College Tour III: Intermission

We capped off our February vacation week visits with tours at Yale and Wesleyan last Friday. Our drive down Thursday afternoon was nice, an unseasonably warm and sunny day. Dinner was at the Parthenon Diner in Branford, a local place with good food (including Greek specialties, as you might expect), great service, and reasonable prices.

By Friday morning it had turned gray and cold with a couple inches of slushy snow covering everything. Still, the trip down was good and the tours worthwhile. Quick impressions:

  • Yale University: Go ahead, snicker, roll your eyes, whatever. I know, you’re thinking upper-yuppy snooty Ivy League school. Nice if you’re part of the 1% but, seriously, what about a school for us mere mortals? That might be one reaction, sure, but I have to tell you we all came away from our visits impressed with how unpretentious the place was for all its cachet and how much it truly seems to offer the fortunate 8% of applicants to its undergraduate class. We especially liked the residential college structure to university housing, combining academic advising and social life. I’m sure it’s common to many private (or in Great Britain, the counter-intuitively names “public”) schools, but the concept is even more familiar to readers of the Harry Potter series. Think Gryffindor at Hogwarts without so much the flowing robes and magic wands. Ticker: +2
  • Wesleyan University: After our visit at Yale, even without a side trip to Louis’ Lunch or Modern Apizza (next time!), any school was going to have a hard time measuring up. Still, the short drive from New Haven to Middletown gave us time to move on mentally and be prepared for as fair an evaluation as we have given any of the schools so far. And, truthfully, Wesleyan fared well as a smaller institution, quite similar to Brandeis and Clark (at the same time being neither as quirky as Brandeis nor saddled with – fair or not – being in Worcester like Clark). The information session at Wesleyan could have been better but, at least in my case, I was suffering from some serious college visit fatigue. In the end, this one seemed to be a keeper on the list. Ticker: +1

So what does all this “ticker” stuff mean, anyway? As we’ve been going through these visits our daughter has been putting schools into one of three application categories – yes, maybe, and no. Simple and effective as a way of working through a list of 30-plus. Another way of measuring the success of a particular school in appealing to her would be the t-shirt index. So far, Johns Hopkins and Yale have merited t-shirts, with Brown only being the victim of a cash flow issue, otherwise she’d have one of those, too.

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