When I was down at Stanford yesterday - on the campus for the first time - I was completely blown away at how nice it is. I don't think I've ever been in a tier-one private university before. The grounds were immaculate, the halls in the Law Building were high-tech and gorgeous (Aeron chairs for every student, thank you very much) and the fact that there were students walking around in shorts and biking to and fro on an early November afternoon just blew my mind.
I went to a second-rate public college in New England. By early November, you had to watch your step on the way to class to make sure you didn't slip on a patch of ice, or if you were lucky, trudge through the early snowfall instead. Most of the rest of the year was spent huddled inside. My college did have that "New England Charm" on the outside, but inside it was mostly run-down and unequipped. That wouldn't matter if the classes and professors were great, but they weren't, and my classmates were all pretty much un-ambitious C-Level students from in-state that didn't make it into better schools. During the weekends, most just went home. I mean, I became Executive Editor of the college newspaper in my sophomore year... not a lot of competition there. And don't get me started on the frats and alcohol and drug abuse and just general non-academia of it all. Bleh.
The biggest disappointment of my life was my college years and wandering around campuses like Stanford just fill me to the brim with jealousy, regrets and remorse. What I wouldn't do to go back in time a 15 years or so and find some way into a high-end California University! 15 years! Wow. You'd think that farther away that time of my life got, the less it would affect me, but it seems exactly the opposite. Hmm.