Mass. College Visits

Aug 25th, 2009, 12:49 PM
  #1  
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Mass. College Visits

We most likely will be spending part of our spring break touring some of the Massachusetts colleges that my son is considering. More specifically, we'd like to look at Williams, Amherst and Bowdoin possibly. (I know Bowdoin is in Maine but we may try to get up there as well.) We would be coming from B'ham, Alabama and I am wondering if anyone has suggestions for which airport and which route would be best. I have a feeling this will most likely be a 5 day trip for us. We may also try to see Williams and Amherst over a long weekend in the fall or late spring.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks so much!
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Aug 25th, 2009, 01:38 PM
  #2  
HKP
 
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If you can get the right connections, you will find that Bradley Airport (north of Hartford) is very convenient and cheaper - esp. if you figure in the lower car rental cost compared to renting a car from Logan Airport. Portsmouth NH is less convenient unless that makes the most sense re: your preferred airport.

Bowdoin is a hike from western Mass. - probably not a day trip for you, will need an overnight - but it'll be a pretty drive.

A little confused re: timing. Are you asking NOW re: next spring? Is your son a Jr. or a Senior? Fall is lovely, but if you go to Mass. before Oct.15 or so, leaf-peeping may fill up motels.
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Aug 25th, 2009, 03:30 PM
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When we visited Williams and Amherst, we were told most of the students at Williams at least fly into and out of Albany. Bradley (Hartford) is more convenient to Amherst. So I guess either would work.
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Aug 25th, 2009, 03:33 PM
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We go to Georgetown, Maine which is about 30-40 minutes from Brunswick, ME.and we fly into Manchester, NH or into Portland, ME. Manchester is a little over 2 hours from Brunswick and Portland around an hour. Lower fares are offered by SWA into Manchester from BWI.

This year we drove from the Berkshires in Mass to Georgetown and made it in about 5 hours...long day but definitely doable for us. We took the Mass turnpike and then meandered a bit up the Southern ME coast. Going from ME to Amherst would be a bit closer. U could look into flying out or into Albany, NY.

It is beautiful up that way.
yestravel is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 04:14 PM
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My daughter went to Hampshire College, also in Amherst. As sf said, most students there use Bradley in Hartford. One of the advantages of that airport is that it's serviced by Southwest. And, of course, it's the closest airport.
CAPH52 is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 05:43 PM
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How far is Birmingham, Alabama from Atlanta? The reason I ask is that Delta has three flights per day to Portland, Maine from Atlanta. Air Tran offers one. From Portland, I think there is door-to-door ground transportation available to Bowdoin College, but check with admissions.

For Amherst area colleges, there is a shuttle service available back and forth to both the Amtrak station in Springfield, Mass ( about 40 minutes, depending on other pickups and traffic) and Bradley Airport in Hartford. Again, if you check with admissions at the college, they should be able to give you the exact details.

Finally, just a little bit of advice from a mom who's just finished the college search with her kids. Don't try to pack too many colleges into a few days. All of the campuses start to blur and the kids lose their focus and feel for what each place is really like. I know it's difficult especially since you're coming from Alabama, but you might be better off making two separate trips. Good luck!!
Weadles is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 04:59 AM
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Yes, son is Junior who is a x-country and track athlete so he has very few weekends in the fall and spring open to visit schools. I think all the advice is good and we will probably just try and visit Williams and Amherst in one long weekend trip and maybe if he wants to see Bowdoin, we'll do that in a sep. trip. over the summer.
Thanks again for all the good advice.
PScott is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 05:23 AM
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Not taking into consideration air costs or connections - you could fly into Portland Maine or Manchester, NH. See Bowdoin. Drive from there to Amherst (about 4 hours) and then onto Williams (another couple of hours) and then fly out of Albany. By doing it that way you have a 3-4 day trip. And I know people will jump all over me for saying too much in too little time - but the realities of schedules sometimes makes that necessary, as it did with us.

If just Williams and Amherst, then fly into Albany - see Williams early the next day. Drive to Amherst same day. See Amherst that afternoon and fly home - and it might even make sense time wise to drive to Boston/Logan from Amherst for flight for cost and frequency of flights. You could then do trip in 2 1/2 to 3 days.

HOWEVER - this college thing has a way of growing like a gigantic time and money eating monster. Since there are so many colleges in the Amherst area (nothing but cows and beautiful scenery near Williams) and many more in Boston try to extract from your son a realistic list so you are not flying across the country 5 times.
gail is online now  
Aug 26th, 2009, 05:27 AM
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One other thought - you are going to have to do some serious balancing between time and money for these trips. Amtrak, college shuttles, and mini-airports may save some money - but at the trade off of time. Sounds like you are going to have serious time constraints, so take that into consideration when planning these trips.

Final thought - if you are making trip in fall you are going to have to do battle with foliage-seekers for hotels.
gail is online now  
Aug 26th, 2009, 05:55 AM
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gail, you could be right about Logan in terms of frequency of flights (particularly if Southwest doesn't fly into Birmingham). However, my daughter always had much better luck with Bradley. As others have pointed out, it's much faster/easier getting there (if I recall correctly, 30 to 45 minutes as opposed to two hours to Logan or an hour and a half to Albany) and flight frequency was never a problem. Because Southwest serves both Bradley and Midway, she always had lots of choices and, usually, very good prices. The one time she flew in/out of Logan (because she was flying with a friend from home who attended BU), it was much more of a hassle. All of her friends (one from Florida, one from Seattle and places in between!) seemed to use Bradley as well.
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Aug 26th, 2009, 07:07 AM
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My daughter is a college senior and she says that most of her friends use Bradley rather than Logan unless they are going out west or to an international destination not served by Bradley.
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Aug 26th, 2009, 07:39 AM
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<<<(nothing but cows and beautiful scenery near Williams)>>>

Which is why my son ended up not going there! (Nothing against cows and beautiful scenery, he just couldn't wrap his arms around the fact that it was so small and so isolated).

By the way, you can fly from Bradley even out west (we just did it last week), just not non-stop.
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Aug 26th, 2009, 07:49 AM
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Thanks again for all the good advice. Have decided to try and only hit Williams and Amherst this fall and Bowdoin in late spring if we can swing it!
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Aug 26th, 2009, 10:54 AM
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yk
 
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Which is why my son ended up not going there! (Nothing against cows and beautiful scenery, he just couldn't wrap his arms around the fact that it was so small and so isolated).

I'd take Williamstown over New Haven any day. My DH survived 4 years in Williamstown and he turned out okay.
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Aug 26th, 2009, 11:47 AM
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By the way, Southwest is now flying into Logan.
lady_di is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 12:04 PM
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Gail has a good suggestion. Where you fly into for college tours doesn't need to have much to do with where your son flies into as a student.

I am going to suggest that spring and fall in New England are going to give a family from Birmingham a very warped idea of what it is like here.

We moved here 30 years ago last week from Oxford, Mississippi, and we will never leave, but I think you need to see it in January or February to see whether he will be happy. It won't conflict with track, and he can visit Bates and Colby easily at the same time he visits Bowdoin. I am familiar with all these schools from professional contacts, and they are all wonderful. Just very different in February than in October. If you can't come in winter, try to come in April. Everything is in bloom in Birmingham, and nothing is in bloom in most of these places.
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Aug 26th, 2009, 12:40 PM
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Um, all the seasons come and go. Winter isn't year-round in Mass., although southerners sometimes seem to think so. If the weather and the absence of flowers were going to be a determining factor for PScott's son, I'd assume he wouldn't even think about these three New England schools.
HKP is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 12:45 PM
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Beat me to it, HKP. I was just going to say that fall and spring can be glorious in Mass., and that's two seasons right there. It's true that Feb. is when winter can really getcha down, but that's why you go home or to a warm place for a break.
JJ495 is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 01:00 PM
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Williams College spends most of January observing "Study Period". I'm not sure what they're studying, since final exams for first term are before Christmas and second term starts after February 1. I suspect there are a lot of off-campus special projects.

http://www.williams.edu/registrar/calendars/08-09.html
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Aug 26th, 2009, 01:09 PM
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<<>>

Ha Ha! (But this was undergrad, and he ended up at Stanford, in metropolitan, and warm, Palo Alto!). And for the record, we LOVED every bit of Williams and Williamstown, and wouldn't have been one bit sorry if he'd chosen Williams.
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