Colleges your child crossed off the list after visiting, schools that moved up on the list. Why?

Christopher Newport University - a public in Newport News, Virginia.


We visited all my son’s short list schools again after he had been admitted. He was looking to pursue either a dual degree in Physics and Music(cello), or physics alone with music on the side. The best thing we did was create a list of schools of different sizes and types that might reflect how his interests could possibly evolve during the year, because they often do change! Also, my thoughts are to try to avoid visiting small LAC schools in the summer…often the campuses look deserted and are full of construction. It’s very hard to get an accurate impression of the campuses then when no students are around.

UMich —Both impressive and imposing looking. My son especially loved the huge, majestic libraries and could visualize himself studying there. The town of Ann Arbor was cute and thriving. Studying in the dual degree program would involve navigating two campuses…North Campus for School of music, Theater and Dance and Main Campus for physics and Gen Ed’s. Bus system looked doable but distances between everything seemed large. We’d heard housing after freshman year was difficult to procure and at a premium. Neither of us were thrilled he would have to seriously think about that shortly after arriving in the dorms freshman year. In the end, just way too big, too impersonal, expensive and daunting to navigate.

UVA — my son liked the campus tour and the beautiful grounds. He thought the dorms seemed a bit of hike from the academic buildings. Also, the same issue of housing after freshman year was here as well. The town of Charlottesville was cute and the weather definitely better than UMich. Admissions was largely impersonal but that was to be expected from a larger school. The one attempt at personalization, a handwritten letter from a fellow Echols scholar arrived a few days after the May 1 deadline…might have made a difference if it had arrived earlier because my son was seriously considering it.

Furman University (FU)…small LAC with excellent academics, music and caring faculty. The campus was extraordinarily beautiful with manicured gardens, a lake and fountains everywhere. The tour was extremely polished (golf carts to shuttle guests around) and the tour guide was super enthusiastic, almost over the top. My son didn’t like that the school seemed like an island oasis cut off from everything else. It would have been difficult because he would not be bringing a car to school. He’d also gotten the impression that a lot of kids go home on the weekend, although I don’t know if that was really true or not. Though the grounds were so impressive, it also kind of added to the idea that this was a school of wealthy, perfectly groomed kids and he was unclear how he might fit in. In the days right before May 1, this school made an offer that was just about too good to turn down. However, the admissions process the entire year was surprisingly impersonal for a small school and by the time he’d got that offer, he hadn’t been sold on it.

Lawrence University (LU) …small LAC in Wisconsin with strong science and music. My son liked that this school was seamlessly incorporated with the downtown section of Appleton. The city was really cute with lots of shops, restaurants and vibrant street festivals only a short walk from the dorms. The campus was compact and everything within walking distance, but it seemed bigger because it faced a large river. The student body seemed happy and were refreshingly authentic looking.
The school invited my son to a physics workshop in the winter where he got to do labs with the faculty and current students. He really loved that and it definitely gave him a sense of the academic quality and vitality of the school. Admissions was extremely attentive and personal and the communications were warm and unpretentious. He felt wanted and welcomed and matriculated there. The school did an excellent job of intentionally integrating the new students to campus and incorporating them into their thriving community.


So where did he choose?

Looks like Lawrence University:


I have heard great things about Lawrence. @Hanna ,who used to post here a lot and whose opinions I value, spoke highly of it it. She is/was a counselor for those who don’t know of her.

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Crossed off: St Lawrence, snowed hard in April on spring break visit, the campus culture struck us as too conventional, one of our scheduled meetings got cancelled.Moved up: St Lawrenc. felt like we didn’t give it a fair shake the first time, since it was our last school visited on spring break trip junior year, so we went back. Wow, so glad we did. Campus was beautiful, students, administrators and faculty my kid met were welcoming, interesting, and diverse. Isn’t where my kid is headed, but what a neat place!


Admissions was largely impersonal but that was to be expected from a larger schoolWeedzly

Too funny – that was our experience exactly at St Lawrence! Snow in April visit, canceled meetings, and we were ready to move on. One more chance in the fall, and impressed with students and opportunities! My kid didn’t wind up there, but a neat place!


My son eliminated Wheaton College (Norton, MA) after visiting. There were a lot of things about the college that he really liked, and he was impressed with the programs that they ran. However, the impression he got of the culture of the school was not a good fit for him.

The tour guide talked a lot about all the traditions the students adhere to: underclassmen can’t sit on the steps of the library, freshmen have to go through some sort of being yelled at ritual, seniors always swim across the pond after graduation, and more.

The campus was very small, which made it, cozy and easily walkable, but our tour guide said most people never left campus. That seemed like it would get suffocating, even for my relatively low-key son.

And, finally, the tour guide said it was really easy to have emotional support animals in the dorms, and that lots of students had them. He said there were tons of dogs, cats, and even more exotic animals, like ferrets, snakes, and rabbits. Coming from a family without any pets, my son was not excited about suddenly living in a crowded living situation with a lot of animals.

I think some people would be enchanted by the traditions and the animals and the close-knit community of the campus. But it wasn’t a good fit for my son.


I still am a counselor! :smile: and I still have a high opinion of Lawrence – a chilly location but such a warm school. Students who don’t want to look in the Midwest are missing out.


All right, we’re back! Here’s another one….

So we spent the night in Syracuse. For next year’s college tourists, check out the Sheraton across from campus, much more convenient than the Marriott, which pulled their valet after 9 p.m. and we arrived late. A very interesting hotel on the other side of the city. Remember when we were talking about tour presentations a couple months ago? Well Syracuse is the leader in the clubhouse as far as we’re concerned. For their orange day tours, donuts, fresh-squeezed OJ, coffee, candy bars, ice cream, it was too much. So welcoming, so happy to see you, let’s get it started attitude. Their presentation is simply spectacular.

The Newhouse School of Communications is pretty awesome and I’m sure quite competitive. The tour of the facilities was information-packed by currently-enrolled students who know their stuff. They also provided insights on quality internships. It’s just a great program.

Were there any drawbacks? Doesn’t appear to be a ton of choice for food. Granted it was August, but Panda Express was the only food option available. I do wonder what lunch time is like there during the school year. The tours refused to show us the dorms or even the elevated cement steps to reach the dorms. Fraternity/Sorority row is like 2-3 blocks from campus, reasonable, but I’m not sure the best in January.

There’s hardly a town across the street from campus. Only a few fast-food options and what used to be a thriving bar scene right off of campus is now down to 1-2 spots. Not that I’m advocating for this, but kids (from what we were told) now oftentimes venture “downtown” to hang out on weekends. Didn’t love hearing that.

Ultimately, while the city isn’t great and the food options aren’t amazing, the Newhouse program is so spectacular that our kid is still applying there. The admissions team did their job. It remains on the list.


Our whole family has been so impressed with Lawrence and my son seems to be thriving there. I’m so glad we stumbled on it. I would have loved to have gone to a school like It instead of the big state U. I went to. I didn’t have a bad experience but I’m realizing it could have been SO much more!


That is funny, my don LOVEd that campus, but they didn’t have a major for him

Yes, it definitely seems to get polarized responses. I know plenty of kids who love it (and a few who attend there) but just wasn’t my D23’s vibe.

Fordham Rose Hill - WAY UP. She just got “that feeling.” She’s in love. I think her bottom line was the beautiful, well-maintained campus/architecture combined with easy access to NYC, for both internships and social life. She is not religious, but she felt comfortable and welcome there. One of the academic buildings had a Starbucks. She knows it’s a small thing, but some campuses have no Starbucks in walking distance, and she feels it would be nice to have be able to get her favorite fall beverage and have that familiarity. The school hit enough sweet spots for her that I fear we will have a hard time finding other schools she likes as much!
From me: we did the weekend information session/tour combo. They had a nice spread of coffee, cold water, doughnuts, apples, etc. The admissions officer was an alum, and I found her very warm and likeable. There was a student panel that took questions from the large group assembled there. They were all polished, but real. I felt like they were sharing their honest answers (including the commuting student, who kept mentioning free food at events, lol). Many tour guides filtered in at the end, and we were split into groups of maybe 6-8 students + parents for each pair of tour guides. Our guides were great - knowledgeable, warm, great presentation skills, willing to share personal stories. When we came to the church on campus (which ended up not being available for a tour, as there was a service going on), one tour guide said he would stay outside with anyone not comfortable going in for any reason. It was said in a very inclusive and supportive way. I came away with warm fuzzies, too!
**They shared that they were test optional for class of 2024/current juniors - I wanted to be sure to pass that along.


Sarah Lawrence - DOWN, but still on the list. She thought the new Barbara Walters student center was really nice. She did not like the rest of the architecture…at all. “Sooooo ugly” she said. There was a long row of dorms that were tutor-style, and she specifically mentioned how ugly they were afterward. This is going to be kid-specific, as I thought they were quite charming! She noticed cracked sidewalks, and hated the library (agree here - brown brick, maybe 70s (?) architecture, old carpet inside…). The tour took us up and down many outdoor staircases and steep hills. D24 pointed out that they talk big about inclusivity, but obviously the campus wouldn’t work if you were physically disabled. She also noticed that one of the two main campus dining options didn’t open until 11am on weekdays and 2pm on weekends. They don’t guarantee housing. 85% of students live on campus. This past season, 100 students were waitlisted for housing, but they are “now” all housed (did any of them give up and rent a place? was the list cleared this summer vs one month into the school year?)
The information sessions are online, and this was “tour only” - D24 was annoyed that much of the tour seemed like a walking information session. “Do people not read the web sites?”
Maybe it speaks to the quality of their film program, but the online virtual tour made the campus seem much nicer than what we saw in person (and it was a gorgeous day).
The AO, who gave the tour, said the optional interview was important, so I’d recommend that to anyone applying.
The two SLC students who shadowed the tour were great, and I could see it being an incredible fit for some students. I think mine will want a larger school.


Thank you for this, Marist is in our maybe pile for applying. Video game design. I am not sure if the vibe is for my son, but sounds like a great tour.

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This is very accurate. If you have OCD this school in not for you. It is like they built buildings in Morgantown and put roads in like a after thought. My son spent a week there this summer in their top notch forensics science program. Absolutely amazing experience and the program at that school is incredible! They even have a whole building dedicated to it. He has already applied and was accepted and it is in the running. His classes were on downtown campus and in the dorm near the hospital. they had to bus them. The campus is spread out all over town. It is not a very busy town (accept for football games), and easy to get around quickly (maybe a mile in between), but you will have to rely upon WVU transportation due to the terrain. The students at the school love the school, it has a very pleasant and happy vibe among the student body. Many alumni have their kids attending. There are generations of happy people associated with that school. Morgantown downtown is cute, but it reminded me of a State College PA in the 1980s when I attended college, nothing seems to have been updated. In that sense it had a very nostolgic vibe for me. For us, and we are 5.5 hours away, it was an absolutely beautiful, easy and fun drive. If you can look past the shortcomings of the area, I really think this is a solid school with a very proud student body and alumni. To me that says the most.


Thank you for sharing! My senior son wants to be in or near a city but thinks NYC might be a bit too crazy (we visited often when my daughter was in high school and doing some theatre training, so he loved our visits but living there is a whole new animal.) He’s keeping an open mind because Fordham offers a full tuition scholarship for National Hispanic Merit Scholar (which he received) although it is competitive, so no guarantee. Obviously, room and board is quite expensive in NYC, so we have to factor that in. Did you also look at the Lincoln Center Campus? My son would be studying psychology which is offered at both campuses. I feel like the Lincoln Center campus might be a better fit, but not sure. Really wish we could have visited, but we did do remote info sessions and tours and he did seem to like what Fordham had to offer. He will apply EA soon (but he’s not sure which campus to put as his preference, although I think you can switch it) and we hope to visit in the coming months. My son was also intrigued by their honors program, although I think only 20 students are chosen for it each year. We are a big fan of the new president, Dr. Tanya Tetlow. She was president of Loyola New Orleans (which my daughter attends) and Fordham stole her away from us :frowning_face: She is amazing! We also love Jesuit colleges. My kids are Catholic, but they are critics of many aspects of religion so the Jesuit philosophy focuses on what they see as important: community service, social justice, welcoming all, etc. Appreciate your impressions of the Rose Hill campus!


Hi! We did look at the Fordham Lincoln Center campus (or try to), so I’ll post here (mods really want this thread to be tour reports only, rather than school discussions).
We couldn’t swing both schools in one day, so we tried to look around the LC campus on a Sunday. You can self-tour during the week, but you need to sign up in advance. On Sunday, the LC campus was locked up, so we walked around the block to observe. The green space you see in the college photos is elevated several stories above street level. There were stairs from the street, but those were gated and locked. Students could have entered the space directly from the buildings (there are only 3-4 or so buildings that make up the campus). Maybe there were tons of students outside, but we couldn’t see them.
There was one dining area we could see as we walked by. At 12:15 on a Sunday, it looked pretty empty.
LC is all about the eye of the beholder. To me, it seemed cold, like living in an office building. D24 only said afterward that she thought it would be cool to take a few classes there, but she wouldn’t want to be there full-time. I think for her, the location itself is exciting, but the actual campus wasn’t doing it for her. Obviously, different for everyone.