A bit of fun while we wait for decisions

As I sit here waiting for the balance of the admissions decisions to arrive for the third of my four children I gave some thought to our family’s numerous college application travels, info sessions, tours, application fees since our journey started more than 5 years ago. I thought it would be fun to list every college. In no particular order - or actually in geographic order, since that’s how I remember it.

After reviewing this list I decided that maybe my second career would be a college tour travel agent.

For fun I have added some comments for some of them.

Dartmouth - second best campus hotel (Hanover Inn)
Univ. New Hampshire - most underrated campus, beautiful
BC - I’m still a Doug Flutie fan, school sprit peaked November 23, 1984
BU - don’t visit between November and March
Harvard - has turned into a tourist attraction
Tufts - Same comment as BU, skip April - October as well.
Providence - church then pizza on Sunday night, loved that.
Yale - witnessed a real life high speed police chase while there, no BS. Best pizza and Foxon Park soda is a diabetic’s dream
Marist - beautiful and friendly, not sure I’d like it in January
Fordham - best campus in NYC
Columbia - nothing came to mind, not sure what that means
Rutgers - Big 10 in NJ?? They need to bring back crew and swimming teams
TCNJ - NJ taxpayers (which includes me) building it all new.
Villanova - school spirit seemed lacking (my son’s gauge is based on how many kids on campus he sees wearing school logo’d clothing - we saw more Vineyard Vines than 'Nova outfits)
Penn State - the most school spirit we’ve seen. We Are and Berkey ice cream!
U Penn - Great city campus, probably the best so far
Indiana - one of the most beautiful campuses “I could see myself here” was the comment I heard the most
Notre Dame - I’m not buying into the aura of ND, Gipper, Rudy - if you have ND grades then go to the Ivies.
Northwestern - same comment as BU, but BU has the better mascot
Miami Ohio - loved it and their merit offers are off the charts! My son said the prettiest girls of all the campuses.
Wash U. St. Louis - great, but it in St. Louis. Will get hate emails from midwesterners.
Santa Clara - the city of Santa Clara is like Limbo - you can see all the good stuff, you just have to get there (paraphrasing a Nathan Lane quote about NJ)
UC Berkeley - crazies
UCLA - can’t go wrong
Univ. of San Diego - son would never move back from San Diego after 4 years here
Arizona - Son liked it because Rob Gronkowski went there.
UT Austin - Can’t go wrong, probably the best food and music scene (sorry Tulane)
Tulane - $75k / year, really??
Georgia - Athens can make anyone a Bulldog fan. I hoped to run into the B-52s and Michael Stipe
Clemson - too orange
UNC Chapel Hill - Best campus hotel - Carolina Inn. Franklin St. is one of the best “college streets” I’ve seen.
Duke - trying too hard to be Princeton
High Point - country club, free laundry service. Preparing our kids for the real world??
UVA - what’s not to like?
Georgetown - go to Georgetown Cupcakes and ask for the super secret daily special. Also check out the Exorcist Steps.
Univ. of Maryland - no comment, my wife did that trip.
Princeton - does anyone have fun here? Skipped out of the tour early (not kidding).

I read until I got to Foxon Park Soda!!! Lived in southern CT for several years (Modern beats Sally’s and Pepe’s , hands down!). When touring Connecticut College with D20 this spring, we made a detour to buy Foxon Park gassosa. It was just as awesome as I remembered!

@helpingmom40 I also lived in southern CT for many years (now in northern part of state). Modern is the BEST! Love Foxon Park soda too!

@njfisherman enjoyed reading your list!

UMD Fear the Turtle! Go for Maryland Day, last Saturday in April- lots of demos by all the departments, science labs, theater, performing arts, and agriculture, fire protection engineering.

Go now for B1G 10 Basketball!! Go Terps!

UT Knoxville - The SUNSPHERE!!

@njfisherman This is now my favorite thread! What a great idea!! Based on your travels, you should beome a college tour travel agent. I thought we went to alot but geez.

Your one liners brought immediate recall and emotion to our mutual visits. Picturing BU in the winter or the students rushing Franklin Street after UNC beats Duke is so spot on. Duke trying too hard to be Princeton…now I finally get why the rest of my family hated it. Nova , exactly right! All in all we did about 20.

Amazing how similar our thoughts are on many of these. Maybe that’s why I like it so much :smile:

Hilarious! You definitely have an untapped career possibility here :slight_smile:

I wanna play too!

ND - Touchdown Jesus!
UMich - Split campus for eng- a miss. “You’ll only have to ride the bus back and forth for 3 or 4 semesters” - not helpful.
Purdue - Heaven on earth for D. Boiler Up!
NU - “They might want to find a better way to highlight collaborative spirit than an example of getting a laptop stolen” - quote from our at the time 16 year old.
Bucknell - Blink and you’ll miss the town
Lehigh - hills, hills, and more hills (but mom loved it)
Cornell - “why is no one speaking english?”
RPI - Might have wanted to prep staff to be a bit more positive about ARCH
Clarkson - electric snow mobile team!
U of Akron - surprisingly nice facilities but lord help you if you are not an eng student
CMU - We get it, you’re #2 for CS, right up there with MIT (loved the tartan and scottie dog though)
tOSU - enough with the “t” already and you might want to try to relocated the people shooting up by the union
JHU - not nearly as cut throat as feared
UMD - what’s a terp?

D toured a few more but alone so can’t comment ; )

Penn State- lots of school spirit, too much my husband thought with all the people driving by yelling “We are”
Pitt - Hogwarts Castle
tOSU- Our tour guide had the same first name as our son and I thought he’d make a good boyfriend for our daughter, loved the new Student Union with the OH IO door handles and fortunately didn’t see any people shooting up outside of it as this is where our son ended up
UDelaware - loved the main college ave through town
UMaryland - loved the brand new The Hotel at the base of campus, also I had spent 2 years working in Hyattsville MD 30 years prior so it was cool to see the Bagel Place where we ate lunch quite often still there right next to campus
Lehigh - had to leave early to have lunch at Goosey Gander before going to Lafayette for the tour there, I’m an alum and after having visited other schools really felt that our student center (the UC) paled in comparison. But Linderman Library is a sight to behold.
Lafayette - no major impressions, good or bad
Bucknell - all the buildings were just too matchy-matchy and little downtown area was teeny
Tufts - perched up on a hill with a cute downtown area, loved the elephant mascot
UVa - bit of a let down to be honest (think it was just that our expectations were very high) but loved the Corner and the bagel place (yes I have a thing about bagel places lol) where we had lunch
Richmond - like a country club in terms of the immaculately maintained grounds
UPenn - not the city campus that I expected (in a good way)
Georgetown - what’s not to like about being in Georgetown
Cornell - long long road through what felt like nothing to get to town of Ithaca
Princeton - said by my white daughter wearing Patagonia while on the tour - “lots of white people wearing Patagonia”

Penn State- Agree, lots of school spirit, and a lot of walking. Felt comfortable for a school so big
Pitt - Where does the city end and the college begin?
Lehigh - I didn’t go with my son on this one, but we drive through it fairly often. Hills.
Cornell - Amazing setting. Every entrance to campus is an up hill walk. Not as “Ivy” as Princeton
Princeton - Yep, it’s an ivy league campus. Is this a museum tour or a school tour?
MIT- Great walkability to the city. Tunnels were interesting. Tell us more about pranks.
RPI- Awesome Performing arts center; not a lot of performing arts. Rest of campus felt outdated. Dorms seemed like tenements (more than usual)
Carnegie Mellon- He liked all the bridges between buildings
NC State- Lots of Red bricks. The most interesting parts of campus were pointed to in the distance. Felt disjointed with engineering campus apart from main campus.
Ga Tech- Are you sure we are in the city? (looks up, sees skyscraper) yep. Amazing how a city campus can feel so non-city.
Purdue- Went for bowling camp, stayed for admissions visit. Really nice vibe. Very mid-western
Michigan- combine the ‘where does town end’ feeling of Pitt with the disjointed engineering campus of NC State (both negatives previously) and…he liked it (???)

FWIW, there’s a long running thread on colleges that moved up and down the list, so might want to stuck with fun college or college town/area bonuses.


Penn State: Caught by surprise when a kid walked by our guide and shouted “We Are” and without missing a beat, she shouted back “Penn State!” It was impossible not to laugh, and it happened again, twice, on the same tour. All of us on the tour caught on quickly. And yes, the ice cream.

Indiana U: Son and Hubby had a great time, visiting the speedway museum, then taking in a Purdue v. IU basketball game, which was exciting. It was a very affordable getaway for them.

U San Diego: Was visiting family in So Cal, and my sis and I went just because we were driving by. It was a gorgeous day, with views right out to the ocean. A frat was doing a fundraiser, and for a buck you got to choose which frat bro got a cream pie smashed in his face. I think I did it at least seven times. Nice atmosphere on campus.

Dickinson College: Loved that Gettysburg National Monument was nearby. We had a narrative CD and as it was winter, the place was deserted. Very atmospheric. Plus, I love Dickinson’s campus.

Bates College: Having been there many times now, I love the River Front Walk in downtown Lewiston. It’s gorgeous and soothing. You can do a circuit that takes you by the outdoor amphitheater and the waterfall created for the lumber mills (I’m guessing.) We love going to Forage, which has great food, plenty of space to relax, and lots of good teas, plus coffee. I also love Gomes Chapel on campus. Of all the campus chapels I’ve seen (30 and counting), it’s by far my favorite, with its beautiful stained glass windows of the great minds of history.

Binghamton U: Lovely preserve on campus with amazing autumn colors all around the pond. We were pleasantly surprised by the Roberson Museum and Science Center. Nice combo of stately home, fun local history, art, and interesting science stuff. We LOVE the T-shirt selection in Muckles. You’re not going to get your Rod Serling Appreciation Society T-shirt anywhere else. We also loved the abundance of neat things to see and do in the area, especially the Corning Glass Museum and Watkins Glen, which is spectacular.

Johns Hopkins: Baltimore waterfront was good, an unexpected bonus.

William and Mary: What’s not to love about the town? Living history. Gorgeous.

Salve Regina: We didn’t tour, but we walked right by. What’s not to love about that location! The Cliff Walk and Newport itself make it worth checking out this small college.


Funny, but now that I’m done with the college process for my kids, I’m just remembering the fun stuff. I can’t remember truly disliking any college, except one. But if I can’t say something nice, I won’t say anything at all.

From our time:

UIUC - BORING campus (of course, the fact that my wife and I spent 7 years there MAY have something to do with the feeling of boredom). On the up side the “flying saucer” and Krannert Center are great venues. The Arboretum is nice. The Spurlock Museum is also worth a visit. Make sure not to fall asleep while driving from Chicago/Indianapolis/St Louis through flat, boring corn and soy fields.

Pomona - lovely campus, lovely weather, lovely town. Nothing special to see, but a very pretty place to hang out.

Harvey Mudd - campus too modernistic, but see “Pomona” for the description of the town.

USC - more or less nice campus, not a good part of LA, but, of course, it is in LA, with all of the good and bad of that city.

Middlebury - to quote my kid “it seems like the entire state of Vermont is always posing for photos”. The entire area is beautiful, and the college and town are no exceptions. It is a great place for leaf-peepers in the fall, and Green Mountain is a great place for hiking. Burlington, the biggest “city”, is about 45 minutes away, but be careful, because if you sneeze, you may just miss it. Also - Lake Champlain Chocolate.

I did not join my wife and kid on their tours of Cornell, Harvard, and MIT.

My wife’s and my own experiences of the assorted colleges at which my wife and I worked (UMN, UConn, Princeton, and Rutgers, and others) are colored by our perspectives as faculty/staff and may not reflect the experience of students and visiting parents. UIUC is an exception, since I am basing it, at least partially, on the experiences of our kid who visited, and spent 6 weeks in an internship there.

UConn - decent campus, but there is no campus town, and when I was there, there was no coffee shop except a Starbucks. It does have it’s own ice-cream factory, though. The towns and the area around it are beautiful. Unfortunately, if you’re off the interstate, you will be frustrated, since there are hundreds of old people driving at 15 mph along two lane roads which have no passing. We also hit a deer when I worked there. Nothing much to see as a tourist that you can’t see anywhere else in New England, without the slow drivers.

UMN - the campus itself looks like the rest of ABQ. Kinda dry and dusty, but with a certain charm. There are some real good restaurants and coffee shops in ABQ, and Hatch Green Chiles are addictive. You have the Sandias, and the the evening light show (just when the rays of the setting sun start lighting up the Sandias) is amazing, no matter how long you live there. The area around ABQ is amazingly beautiful, and you can visit somewhere different every weekend for years, and still not see everything that is worth seeing. Santa Fe is worth a visit, and you can ski in Taos.

Rutgers - Northern New Jersey, what can I say? There is a direct train to NYC.

Princeton - pretty countryside, interesting old architecture, and kind of touristy. When we visited, you could meet Nash on the campus bus, and he was always happy to take selfies with students. Worth a visit, but only one.

@mwolf It’s Central Jersey! : )

Fun list even though you sorta insulted my alma mater. “Crazies”? Count the Nobel Prizes :wink:

University of Wisconsin Madison - great energy and school spirit, beautiful campus

University of Minnesota – too dispersed throughout the city, pales in comparison to Madison

University of Denver – perfect size, tucked into a not very exciting part of Denver, hockey and lacrosse facilities are immaculate- nobody in our family cares about the lack of football

University of Washington – hit it during cherry blossom season and D20 was hooked. Beautiful buildings and dorms, lots of cool restaurants

University of Puget Sound – school and campus gorgeous! Tacoma is kind of dumpy

Lewis and Clark – nobody seemed happy, worst dorms we saw anywhere, weird pushy people on the tour with us

Willamette – adorable little school nobody has heard of; city of Salem seemed pretty meh

University of Vermont - I want to go there. Burlington is amazing. Impossible to get there from the Midwest

Clark – Everyone was weird and Worcester hasn’t gotten any less depressing since we lived in MA 20 years ago

Brown – practically perfect in every way (except the cost and D20’s low chance of acceptance)

Harvard – tourist attraction; guide talked about herself so much we learned very little about the school

Brandeis – Pretty cool campus if you don’t have to have the old ivy covered buildings, freshman dorms are pretty bad

Northeastern – BUSY! Neighborhood has definitely gentrified since I lived there in the early 2000s

Georgetown – We don’t need you, so we will put zero effort into our admissions presentation. And here is a half-page sized information packet.

American – Hard to love it the day after touring Georgetown. Also suspect D20 rejected it because she doesn’t like their colors

Goucher – Mom loved the Frank Lloyd Wright style architecture. D20 loved the brand new dorms. Campus seemed very peaceful, but maybe too quiet

Lawrence – D20 is a double legacy, and the tour was a disaster. Some nice campus improvements, but if I wasn’t an alum, I would NOT be impressed

Loyola Chicago – Great energetic campus in a great city – one of the most diverse campuses we toured.

Bless their hearts.

Pitt - Same comment where does the campus end and the city begin. Seemed a little too urban. The opener for the big group presentation could have been a comedian.

CMU - All I remember was the woman giving the big presentation was wearing 4 inch heals on a wood stage. She made a lot of noise walking back and forth.

BU - That is one long narrow campus. Hate to be on one end and need to get to the other. Seeing Fenway from one end of campus was cool.

Brown - Those were some narrow streets to drive on. Still didn’t understand the big blue bear.

Loyola Chi - A real campus in the middle of a city. Close to the lake going to be cold in the winter.

ND - Campus changed too much over the years. Still beautiful.

MiamiOH - Looked like a fun place. Wanted to stop and join some house parties going on at 3PM on a Saturday.

UChi - Feb was cold. Old old buildings. Don’t stray too far from campus…Ratatata

Right? lol.

Columbia - Reminded me of a CA concrete prison. Blech!

UMich - Ann Arbor rated #1 small college town in the US by WalletHub :wink:

ND - Love TD Jesus and Rudy!

Wisconsin - Host of the CrossFit Games and the “Fittest on Earth,” so it has to be a great university.

Princeton - I almost waited for Rapunzel to let down her hair from the castle tower. Beautiful campus.

Harvard - Nearly thrown up on by local drunk at Harvard Square while having a frozen yogurt with my family.

USC - If I see Tommy Trojan or hear the phrase “Fight On,” then I may have to puke.

re #8: “Every entrance to campus is an up hill walk” is actually not true. If you get there again try entering from North of the campus. You will not be heading up hill to enter there. For one.

The campus is only trivially uphill from a couple other popular entrances . But where you start from before getting to the entrance, and where you are going to on the campus once you get into it, will impact the overall degree to which you experience it as “uphill”. If you are starting from downtown Ithaca and going to the ag quad, then quite a bit, to say the least. If living in upper collegetown and heading to the arts quad, then only trivially.