Help with SE college trip plan for S23

Hi folks, this is my first post here. I am so appreciative of this wonderful community. S23 is 4.0 student, NHS, top of his class, no scores yet, interested in CS and Japanese, study abroad in Japan, and getting far away from where we live in sunny, small mountain town Nevada.

He thinks East coast but I (mom) think he will hate it due to the long cold, grey winters and more strict covid requirements in those places. His counselor has suggested WPI, RIT, CWR, Lehigh kinda places. I am encouraging Southeast for its mild climate, sometimes less stringent covid rules (we have some good reasons for this I won’t get into and I’m not looking for a debate, just pointing out it is a concern and we lean toward less is more) and would like to plan a trip to the following:

UGA, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, UTennessee, Appalachian State, NC State, UNC, maybe Elon. Also looking closer to home: UUtah, UNR for WUE tuition, and Purdue.

We are looking for schools that offer good merit aid, have the programs he is interested in, study abroad opportunities, and interesting campus life for a small town mountain kid who wants “something different,” yet probably needs some nature nearby.

Looking for any advice in taking this trip from Reno to visit Atlanta to Raleigh or reverse and tips on visiting these schools, advice on the schools themselves, computer science or japanese. I know lots of questions, hopefully not too many.

Thank you!

So if you are going from Reno, I suggest you get down to i40 sooner than later. I’d hit U off Oklahoma and Arkansas….great town. Great merit.

You can then go two ways. Cut down to La. And see Lsu and Tulane

Or drive across to Memphis and cut down to Ole Miss…fine merit and then across to Tuscaloosa and Alabama. Not only do they have the best merit in the country but they also have the most NMFs in the country bcuz they get free tuition and housing for four years.

From there you can go to Atlanta and then North.

While you head North from Atlanta…or Athens you’d hit Clemson. I would also get to U of Sputh Carolina in Columbia…top Honors College and great merit. I’m not sure Elon has hard core Japanese but it’s gorgeous. William & Mary…3 hrs from Raleigh…is similar but better. But merit not easy.

On the way home across I70 is hit Miami of Ohio…great merit, Japanese Minor. And Indiana over Purdue. Hamilton Lugar is a strong intl studies school and they have CS.

Since you’re out west don’t forget Arizona…great merit. Great school.

I assume you have no need hence chasing merit?

One last one then if you can fit it in. Washington & Lee. Google the Johnson Scholarship. If small works, it’s an awesome opportunity.

Good luck

Covid restrictions are likely to change as time goes by. I wouldn’t base his list on geography, but you’re the parent and if you don’t want to pay for colleges outside certain areas, that is your right.

If Japanese language along with a great study abroad program are very important to him, he won’t do better than this:

It’s a top notch home-stay program. My daughter did it in 2019 and loved every minute. Unlike some study abroad programs which aren’t that academically challenging, AKP is rigorous and he will be speaking a lot of Japanese. It is competitive so not everyone who applies will get in. You can click on the link to see which colleges participate. None in the SE, but a lot of great schools. Of the schools which participate, Whitman, Connecticut College, Oberlin and Bucknell will likely be interested in your son and all offer merit aid.

Bucknell offers a CS major. Computer Science Majors | Bucknell University

You may want to check Davidson as well just north of Charlotte. On the way from Atlanta to NC, Furman will be on the way. Both offer merit; Furman offers a lot of it. If you go through Memphis, Rhodes gives out a lot of merit and nothing is more different from CO than Memphis. Emory also offers merit, even if reach for anyone these days.


I looked at Rhodes - but Japanese is taking through U Memphis, so not through Rhodes itself.

Thank you all for your thoughts, keep them coming! @tsbna44 – I ran some numbers in a few of the tuition calculators some schools have and it was not impressive, we are not rich but we’d get pennies. So unfortunately I think need is out and merit is in. He may also consider Air Force ROTC if offered at a place he could not otherwise afford. Also we have a week, so probably flying to ATL and renting a car. Should have mentioned that. But maybe consider a second trip to some of the places you mention. Why Indiana over Purdue?

@Lindagaf thank you for the info on the Japan program. We loved visiting Kyoto enough to go back twice! I am open to other locations but am put off by ever changing restrictions, booster shots, and going back to zoom learning. I hope it all changes for the better but I am concerned once this things become commonplace at a univ they never go away. Some kids tolerate this better than others.

@gablesdad great thoughts. I had not considered Davidson or Furman but will look at both. I forgot about Emory too…yes a reach I’m sure. And all will be a reach financially…

Happy New Year!

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Purdue is awesome for CS - awesome. And they have Japanese. And while merit is hard to come by, they’ve not raised tuition in many years.

IU easier to get into…but it was the Japanese that I recommended it for - I just love the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. Both are great. Miami of Ohio has great merit too - you can do these and if you like Illinois and WUSTL - you could somehow make a trip…even add a Case Western - I mean, you can get crazy :), Ohio State, etc. The midwest isn’t that big. - well from Ohio to St. Louis.

Sorry - I saw NHS - and I thought you said NMF - so at Bama you’d get $28K.

Tuition is about $31K - and the Honors dorm you’d get your own room…very quiet. Ridgecrest. Share a bath with one other.

Emory - if you apply by a certain date, you can qualify for merit - and they have two schools - Emory and Oxford (a small school you start at for the first two years) - just better odds to get in.

If flying to Atlanta - you can go many ways -

you can do Atlanta (Emory, Ga Tech) - then over to Athens (UGA). Up to Clemson. Can then do Furman, then up to U of SC…then can either go to Charlotte (Davidson) and up to Wake Forest, Elon, and then UNC, NC State, add on W&M and fly home from DC - or see American, GW, Gtown while there…or go the other way, see W&M, then over to UVA with a stop at U Richmond. Then go down to Washington & Lee. Va Tech You mentioned UTK - so see that - and fly home from Knoxville - or drive the 2.5 hours to Nashville (see Vandy) - and fly home from there.

Or you can go South - UGA - then go to UF, FSU, up to Auburn and then Bama…and then Tulane and fly home from New Orleans. Or you can keep going further south - and do UCF and even U Miami.

Lots you can do.

I’d say - honestly, to go see schools near you - and figure out - large, medium, small. A school with sports and greek…or smaller. A main school or LAC. Urban, suburban, etc.

We can better craft merit to the desire - and seeing some within a few hours will help give you perspective.

Nature wise - UTK and U of SC are by national parks. Va Tech and Washington & Lee will have a ton of nature nearby - and I’m sure may other schools on your list will as well. My son is at Bama…goes sailing, hiking within a reasonable distance. My daughter goes to College of Charleston and walks daily to the Battery (have to look it up) and ubers to the beach a lot.

Honestly - best to focus so you can plan an impactful trip that meets your overall needs vs. shotgun everywhere.

What price point are you trying to get to? It doesn’t pay to visit a school that has a very low chance of getting to your price.

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This. It would make a far trip more efficient. Also, you can always visit after acceptance. I am of the camp that college tours are overrated. They all run together and your tour guide and that day’s weather have an outsized impact.

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You have 8 schools to visit in a short time. Free advice. Don’t do too many schools. You and your kid will be burnt out if you do.

Try to do your driving the night before so you are at the town for your visit the night before and can wake up there, rested with a good breakfast and no driving first.

Go on the tour…then drive to the next destination.


Colleges that offer Japanese in the southeast are:

Wake Forest
Florida State
UNC Charlotte
University of Tampa
Guilford College
Georgia State U.

I know that Oglethorpe has a Flagship 50 program where students’ meeting certain qualifications pay the rate of tuition of their flagship university. I believe Florida State tends to have low tuition, & UNC-Charlotte’s rates are fairly reasonable as well.

Also, if you are concerned about Covid restrictions, I would look not just to the region and state, but also the county/municipality where the college is located. Indiana University, which has a terrific foreign language program and study abroad options, is located in Indiana which tends to have fewer Covid restrictions. But IU is in Bloomington which is very different politically from the rest of the state, and I think they have instituted additional precautions. Now whether that has caused the university to go virtual, I don’t know, but it might be a consideration for you. (By the way, IU is in the midwest, but as part of southern Indiana, it doesn’t get nearly as cold as places north of Indianapolis.) The same is true for Tulane in New Orleans. Politically, the city is very different from the state and has had added restrictions beyond the state’s requirements for most of the pandemic.

Just a little food for thought as you consider colleges for your son.


If he is really interested in CS and Japanese, It is hard to beat a school like Wisconsin. It has one of the top language programs in the country and the CS program is outstanding. If he wants to go all out, they have a Japanese House in the dorms.

I know it doesn’t meet some of your requirements, but especially with languages, you want to make sure that the offering are robust and are not just theoretical.


Does he want to major in CS OR Japanese, or does he want to double major, or is he thinking CS with a minor and/or immersive internship or study abroad experience? What is your budget?

Merit may be tough as an out of state student at some of the schools mentioned (NC State, UNC, VT). Elon also isn’t known for large merit awards (although they do have the competitive Fellows awards, which I believe they will stack with their Presidential merit awards). UNC Charlotte & Appalachian State may be better options for some merit.

If your son is looking to head south, U of SC and UTK are good for merit (although the awards are getting smaller over the years). UGA also, if he has high stats for them. Clemson used to give more OOS merit than they do now (somewhere I read that they are trying to attract more in-state talent). FSU may offer in-state tuition waiver if test scores are high enough.

I agree with not trying to see too many schools - try to narrow down size & location (urban vs. rural) and eliminate those that don’t have a robust program in his desired majors.

If you’re looking for merit, I would recommend checking out the class of 2025/2026 acceptance threads on here for each college your son is interested in. Lots of info on merit awarded and what the stats looked like for the various awards. At the very least, you’ll learn which colleges are not generous with merit.

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So after some discussion, it seems he is most interested in Computer Engineering – specifically is sounds like Electrical & Computer Engineering/Computer Science is what he is looking for I realized after discussing it more in depth with him.

He wants to study more Japanese (likely minor but possibly double major if it made sense) and study abroad if possible considering the Engineering major. When I was at Uva I don’t think many kids in the E-school had the time in their schedules to study abroad. So whether that is possible is a question since I know studying in Japan is a priority. Maybe there is a Japan/Engineering study abroad program somewhere?

These are the schools that might have what we are looking for. I need to specifically look at each and double check and look for others that might fit the bill. Emory and Vandy have more covid restrictions than others but I still want to see them even though a reach on many levels. I added Wisconsin @Eeyore123 – thanks for the tip :slight_smile: So probably a Madison/Purdue trip will be added.

As for price – 60k including living is my max. It looks like all these are doable OOS except Emory and Vandy. But merit would be helpful! Med to Large school but would consider small if affordable. No preference on urban/rural – whether has a good college vibe and plenty do do nearby and a foodie place is a perk.

As for the visit trip…we could break it up by state after figuring out where it makes most sense to visit. Yes I agree on not doing too much.

Georgia Tech Atlanta
University of Georgia Athens
University of Tenn Knoxville
NC State Raleigh

U of Wisc

U ofFL
U of TX
U of UT ?

So if merit is you are chasing your list isn’t great …IMHO. Emory is unlikely to meet your price. The top kids can get merit but it’s not likely. Same with Vandy. Ga Tech…obviously a reach for all. But will meet the $60k.

Utk is fine. But not diverse. It’s my ‘home school’. Alabama is your best merit by far and is very diverse. U of SC as well and I’d urge you to add them to your list….especially when merit chasing. You’ll spend far less than $60k. See article below.

FSU and UF both…not just UF. Both are cheap and strong.

Utah is fine but I’d make sure you hit Arizona…again strong merit. U Texas will be like Ga Tech…minimal odds but a great reach.

Finally take a look at Va Tech…and for a home run…small school but W&L. Great school, even has a Japanese tearoom, and free is free. Look at the Johnson Scholarship.

As for how to do it. There’s two schools of thought. When my son looked, we’d do an info session, tour and he quickly got bored. All the info sessions are the same. I know others feel different. It’s great to demonstrate interest. Not so great for sanity.

My daughter…schools were not holding sessions or wore closed. We did a 4 day trip and saw 11 schools. Three we could only drive through. One (Elon) gave a private tour. The rest we walked, talked to kids, explored the adjacent towns. For us, this was better.

You might attack this as a hybrid. Schools that require demonstrated interest, make sure they know you’re there. Schools that don’t…do what works for you. Many now post info sessions per recorded which is nice. You can see what you like and watch later.

You’ve listed top schools. Assume full pay at those whereas the UTKs will give you $. But Bama is a better for OOS and cheaper option with U of SC another outstanding…both much more geographically diverse than UTK and likely affordable. BAMA for sure affordable as they list your $ upfront. See below. Ms State also lists merit. All offer Japanese. Mizzou another with good merit.

Good luck.


Georgia Tech doesn’t offer much merit. They have Stamps but extremely competitive. MIT caliber kids. So plan on $50k. UGA not known for engineering but trying to improve. I think they just hit ABET accreditation a few years ago. Emory is starting this semester remote. S20 is at GT and likes it but it can be a grind.

NC State is a favorite. Cost would work. They offer a few Park scholarships to top students. I would consider NC State for another visit. That’s a lot of travel. Maybe combine it with Virginia Tech and possibly Maryland.

You could stop at Clemson or Auburn during the Georgia leg. Florida State is a good 4 hours from Atlanta. S21 is there an loves it.

Having a test score would also help. Does he qualify for NMSF?

CS at top schools is very time consuming. I wouldn’t plan for a double major.


Great ideas! Thank you. Adding Alabama, U South Carolina, FSU, Va Tech and W&L to the pool. And Clemson… @chmcnm no NMSF after not eating breakfast and forgetting his calculator on the last PSAT (doh!). Will have to do some honing before the visit but this is a good start. Many thanks :slight_smile:

You could actually craft a route hitting many within a few days if that’s all you have. Obviously the longer you have the better.

But I’d still visit schools near home. Will he even like a big school ? If so, in a city ? U mentioned nature. Would he like a small school ? Big sports ? No sports, etc.

You can spend 60k. But you can spend half that or less.

Let us know as you plan your route.

my kid is studying computer engineering. I was quite impressed with University of Tulsa’s programs. He got lots of merit there too! (didn’t chose the school, but i did like lots of aspects of it.) I can see your list getting long, but if you want a mid-size school with engineering, that might be an option.