Big Road trip to visit colleges

Feb 11th, 2009, 02:03 PM
  #1  
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Big Road trip to visit colleges

My 17 yr old and I are going college viewing, heading out of Detroit to Baltimore, Princeton, Cambridge and then Philadelphia......any hints as I am the only one driving and we have only 5 days. Should I avoid turnpikes, is that even possible>? Is my route sensible, should I change my path?
thanks
elana
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Feb 11th, 2009, 02:11 PM
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Lordy, that's a lot of driving, like an average of 6 hours per day. You should rearrange it, do Baltimore, Philly, Princeton, then Cambridge, then get on the Massachusetts Turnpike heading west back towards home.
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Feb 11th, 2009, 02:27 PM
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yk
 
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When you say Cambridge, do you mean Cambridge, MASS?

The others, Baltimore, Princeton, and Philadelphia are "relatively" close to one another. You should be able to see those in 3 days. However, Cambridge Mass is hundreds of miles further north. You should consider doing that as a separate trip (ie, fly out there).

Do the 5 days include driving to/from Detroit? I'd say:
Day 1 driving from Detroit
Day 2 Baltimore
Day 3 Philadelphia
Day 4 Princeton
Day 5 drive home

Definitely use Interstates and Turnpikes, as they will be the fastest compared to smaller routes.
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Feb 11th, 2009, 02:58 PM
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yes we are driving from detroit to MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Penn, Johns Hopkins and then home...I will happily rearrange the order. Thanks so much for the input here! Any ideas of it being shorter through Canada perhaps?
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Feb 11th, 2009, 03:02 PM
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I should add we cannot skip visiting Harvard or MIT this trip, this is my only week off work and it coincides with her week off school and I have arranged child care for my 4 other kids, hubby is hanging with them, this road trip will be fun I hope, busy and filled with learning about where she may spend the next four years I cannot wait!
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Feb 11th, 2009, 03:22 PM
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If you don't have an "easy pass" to get through the tolls on the turnpikes and bridges you should get one before you go. It will make the trip much faster and no hunting for tolls. Make sure you have any appointments/campus tours arranged ahead of time . Best of luck to both of you.
emalloy is online now  
Feb 11th, 2009, 03:43 PM
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I have to ask the obvious--you're skipping a visit to Yale in New Haven?
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Feb 11th, 2009, 04:16 PM
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Why don't you wait until you see where she is admitted and then visit those schools. I did one of these college trips with my oldest one (although only in VA where we live) and found it to be pretty much a waste. It was much more focussed when we knew where she could go.

She was accepted at all the VA schools where she applied and went to William & Mary. Second time round with her brother, I handed him an early decision application to William & Mary and he went there too. Some of the Ivy Schools, while in my daughter's academic reach, were not in our family's financial reach.

William & Mary is, by the way, a state university in VA (not a private school). I have no regrets and, before running around all over, you would be financially better off take a hard look at your state universities. They can go to the Ivies for grad school if they are so inclined. Mine, by the way, were not so inclined.

The Ivies are not always the best places even if you do not consider the cost. I am, by the way, a product of both so I know the score.
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Feb 11th, 2009, 04:48 PM
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Some of the priciest schools also have the most financial aid to give out at their discretion. However, all of the named schools are extremely selective, admitting as few as 7 percent of applicants. One factor in admissions is the student's expressed interest in the school; if you visit, that goes in your record and is factored-in.
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Feb 11th, 2009, 04:52 PM
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Well, you either want to do what Anonymous suggested (Baltimore, Philadelphia, Princeton, Cambridge, then home) or the reverse (Detroit directly to Cambridge, then Princeton, then Philadelphia, then Baltimore, then home.

The Detroit-Cambridge leg will take you through Canada, yes. That's the most direct way to go, and also the longest drive.

Baltimore is so much further west than Cambridge that it doesn't make sense to backtrack.

So my suggestion would be to start in Cambridge -- get the longest drive out of the way first.

Are you thinking you would drive 12 hours in one day (Detroit-Boston)? That's a long day. But if you did it, you could leave Detroit early on Sunday, get to Boston Sunday night, visit schools on Monday, spend a second night. On Tuesday, get up and drive to Princeton. That is a difficult part of the trip to predict because there is simply no good way to get through Connecticut without running the risk of traffic problems. Therefore, I would think of it as a driving day. Get to Princeton late Tuesday afternoon and walk around to get a feel for the town and school. Visit the school Wednesday morning. I think it would be possible to see UPenn on Wednesday afternoon if you really tried, but you'd need to get an early start that morning. Spend Wednesday night in Philadelphia. Get up Thursday morning, drive to Hopkins (about an hour and a half), visit the school, and have a fun dinner in Baltimore. Friday, get up and drive to Detroit (about 9 hours).

That's actually six days total. I am trying to see how you could do it all in five, and I think it would be pretty tough.
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Feb 11th, 2009, 05:11 PM
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I know your schedule is super tight, but if your dd thinks she's really serious about any of the schools, you should schedule an appointment to meet a faculty member. When ds applied to the school that he's in, we were surprised to see on the app a place that asked what contacts have you had with the school. He was happy to include that meeting, some alums he spoke to, etc. rather than leave it blank. I visited all the schools on your list - all great choices - beware that some kids get so tired on these tours that they end up not liking a school simply because they're beat.
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Feb 11th, 2009, 05:13 PM
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Faculty member, of course, should be in her area of interest.
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Feb 11th, 2009, 05:58 PM
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Don't give up on the Ivies bec of $. They help alot if you cant do the $.
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Feb 11th, 2009, 07:09 PM
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The key to the Ivies is getting in. However, most kids don't. Any child can get an excellent education in a lot of different schools and should not have his/her heart set on one place. Sometimes they feel like a failure if they are rejected at their first choice school. As adults we know that is silly, but the kids feel the rejection and sometimes act as if their lives are over.

Many of the more select schools are going to be unable to sustain need blind admissions. I have to tell you that you don't learn 4 times as much at an Ivy school. You just pay 4 times as much. A whirlwind college tour really doesn't tell you much. If you take a tour, the child applying will like/dislike a school based on who the tour guide was and whether they "meshed". My personal belief, again, is wait until you see where your child is admitted and then, when you are making your final decision, then take a serious look at the 2-3 schools he is really considering.
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Feb 11th, 2009, 07:31 PM
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Another point that bears repeating is that the ivies don't cost "4 times as much" unless perhaps your family income is significantly more than $200,000.

http://www.fao.fas.harvard.edu/fact_sheet.htm
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Feb 11th, 2009, 07:40 PM
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I know you were just asking for driving suggestions, but you have gotten some good information about college visits as well. Having done this for each of my 2 children, I'll just add my 2 cents' worth...
1) Your schedule is pretty ambitious, but I can see that you may not have the luxury of taking numerous trips to visit colleges. By the end of the trip, all of the schools and their admissions requirements, etc. will seem like a blur, so I recommend that you take any material offered by the admissions office and take notes during the admission counselor's talk. They will actually give you information that will help your child's application that you might not later find online or in the handouts they give you. (For example, the school where my son was just accepted required a resume. The website did not go into details on what they wanted, but the admissions counselor advised those at the meeting to include EVERYTHING as they often picked up on things that interested them and made the student a more viable candidate for admission.) Your daughter might also want to take some photos during the college tour just to refresh her memory on how each school looked.
2) If your child has a particular major in mind, it's an excellent suggestion to schedule a visit with a faculty member, preferably the undergraduate advisor who can give a lot of good info on what courses are available in that subject and what kind of curriculum your child can expect. My eldest is a theatre major and we visited the theatre department at each school she was considering. It really helped her make up her mind on which offer of admission to accept.
3) Finally, this will be a stressful experience for both of you, so try to take it easy and have some fun along the way.
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Feb 11th, 2009, 08:20 PM
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The Virginia state universities are particularly "inexpensive" for in-state residents, far less than, for example, Berkeley or UCLA for a California resident (about a 2:5 ratio). So Harvard or the other Ivies' (or Stanford's, trust me) tuition and fees ARE about 4X those of William and Mary (before taking financial aid into account), but not even 2X the cost of a California state university.

When our son was a high-school senior, we visited the schools he had either been admitted to or at which he was wait-listed. It was a very useful exercise at that point. For law school (for which he is now in the process of applications/acceptances), he's not even looking until all the acceptances are in -- he'll go to the admit weekends for the schools that he's accepted to that he's most interested in.
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Feb 12th, 2009, 01:05 AM
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sf7307 - on the other hand, it's very different applying when you're 17 or 18; kids need to see the campus (if at all possible) and the students and talk to faculty. And if you want to apply early, you must visit schools. One son of mine went to a state school (out of state) and the other to an Ivy. Each went to the right school for them and they feel that way too. My son is also waiting to hear from grad schools and also will not visit unless he's admitted; and he'll only visit if he's admitted and offered funding - a very different situation from undergrad. Didn't your ds go to Stanford?

eswmom - your dd sounds like a strong student and, imo, you should be looking at a lot of choices for her. The fact that she has four younger siblings will strengthen her position to get some aid.
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Feb 12th, 2009, 02:33 AM
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You are all a wealth of information! Thanks so very much for it all! My daughter is dual enrolled in high school now and at the University of Chicago, the only school thus far she has not been guaranteed acceptance to is MIT as they do not make an early decision. All of the Ivy leaugues would cost us next to nothing as compared to our own University of Michigan.....they offered her no aid other then what we received based on the fasfa forms so as far as money goes this is one kid who thankfully does not have to be concerned about paying for college, we have been blessed with her acceptance and offers of aid to make the only decision we are faced with as to which school. Right now Princeton ranks first as they offer an exceptional science program that is unique.She is majoring in biological sciences with a specific interest in RNA, on the driving issue I am giving myself the Friday and the weekend as a buffer. I am also considering making MIT a longer stay as we have Harvard on that visit as well. Her MIT appointment is for a personal tour as well as an interview since she has not been accepted and if they offer for her to stay overnight we will certainly accept. You are all very helpful, thanks so very much and as for Yale, while we love the campus surroundings the program they have does not offer what she is seeking for her program of study.
I have an Easy Pass for Illinois/Indiana as we drive to Chicago frequently, I have no idea if this pass is the same? I guess I need to do more research eh? I planned for five days by choice, I have never left my little ones before and my husband while capable cannot replace me, lol in truth everyone will be fine, I just prefer to be here with everyone together, this daughter is not my oldest I have one a who is a junior at Central Michigan already so this is my second college go around only on a totally different scale. Sorry to keep rambling but as recent as last year 2008 the ivy league now have a zero loan graduation program, student enrolling for 2010 fall will not have to take any student loans to cover costs outside of the families expected contribution based on the fafsa, this program makes it possible for kids to enroll who otherwise could only dream, if this holds true then my daughter could attend these schools for less than community college here at home!
Again thanks for all of this she and I will post more about this and I am really looking forward to sharing this trip with her
thanks
esw
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Feb 12th, 2009, 04:18 AM
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I'm not sure about your Easy Pass but the one we got in Massachusetts is good for the whole east coast, so you're probably ok with it but it will really save you time and aggravation in the Mass. to NJ part of the trip. Sometimes there is a real back up at the pay booths.
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