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College tour questions: Notre Dame, Carnegie-Mellon, & RPI
Old 06-19-2007, 08:01 PM   #1
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College tour questions: Notre Dame, Carnegie-Mellon, & RPI

Our kid has a couple weeks off before 10th grade so next month we're taking a college trip. Our only parental goals are to show her that the U.S. Naval Academy is not the nation's only institute of higher learning and that it's good to have a plan "B". Her goal is to humor us in our mistaken beliefs, especially if there'll be side trips to Mainland shopping malls.

This will be good practice for everyone, and it's amazing how quickly the calendar fills up. We want to get a head start on helping her work through her USNA infatuation before she feels obligated to do it. (Maybe she'll find a new infatuation.) I'm not a big fan of traveling during Christmas vacation, especially with crowds & winter airport delays. Spring & fall breaks are only a week or two and always full of reading lists & science projects. Next summer might be a school trip abroad or a sports camp or a college trip to a different part of the country. She wants to spend a couple weeks after junior year at USNA's Summer Seminar. Suddenly we realized that we needed to start looking around now!

She's seeking smaller campuses with engineering degrees, NROTC units, and women's basketball teams. Environmental engineering is the flavor of the month but she's also interested in civil, aero, & mechanical. Considering the size of the Notre Dame football team's defensive line, I was surprised to learn that the school is "only" 8500 students, and that's probably as big as she's willing to go.

The logistics have been pretty straightforward. Each college offers a group brief with a tour. Since she's not a senior she's not able to shadow a student or to stay overnight in a dorm (even if classes were in session). She's e-mailed some alumni (family friends) for their wisdom. Over the next couple weeks she's going to build her list of questions and swap e-mail with the Admissions offices to see if she can talk to engineering profs/students or NROTC staff. We've left an extra day on the schedule in each town for more visits/activities or just to be tourists.

I don't think I have any parent questions-- if she's happy and committed then any of them are worthy of the college fund. I'll be collecting the usual FAFSA paperwork and listening for the Admissions staff to let slip their worries. And like any teen, we also need to make sure she listens to what they say instead of what she's expecting to hear.

Anyone have any lessons learned from a college trip? Anything else we should be doing before we go? Anything you wish you'd done differently or skipped altogether?
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Old 06-19-2007, 08:51 PM   #2
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Nords......

Went through this exercise two years ago. My son ended up at a private school with about 5,500 undergraduates.

I think your student needs to visit a number of schools and ask the question..."Can I see/picture myself here?" Once she narrows the choices down, she should visit again. We visited schools with a range of 2,000 to 50,000 students. Some had a nice leafy campus and some looked like the barracks I stayed in during my ROTC days.

Secondly, by all means, speak to students and profs. Many open house events include break out sessions with respect to the various majors. Great opportunity to learn more about the program of interest. This is what sold my son on his choice.

BTW, the son of a good friend graduated from RPI with a degree in material sciences. Hired by Boeing after a telephone interview. Worked on the space shuttle for a while in FLA and is now in Washington State with Boeing. Of course, not sure a warm weather person would like to spend winters in upstate New York, but RPI is a highly regarded engineering school.
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Old 06-19-2007, 09:10 PM   #3
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Two views on this.

1) A friend of mine takes a very pragmatic approach. He says there are a million random, uncontrollable, unpredictable things that might determine whether they end up loving or hating the school they attend. The people on their floor, a roomate, a roomate's friend, a certain teacher, - endless list. None of those things can be determined by a visit. I think he has a point.

2) What I thought I observed (with my kids at least) was that little of what they learn on the visit was very significant, but just the fact that they were involved in the decision, and they were physically 'there' made an impression on them. 'Buy in' if you will.

Me, I'm checking out the cute college girls. Go during warm weather. Wear shades so the DW can't follow your gaze.

Everything else I need to know, I can get on-line.

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Old 06-19-2007, 09:13 PM   #4
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And now for something completely different: St. John's College
Located across from the Naval Academy in Annapolis and in
Santa Fe NM. Electives? Why?
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Old 06-19-2007, 10:45 PM   #5
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Looks like you have a great plan and she's very involved. I have just a couple of tips.

During the tours encourage her to walk up front with the student tour guide. They will usually chat informally while walking between stops and sometimes you can get a better feel from that on what they like and how that would apply to her.

Sounds like you are "pre-qualifying" schools, so a lot of the visit is to see if it feels like it could be a good home for 4 years. You just can't get that from the internet and brochures. It's kind of like buying a home. Be sure to eat at the cafeteria and hopefully you'll get a dorm tour.

Can she meet with the bball coaches? Not only do you want to see what the coach is like, but they can help with admissions.

Get her feedback after the visit is over, see what she liked and didn't like and whether those make sense. For example, "too hot" at South Bend in July won't apply for nearly all of the school year. Likewise construction will probably be toned down or stopped during school time too.

I've had a lot of fun touring schools with my incoming HS senior. We've got a couple "re-visits" this summer.
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Old 06-20-2007, 12:27 AM   #6
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And now for something completely different: St. John's College
Located across from the Naval Academy in Annapolis and in
Santa Fe NM. Electives? Why?


I have a son at St. John's University ! (daughter went to the girls school College of St. Benedict)

We went on the grand college tours over the years, about 20 schools! - Notre Dame was one - pretty campus very preppy coeds were dressed to the nines - some with short skirts & high heels!- we had a good time traveling and exploring together - can't say we learned that much more from the schools' presentations, than what we already knew from the web & materials in the mail. We went coast to coast, but ironically and thankfully all 3 of the kids ended up within 2 hours of home..would have been hard logistically I think moving the kids' belongings long distance and then getting them back and forth for the various breaks...
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Old 06-20-2007, 08:17 AM   #7
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I think Dan brought a good point about the logistics of getting them back and forth so look for proximity to an airport .
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Old 06-20-2007, 10:51 AM   #8
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After my niece toured some schools, I asked her why she preferred school A over school B. She said that the kids seemed friendlier at A. I realized that there's probably no difference in friendliness between the two schools, and her impression was probably influenced by the few kids she happened to interact with during her visit.

IOW, there's the potential that a kid's decision might be unduly influenced by some random experiences during the tour that really aren't relevant when choosing a school. So just be sure that DD realizes that.
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Not to be a downer, but....
Old 06-20-2007, 12:21 PM   #9
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Not to be a downer, but....

For your daughter's protection and your sanity, make sure you ask about the safety of the campus and the number of crimes reported. Schools have to publish an annual report every year by October 1st that contains 3 years worth of campus crime statistics and certain security policy statements including sexual assault policies which assure basic victims' rights, the law enforcement authority of campus police and where students should go to report crimes. Each school must disclose crime statistics for the campus, unobstructed public areas immediately adjacent to or running through the campus, and certain non-campus facilities including Greek housing and remote classrooms.
This information is generally rarely mentioned during the tour, but unfortunately, college campuses are becoming more reflective of the local communities -- with more serious crimes becoming more common. You can also visit this website http://www.securityoncampus.org/crimestats/index.html for statistics on more than 6000 colleges and universities.
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Old 06-20-2007, 12:34 PM   #10
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After my niece toured some schools, I asked her why she preferred school A over school B. She said that the kids seemed friendlier at A. I realized that there's probably no difference in friendliness between the two schools, and her impression was probably influenced by the few kids she happened to interact with during her visit.

IOW, there's the potential that a kid's decision might be unduly influenced by some random experiences during the tour that really aren't relevant when choosing a school. So just be sure that DD realizes that.
I chose my own school because the gorgeous tour guide paid attention to me, smiled and even winked at me and thought my questions were good ones......I think clever college admissions heads might choose guides with this in mind!
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Old 06-20-2007, 02:06 PM   #11
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I think your student needs to visit a number of schools and ask the question..."Can I see/picture myself here?" Once she narrows the choices down, she should visit again. We visited schools with a range of 2,000 to 50,000 students. Some had a nice leafy campus and some looked like the barracks I stayed in during my ROTC days.
We made that mistake at USNA. By the end of the week her butt was so firmly wedged into that culture that we needed to pry her out with a crowbar. So the expense of flying her all over the place will be worth putting some new pictures in her brain.

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1) A friend of mine takes a very pragmatic approach. He says there are a million random, uncontrollable, unpredictable things that might determine whether they end up loving or hating the school they attend. The people on their floor, a roomate, a roomate's friend, a certain teacher, - endless list. None of those things can be determined by a visit. I think he has a point.
2) What I thought I observed (with my kids at least) was that little of what they learn on the visit was very significant, but just the fact that they were involved in the decision, and they were physically 'there' made an impression on them. 'Buy in' if you will.
Totally agree on (1) but (2) seems to be more critical. When she wakes up on day #3 of where ever she decides to go, I want her to be able to say to herself "Well, my parents will just say that this was my damn decision, and they're right!"

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And now for something completely different: St. John's College
Located across from the Naval Academy in Annapolis... Electives? Why?
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I have a son at St. John's University!
I spent my fair share of time chasing around there. Not only is St. Johns a great school, it was written up by Loren Pope as one of the nation's top 40 "Colleges That Change Lives". I'd pay for that degree in a heartbeat. Unfortunately our little elitist elevated her nose at the thought of a mere liberal-arts education when she could be an engineer trained to break things & kill people.

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After my niece toured some schools, I asked her why she preferred school A over school B. She said that the kids seemed friendlier at A. I realized that there's probably no difference in friendliness between the two schools, and her impression was probably influenced by the few kids she happened to interact with during her visit.
IOW, there's the potential that a kid's decision might be unduly influenced by some random experiences during the tour that really aren't relevant when choosing a school. So just be sure that DD realizes that.
We talk about consumer & marketing psychology a lot. She's gonna be heartily tired of the subject by the end of this trip.

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Me, I'm checking out the cute college girls. Go during warm weather. Wear shades so the DW can't follow your gaze.
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very preppy coeds were dressed to the nines - some with short skirts & high heels!
Yes, I'm still wrestling with the psychological dichotomy of leering at college girls while I'm walking around with my teenage daughter. (While no doubt college boys are leering at her and my spouse.) But 18 years on Hawaii beaches has validated that shades are required equipment. Not that it'll protect me from my spouse-- even if I keep my eyes firmly in the boat she can smell the testosterone read my mind.

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Of course, not sure a warm weather person would like to spend winters in upstate New York, but RPI is a highly regarded engineering school.
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We went coast to coast, but ironically and thankfully all 3 of the kids ended up within 2 hours of home..would have been hard logistically I think moving the kids' belongings long distance and then getting them back and forth for the various breaks...
There's a firm sentiment that Hawaii kids have to get off the island to truly grow up-- and the colder the weather, the better they'll appreciate the experience. So our kid is welcome to take with her as much as she can carry-- not our problem!
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Old 06-20-2007, 03:15 PM   #12
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Structural, mechanical, electrical, aeronautical, civil and chemical engineers. Not to be forgotten are the electronic, software and materials science engineers. Does she know which? Employers really want to encourage women who are potential engineers, consider informational interviews at places that are doing the kind of work she thinks she would like to do. They will share with her the skills they are seeking and often comment on specific academic programs. Many of these engineering fields have societies for women.

Academic programs equal, applying to a school that doesn't see many HI applications would give her a leg up.
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Old 06-20-2007, 06:47 PM   #13
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Yes, I'm still wrestling with the psychological dichotomy of leering at college girls while I'm walking around with my teenage daughter.
Yep, there's a part of the brain that kinda scrunches up in conflict. But it's a transient thing, a couple of milliseconds at the most. I've trained myself to suppress it.

I think they can actually measure that kind of conflict in the brain these days - like when they flash the word 'ORANGE' on a screen, but the word is in the color GREEN. A part of your brain lights up.

Hey, like this - now, say the COLOR (not the word) out loud (it's easier if you take your shades off first):

ORANGE

BLUE

VIOLET



I guess that would be more fun if the words were tattooed on young college girls....
True, the shades won't fool the wife (as long as my heart is still ticking), but they just hate actually seeing you leer. It's a woman thing, I guess.

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Old 06-20-2007, 07:31 PM   #14
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Hi Nords
If you are coming up north I do recommend visiting Brown, dartmoth and mayone some of the schools in Boston. hey I can give you a tour of the city too :-) I am suggesting Brown, dartmoth because even though they are Ivy league schools I have friends who graduated from the colleges with a great engineering experience.

have fun
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Old 06-20-2007, 07:35 PM   #15
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There's a firm sentiment that Hawaii kids have to get off the island to truly grow up-- and the colder the weather, the better they'll appreciate the experience. So our kid is welcome to take with her as much as she can carry-- not our problem!
...worked for an Hawaiian company in the SF office...lots of co-workers in Hono had degrees from mainland schools - 2 went to school at Indiana - they were definitely looking for something completely different! Then there was the island fever syndrone - people really needed to get on a big piece of land perferrably once a year..as one said "I want to be able to drive long distances and not see big water or get stopped by it..."
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Old 06-20-2007, 08:38 PM   #16
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Nords

She sounds like a bright girl. How about medicine?
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Old 06-20-2007, 09:34 PM   #17
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Nords: "I spent my fair share of time chasing around there. Not only is St. Johns a great school, it was written up by Loren Pope as one of the nation's top 40 "Colleges That Change Lives". I'd pay for that degree in a heartbeat. Unfortunately our little elitist elevated her nose at the thought of a mere liberal-arts education when she could be an engineer trained to break things & kill people".

Yup. Me and the GI bill did, at the Santa Fe campus. Sure was humbling. There are a lot of really smart people in the world. Very fond memories of the school and meditating on stuff that I didn't think would affect me, like Euclid 3:16. A St. John's education does not preclude learning how to blow things up.
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Old 06-20-2007, 10:21 PM   #18
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... like Euclid 3:16.
Uh, yeah, sure, this stuff used to come up all the time at nuke power school, too!

For the benefit of the rest of the board, I looked it up.

When we were visiting Annapolis last summer we must've driven by St. Johns a dozen times enroute various USNA locations. Couldn't even get her to drive through the Johnnie's campus...
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Old 06-21-2007, 09:00 AM   #19
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when she could be an engineer trained to break things & kill people.
You say that like there's something wrong with it? :confused:

Seriously, the vast majority of the engineers I knew spent most of their careers building things and working on stuff to save lives (or at least trying
to enhance people's lives).

Of course, none of us ever passed up an opportunity to break stuff if it came along. And of course, we would design the 'breaking' to occur in the most dramatic way possible, given the resources at hand.

If the stuff was not supposed to be broken, well, then you hoped you were around when your colleague inadvertently blew the stuff up.


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A St. John's education does not preclude learning how to blow things up.
OK, I feel better now.

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Old 06-21-2007, 01:59 PM   #20
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You say that like there's something wrong with it? :confused:
20-some years later I'm still horrified by the personal memory of being ready to unleash 16 POSEIDON MIRVs on various [classified] locations if these alleged national command authorities would just make up their freakin' minds so that I could get a few hours' sleep before my next watch. Maybe everyone has to find their personal limits like that, but I'm hoping it's not necessary.

Our kid feels that since she's descended from two Navy veterans and since she already knows a lot of the culture & lingo that she should join the Navy. She proudly jokes that it would make her a three-time loser.

She has no freakin' idea.

We're trying to get her to understand that since she already "knows" the Navy stuff then there's no need to personally replicate our experiences to get her BTDT card. She keeps claiming "I can handle that" without questioning the need to handle anything like it in the first place.

But having dim testosterone-clouded memories of what I was like at that age, I've told her that if she's going to spend the rest of her life wondering "What if?" then she might as well apply to USNA. I think she'll have satisfied her curiosity by day #3 and she can get on with the rest of her life.

Or we can expose her to "real" colleges where she can stop wondering!
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