College Tour 2009: The Same, Only Different

A year and a half ago our eldest daughter and I took April vacation together and visited seven colleges and universities in five days (not counting two travel days, one on each end).  (All of the “College Tour 2008” posts can be found in the April 2008 section of the archives.)  Now it’s time to go through the search with our middle daughter.  Just as she and her sister are different, I expect our experience of the college search will be different.

Castle Court at Connecticut College

To start with, our middle daughter is also a very good student.  She gets very good grades and is diligent in her work (though she has a tendency to procrastinate – I’ll tell you later where she gets that!), but definitely has a lower profile in school than her older sister.  She’s one of those that tends not to attract as much attention to herself, has her own friends and activities, likes and dislikes, and is her own person.  As much as people mistake our two oldest for twins, they almost couldn’t be more different.

I never put a whole lot of stock in the notion of birth order as a determinant of personality type and behavior.  As an only child, I never thought about it and had no personal experience with it until becoming the father of three daughters.  My wife, on the other hand, is the oldest of four and more conversant with the idea.  I have to admit our middle daughter does exhibit many of the characteristics of the “middle child” (of three):

  • Has neither rights of oldest nor privileges of youngest.
  • Feels life is unfair.
  • Feels unloved, left out, “squeezed.”
  • Feels doesn’t have place in family.
  • Becomes discouraged and “problem child” or elevates self by pushing down other siblings.
  • Is adaptable.
  • Learns to deal with both oldest and youngest sibling.

(via the Child Development Institute)

While our oldest daughter had a fairly clear idea of what she wanted to do in life early on (probably for the last six or seven years, anyway), our middle daughter hasn’t yet arrived at that.  Because she has yet to find that elusive “passion” (though I hate using that term), she has focused her attention on places where she believes she will have the opportunity to explore areas of interest (history, education, psychology, American studies, etc.) without having to commit to something prematurely.  She also wants to find a place where she can have lasting relationships and not get lost in the crowd.  Though you might be able to do that just about anywhere if you’re the right kind of person, our middle daughter’s search has led her to look at small liberal arts institutions.

Of the twenty or so small liberal arts schools she started with, she’s down to about twelve she’s actively interested in, with four that we will visit over the next couple of weeks.  Connecticut College we visited yesterday.  In two weeks we visit Wheaton (the one in Massachusetts), Wellesley, and Vassar.  Also on the list is Smith (though a visit just isn’t in the schedule for now) and others that are too far away to visit for now – Muhlenberg, Kenyon, Macalester, Lake Forest, and some others I’m sure I’ve missed.

In the next installment I’ll actually write about our Columbus Day visit to Connecticut College for open house.

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2 thoughts on “College Tour 2009: The Same, Only Different

  1. Conn. College has such a lovely campus … when I went to visit in *ahem* 1982, I thought it looked exactly like I envisioned a perfect college campus to be. Very curious to hear what you and the middle child thought.

  2. My parents and I visited the Coast Guard Academy in, hmmm, must’ve been fall of 1980(?). Just down the street from Connecticut College, but didn’t even know it was there.

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