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College Visits

whittywhitty Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
I am hoping to get in some college visits this summer with son and want advice from people in the northeast of what the easiest way to do these would be coming from Austin, TX. We will be looking at MIT, Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Princeton. Any advice on traveling by train would be appreciated. I am not sure if it would be easiest to fly into Philadelphia - train to Princeton, train to NY - visit Columbia; train to New Haven - visit Yale and then train to Boston to visit MIT/Harvard and fly home from Boston. Would this work? I do not want to end up with a car in NYC and really do not know the train system well at all in that area. If I had tips it would help. Thanks

Replies to: College Visits

  • VSGPeanut101VSGPeanut101 Registered User Posts: 886 Member
    The Amtrak NE regional is a fantastic way to travel - very easy to just get to the station no more than 10-15 minutes ahead of time and hop right on the train. There are dozens of Amtrak trains per day on this line, plus additional regional (e.g. NJ Transit) from the same stations. You can easily get around NYC and Boston by subway or taxi, will need a taxi in New Haven and Princeton.
  • KKmamaKKmama Registered User Posts: 3,077 Senior Member
    You could also look into the Megabus, which goes to most of those cities. Pehaps even a combination of the bus and train would fit your schedules better. Megabus leaves Philly from the train station, and we often use that rather than Amtrak for trips into NYC.
  • MAOnemomMAOnemom Registered User Posts: 87 Junior Member
    It's quite easy to get to the Princeton campus by train from either New York or Philadelphia. There is a shuttle (known locally as the "dinky") from the Princeton Junction station to the south end of the Princeton campus.
  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 24,476 Forum Champion
    edited May 2014
    Maybe even fly into Newark to get to Princeton.
    Probably mass transit is the best option since you are not familiar with the roads here, but I'd also research the train schedules (and yes, Megabus or Bolt bus is a cheaper option) and maybe contact the schools admissions departments to ask how to get from the trains to the schools before you decide to use mass transit and not rent a car.
  • momof3sonsmomof3sons Registered User Posts: 5,116 Senior Member
    Look into flying into Newark, and then taking Amtrak or NJ Transit from there to Princeton. Then Amtrak or NJ Transit back up to NYC to visit Columbia. You can take the commuter railroad, Metro North, from NYC to New Haven, which will be less expensive than Amtrak. Then Amtrak up to Boston from New Haven and fly home from Boston.
  • whittywhitty Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    Thanks for all these suggestions! We have decided to pass on visiting Princeton this time - just too many at once These comments are still very helpful.
  • mom2andmom2and Registered User Posts: 2,728 Senior Member
    Depending on cost and timing, you may want to fly to Newark. It is probably easier and less expensive to take NJ Transit to Princeton than to use Amtrak. There is a train station at Newark Airport, but I don't think there is one at Philadelphia airport. You can take the train from Princeton to NYC. If you want to look at U Penn as well as Princeton, renting a car for a day to go to Princeton and U Penn may be your best bet.

    You may want to look at the costs in terms of both time and money for using all public transit vs renting a car. If you are planning on going to info sessions and tours and have limited time, having to get to a train station may be challenging. Driving in NYC can be a challenge, but it is doable. Not to knock public transportation, which is a great way to travel, but it can be challenging to try to fit in a large number of college visits in a short period of time.
  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys Registered User Posts: 3,959 Senior Member
    I agree, flying into Newark makes more sense than Philly. Both Philly and Newark are an hour from Princeton and Newark is basically a NYC airport, just happens to be across the river. Amtrak or better yet, NJ Transit (cheaper and more frequent service between Newark/Princeton/Penn Station NY) from Newark to Princeton (about 1 hour), then Amtrak/NJ transit back to Penn Station (about 1 hour) in NYC to see Columbia. Amtrak from Penn Station to New Haven (2 hours +) , then Amtrak in New Haven again to Boston (2 hours +).

    While a rental car would give you more flexibility in terms of getting directly to your destinations, sounds like you are considering flying in and out of two different locations, and returning a rental car to a different spot than where you picked it up can involve substantial surcharges.

    Pack lightly -- though may be not by Texas standards, summer on the NE corridor will probably be hot and humid -- bring light sweaters for the air conditioning, and comfortable walking shoes.
  • ClassicRockerDadClassicRockerDad Registered User Posts: 6,365 Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    I wouldn't waste my time with Amtrak. I've had terrible luck with it. You are here for a short-time, get a car and if you need to save, save by using more remote hotels. The risk of Amtrak delays fouling up your schedule are too great IMHO.

    If it were me,
    1) I'd fly to Philly, get a one-way rental. Drive to Penn, pay to park, or feed meters. It's not that bad. Did it two summers ago.
    2) Drive to Princeton - easy.
    3) For Columbia, stay at the Holland Motor Lodge in Jersey City, NJ. It's really not bad given the great location. Leave the car at the motel and walk 4 blocks to the Path Subway, then change at 14th St walking a block west to 7th ave and take the #1 train to Columbia. I think I heard about this place on CC and we used it for our Columbia/NYU visit. Very convenient and safe. Have dinner in Greenwich Village. There is a PATH subway stop on Christopher St.
    4) Then drive to New Haven. Use Google Maps to find the best route, which may be going right through NYC. It's actually not bad since the motel is right at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. If you leave in the morning, come out of the tunnel and go down to West St and make a left, you'll drive right by ground zero, around the Battery (the bottom of Manhattan) and up the FDR Drive on the East side where from there you'll have a reverse commute and it's pretty easy to make your way to to New Haven.
    5) Then drive to Boston, about another 2 hours. Stay in one of the many hotels in Waltham. When you go visit, either just pay to park for the day at either MIT or Harvard, and take the subway or cab between the two (about 2 miles), or park at Alewife Station which is the last stop on the Red line.
    6) Fly home from Boston.
  • chickeninacarchickeninacar Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    For college visits, Amtrak offers 1/2 off the second fare if you book through:

  • whittywhitty Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    Thanks for all of this info. After looking at the logistics we have decided to just visit Yale, MIT and Harvard. We have seen Columbia and New York so he knows the program and the city pretty well. Now to decide on easiest way for this trip which will just be deciding which we do first. Plan now is fly into Hartford, rent car - drive to New Haven, visit Yale, drive to Boston and return car, stay and visit MIT & Harvard. Will also look into train, but the rental and driving is fine for this trip.
  • donnaleighgdonnaleighg Registered User Posts: 1,576 Senior Member
    You might consider flying to LGA or JFK and renting a car there, just because the flights may be better. Drive time to Yale won't be hugely longer than from Hartford. You could also consider flying RT to Boston (may be cheaper) though the drive is longer.
  • brantlybrantly Registered User Posts: 3,736 Senior Member
    This is what I would recommend:

    Fly to Boston. Stay in a hotel outside the city (near the T), which will be way more cost-effective than staying in Boston. Use public transportation for your entire visit there. When you are ready to leave to go to New Haven, rent a car directly from a rental office nearby your hotel. Drive to New Haven, see Yale, drive to Bradley airport in Hartford, return car, fly home from Bradley. This will save you oodles of cash by not renting at one airport and returning at another airport.

    I recently discovered this when we flew to St. Louis to see Wash U, and rented a car to go to Chicago and Ann Arbor. I saved almost $500 by NOT renting a car at St. Louis airport. We took a taxi to hotel and took hotel shuttle to Wash U the next morning. Then Enterprise car rental picked us up at Wash U, I rented the car, drove the rest of our trip, and returned car at Detroit airport. I was quoted a price of $778 to rent car at St. Louis airport and return it at Detroit airport. By renting the car in the city instead of airport, my total for the rental was $298.

    As an aside, you might want to look at flights out of LaGuardia. They may be cheaper and more frequent. Bradley airport is actually north of Hartford, so the driving distance is not that much less than to LaGuardia. But if you do that, check to see if the car rental return fee wouldn't be any higher at LaGuardia.
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 9,585 Senior Member
    You can rent a zip car in Boston, drive to New Haven, use metered parking outside the admissions office (not expensive), drive back to Boston and dump the car. Having a car while touring MIT and Harvard can be a pain (you need to find somewhere to park which is challenging) so the only leg of the journey where a car is helpful is for Yale.
  • TmkniesTmknies Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    Amtrack from Boston to New Haven or reverse is excellent. I take it for work occasionally. Better than driving. Traffice in both locations can be messy, especially with the construction on i-95 in New Haven right now.
This discussion has been closed.