maybe going to transfer out. Others explained to me to take everything with a grain of salt (this was a sales pitch, they said). It seemed like Stanford students really did give me the full picture. They told me what was great about Yale and what Stanford lacked; all of this was done rather objectively.
Collegebound--I agree with you about the gut feeling but my son reports there were many good things at Yale and I'm bemused as to why they didn't add up to loving it.
Booklady--we are from Princeton and my son has already taken classes there and been an active participant in their composer's collective. He has quite a few friends already on campus and in the incoming class. So it makes sense he would really feel comfortable there. I'm still not clear on what exactly he didn't like about Yale beyond the dorm and host. He loved the classes, the conversations, the ECs. It's going to be a hard choice!
We were unprepared for the head over heels reaction to Princeton Preview, and I just assumed Yale would be Princeton on steroids and an even greater high. I tend to believe a student should pick the school they are in love with but in our minds, we think Yale is a better choice (especially for his main area of interest, music).
I don't like how you said "we think Yale is a better choice."
That could be causing some of the conflict. And Princeton actually has a really great music department (instrumental, not vocal)!
What are the other schools that have accepted her? What was her reaction to visiting them? Yale is definitely not for everyone. No one school is right for each person, no matter how wonderful it is for others. I would say that if she has cold feet about many of her choices, then maybe it is anxiety about the whole process and leaving home, etc. But if she likes another school a lot better (gut reactions...), then I would absolutely not harp on Yale. But, she really needs to decide soon, doesn't she?
Stringkeymom: One of my sons is in Morse and while he likes the "morsels" (the students in Morse) he doesn't like the buildings. Morse and Stiles are really different than the others, however the good thing is that after freshman year, most people have singles. Morse will be renovated next year.
One thing about admitted students days that is unfortunate is that if you're not compatible with your host, it really colors the whole experience. One son was rah rah about Dartmouth until he visited and found his hosts had nothing in common with him and weren't friendly. I am sure that is not typical of Dartmouth, but that was the end of Dartmouth for him. Neither son was "in love" with Yale before going, but both felt comfortable there. They are both extremely happy with their decision to attend.
I would say that your son should look carefully at the course catalogs, mapping out what courses he would take at each school for his major. See how he feels about each. He should also be very aware of who the faculty at each are (especially if he's doing performance). Hopefully that should guide him. Finally, use the other technique we've used for decisions: pretend he's going to have to make the decision based on the flip of a coin. Flip the coin and determine the outcome. Then see whether his stomach sinks about it or if he feels ok about the decision.
I wanted to point out that BDD fell on the last week of classes. This is a very stressful time. Personally, i had multiple finals during this week. And many final papers were due before reading period. So depending on the classes the students you met were in they could have been really stressed and tired from all the end of the year work. Others might have only had final during finals period, in which case they wouldn't have been worrying yet.
I just wanted to point this out for those of you who didn't get a good feeling from your host.
I too was from a small college town and loved the campus feel of Princeton more than the urban feel of Yale. Perhaps if your son has grown up in Princeton, he feels most comfortable with that type of campus setting. I would not dismiss those feelings since they tend to get stronger with time and contribute to one's sense of unhappiness (or contentment) with a college choice.
Yeah, I want to ditto goolsci's comment. I'm not sure why Yale thought it was a good idea to plan BDD for the last week of school. My hosts were really social during the three days that I was there, but they were constantly mentioning the mounds of work they had in the upcoming week, since it was the last week of school. They got out a lot, but still had to go to the library or stay home working. However, I didn't spend much time with them, opting instead to spend my time with the people who will ACTUALLY make up my class, instead of current students. That was more fun, getting to know them and the campus and stuff.
I don't think that choices should be made depending on hosts. Kids should remember that they're not there to judge their host but the campus. If their host was not the best of people, then that shouldn't deter you from Yale.
Is it possible that Yale just isn't the right school for your child? Sometimes I think people get so caught up in the Ivy thing that "fit" is disregarded a bit. They are WONDERFUL schools, but of course they each have their own flavor and style and setting and it may be that the chemistry just isn't right at Yale.
For anyone who isn't enamored w/Yale or their child isn't -- that's OK. Doubtlessly, they've been admitted to other fine schools as well. I had no guilt turning down other "prestigious" schools for Yale. I'd hope I wouldn't have had any if I'd turned down Yale for my other choices. Yale's not going to win everyone over -- indeed approximately a full 30% will turn the offer down.
I'm sure there are people hoping for big Waitlist action!
I too had a better time at Princeton Preview than BDD. However, when I thought about why, it had everything to do with the better weather, the fact that my host at Princeton was an upperclassman and that I was exploring the place with a classmate. My host at Yale basically greeted the pre-frosh on Monday and chatted for about an hour but then had to study for "finals". Still, I prefer the edgier, urban feel of New Haven to the suburban, gated-community ambiance of Princeton. Trying to compare the academics of both places is somewhat silly, especially if you end up changing majors; both have tremendous resources and are focused on undergraduate education. I will be in New Haven in the fall.