It’s a very odd thing – college touring – but a 16 years olds apparently need to be transported to a few campuses (or campi?) to express at least some opinion on where they’d like to spend next 4 years of their life. So off we went.
We live right in between Emory and Georgia Tech; the kids have taken swim lessons at both, went to camps there and half of their friends have parents that work at one or the other. Many of our neighbors grew up, were schooled and lived their whole life in Georgia. And many are Bulldogs. If you are one of the few people in this country that doesn’t know what that means – than you are successfully ignoring or not subscribing to any app, channel, friend or feed on college football (where do you live, seriously?). Because in 2022, my readers, Georgia Bulldogs are the #1 team and last year college football champion. You may forget this in a second but me, living in the midst of the black/red flags, red everything Saturdays and football parties will be reminded every fall weekend. It’s kind of like a religion where a bulldog is Jesus – ouch.
UGA or University of Georgia alias bulldogs are not in Atlanta but 90 mins away. On Election Day when the kids were off, the boys and I were going to go for a trip and a tour. Driving to Athens, GA was surprisingly more rural and generated lots of comments like “where are we”, ” we are in the middle of nowhere”, “mom are you sure we are on the right highway”? City kids – but for the prospective student this was a thumbs down start. The visit itself was the opposite – a nice surprise. Super well organized, enthusiastic as one would expect from sellers/marketers.
Net net, the campus is HUGE – I mean we took a bus around and still only saw some key buildings. You can do and study whatever you want here – including every weird sport which is a little too much of an emphasis for me and Lucas too. He raised his eye brows when he saw 4.4 GPA in the admission brochure which surprised me too – of course it has a small footnote saying 50% have 4.4 but still – I didn’t even know you go beyond 4? I liked the campus and the school, especially their parting comment on driving by the Stanford Stadium stating “this is where we teach other teams how to play football”. Well, let’s hope you are as good at the academics 🙂 One down.
3 weeks later, weekend before Thanksgiving, we are off to North Carolina – just me and Lucas to see Elon and UNC in Chapel Hill. We skipped Davidson as the 5 hours of driving up, seeing 3 schools and driving back in 48 hours was too much.
Partially influenced by my niece and Lucas’s cousin Erin, who is an alum, we really wanted to check out a smaller school in smaller community. That we got. Elon isn’t even a town, it is just the university. There is a block of “town” with like 3 restaurants and that’s it. Hmm, that was a little too desert like for both of us. The next town was 10 miles driving and a little too strip-mall heavy. I wasn’t thrilled when we got there.
The school itself is beautiful but they all start to look very similar, red brick buildings with white pillars and grass green with students sitting and hanging out on grass. Ha, not here as they were actually all gone so the campus was incredibly empty – it was literally just us there and 6 people in the Inn which was pretty upscale for the only hotel around. The school itself though presented themselves in a very personable and focused way. The head of admissions met everyone 1:1 and pitched a very “international” plus global curriculum. Lucas’s comment was “well, given they are in nowhere, they have to pitch you can actually study elsewhere” – on point but their study abroad and dual programs with over 100 schools worldwide sounded awesome. 2 years here and 2 years abroad sounded great to me. No tour, besides our own walk around – again some pretty cool premises and global center with Slovak flag 🙂
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
I was personally excited about this one as I have never been and always heard from alums how much they loved it. Big school, similar vibe to Georgia but much nicer and smaller town/downtown and the tour was walking which made it “look” smaller and cozier. Much much diverse crowd amongst the prospective students, all the way from Chicago, AK, Texas and NY. Only school where we saw a model of a dorm which helped. If I could read Lucas’s expressions because that’s all I got – then I think UNC was a winner as he asked for a T-shirt and they had McDonald’s – so score. But how can one tell with such an expressive teenager?
I kind of wish I was going to school again – the resources, opportunities, choice are unbelievable. When I went to college, you had to decide what you will be and it was a choice of 4 – doctor, business, lawyer or engineer. Our gym was an old building that leaked, dining hall was non existent. But – I also didn’t pay 50-80K p.a. for tuition. In fact, I paid nothing for undergrad – so I get it, resources and options cost money. However, I am not sure that in today’s world, degrees in comms or philosophy or English are worth quarter million. Something is seriously wrong with these price tags. Are these kids actually employable after 4 years – do they have the skills we need or just degrees with lots of fanfare?
Net net, I think we didn’t make too much of a progress – he still wants to do something “international” like living in a van and travel through Europe – which actually reminds me of myself 30 years ago – something so I can travel. There you have it – after all this we may as well just ship him off to Asia where can wonder around and figure out life.
Thanks for the tours! Very different from Midwest collegiate experience. My college roommate was a professor at Elon before retirement, so that was fun to see! Best of luck on this next chapter.
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