Northeast College Tour - Mission Complete

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Northeast College Tour - Mission Complete
By Momsdream (Momsdream) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 08:32 pm: Edit

We returned this evening from 4 nights in New England looking at colleges for my rising senior. I'm breathing deeply so as not to explode with frustration. Really, it's fine.

How my son is making his choices is beyond me. We visited Yale, Wes, Brown, Tufts, stayed overnight in Harvard Sq, but lost to the weather, Amherst, and U Mass at Amherst (unplanned).

I'm sorry we missed Williams and Boston College.

At the top of the list is Brown (from this grouping of schools). Clearly, son is VERY interested. We had a bright, sunny day in Providence. We stayed for the info session (which is the only one that sounded "different", so that helped.) My 6 yr old daughter cut her foot pretty badly doing a cartwheel on the green on campus, so we missed the last half of the tour. But, son was already sold. We had a great tour guide...a rising senior with a vigorous energy and loud voice.

Wesleyan: he said he would apply but isn't sure about it yet..needs another visit when school is in session.

Yale: Maybe...he's flip flopping (not sure about the culture...maybe too prep)

Harvard: I can't crack this one...he's a definite no for Harvrd...won't even look at it (I think this comes from his school and peer influence). His GF is very Ivy savvy and may be influencing him with her own opinions because he seems very quick to make a decision.

Tufts: Yes, will apply. I wasn't as excited about Tufts. Can't put my finger on it. But, I'm keeping it to myself and supporting whatever decisions he makes, which must be right for him.

Amherst: Yes. Says he LIKES it. I'm really surprised. It's small and suburban...even rural. He's been so turned on by urban/large city campuses prior to Amherst. He has a friend there. So, he plans on asking lots of questions. Only conern: conservative nature of town (seemingly)...the "Republican" newspaper appearing under our hotel room door this morning....son claims to wan to stay as far away from "preppyville" as possible.

So, the verdict: Penn is still his top choice and the Penn ED possibility is growing strong.

To do list:
Davidson (son's latest addition - he knows someone there)

William and Mary
Penn State
Berkley (?? Maybe)

Alreasy seen and will apply:

Takeaway so far:
Anyone who applies ED shoud have already visited most of their options. Thus, fall of Jr year is a good time to make visits. By fall of Sr. year, when key visiting time picks up again, it's already time for ED decisions. We need to get to the Southern schools before 11/1 or I can't feel really good about an ED application.

Thank goodness for these boards and you fellow parents.

Is it April yet?

By Anxiousmom (Anxiousmom) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 08:49 pm: Edit

Do you have a few safeties in this mix? Maybe your son has stellar stats - but just want to make sure that you have a super safety and a financial safety in here - those are some pretty tough schools to get into.

By Momsdream (Momsdream) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 09:00 pm: Edit

I think of Penn State as a safety. How much safer should we go?

What's a financial safety?

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 09:24 pm: Edit

Welcome back! Haven't seen you for a long time here.
Is there a reason why your son is thinking about applying ED? With your son's stats, ECs, interests, curriculum and URM status, he will be greatly in demand. This includes being an excellent candidate for merit aid including from some of the top 15 colleges that give such aid.

IMO there's no reason for him to prematurely tie himself down to a choice which is what ED would do for him assuming he gets an acceptance (and I think the odds of this would be high).

A financial safety is a school where you know that your son would be accepted, would enjoy and benefit from going to, and that you also are sure that you could afford without merit or need-based aid.

Even if you are lucky enough to be able to drop $42 k a year on college so could pay the full cost of a top ranked school where your son would live on campus, it still can be helpful to check out places that give merit aid. Having an extra $10-$15 k a year to play with could be a nice thing.

Please post more about Brown since my son, a junior, is interested in it.

If you or your son have questions about Wesleyan, I have a friend who is a prof there and I could probably get some answers. She loves Wesleyan. From where I have seen in a variety of places, it is friendly, supportive, extremely liberal (to the extreme for some more conservative people) and very diverse in all meanings of the word.

As an alum, I am sorry that your son won't take a look at Harvard yet. I think he would have a chance at acceptance. However, if he is not interested in my wonderful alma mater, he certainly does have other excellent places that he's considering.

We are planning on visiting Emory Oct. 2. S got an invitation to attend an open house there that day. Let me know if you and your son will be there, too. There is a full day of activities. I would not be surprised if it's an event to attract URMs. If it fits into your schedule, your S could see if he could be included, too.

You and your S have compiled a good list. I hope you keep posting about your impressions.

By Momsdream (Momsdream) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 10:25 pm: Edit

Hi Northstar. I've been around the boards...posting here and there...mostly lurking, though.

I believe son's thoughts about applying ED to Penn are based on his strong desire to attend, above all others. I honestly believed that his strong feeling about Penn would begin to mellow once we started to visit other attractive schools. Not so.

What can I say about Harvard? Son seems to have his own preconceived ideas about the place. As we were driving down Mass Ave to our hotel, son pretended that he was the adcom welcoming everyone to the info session by saying (with English accent)"now that you've all had your fun with the other lesser schools, we're glad you've finally come to your senses and decided to look at the best of the best..Haaaaahvaaaad". I tried to convince him that it isn't like that. No luck. There could be a deeper issues. But, there no sense in obsessing on the reason behind it.

Brown...son loved the idea of an open cirriculum. The fact that he can design his own concentration and choose his own evaluation system was very appealing. You might recall that my son attends a school where emphasis is on personal choice and individuality. He's really learned to embrace this as a lifestyle and has been attracted to schools that seem to hold the same values. College Hill reminded him of Georgetown, which he loved as a town, not a school.

The Brown adcom (an African Am/Hispanic woman) giving the info session said Brown makes no bones about it's commitment to diversity....all diversity. Son wanted ot hear that. He said he not only wanted to read about it in the stats, but hear a school state it and be proud of it. She was very emphatic.

Finally, we know several African American alums of Brown very well and son has lots of opportunities to see how well they maintian their ties. These folks never miss a reunion weekend (25 years later).

By Momsdream (Momsdream) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 10:32 pm: Edit


Forgot to mention, I haven't penciled in anything about Emory in October. So, either we didin't get the invite or I missed it in all of the mail. We do have unopened envelopes from the schools. So, maybe we should open them tomorrow. There's just so much MAIL!!

Thanks for the heads up!

I can say that son won't want to go if it's one of those multicultural weekend deals. We noticed that UMass Amherst had a dorm with a sign on the front that read "Africa House".....son was obviously humored and neither of us had the same view of the school after that.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 10:57 pm: Edit

It wasn't obviously a multicultural deal. It was a structured day with tour, information about applying, etc.

There was nothing on it indicating it was multicultural. I don't know how S got targeted. They simply may have sent it to students in certain score ranges who had expressed interest in Emory.

We had made reservations to do a tour in the spring, but had to cancel when S got an unexpectedly heavy workload that weekend.

By Sac (Sac) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 11:52 pm: Edit

Just curious, since your son likes urban schools and wants to be somewhere diverse, whether he's looked at Columbia.

By Momrath (Momrath) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 01:06 am: Edit

Wasn't your son the one interested in art history? Just curious, what happened to Williams?

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 09:06 am: Edit

Momsdream -- sounds like a fun tour! I wanted to mention that my D hated Harvard, too. Not sure why. (She is at Brown, BTW). She was also not thrilled by Yale (because of New Haven, sigh, although she was willing to apply really I think as a favor to me. We didn't visit Penn or Columbia -- she didn't want to be in a big city.

My D also hated Amherst -- Harvard and Amherst were the only two schools she had a strong negative reaction to -- others were at least "OK," including Wellesley, Swat, Princeton, Wesleyan (which she liked).

I also made sure D saw other schools before applying to Brown ED (and she did an overnight at Brown, which your S may want to schedule at Penn in Sept/Oct). I made a point of taking her to Harvard, because my preference would have been an EA app to Harvard, then RD apps to Brown and other schools. But she was committed to Brown, and does not seem to have regretted her decision (is about to start soph year there).

Good luck!

By Momsdream (Momsdream) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 09:51 am: Edit


We couldn't get to Williams on this tour. We ran out of energy and patence with each other in the car.


I'm encouraging him to look at Columbia. He doesn't think he wants to spend 4 yrs in NYC.

Again, I have no idea how these decisions are being made.

By Momsdream (Momsdream) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 10:20 am: Edit

I jus tread another thread on school politics and wanted to mention that the adcom e at Brown said:

We tend to be very politically diverse...we have democrats and a "couple" of republicans (this drew a big laugh from the crowd).

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 10:34 am: Edit

Rhonda, I know quite a few students who were admitted to Harvard and chose Brown. They had a hard time giving up Cambridge, but they were eager for the undergraduate focus and the student body at Brown. Clearly both schools have a lot to offer, but your d is certainly not alone. ;-)

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 11:10 am: Edit

Aparent -- my D did not apply to Harvard, so I don't want to suggest she got into both and picked B over H! I'm rather glad she DIDN'T apply to Harvard, because had she gotten in and turned them down for Brown, I think I would have been less than happy (please don't flame me!).

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 11:18 am: Edit

Mine hated H. too, but had strong reasons for doing so. They (meaning the head of undergraduate studies in her department) told her pointblank that, as an undergraduate, she couldn't study with the folks she wanted to study with, and, in fact, couldn't even meet them. These were the very folks for whom her department was famous. That quickly put an end to that. Luckily, the place where she ended up thought they were competing with H., and hence went well out of their way to ensure they were competitive (even though there wasn't any competition.)

By Elleneast (Elleneast) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 01:22 pm: Edit

I think that my daughter also did not let herself really "see" Harvard because of preconceived notions about the place. She is chomping at the bit in anticipation of her return to Columbia but recently mentioned that her opinion of Harvard has changed having met some down to earth students during the course of the last year.

Sooner or later they all grow up. I did laugh as she went through the college process at some of the reasons why she and her friends would reject a particular school. Fortunately there are lots of choices. Of course the big challenge is getting into one of them.

By Momrath (Momrath) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 08:40 pm: Edit

Momsdream, It sounds like you had good trip. Your son's list is still diverse, which it should be at this point, but also focused. My son was interested in many of the same schools -- Brown, Yale, Wesleyan, Swarthmore, Amherst (though he felt the same as you about Tufts, a little reserved) -- and I believe he would have been happy at any of them. Of this list, however, only Yale could have offered the same exposure to art history that he has at Williams.

Williams was a last minute add on. Like your son and Harvard, my son had nixed Williams without even seeing it. "Too preppy, too athletic, too conservative, too isolated" After a year's experience, he would argue with all of these stereotypes.

We planned to spend the weekend in Amherst -- which is a great town, my favorite -- and it turned out to be the annual Teddy Bear Festival, of all things! (No connection to the college). In order to escape the enslaught of warm and fuzzy we drove over the mountain to Williamstown and we were all staggered by the ambience, especially the museums. We're fairly museum and art savvy but had never even heard of MassMOCA. That and the Clark and Williams College own collection -- plus the art studio facilities -- were really the deal maker.

I can say that the college really uses the museum resources in teaching art and art history. They are constantly on-site, looking at and writing about real works of art, right on campus. Next year, my son will be a museum associate which is a curator-in-training program. One of his art studio instructors has work in the Whitney Bienniel this year so they were able to understand that very daunting process.

If you want to re-open the Williams door I'd suggest that your son contact Gina Coleman, Associate Director of Admission, who is African American and a good person to talk to about diversity (although this isn't her official position.) If not, well, he's got a great list; you should be proud and relieved.

I would also agree with several other posters, that your son doesn't need to apply ED. If he's 100% sure and wants to get the process over with, then go ahead, but he really doesn't need the extra boost.

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