College Tour 2008: Days Three and Four

Foregoing the delights of the Waffle House we continued our tour Tuesday with a visit to the University of Mary Washington.  Like Johns Hopkins the day before, UMW has a lush green campus and is covered with brick colonnaded buildings (with a few examples of more modern institutional architecture thrown in, like other schools, often not to great effect).  Academic requirements seem more traditional, in that UMW requires core credits, major credits, and elective credits for a degree instead of the more open model used by some other schools.  The relative availability of internship opportunities and added distance will probably combine to rule UMW out of the search, but that’s one of the reasons we took this trip in the first place.

After Fredericksburg we were off to the nation’s capital for an afternoon session and tour at George Washington University.  We came into Washington along Washington Boulevard and the Arlington Memorial Bridge, going right by the Pentagon and Lincoln Memorial.  No doubt all the monuments and memorials get to be just part of the landscape after a while, but I think it would take me a long time not to notice or appreciate them.  This was the second time to Washington for both of us, and was just as exciting as the first time.  It got a little frustrating relearning what little DC navigation skill we had gained on our previous visit (did I say the GPS was a great idea?  Boy, was the GPS ever a great idea), but we were both glad to be there again.

Getting to GW was no problem.  The information session and tour were great, especially getting to talk with the New England region admissions director.  The degree programs, requirements, and internship opportunities were really the best of anything we had heard yet.  We had planned to visit both the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses, but had both had our fill of traditional campus settings.  After walking around the in-town Foggy Bottom campus we were both worn out and went to find our hotel.

The District Hotel on Rhode Island Avenue NW was a bit of a disappointment.  Not only was the room a traditional double (my mistake), but the place was not quite as renovated as the web site would have you believe (imagine!).  Still, it was a decent enough place to spend the night after a pleasant dinner on the patio at Trio at 17th & Q Streets NW and before our visit to Georgetown University Wednesday afternoon.

Since we had to check out before going on our tour at Georgetown we drove down to the Mall to visit the National Gallery of Art.  We got there early enough to find a parking space in front of the National Archives.  While lines of schoolkids waited to visit the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, we walked by the Newseum (with the text of the First Amendment on its facade) to the National Gallery just as it opened.

Walking through the National Gallery (which, like other memorials and Smithsonian museums, charges no admission) was a real treat, and a nice break from our traveling and trying to keep the information from various schools straight.  After a hot dog while watching the people and traffic going by on Constitution Avenue we made our way to Georgetown University.  Parking in Georgetown itself is a nightmare, but we got lucky and found a space not fifty feet from the main gate and got to the information session with time to spare.

Like GW, Georgetown offers a great academic program and internship opportunities, but has a slightly more “traditional” physical environment.  The info session was only so helpful (having heard several similar presentations a few times already), but the tour was interesting and engaging (thanks to Kris, the young man who led our tour).

After being herded around various campuses and driving as much as we had, we both felt a little like Georgetown’s mascot, Jack.  (No, that’s not me.)  And we still had a three-plus hour drive to New Jersey for the next stage of our tour.


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