I recently read this article in the Washington Post –
We just recently finished with the college tours for my daughter. I was thinking about giving an impression of each school, but I decided instead to list the things that schools did that made an impression on me.
Keep it Simple, Stupid – Every college has an information session before the tours. Every college says a lot of the same things during these information sessions. So much o that almost every one of them talked about the charity dance marathon they do like they are the only college that does one. A lot of these sessions were an hour when they didn’t need to be an hour. I was impressed with my alma mater, The University of Kentucky. They only had a 30 minute information session and gave us better information than most that had hour-long ones. Tell me the basics. Give a slice of life and move on.
Make the Tour Meaningful – Some of the tours were so light on details they were no more useful than me walking around the campus on my own. They need to be more than just walking around campus pointing at buildings. Give us some anecdotes, tell personal stories, do anything that makes it memorable. Indiana and Penn State were very good at this. The Penn State guides were the best ones we had. They answered questions honestly and made the tour more personal.
Don’t Charge for Parking – The only one that failed this one was Delaware. Everyone else gave us free parking. We had to pay there. You are trying to woo us. This is not a good start.
Feed Me Seymour – Pointing at the dining hall is not as effective as providing a meal in the dining hall. Penn State and Washington University in St Louis provided a free meal in the dining hall. UMBC charged us, but at a discount rate. If you want us to be impressed with the food options, letting us sample is the bet way to do this.
Swag – Wash U is the only one that gave us meaningful swag. I use the nice Wash U water bottle every day. It doesn’t hurt to have something with the school name on it around the house if you want to stay fresh in our minds. Nice job Wash U.
Follow Up – Kentucky wins here. A handwritten postcard from the tour guides thanking my daughter for visiting. Really nice touch. Delaware fails. They keep inviting us to visit after we have already visited.
Obviously, things like cost, academics and the like will be the most important part of the decision, but if there is a tie things like the above could make a difference in the decision.
I already posted about my high school reunion. The reunion was one of the things I did on vacation, but there was plenty more. We started the vacation by driving to my mother-in-law’s house in Kentucky. We had dinner, went to bed and then got up the next morning to head to Indiana University for a college tour. At the end of the tour I finally found a brain bigger than mine.
We left Bloomington and drove to St Louis. The next morning we went on a tour of Washington University. It was a very nice campus, but miserably hot that day. They did give the students a free lunch and the entire family a nice water bottle.
We left the university and headed down to Grant’s Farm. I was skeptical and didn’t know if it was worth the trouble of going just to see the Clydesdales, but there was so much more. It was a fun place(with free beer samples) and worth the drive down.
While we were in St Louis we went to the City Museum. It was an interesting place and we had a lot of fun climbing around inside. I did bump my head several times and still have the mark. It’s also very hard on old knees. Everyone in the family chickened out and didn’t go down the 5 story slide.
After City Museum, we went to the Arch. The tram up was a little claustrophobic, but worth it. We were probably in line longer than we were in the arch, but the views were great.
After St Louis we went to Bowling Green, KY for the reunion and to spend time with family. On the way back out of town, we went on a tour of my alma mater, University of Kentucky. We toured the dorm where I lived as a freshman. Well, it had the same name, but it was a completely different dorm than where I lived.
I knew it was coming soon. My son rented a house with friends this year so he was officially completely moved out last July. He leaves on Sunday for New York for five weeks for his summer internship. Today was my daughter’s last day of her junior year of high school. She got her driver’s license last week. I knew I was a year away from an empty nest. Today, my daughter starts a part-time job. She just headed out for her training shift. That means I will start to get a taste of the empty nest soon.
The big change for me will be the first couple of hours after I arrive home from work. I typically arrive home by around 5:30. My wife typically gets home around 7:30. For a while, some of that time was filled with trips to the dance studio. The last couple of years it has meant cooking dinner and watching TV with my daughter. Monday nights we watch John Oliver(recorded from Sunday). Other nights we might watch other random shows that we have recorded over the past weeks. The one standard is that we watch Jeopardy at 7. My wife doesn’t understand why we like the show so much. I’m surprised my daughter likes it. We watch, comment on the contestants and yell out our answers(not in the form of a question). With her at work several nights a week, I will have to watch Jeopardy alone. I’ve done it before. It’s just not as fun when no one else sees how smart(or dumb) you are.
It sounds small, but it is a harbinger of things to come. Today it is a part-time job. Soon it will be college. Soon the nest will actually be empty and I will have many hours home alone. I guess I will be reading a lot more books soon. Who am I kidding? I will probably spend the alone time watching TV shows my wife won’t watch and posting stupid stuff on Facebook.