Planning a college road trip — Take THREE

Here we are about one month before the trip and I do believe the guys have finally settled on the schools they want to visit.  Perhaps there will be no more changes. I can only hope.

I got my son Sam thinking about the colleges he wanted to attend the summer before he became a high school freshman. My assumption, dubious as it turned out to be, was that once he started looking at entrance requirements, he would buckle down and keep his grades up where they belong. He had a history of achieving straight As, and then “losing” one or two homework assignments, therefore earning a zero, ending up with a B overall.

This past summer in preparation for his AP English class, he had a reading assignment that detailed the experience of several  high school superachievers. The book made its point and his work ethic in his junior year is definitely one in which we all can have pride.  This spring term he has switched teachers and now is enjoying all of his classes, which has improved his attitude even more.  He has become the manager of the school swim team and an editor on the newspaper, in addition to his training for track.  He’s now doing well.

Two of his friends, Blake and another Sam, are coming with us. When they first expressed interest they said they had no idea where they wanted to go to college, what they wanted to major in, and primarily wanted to come for the ride to see New England. I told them that was fine but it was not a vacation. We would get a bit of sightseeing in perhaps, but we had time in the schedule for them each to pick one or two schools. I gave them the routes we would take based on Sam’s choices and they went home to research.  By the next day the excitement level was high as they  began to ask if we could go to 2 and then 3 and then 4 schools each. We had another meeting to discuss goals and identify the priority of interest.  I started calling for college tour reservations and determined two of the schools on my Sam’s list were also on spring break while we would be there. One school did not offer tours; one did but recommended we return when the students are there to get a good “feel” for the school. We decided to bypass both at this time.

Next I determined the adjusted driving route, and then made lodging reservations. Here is our planned adventure:

Saturday, March 17—Pick up the two friends and join Sam in Morgantown where I am assuming he will be singing in the All State Choir Concert. (He has his audition next Friday.) After the concert we will drive about 5 hours and stay the first night enroute.

Sunday, March 18–drive another 6 hours to Burlington, Vermont. We have reservations at a place adjacent to a music venue. The guys will probably take the car and wander after dinner; I’m going to a concert.

Monday, March 19–Spend all day touring the campus and meeting with various officials at the University of Vermont. 

Tuesday, March 20—we need to be on the road early in order to make it to Boston. We will be returning to the same two universities there that toured two years ago. The other Sam feels drawn to large cities. When we eliminated the two schools that are on spring break from our trip plans, it opened up the time to head to Boston. We have reservations in a B&B near the campuses as well the T, which we will take to go to Quincy Market. I hope we can get in a bit of the Freedom Trail also; Blake is a huge US History buff.

Wednesday, March 21—we will tour the other university in Boston.  We will then drive to my sister’s house in Connecticut for the night. She’s a good sport to offer hospitality to 3 teenagers.

Thursday, March 22—We’ll start the day touring another repeat university for us. This school is on Sam’s application list and and we were not planning to tour again, but his friends want to see it because of his strong interest. Its rural location will be a huge contrast to the Boston schools. After a tour we will hit the road to Syracuse.

Friday, March 23—We will tour the University of Syracuse which Blake and the other Sam identified as a school they would like to visit. My Sam then looked into it and all 3 guys are excited to experience it. We may also bump into one of their other friends who will be touring a few colleges with his parents that week. After a campus tour we will split up to meet with the different schools and then hit the road another 3 hours west for the night’s lodging.

Saturday, March 24—our goal is to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on Saturday to top off our week with something fun. And then 5 hours to home, where I am very sure my bed will feel fantastic.

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4 Responses to Planning a college road trip — Take THREE

  1. This was a packed college tour trip, but you did a great job balancing some free time in there to break it up. You were also smart to avoid colleges that were on vacation because you can’t really get a feel for a campus when the students aren’t around. Taking friends is a good idea, too and usually makes everyone more relaxed. Good post.

  2. I’ve heard of people who visit two schools in one day and that is crazy. I would rather get done and spend the time seeing something of the area, because that is also a factor in liking a school.

  3. hekatz says:

    You have created a wonderful trip for your high school students. My suggestion would be that if they are interested in a particular department/major that you try to squeeze in a visit there as well as taking the general college tour. Also, make sure that the boys have some questions prepared to ask, especially if you do visit any particular departments. They should ask about difficulty in registering for classes in their major, access to internships and opportunities to study abroad. Also, if any of the boys have participated in the arts, even if they are not applying to an arts major, they should ask about opportunities to submit evidence of their commitment via the Arts Supplement or as an additional part of their application. Even if schools do not ask for performance DVD’s or portfolios, if asked, they will often accept them.

  4. Thanks for the advice; while my Sam has no interest in majoring in music, he has been singing all his life and wants to participate in an a cappella group. Before the trip my son’s friends had no idea what they wanted to chase. One knew he wanted to go to law school but no idea of undergraduate studies. The other had a father who wanted him to become an engineer but he believed he didn’t like that. This road trip helped them tremendously and they now have a better idea what to pursue. Because of their vagueness I had scheduled visits for them in a more general place, like any offered interviews in a school of arts and science. By the 4th day we changed tactics and actually walked in and asked to meet someone in the division of civil engineering at UConn and tomorrow’s blog will be about our visit to Syracuse where the boys split up after the general tour and info session and one went to the engineering school and the other went to the business school, something inconceivable prior to the trip. This experience went a long way to developing their maturity and ability to chase their interests.

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