Ivy League College Tour

Mar 16th, 2012, 01:43 PM
Original Poster
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Ivy League College Tour

Taking high school son to visit colleges in the Ivy League. Flying into and out of Boston (already set) then driving and would like to visit Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, Princeton, Penn, and Brown and then back to Boston to fly home. Any suggestions on which order to see these in? Places to stay overnight? Restaurants that are a do not miss along the route? We will be pretty much driving and touring colleges and not much else as we only have one week. Leaving in a few weeks. Help me! Thanks
moo is offline  
Mar 16th, 2012, 02:38 PM
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I guess I'd probably start with Penn, then Princeton, then Yale. Then head back to Boston and do day trips for Brown and Dartmouth.

I personally think it's way too much ground to cover in a week, not sure how meaningful any of the visits will be, they might all run together at some point.
wyatt92 is offline  
Mar 16th, 2012, 02:42 PM
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We've eaten in Al Forno every time in Providence (we were very sad after graduation!). They have parking and don't take reservations. Go on the early side, but check first in case policy changed. Everything is delicious, but consider the crostata for dessert. It needs to be ordered up front because it is baked for you while you're eating your dinner.

Enjoy the trip.
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Mar 16th, 2012, 02:45 PM
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wyatt92 makes a very good point. Any schools we visited when my kids were tired or saw too much, they ultimately did not like.
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Mar 16th, 2012, 03:05 PM
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How much time do you have? You are seeing too many schools for one trip. Save Princeton and Penn, maybe Yale for another trip.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Mar 16th, 2012, 03:48 PM
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Way too many schools in one week and not enough time to actually see what they are like. Have you contacted the schools to find out what programs and tours they have available, when they do them and how long they take. You won't have any time to sit in on classes, get a feeling for the campus area/town they are in (New Haven is a completely different world from Boston).

And the way you describe it - it sounds as if your son is a piece of luggage you are taking along for the ride - rather than that he has a strong interest in any of these schools. Does he know what sort of major he wants? How well will these schools fit with his needs and his interests?

Finally, I know nothing about your son - and perhaps his grades, course work and SAT scores mean that he will be an automatic admission at all of these schools. But - if there is any chance that he doeesn't fall into that category - it would make sense for him to look at some of the many other excellent schools in the area you visiting. (Even though my daughters ended up being admitted to their top choice schools we definitely looked at other options along the way - just to give them some perspctive.)

If it were me I would stick to New England, make real in-depth visits to the schools you visit, and do include a couple of non-ivies.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 16th, 2012, 03:53 PM
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How about:
Day 1 Harvard, night in Boston or Cambridge.
Day 2 North to Dartmouth; return to Boston.
Day 3 South to Providence, visit Brown; stay in CT near Yale.
Day 4 Visit Yale, another night in CT.
Day 5 Drive approx 3.5 hours to Princeton.
Day 6 South to Philadelphia, visit UPenn.

You are now at least a 6 hour drive from Boston -- how about changing your flight to just fly home from Philly, or maybe getting a commuter flight back to BOS?
capxxx is offline  
Mar 16th, 2012, 04:11 PM
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I agree, that's too many schools to see in one week. And you know how difficult it is to get into those schools? Are you setting him up for disappointment?

Some people, like our kids, decided to apply for all their dream schools. Then, IF they got in, we visited the schools, and our student would spend the night on campus in a dorm with another student, to get the BEST and truest look into campus life.
PeaceOut is offline  
Mar 16th, 2012, 07:23 PM
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Whoa--tough crowd here today. Next time you should just pose the question as the "traveling salesman problem": say "I have to be in Boston, Hanover, Providence, New Haven, Princeton Philadelphia and back to Boston, how can I do this most efficently". Leave out any mention of ivy league schools or a son, or anything else!!

I assume that you are coming from another part of the country and may or may not have the opportunity to come back to the east coast with or without your son anytime soon
Wyatt92's suggestion is what I would choose. If you are equally interested in all the locations and there's no specific date that you have to be at any specific school,get the longest part of the drive done first. What time of the day are you arriving? Can you drive straight to the Philly area? It is as mentioned about a 6 hour drive, so if you're arriving late, just try to get as far as New Jersey. You can always drive the last hour or two in the morning. You decide if you'd rather check in and out of hotels each night, or try to stay between pairs of schools and have to drive a little to both.
Philadelphia and Princeton are about 50 miles apart you can stay in between them.
Next go to New Haven and afterwards drive towards Providence(100 miles). That evening continue driving to stay overnight on the way to Hanover. You won't be that close to Hanover, but sometimes just getting an hour closer to the destination makes all the difference. Next morning drive to Hanover (a couple of hours and then come back towards Boston, possibly staying a second night at the hotel between Providence and Boston. Last day you can go into Boston.

You will have some really busy days, but also some leisure time.

Ist day/night: arrive in Boston, drive to Central NJ Between Princeton and Philly)
2nd day Drive to Penn, Leisure time in Philly and back to another night at same NJ hotel
3rd Day. Drive to Princeton U, visit and then drive toward New Haven for overnight.
4th day Visit Yale, then drive to Providence and visit Brown. After visits, drive toward southern NH to get somewhat closer to Hanover.
5th day Visit Dartmouth, see some of the area (NH amd VT), and return back to same hotel OR go straight to Boston Hotel
(long day if driving all the way back to Boston)
6th day after staying in same hotel in southern NH (or starting out in Boston already), drive to Harvard. Still have some leisure time in Boston . Also, you have the shortest drive to the airport at the end. That will sound good after an exhausting week!
nyer is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 01:51 AM
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Visit Harvard by subway. There is nowhere to park.

Don't pick up the car until you are ready to leave Boston for Dartmouth, though you can take a bus quite easily and not have to rent a car at all.

Providence, New Haven, Princeton, and Philadelphia are all best reached by train. Amtrak stops within a few blocks of all the campuses you want to visit except for Princeton, where you change to a shuttle train into town ("Princeton Junction, change for Princeton" is the eternal call of the conductor).

With some planning, you could take the bus to Dartmouth and get a train from White River Junction to New Haven and on from there south.

Why public transportation: (1) this is an exhausting trip with heavy traffic on all but the Hanover legs and much city driving. On the train, you can relax, nap and see the countryside. (2) none of these institutions permit freshmen and perhaps any undergrads to have cars, so this is how your son is going to be getting around if he becomes a student. Is this acceptable to you or him?

I wouldn't be discouraged by the comments on the difficulty of getting in to these schools. They are essentially impossible to get into by any rational standard, but I have known people who got into Harvard and Yale, certainly, who did not get into their safety schools. These schools get so many applications that every freshman could be her/his high school valedictorian.

Aneccdotally but never quite denied, if admission were based on grades alone, every single freshman at Harvard and MIT would be Asian American. They don't want that. They are looking for a mix of backgrounds, skills, talent and racial and economic diversity.

Good grades and test scores won't get you in, but less than perfect grades and scores won't keep you out if you have the ability to profit from their programs. It is a complete tossup as to whether anyone gets in -- unless the parents are alums who can donate a building or an endowed professorship! So go for it!
Ackislander is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 04:07 AM
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Depending on how you feel about driving, you could do the southern part of the trip by train. After arrival in Boston, take a train to New Haven and taxi to Yale. Train to Philadelphia (Amtrak.com for both), rent a car there and see Penn and Princeton. This should take half the trip.

Then train back to Boston. Brown is a nice day trip. You could do Dartmouth as a day trip by car - it is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Boston, but staying overnight might be a bit more reasonable. I would highly advise against trying to do Dartmouth by public transportation - we have family in that area who do not drive and public transit options are not that great. Harvard is a subway ride from Boston. When we did college trips, where to eat was not even a thought - a lot of time we were so exhausted that someplace quick near hotel was what we did.

You can certainly do this is a week. Be aware "leaving in a few weeks" - it will matter exactly when. Traffic over Easter/Passover weekend could be heavy. The Boston Marathon/Patriots Day is M 4/16 and traffic, hotels, etc will be a challenge that weekend - and somewhat the following week as it is public school vacation week in MA and ME.

As a parent who made our last tuition payment for Kid #2 three months ago, I know that each family/each kid shops for colleges in their own way. And as an alumni interviewer for one of the mentioned colleges, I can guarantee that Ackislander is incorrect about GPAs and ethnicity is incorrect. You obviously know that all these colleges are elite and deny admission to many qualified students each year - including many high school valedictorians. But congratulations on having a kid who can consider admission to these schools and good luck on the process.
gail is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 04:39 AM
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"...if admissions were based on grades alone, every single freshman at Harvard and MIT would be Asian-American." I'd call that a quite a bit of hyperbole, among other things!

"Good grades and test scores won't get you in..." Perhaps so, at least not automatically, but without them, your chances are kind of slim.
HowardR is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 04:50 AM
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I don't see Cornell or Columbia on the list. Do you or your son have some problem with universities with names that begin in "C"?
Fra_Diavolo is online now  
Mar 17th, 2012, 07:20 AM
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I am not going to get into a flame war, but some of you have very unrealistic ideas about academic admissions. Harvard has admitted at least one convicted murderer, and all these schools will admit someone with 1200 SATs if they see something they want.

When I was involved with Med School admissions, we turned down a candidate with perfect MCAT scores because he was an arrogant jerk. None of us would have allowed him to treat one of our children, and that was our Gold Standard. Did he get in somewhere else? No doubt. Maybe he even grew up.
Ackislander is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 07:57 AM
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"Aneccdotally but never quite denied, if admission were based on grades alone, every single freshman at Harvard and MIT would be Asian American." wow
PeaceOut is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 08:33 AM
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I agree with others that you are trying to see a lot of schools in one week and it might be better to try to narrow down the choices. That way your son can get a better idea of the campuses and towns/cities where the schools are located. If you want to go on tours of the schools these are typically offered once in the morning, once in the afternoon.

Does your son have any sense of whether he wants to be in a big city or smaller city? Ideal size of the school?

i am sure you know that there are very good schools that are not in the Ivy League

For specific places to stay (and without knowing anything about how much you want to spend) I would recommend the Sheraton in University City for Penn and the Charles Hotel in Cambridge for Harvard.
Vttraveler is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 08:43 AM
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The point is, Ackislander, that the examples you give are hardly the norm. I'll still bet my money on a combination good grades, good SAT scores and some quality intangibles.
HowardR is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 09:26 AM
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Don't let the naysayers get you down. My parents and I did a similar college tour when I was in high school but for schools in Virginia and North Carolina. I had no intention of applying to all of the schools, but we had a great time seeing all those schools we'd always heard about. In fact, we still talk about how much fun we had on the trip, and our impressions of the schools. I knew I wasn't going to get into UVA, but does that mean we all didn't enjoy the campus tour, and seeing those old buildings on the quad that UVA made into "status" apartments for students? Not at all.

And my parents made me plan the whole trip. i'm sure I consulted them when finalizing our schedule, but I mapped out all the schools, figured how long it was between them. Called the schools and found out when they had tours, and made arrangements.

We didn't have hotel rooms for most of the trip, and made reservations in a lot of the towns when we got there. We usually asked the admissions office where we should stay. We also didn't overplan restaurants. Granted this was all pre-internet.

Those schools I was interested in, I did go back and spend a weekend at later.

So go for it!
williamscb13 is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 10:10 AM
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It's true that all of these schools are difficult to get into - but none of them admit applicants that are not qualified academically. But they do look for other factors. They try to have at least a fair mix of students in a lot of ways - which is why it is easier to get into these schools if you come from somewhere other than the northeast - since they get SO many applicants from the NE yuo can get in with lower grades and scores from other parts of the country. Also realize that "heritge" is given seom weighting in the acceptance process (I don;t man ethnicity - I mean other family members having attended and succeeded there).

I wasn;t trying to be discouraging - or disparage the student - I just think that sometimes people don;t consider enough different choices. And to me, lookin at nothing but ivies, sounds more ike parental aspirations than a realistic look at what the student wants to get out of their education.

Also - if all of these schools - why not Columbia too?
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 17th, 2012, 10:23 AM
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I think you've had some good logistical advice but if I were doing the trip, I'd land in Boston and go right to Dartmouth.

Day three, drive to Penn and day four tour Penn and Princeton. Day five drive to Yale, day six, drive to Brown and then to Boston, and turn in the car. Leave late enough on day seven to tour Harvard, and go over there on night 6 to walk around and become familiar with the area.

You can tweak this schedule depending on which schools where you may want to spend more time.

It's a busy week, and you may want to check on busses and trains, though that would give you less flexibility.
cw is offline  

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