We have finally seen all the colleges my eldest daughter is considering applying to. We are spending 12 days in the beautiful Pacific Northwest seeing friends and exploring small liberal arts colleges that have majors relating to ancient civilizations, classics, Japanese, and anthropology. Lucky us, we picked the two weeks of a serious heat wave, and our Palo Alto home has been about 30 degrees cooler each day than Seattle and Portland, which are are up in triple digits.
While we were on the campuses, we did tours, had lunch with a student, attended information sessions, and my daughter had interviews with a member of the admission staff. The interviews were the most important part of the process. My daughter was nervous at first and the night before her first interview we did a practice interview over dinner. Luckily, her first interview was with an admission's director who after asking many of the same questions we had asked her in the "practice" interview, told her that he would love to have her join his college, with at least 30% of her tuition covered with a merit scholarship based solely on her current SAT scores and GPA. She floated through the rest of the interviews knowing she was "a catch," and could apply early to the first college we visited and be done with the whole process.
I would like to mention how amazingly important the tour guide is! We had one terrible tour guide who after asking what everyone was interested in (culture, art, writing, and drama) proceeded to show us 30 minutes of the athletic services, give us a little story about the writing tutors that saved his hide, and pointed in the direction of the art department, theater, and language center. Needless to say, that college is at the bottom of the heap right now, in spite of a great interview.
So, now we prepare for the application process. She has had interviews at each of the final eight colleges, and unlike the trip to Southern California in the Spring, we have not moved many off the list of possibles. She has fallen in love with each school, and can see herself joining the college for the next four years of her education.
If you are wondering whether to do the "college trips," I highly recommend it! In spite of all of these campuses looking the same on paper and the Web, my daughter lit up on some - for no apparent reasons! She even bought a sweatshirt at one - but I will not jinx her chances by saying which one it was! Wish her luck!