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I finally visited Emory College and Oxford College (a few weeks ago), and I thought you'd might like to know what I thought of them.
Other than the fact that Emory (July 23) seemed almost *too* huge, I found the people to be a little distant. I loved the associate dean of admissions, Scott Schamberger. He was very nice, energetic, informative and interesting; he clearly showed his love for his school. However, the student tour guide was rather... I wouldn't say "apathetic," but she was not enthusiastic about her school (or giving the tour), I could tell that much. It felt like she was just trying to fulfill some volunteer hours... She did not make the tour all that "personal"; the things she would say you could probably find on the Emory website (a bunch of hard facts on each building rather than her feelings about things). Then, when my family and I went to eat at one of the food courts, the employees also seemed rather nonchalant. Considering I had a previous visit at Bucknell University where even the employees (let alone the staff and students) were very helpful and pleasant, that was a bit of a turnoff for me.
I had high hopes for Emory since it's long been my dream school (through research), but after the visit, it has gone down my list a few places. I will admit that the campus is very pretty and clearly offers students tons of opportunities (for example, as a potential premed, I absolutely loved the hospital being so close). I will also admit that the education quality seems excellent and that the location is great for college students (tons of restaurants, not too far from the city, suburban, etc.). However, I really do treasure the personal/people-to-people aspect more. Scott's information session was the best part of that visit just because he made it very personal. I'm hoping it was just a bad day for the other events, though: happening to get a mediocre tour guide and catching the employees in a not-so-cheery mood.
My visit to Oxford (July 24) was completely different. Oxford's campus was very small compared to Emory's, but I did not mind that at all. It was so pretty, and I could hear the nice forest sounds the entire time. I fell in love with the history stories our student tour guide gave us about each building. I fell in love with the coziness I felt with each building, too: they felt more like big houses rather than professional/educational buildings. And when I saw the classroom sizes, I was so happy: 33 students max per class! That is crazy, especially for classes in your freshman and sophomore years. And then the girl said you can start studying abroad your sophomore year (!). I think she also said a few (a few!) of her freshman friends studied abroad as well. That is even crazier. And the teacher assistant (I forget if that's the title she used) idea I really liked: it gives the TA a leadership and job opportunity, and it gives the students who need help... help! That is cool. The tour guide also explained some other leadership opportunities students have, but I won't get into detail. Just knowing that you can do so much though in your first two years of college that you can't do at other colleges... is great.
(Also, looking at the stats for Oxford scholars, I have a good chance of being one! So, financial plus there.)
But aside from the 'hard' facts, the people themselves especially made everything worthwhile. Our tour guide, though claiming to be one of the shyest people, was very pleasant and open, and I could tell she really loved her school. The admissions people and employees we ran into were very pleasant as well. Bottom line: I could tell they actually cared about my family and me visiting. They treated us as you would a guest at your house. They wanted us to have a good time. They wanted us to feel at home. They.. took care of us. That really won me there.
I think the only negative things I could think of were: at the back of my mind, knowing the bad opinions others have on Oxford; and the location isn't exactly college-town-like. But I just need to remind myself not to let others' opinions get in my way... and there is always that 40-minute bus ride to Emory. Haha.
I believe it is safe to say that Oxford is my top choice. I don't even think I would want to apply to Emory College as an incoming freshman. I certainly wouldn't want to miss the Oxford experience. Hopefully I will not only have a great time but also be prepared academically, mentally and spiritually for Emory College junior year. I would surely love to debunk those opinions of Oxford being a 'back door' to Emory by making the most of my education at Oxford and shining through at Emory.