Tuesday, July 26, 2011

From Erin Miller's Parents

Dear Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, and Mr. Gosney,

I am happy to provide our thoughts on Erin’s summer experience with the ILC.

Obviously, we were overjoyed to learn our daughter had been selected to attend Brown University’s summer program, and to tour east coast colleges.

We communicated with Erin daily either through a phone call or by reading her daily blog postings. Each time, we felt as if our child was opening her eyes to a new world. Before her experience with the ILC she was not considering college choices outside of California, let alone outside of the Bay Area. Erin’s ILC experience opened up new possibilities as she visited college after college and spoke with students, staff, and counselors. Often, she expressed her excitement as she learned what colleges, and college towns, had to offer.

The experience broadened her social and academic connections. Before her ILC experience Erin was not as confident about applying to colleges or asking a lot of questions about them. She limited her interests to California (so she would be closer to home). After meeting students from all over the country, and the world, her social comfort level grew tremendously. The boundaries were removed. Approaching faculty and staff and having discussions about her academic goals became easier – almost a necessity it seemed. Thanks to technology she has established connections with students from all over the world, and plans to stay in touch with Brown faculty and staff. The ILC experienced has truly changed her outlook and approach to colleges. She has better command over the questions she needs to ask so she can find the right fit for her. Being far away from home is no longer an issue.
College visits, absolutely, added value to the college summer program. After reading through the blogs it’s apparent students became more aware that college culture and environment is as important as academics. I feel the ILC experience opened up these additional considerations in Erin’s college search. Not only is she seeking the college that will offer the best program for her academic field, but she is also examining whether she fits into the culture of the college and vise versa. Equally important, it seemed, is seeking the college town that will suit her lifestyle. I feel the combination of these three aspects will provide her with a healthy learning and living experience.

For students who have never traveled away from home, and without their parent(s), a 4-week program is enough to give the students a sense of what a healthy and lengthy separation would be like. Time away from the comforts of home could be a determining factor when deciding where to attend school.

I asked Erin what she got out of the extravagant meals. I partly expected her to say something simple like “the food was fancy and delicious”. Surprisingly, she commented that “special” dining experiences made her feel she was in the company of “high society”, and that she was eating “high class meals”. She commented that it seemed that everyone dining at the restaurants had a “reason” for being there. And then she added, “the experience made me feel important”.

I think the ILC has, once again, afforded well deserving high school students an important and unique opportunity to experience and explore colleges. For our daughter, the experience created an enthusiastic desire to seek and explore her academic future, and claim and maintain ownership of that process. It was an opportunity we could have only dreamed for. We are extremely grateful for and humbled by the generosity of the ILC and its sponsors, and for the faith they have in our district’s students. I can only hope the tradition continues on.

With high regards and respect,

Joann Miller

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