Catching Our Breath

Last fall we started visiting colleges with our youngest. Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania were on our itinerary over the Columbus Day weekend. With softball season and its time demands rapidly approaching we were left with February vacation, incorporating the Presidents Day holiday weekend, as the best option. So far we’ve added Brandeis, Tufts, Clark, and Brown to our list of schools we’ve visited.

It’s still a little early to rule any school definitely in or our, but we’re building a basis for comparison. Quick impressions:

  • Brandeis – liberal arts and research university, perhaps a little too quirky for her to find a good “fit.” Strong emphasis on openness and diversity, consistent with the university’s founding principles in 1948. High degree of undergraduate involvement in research, interaction with faculty. Students were on spring (February is spring? Not in New England. Anyway.) Unfortunately we had to bail out of the tour not even quite halfway through to get to our next info session. Ticker: -1
  • Tufts – more emphasis on research university but still providing a more open, interdisciplinary approach through distribution requirements. Also spoke of significant undergraduate involvement in research Enjoyed the campus setting, though it was a clear, cold, and windy day. Did get to see the library a little bit but much of the campus was closed due to the holiday. Seemed to make a more favorable impression. Ticker: +1
  • Clark – as the admissions officer said at Brandeis, most of what you hear in college information sessions is the same, using the 80/20 rule. As at Brandeis the emphasis at Clark was on answering the question “what makes us different?” One of the “Colleges That Change Lives,” Clark uses a description of itself as the “smallest liberal arts research university in the nation.” Stressed community, student-faculty interaction, research involvement, work in the community and larger world (“Challenge Convention. Change Our World.“). Students also addressed the question about going to school in Worcester which, from my limited knowledge, has had a reputation as kind of a rough town. Ticker: -1
  • Brown – another campus on a hill, College Hill to be exact. The warm, sunny day we had experienced walking around Clark disappeared behind cloud and the wind became cold by the time our tour started at Brown. The info session was okay, but somewhat disorganized and didn’t leave much time for discussion of admissions. That said, the info session was still mostly like the others except for Brown’s open curriculum and graduation requirements. The tour was windy, cold, and but for our enthusiastic (and sometimes silly) tour guides, disappointing. We saw nothing of the library, classroom buildings, residence halls, dining venues, athletic or other facilities. On a cold, breezy afternoon in Providence, these all would have been much appreciated, but we really didn’t get anything out of the tour and info session that we couldn’t have gotten from the web site, except for the physical experience of walking around campus. Still, we spent at least half an hour in the university bookstore mulling over sweatshirts and t-shirts, so it must still be pretty high on the list. Ticker: +1

Up next it’s Yale and Wesleyan. We’ll have to wait until fall, or after acceptance, to visit some of the others still on “the list.”


2 thoughts on “Catching Our Breath

    • Thanks! Oh, and if you have any thoughts, helpful suggestions, secret incantations that might result in, oh, full scholarship, feel free to pass them along. But only to me, especially the full scholarship one.

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