• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.


College Tours, from the Other Side

Seeking advice.


July 12, 2017

This one is a shameless cry for help.

The Boy will start his junior year of high school this Fall. He’s thinking about colleges. He wants to be pre-med, and he wants a biggish or huge school at least a few hours from central Jersey. (“I want to avoid the drop-in,” as he puts it.) He has come up with a few frontrunners, though we both fully expect his list to change.

We’re thinking about doing first visits to a few of the early contenders this summer. I’m thinking a smallish number of early visits will accomplish several things:

  • He’d get a three-dimensional image of each place, along with a feel for its vibe. Colleges that look similar on paper can feel very different in person. Starting early enough that it’s still low-pressure may allow for that.
  • The whole enterprise might start to feel a bit more real. Some of the places he has named are relatively selective; if he really likes them, that can provide some useful motivation when the winter blahs set in.
  • At this point, an excuse for some quality father/son time over a long weekend is a very good thing. He only has a couple more years in the house full-time. And for whatever reason, some of our best conversations occur when we’re looking at the inside of a windshield.

All of that said, he’s the oldest, and I haven’t been on college tours since I was in high school. I imagine it’s a very different experience as a parent.  It can’t not be. 

Wise and worldly readers, I’m guessing that many of you have done the college tour as a parent. Having been through it from this side, do you have any suggestions for what I should do? Should I go on the tours with him, or leave him alone on them? What did you find helpful?



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