1. How important do you consider rankings while evaluating schools? How have your perceptions changed about this now?
I did consider rankings while applying to colleges because if you look across the broad spectrum of college rankings you can get an idea of which colleges excel at what. Obviously they should not be the sole criteria of selection, but without visiting and living in the country, they are a good starting point.
2. Did the geographic location (NE, Mid West, West , South) and setting (urban, rural, suburban, college town) of your college impact your overall assessment of your college experience? Did you think about this when applying? How did your perception change with time?
The setting has most definitely affected my college experience. I did consider it somewhat while applying but mostly assumed that I would be happy in any medium sized college. However, I realize now how important it is to me that Boston is such a thriving city and there is a public transportation system. Its great to be in a city with so many opportunities and Boston is very student friendly.
3. What was the average class size of your intro classes? Were you satisfied with this? In what way did this change your perception of your academic experience? What would you do differently?
Intro classes do tend to be big and at Harvard there are some that are 800 people. Obviously those are noones favorite classes. But if managed well, they can still be a great experience.
4 What is your current major interest? Did this change over time? Explain if it did? Do you think that the courses you took to fulfil general education requirements were good? What would you change about the choices you made?
My major is Chemistry. I went into freshman year wanting to do Chem and then flitted around unsure and then took some fabulous concentration requirements and decided on Chemistry again. The organic chemistry classes I took at Harvard were the best classes I have ever taken. The teaching within departments is fabulous and even though they were introductory courses, they weren't big and the teachers were extremely dedicated to making us into chemists. The general education or "core" requirements I have taken have been great classes also! It all depends on what class you pick, and if you try you can usually find something that interests you and fulfills requirements.
5. Was the ratio of international students/total population an important criteria in your selection of schools? Did you feel trapped in any sort of bubble or clique? Did your perceptions about diversity change while you were in college?
I think having an international population is important not just because it provides you with a kind of support system, but because it ensures that the student body at large is used to the idea of foreign students and don't think of them as alien or strange. Its just easier for everyone :)