College tours

by Sheep Farmer

DD and I recently spent a cold and windy Saturday touring UVA. The tour and information session are both led by UVA students. I was disappointed with both, especially considering the reputation of UVA. We first went to a general information session. The UVA two students leading the presentation were frequently not able to answer basic questions posed by the parents (and almost all the questions came from the parents). We then went on a walking tour of the campus which was led by a different student. Instead of giving us new information, he just basically repeated what was said in the earlier talk. What new information he did give focused on the social aspects of the college. The guide spent ten minutes talking about the tradition of streaking across the lawn. Personally, I would much rather have heard him talk more about academics and less about silly college pranks.

This was only our third college tour, so I am definitely not an expert on the subject . The tour that has impressed me the most was at WPI. The session was led by staff from both the admission and financial aid offices. They were able to answer every question from the audience. I liked the fact that they gave information concerning average starting salaries for their graduates, what percentage have jobs already lined up by graduation, etc. I realize that UVA is much larger and has many more majors than WPI, but UVA still could have managed to give us some of this same information.

For those of you who have already been on college tours, what schools impressed both you and your kids the most?


212 thoughts on “College tours

  1. Also, any recommendations of colleges/universities to check out in the Midwest? DD would like to go somewhere outside of WA State. I’m thinking she might have a bit of a geographic edge at places in the Midwest (as opposed to places in CA which I’m sure gets tons of applicants from the Pacific Northwest).

  2. If wpi means Worcester polytechnic Institute, I can’t praise it enough. A friend has two sons there. The older one is in the world class robotics program and was cold called for a civilian job interview that went very well for work a service branch facility in Newport RI

  3. More than one totebagger would recommend Carleton college in Minnesota. Do you think she is prepared for Midwestern winters

  4. I thought one of the main benefits of college tours was to get a good sense of the vibe, both campus and surrounding area. Plus to interact with students.

    For example, at one college it was clear that most students were of a certain type, what my kid considered too bland. This school was near to and on the train line to a major city, but when the tour guide said one of the things they did for fun was go to the local mall and eat at Cheesecake Factory, my kid knew this was not the ideal school for him.

    We started visiting colleges about when our oldest started high school. At first we just stopped by random colleges whenever we traveled, getting a tour if we had the time.

  5. @SSM: What Meme said. :-)

    “but when the tour guide said one of the things they did for fun was go to the local mall and eat at Cheesecake Factory, my kid knew this was not the ideal school for him.”

    This made me laugh out loud.

    Then I realized that it is *exactly* what DD would like to do. . . .

  6. (caveat — I am really down on the college admissions industrial complex; I still believe pick school(s) with your major that are big enough in case you change your mind, that are in places you’d like to live, apply, get in, then compare by going to 2 or 3 accepted students days)

    My biggest recommendation for everyone is to go on tours of colleges where you live that are all different: small private, research level private, large public/research, small public/non-research. This can give a general feel of what type of school your kid likes and since they’re close by little out of pocket to do this initial look.

    I have been on a lot of tours so going from memory and only in the general order of oldest to youngest kid:
    La Salle (Philly) – info session, meh, tour GREAT. Two students (guys) who were very into video and showed off some of their work when we got to the video production lab on the tour. Both info session and tour played up the Philly connections of La Salle alumni and good job numbers for new graduates.
    St. Joseph’s (Philly) – PM of the same day as La Salle. This tour paled in comparison…tourguide wasn’t as good but the info session was better. They answered all the questions. DS was very high on this school, so seemed much more interested.
    Siena (Loudonville, NY) – info session and tour were rolled into one. Bad, and bad idea. Tourguide kind of waved off the science building “it’s over there; I never go in it since I’m a history major). We had a much better tour 3 months later from members of the baseball team when the coach showed interest in DS.
    Marist (Poughkeepsie, NY) – PM of same day as La Salle. Tour seemed to emphasize (1) though founded by a Catholic order, they are no longer affiliated and (2) comparing themselves to Skidmore. Nice campus. Lots of play on the ‘kinda close on the school-provided buses to NYC’.
    Niagara (Niagara Falls, NY) – small campus, quick tour. Answered all the questions; we’d been there many times over the 10 years before for youth ice hockey games, so actually knew our way around pretty well by then
    University of Rochester (Rochester, NY) – Admissions office clearly has its act together; professional presentation by full time staff and then a pretty polished tour from a student. All questions answered thoroughly.
    Rutgers (Main Campus) – good tour, but felt too large…taking buses for the tour rather than walking. They did a good job, but not his thing.
    Ohio University (Athens, OH) – good, and good communications afterward. He liked it a lot.
    University of Dayton – Kid 1 said ‘feels like the U of R’. I didn’t get that vibe. Kid 2 loved it; both info sessions and tours emphasized the # of kids who do study abroad (really study tours of 3-6 weeks in the summer are what most kids do, not full semesters or years), and community service by students. Good communications throughout.
    Fordham (Rose Campus, NYC) – good info and tour; questions answered. Nothing remarkable.
    St, John’s (Queens) – I don’t know where he got this one from, but it was ok. I think they did ok, but it was a day that was in the high 90s so everyone was miserable whenever we has to go outside, and there’s a lot of concrete there.
    UConn (Storrs, CT) – Probably the best organized. We were in a very large group and they made sure to answer all questions thoroughly. I felt it was time well spent.
    UMass (Amherst, MA) – Also done well. A lot of walking on a pretty spread out campus. They were very proud of the ‘tallest brick library in the country’ or some such. I remembered that from when I had visited a friend there when I was in college.
    One small private in our town “felt like it was lower-level than high school”
    Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) – probably #2 in quality and thoroughness of tour/info session. There were only 4 people on our tour, but the tourguide was very animated/excited about the school and really showed us everything. The dorm tour is separate if you want to do that.
    Michigan State (East Lansing, MI) – DS2 and I did an accepted students day here, so of course they did it very well. I liked it, but he chose another place.

    There are others…DW took the kid(s) on those.

  7. I did a lot of college tours about twenty years ago so not much to offer but I agree with CoC that the tour by students I think is more for the student to pick up the vibe/social life than for detailed questions about academics. I only looked at SLACs. I think this is because my mother and all her siblings (except for the one who went to Yale) went to SLACs and we lived in a small town and I did not want to go to a huge place. I did a good portion of the PA/Upstate NY SLAC tours. I remember liking Hamilton, loved Colgate, did not like Dickinson or Muhlenberg and loved Bucknell and Gettysburg. I also looked at Holy Cross and remember liking it but I wanted to get out of Massachusetts (and you know, broaden my horizons in rural Pennsylvania).

    I have a lot of friend and neighbors who went to UVA,. It’s like a cult, they loved it so much. My DH did a clerkship for a judge who went to UVA Law and he refers to it as “The University”. My cousin (who is a little wacky) looked at UVA (she was living in VA at the time) and thought it was way too preppy for her so she ended up at JMU. From the people I know who went there that is the vibe so I probably would have liked it.

  8. I’ve toured about 20 different colleges in the last several years, and sat through so many cookie-cutter information sessions I could create a bingo card of phrases:
    “We have x number of clubs. But if you can’t find one, you can start your own!”
    “Our library has inter-library loan!”
    Story about quirky campus tradition

    I was most impressed with the tour/information session given by Elon College in NC. Prospective students were asked to fill out a small index card when they arrived, with their names, hometowns, and intended majors. At the end of the info session, when it was time to break up for the tours, the student tour guides called their group out by name (I’m Joe, and I’ve got Amy, Jenna, Paul and Patrick), and during the tour, asked each student something specific about what they had written down. They tried to group students together by intended major, and match them with a guide that had at least a passing familiarity with that field (i.e. potential humanities students with an English major, STEM students with a physics major, etc.) At the end, each tour guide thanked the visiting students by name for visiting. It really created a feeling of the personal touch.

  9. “The UVA two students leading the presentation were frequently not able to answer basic questions”

    I’m not willing to judge a school by the quality of its tours. Sometimes it correlates and sometimes not.

    I (and others based on discussions I’ve seen) think that most “basic questions” are kind of a waste of time on tours if it’s stuff I can easily find out by a quick online search. But more nuanced and detailed information can usually be gleaned from the college representatives during visits. For example, I can often find the career office facts and figures before I tour a school, but asking about types of jobs and examples can often give me more insight into how well they help graduates find employment.

  10. I hate college tours. Hate them. I’ve now quit and delegated the remaining college tours to DH as a father-son bonding experience. I am not comfortable naming names, but will give good hints, as I’m going to be totally b*tchy/honest.

    Top 20 Private College in the town in which I live: Engineering program is supposed to be very solid. Room packed with kids and parents from all over the world. Who gives the info session? A 70 year old professor who did his best research 50 years ago and mumbled the whole time. Did he sell the school or program? No. Did he talk about cutting edge research? No. Did he talk about post graduate jobs? No. What did he talk about? Study abroad. For engineers. Fail for me, DS is interested.

    Small Private College in Dallas: So beautiful. Perfectly manicured everything. Students that stepped out of a J Crew catalog. Everyone was so good looking. Admissions office ran like clockwork. Great info session. Great engineering tour by a really hot staff member in a sheath dress, 3 inch heels, and perfect hair. Talked about how engineering majors were encouraged to double major or minor in other subjects. Talked at length about research opportunities. Talked about how it wasn’t a weed out program and that “everyone could be an engineer.” DS hated it, I loved it. He said, “Mom, not everyone can be an engineer.”

    Small Private College in LFB’s City: Very East Coast vibe. Nice info session. Tour with a very earnest, knowledgeable engineering major. Tour went on and on. One hour of walking around. We saw everything. DS loved it. I’m Meh. I asked about the crime rate, as the college is in a bad part of town. Admissions officer said, “Don’t worry. The students know explicitly where and where not to go. We also have a lot of cops on campus.”

    We have our two state Flagships left to go, as well as Vandy and Bama. DH has been assigned the flagships. I might tag along for Vandy and Bama. I’ve learned that DS goes into these tours with an opinion already formed, and that the tours do not shift the opinion. However, we are good Totebag parents, so we soldier on.

  11. My college tour information is also very out of date, but I remember being influenced by whether there were people on campus or not – if it felt too “sleepy” (Princeton and Amherst, both of which I visited in summer), or too small (Trinity), I wasn’t a fan. Wesleyan was too ugly (buildings). I don’t remember being influenced by the tour guides per se, but I do remember that the Yale guide had the best jokes.

    In retrospect, I didn’t go on many tours and I had a clear idea of what I had in mind before visiting anywhere – not in the state, not a big state university (20K) but not small (Amherst was too small). I also only looked at HSSs. Our kids will probably see more places than I did, and certainly more than DH, who only visited his alma mater after being accepted early.

  12. Reposting….
    College tours should be interesting as neither DH nor I did these. We will probably start by narrowing down by major and distance from home. I don’t think my kids would be interested in small remote schools. Their high school has lots of college representatives visit, so I think we could ask questions and decide on where to visit based on their answers. DH, I am sure will say, get accepted then visit.

  13. I think if you know generally what you want (big state university, SLAC, urban/non-urban, etc.) then there are probably a good # of schools that one would be perfectly happy at. DH’s college decision came down between two SLACs which were probably so similar as to not really matter which one he went to, so he picked out of a hat.

    Houston – one of the kids of the guy DH works for goes to SMU. DH/Boss went to Dallas last year for work and stopped by to visit the kid on campus. DH said it was unbelievable how good looking and well dressed the students were (never seen anything like it.)

  14. I was working heavy hours during college tour years for my HSS candidates, so I only did one early tour jaunt – to Harvey Mudd and CalTech. The latter was dismissed immediately as an undergrad experience by DD1, and she was meh on Harvey Mudd, although she applied. Their father took them on a few tours too. They went alone post acceptance, or just went to the post acceptance local teas. Both daughters felt that they would be social outliers at Princeton, rather than more mainstream at the institutions they chose in the end. Nobody wanted to stay close to home. DD2, a highly recruited humanities student, was confronted with use among the recent alums at the tea of the term “fuzzy” for non STEM kids at West Coast elite, so that was out.

  15. I did a little bit of college tour giving for my small liberal arts college. I don’t know if I gave a good tour. I remember trying to tell students they should be focusing on the fit of the school instead of the broad statistics and that the tour was an opportunity to learn about things that could not be well measured. It killed me when people asked about student:teacher ratios – That number was easily available on every piece of marketing material, and 12 to 1 was not gonna feel significantly different than 14 to 1.

    I only went on two tours when I was applying. One because the small liberal arts college flew me down for the weekend as part of a scholarship program. The other was at the “Harvard of the Midwest”, because it was a day’s drive away from my grandmother’s house. The dorms were grim, the tour guides were vapid. It was summertime and it was hard to get any sense of the place. It was the summer before my senior year, so I was definitely a potential applicant. One of the coaches came and pulled one of the students out of the tour (at a school which recruit athletes, but cannot offer them scholarship money). They didn’t do on campus interviews, and I didn’t have a personal interaction with anyone. The whole experience made me feel small and unwelcome. I had chosen to send them my SAT scores before the tour. They must have gotten them after, or had no ability to connect them. That fall, I got lots of letters from school, personal phone calls, application fee waivers. None of that could inspire me to apply.

  16. SSM, in addition to Carleton in the small, Midwestern liberal arts genre, St Olaf’s has a good music program and Grinnell has merit aid, I believe. I don’t know how to compare Carleton and Grinnell. I looked at Carleton for hard science and thought about Grinnell more for biological science. I didn’t apply to either.

  17. My kids are way too young for college tours. However, they wanted to do a particular type of STEM summer camp, and we found an overnight one at a college that would probably be on their list of places to look. So they are going to that, and I think it will be a nice way to have some exposure to this particular college early on.

    Houston, you make me laugh.

  18. Were any of your kids influenced or I should heard of a college from their friends and decided to apply based on that ?

  19. @ DenverDad, if you are reading. Very sorry about that camp situation. 14 is a tough age. Is there anyone you could hire to drive him back and forth (college student home for the summer? older teen?), so he could go to the more limited hours of the camp but then just have the other hours as downtime/house chore time? (Is Uber too crazy an option?)

  20. DD and I were on a campus tour yesterday. They had her at, “During exams, we have therapy dogs all over campus, and starting this week, we also have a therapy miniature horse.”


  21. Oy, I am the one on the other side of this. I just had to do three back to back open house for admitted students sessions, 2 weeks ago. Tip: don’t believe anything you hear.

  22. “Who gives the info session? A 70 year old professor who did his best research 50 years ago and mumbled the whole time. Did he sell the school or program? No. Did he talk about cutting edge research? No. Did he talk about post graduate jobs? No. What did he talk about? Study abroad.”

    Here is what happened: the professors who actually do the research do not have the time to waste on weekend info sessions, so they will not ever be the ones doing it. The 70 year old guy was probably the only person they could rope into it. At R1 schools, even tenure trackers would never do an info session because it would make them look “not serious” to the tenure committee. The reason he talked about Study Abroad is because the administration, like ours, has mandated that everyone has to push Study Abroad.

  23. I would never, never, never judge a school by its tour. I would do a tour only if it got me access to see facilities that I might not otherwise be able to see. I am luck in that I am on the committee for a conference which meets at a different college in the northeast every year, so I have seen a lot of schools in the past 7 or so years. I find just hanging out in the student union, and walking around the computer labs and classrooms, tells me a lot. Because of this conference, I have learned the ins and outs of the videoconferencing and wifi setups at all these schools – and I find that informative.

  24. Back when I was applying to college, I was unusual for my time in that I applied to 10 different schools. That was because I needed financial aid. I only toured one of them, and only because I was required to come interview as part of a scholarship application. I ended up at my alma mater sight unseen – and it was fine – I loved it. It was a perfect school for me. But then, I knew I wanted “Big Dynamic R1, preferably in city”.

  25. We dutifully toured SLACs, UCs. Stanford, flagships, etcs…And the remaining top two: out of state land grant colleges.

  26. I was at DePaul in Chicago recently for a conference and was very impressed by their facilities and depth of programs in CS at least. I have to go up to Hamilton College next week. I haven’t been there before so it should be interesting

  27. Houston and Atlanta Mom – I have served on the faculty at the “perfect” Dallas school and am returning to fill a new position there next year. What fun to hear your comments (they are spot-on!). I am currently on the faculty of a small private school in Fort Worth, where the atmosphere is much different.

  28. “DD and I were on a campus tour yesterday. They had her at, “During exams, we have therapy dogs all over campus, and starting this week, we also have a therapy miniature horse.”


    A couple of therapy cats would seal the deal for me. Purrrrr.

  29. Louise, DD is obsessed with Syracuse and Michigan because so many kids wear the tees/sweatshirts. Many of the counselors at camp seem to wear Syracuse stuff even though they don’t attend the school.

    I know it’s dumb, but I hate Syracuse due to a sports rivalry. DH feels the same way. It is a way that we’ve bones because we can both hate the same school.

    Our local kids clothing store sells Syracuse stuff. It’s cute and lots of her friends wear it. I keep saying no.

    I know very little about the university except for the large amount of talented students that come out of the Newhouse school.

    I just hope by the time she hits HS, she isn’t as influenced by the popularity of a school. Our friend works at Stanford so we had lunch there with DD. She loved it because it’s beautiful, but she won’t be able to touch an elite top school because she doesn’t like to do the work that would be required in HS.

    A neighbor is very interested in SUNY Geneseo. It’s a pretty school, and it’s no longer as easy to get in as some of the other SUNYs. As a result, it attracts more “academic” students than some other SUNYs. She can play her sport here too. She wasn’t even going to look at another college until her group of friends told her that she could do better.

    Her mother is my friend, and they’re leaving at the end of this week to look at more schools. My friend is angry because they’ve looked at more than a dozen schools and Geneseo was her DD’s favorite until her friends stepped in with the negative comments.

    She might still end up there, but now she wants to make sure she didn’t miss something better such as Rochester or Cornell.

  30. Also, any recommendations of colleges/universities to check out in the Midwest?

    IU Bloomington is beautiful

  31. “DD and I were on a campus tour yesterday. They had her at, “During exams, we have therapy dogs all over campus, and starting this week, we also have a therapy miniature horse.”

    See? This school knows how to work it. I didn’t know therapy miniature horses were a thing…

  32. Lauren – my sister is a Newhouse graduate. She loved it but it is so cold and gray up there all of the time.

  33. I’ve now toured 22 schools with kids. Although we go to the tours and info sessions, we eat in the dining halls and hang out at the student union to get more of the vibe. Try to go to concerts, games etc if we have time. Kids also like to sit in on classes to see whether kids are engaged, whether prof is phoning it in, etc.

  34. Houston – amazingly, it’s the second campus we’ve been on this year that has a miniature horse (though the other was a huge horse school so maybe that shouldn’t count). They must smell my kid coming ! At yesterday’s school there were also professors walking their dogs all over — in offices, in the bookstore, etc.

    I say, when the sweet girls are coming to your, bring out all the animals!

  35. I didn’t know therapy miniature horses were a thing…

    They also have seeing eye miniature horses. When your seeing eye dog dies it’s very traumatic. However, a miniature horse can do all the same things and can live two to three times as long as a dog.

  36. I mentioned this previously, but we didn’t even tour DD’s college until April of her senior year when they offered so much aid that it was foolish not to consider it. It wasn’t her first choice but it was a good school and she agreed to give it shot, with the condition that she could transfer if needed. She was totally on board by October and is still very happy to be there. They also have therapy dogs!

    We toured a couple of colleges with DS, and he is hell bent on going to one particular school, partially because of the kids he got to know on the school’s FB page and those he met during our accepted student day visit. DS can be a little quirky, and he is not as social as my other kids, so I’m kind of glad that he “clicked” with this school but he could have gone to a school with better rankings.

    I do remember having high expectations of some schools that just went totally flat after the tour. I include my alma mater in this group.

  37. @SSM- what Meme and LfB said. I know that geographic diversity was important because they would brag about many students from CA came to school in MN. I always thought that if you lived in Wyoming or Delaware that you would have a big hook at schools that want representation from every state.

    Carleton and St. Olaf are in a cute, smaller town, but there isn’t a lot going on. Carleton restricts cars and want students to stay on campus all four years. Everyone pretty much stuck around campus for entertainment. Definitely not for everyone. Macalester is similar in many ways but located in St. Paul so more of a city atmosphere.

    I would think that coming from Washington would be a plus for many private schools in the Midwest and south.

  38. SUNY Geneseo has a good academic reputation, but is located in a small town considered “in the middle of nowhere” for some kids around here. One of my neighbor’s kids started out there and then transferred out because he couldn’t adjust to the small town vibe. My kid didn’t have many requirements for where he wanted to go to college, but he did know he wanted to be in or very near a big city.

  39. Every member of my immediate family would run, not walk, away from a school that presented therapy dogs and a miniature horse as enticements. Not so sure about my niece – maybe that is why we are so bewildered by her priorities.

  40. Lark, we’re looking into other options right now. For 3.5 days a week, it’s really not worth the money (it’s the same price as when they listed it for 5 days), especially if we’re having to pay someone to drive him there.

  41. I think therapy dogs are pretty common on schools these days. I guess our stressed-out kids need them to deal with exams. ;)

  42. I agree 14 can be a hard age for summer activities. IIRC, we struggled to find volunteer opportunities that were accessible by public transportation.

  43. I wouldn’t give much weight to the tour in the decision process. Why would you not consider a school just because of a bad guide?

  44. @Houston: FWIW, the school near me is in a very nice neighborhood. It’s just also a city, where “nice” can change over the course of a couple of blocks. If you have basic city navigation skills, you are completely fine.

    It is strange how the college tour thing has changed. We did one NE swing summer after my junior year, but I ended up not even visiting my alma mater until after I was accepted, because it was so far away. And then my mom just put me on a plane. That trip was *awesome* and was what sold me on the school, because I got to stay with a student for two days (who, I was sure, was specially chosen for her people skills) and really get a feel for the kind of people who chose to go there. It was much more “my” people than the MA options (who were all very welcoming, nothing against them, I’m just not very prep).

    Of course, the weather was also lovely, so there was some bait and switch involved. :-)

  45. …gray all the time…

    and Syracuse gets more snow than farther west usually.

    Yeah Geneseo is pretty middle of nowhere. Moreso than the schools in Ithaca, since Ithaca actually has an airport.

  46. Back in the 80s I had a scholarship interview at that same Dallas school, and it was the same then. And every car on campus was a Mercedes or BMW. I remember that my mom and I skipped the last part of the tour and went shopping, because it was clear it was not a fit for me. A good friend ended up going there and transferred after two years because she said none of her friends had any sense of reality – all were just waiting for their trust funds to kick in.

    In our tours, my son is very interested in the information sessions but loses interest in the tours fairly quickly. “Some guy pointing at a random building and telling me the name of it does nothing for me. I’ll learn them if I live here.” So, tours are more to humor me.

    Loved doing the tours with my daughter, because we have the same sense of humor, so enjoyed naming the other people in the sessions and joking about them later. My son is more businesslike in his approach, and is very focused on costs and outcomes.

    Texas flagships – both good, one pretty campus, one not attractive, both very large. A&M people seemed very friendly. Smaller Catholic school in flagship city was beautiful and has masters program he may want to pursue, so that is filed away for later. Second tier state school “seemed dirty”, which was same assessment my daughter made. Oklahoma flagships had much prettier campuses and more appealing size (20k students vs 55k). One in particular is a very walkable area and people were very friendly and welcoming. He won’t pick these despite the scholarship money he will get because of an irrational opposition to Oklahoma. Or, many of you may think a perfectly rational opposition. Another second tier Texas school was rejected by the older one because it was too flat. I think that meant nothing impressive enough to warrant the long drive. We missed the tour of the “colleges that change lives” school last weekend because something unexpectedly popped up. That is my first choice for him, and there is not a chance in the world I can pay for it, so really no point in going.

  47. “the weather was also lovely, so there was some bait and switch involved”

    Ha! The nice thing about our cold and snowy winters is the sun. It is always sunny. With arctic sunshine you won’t have the blues. It also helps if you like being outdoors, just make sure you have the right gear.

    I’ll put my plug in for Michigan State. If you want an urban school, this is not the place. I wonder if you can still borrow a retired greyhound dog from the vet school for a few hours? Back when I was in college the popular SLACs in MIchigan were Albion and Kalamazoo College.

    Luther College in Iowa is a popular one. I work with a lot of alumni from there.

  48. Lots of my friends went to Luther (their music program is second only to St Olaf’s) and one is a professor there now. Wartburg has high med school admissions rates, if med school is of interest.
    Good memories today, thanks, SSM!

  49. This is a kid that I’ve posted about on other posts. She isn’t afraid of a small town, or smallish school. She doesn’t want a big, party school. She wants a school like Geneseo.

    Our cousin is graduating this month from the big U in Risley’s state. I saw him last month when he was home to interview for jobs. I asked if he would miss it because this was a school that he was dying to attend when he was in HS. He replied that he would miss his friends, but not the school. Too big and too cold. He said that he probably should have selected a smaller school, but this one seemed so fun when he went to visit in HS.

  50. This past weekend I had brunch with an old law school friend who was talking about her daughter’s upcoming college tours. She is interested in a particular subset of a larger area (think along the lines of “sound recording engineering” instead of the more standard “music performance” kind of degree), but she is also not 100% sure that is her Path For Life (as well she shouldn’t as a sophomore). So the list of college visits is long, including (a) schools that offer excellent programs in X; schools that offer excellent liberal arts degrees along with the option to take classes in/learn about/minor in X; and then a few large schools (e.g. state flagship) vs. small schools and urban vs. rural, to give the kid a sense of the kind of feel she wants.

    It is so much more planned out and detailed than IMD(tm). I spent the day before with two other friends whose version of college choice was “my dad told me I could go anywhere I could get into, but he could afford to send me to UT.” And mine was “I have no clue what I want to do, so what SLACs will give me $$?”

  51. My personal experience coming from a large city (discount coming from abroad) to a surburban setting which required a car, made me wish I could be in a place with better transportation options or at least in a decent sized college town, with more to do on the weekends.

  52. There’s lots of discussion on this blog about the SATs, but have the GREs changed dramatically since Ye Olden Days?

  53. To follow up on Laura’s comment, I still think you can recover from a weird undergrad major with a decent MA. I’ve mentioned one of my philosophy major friends who does global marketing for Big Tech Firm. Another one was a theater major who got a Masters in business at San Jose State and now does something decently-paid in supply chain management at another Big Tech firm. You just have to get your foot in the door somewhere and then figure out what you like. Then get the MA and move up.

  54. I think it is a bit naive to think you can skip tours and just go hang around the Student Union. Depending on the climate and the location, the student union may not be a place that eager parents of high schoolers can lurk. SLACs may have more dorm-based services (dining, exercise) and less common space. They are usually poorly equipped to host guests for meals. I’ve certainly never been in a computer lab that didn’t require a badge to access. To think of it, our libraries were accessed only by card as well.

    I feel there is a little of the East Coast Expectations going on – if all your colleges are withing 90 minute drive, it may not be a waste of your time to go “hang out”. However, for people who need to take a week or a plane to visit a college, having a formal walk through of the facilities is a much better choice.

  55. I feel there is a little of the East Coast Expectations going on – if all your colleges are withing 90 minute drive, it may not be a waste of your time to go “hang out”.

    Yeah, for us, 4 year colleges UH Manoa, Hawaii Pacific U, and Chaminade U are all very familiar, and going farther afield — even to UH Hilo! — requires flying.

  56. Oh, I forgot BYU Hawaii. Well, we’ve actually seen that campus too (play directed by friend) and I don’t think my kids are interested.

  57. Although WCE, if your assorted LDS babysitters are interested, Laie (location of BYUH) is a beautiful setting for a college.

  58. SSM, the midwest schools in which DS has expressed interest are UChicago, Northwestern, Washington U (St. Louis).

    He’s not really interested in SLACs, but after talking to a rep from Kenyon College, said that if he were interested in a SLAC in the middle of nowhere, that would be on his list.

    The kids’ school seems to send several kids to Notre Dame every year.

    “IU Bloomington is beautiful”

    I’d be very leery about any state school in IL, given the state’s financial condition.

  59. “IU Bloomington is beautiful”

    I’d be very leery about any state school in IL, given the state’s financial condition.

    Whoa, they moved Indiana University at Bloomington to Illinois?

  60. “Small Private College in Dallas: So beautiful. Perfectly manicured everything. DS hated it, I loved it.”

    One reason for you to love it is their generosity with merit aid. A good friend has a nephew there; he chose it above some HSS (lots of Ivy grads in that family) largely because of a generous aid package, and is apparently doing well there.

    ” it was unbelievable how good looking and well dressed the students were”

    A friend who worked a few years in Dallas told me that the women there really are better looking than the women everywhere else he’d lived, because looking good was important to them. I guess it’s a cultural thing there.

  61. Houston, MBT, any thoughts on UT-Dallas? A lot of CC parents have that on their lists.

  62. I would just like to say that I think I am the most geographically challenged of any of you. You all seem to know where everyone lives and pick up on these references to colleges based on obscure geographic references. I know where Denver Dad lives, and I’m pretty confident Houston is in Texas, not Houston, Ga, but otherwise I just can’t grasp it.

  63. Oops, my bad. Got confused between states in the same general area starting with I.

  64. Finn, maybe next April 1 I will announce to #1 son that we’ll be skipping whatever else is on the calendar for that day to go on a tour of UH West Oahu.

  65. Well yes on HM :) and LfB. And I finally, finally figured out Louise’s old handle which if I’m right was geographically based.

  66. Random thought, but at least college related. Rocky, when you actually get your house can you please use Banana Slug as your handle when you’re posting from there?

  67. A comment related to yesterday’s post. I looked at my week Mon thru Sun, starting yesterday, and I had Tues/Wed/Sat without an actual requirement to leave the house. That sounds like a good balance, but because the days off are not the usual and only fell into place on Monday, I found myself this morning at the sort of loose end you all seem to fear in retirement. Two days adrift would be bad, so I did form a plan for tomorrow. I will deal with all the recycle, then go out while the cleaners are here – looks like a good day for long walk or short hike. I also need to get the car inspected. Do It Now list item 5. And mail the tax return for my volunteer org. Do It now Item 7. (Don’t worry, I have a new list for May and the challenge).

    So what did I do today? DH is out all day. Got up with him, paid an invoice for the volunteer org and gave it to him to mail. Web surfed for some inexpensive summer curtains and shams to complement the 1950s hand stitched mariner’s compass Kentucky quilt delivered yesterday. found them at West Elm on clearance. Spent a half hour on hold with Air Canada and found out I’ll have to call again next month. Concurrently started a pot of chili so that the ground beef didn’t spoil before the end of the day. Called BofA to find out what their latest reclassification of my elite status actually means in dollars and cents (nothing). Fed the seizure prone cat some fancy cat food from the organic pet store on vet’s instructions (store employees said not relevant, but I was obedient). Naturally, an hour later cat barfed it all up. I wiped it up, pretreated the carpet, got around to my shower, took out the spotbot, and did the old and cold spots on the stairs as well (largest human tends to spill coffee going up from kitchen to computer), thus clearing number 13 on the Do It Now list. Bought overpriced tickets online for the opening night of the Rockport chamber music festival. Surfed some more and decided not to buy any new sandals. Read a couple of articles on Vox. (One with a map of cicada cycles – I hated them in my youth, but we are now too far north!!) And commented more than usual on the Totebag. This evening I’ll make omelets (Root canal this afternoon for hubby). And he’ll want to discuss his AM bridge game today in great detail over dinner (if he can talk). Three of our teams are playing at 7pm, so busy clicker, plus I have a backlog of HGTV shows on dvr. (We are slowly going through The Wire – just finished season 2, but we need a few days break, and we have a few movies in queue, and we are behind a full week on crosswords, so most evenings pass companionably).

  68. Finn: DS would not go to the Dallas-based school, even with merit aid. Too bad, because DH and I were really impressed. I told him “you have to tour, but you don’t have to apply.”

    UT-Dallas is on the radar of CC because of its generous merit aid. It’s strong in EE, Computer Science, and pre-med. Unsure about other engineering specialties. It has small classes, and amazing dorms. The biggest drawback is lack of social life. That said, it’s aid makes it popular.

  69. Lark, you are right about Louise.

    Finn, I did not know much about UT Dallas until Houston mentioned it. I think my son plans to add that to his list.

    And to SWVA and the other engineers out there, the civil engineers who designed our neighborhood flood control system are getting a lot of love on the neighborhood FB page. Neighborhoods all around are flooding, but so far only the streets in/out of the neighborhood are flooding – not any residential streets. The engineers have achieved rock star status.

  70. MBT: From what you’ve mentioned about your DS, UTD might be a really good fit.

  71. Seattlesoccermom –

    Re: midwest schools – Indiana, Michigan, Case Western, Grinell, Carlton

    Two midwestern university anecdotes:

    1) DD and I were on a tour of Washington University in St. Louis, and they gave you a voucher for lunch anywhere on campus. We got our lunches and were a few dollars short. As I was getting some money out of my wallet a very handsome young man quickly swiped his meal card and paid for the rest of our lunch! He smiled at DD and said “welcome to Wash U.” Whew, that was all I needed to see/hear! She didn’t get in, so that was that, but, I sure had a positive experience of that school (even with a lame tour guide).

    2) DS has a grammar school friend who was at a small university in Washington State. It was a little to small and granola-ish for him, so he and two friends applied to transfer to a bunch of big, traditional schools around the country. The agreement was that they would go to whatever school took all three. They ended up at Ohio State, and are evidently quite happy!

  72. On the topic of tours, I think it is just the luck of the draw as to the skill of your tour guide. Besides being able to walk backwards while talking and gesturing, the knowledge they have varies incredibly. I would recommend going to the academic area of interest meeting/seminars/panels, or whatever they have where you can get a little more information about the academics. I just don’t think the kids who are giving the tours know much about it, and if they do, it is usually in the school/major they are pursuing.

    I would also recommend sending your kid off for an hour two to wander around the campus without you. That way they don’t feel so embarrassed and conspicuous.

    Go into the dining hall and soak in the atmosphere – do the students seem happy, serious, stressed, goofing off?

    Try to get a tour of a dorm – you can’t always do that, but I think it is interesting to peek into the rooms – and be thankful I don’t have to clean them!

  73. Rocky, when you actually get your house can you please use Banana Slug as your handle when you’re posting from there?

    Ha! I’ll try to remember to do so. We closed on April 3, by the way, and take occupancy next week. I’m having a party on May 1 so email me if you want an excuse to go to the beach. :-)

  74. MBT I know where you are too. :) So maybe I just know no geography outside of the South.

  75. In that book “How to Raise an Adult”, the author talks about the website The Alumni Factor which looks like an interesting tool in the college process (although I may be biased since the author listed my alma mater as one of the 17 schools ranking in the top 50 on all six of the Alumni Factor’s “ultimate outcomes”.) It’s a paid subscription so I don’t need it now but would probably spring for it if my kids were in high school.

    Lemon – we have friends from here that moved back to Iowa a few years ago that went to Luther. I had never heard of it before meeting them but they are both very smart. DH used to work with the husband and he always said that if he ever needed a lawyer, it would be this guy.

  76. meme – Iooked at the BofA site and didn’t notice any changes to preferred rewards? what did I miss?

  77. So here’s my recap of our campus visits, in chronological order:

    -Caltech. It has a very small school vibe, in a nice suburban setting. The tour guide was a female techie, totally unscripted, who was quite obviously really enjoying her experience there. I really liked it; were I still in HS, it would definitely be on my list. DD also liked it a lot. DS didn’t like the smallness, suburban setting, and narrow focus. One thing the guide mentioned that I liked (and didn’t see on their website) was that all classes for freshman are on a pass/fail basis, to encourage a collaborative atmosphere. The guide showed us her dorm room; DW didn’t like it, but DS and DD were neither impressed nor turned off by it.

    -USC. The biggest question any parent will have about this campus is the surrounding area, especially on the side of campus opposite the Coliseum; driving a few blocks from campus (when following Apple maps) takes you into a very different looking area. The very high fence surrounding campus can be both comforting and alarming. If it weren’t for the safety concern, I’d be quite high on this school, and I think both kids would strongly consider it. They have a very broad range of academic programs, and also have been very generous with merit aid (DS’ CC told us it has the highest academic profile of schools offering NMSF aid). The campus itself is clean and well-manicured, but IMO rather bland.

    There is a Chick-Fil-A right across the street from campus, on the less sketchy side.

    -Stanford. The campus is huge and sprawling, in a suburban to undeveloped area. We weren’t able to schedule an official tour, but were on campus for almost a week for a workshop, so we did things like visit the Rodin Garden on our own. Once again, DS and DD had different takes; DS didn’t like how it was so spread out and suburban (but he did like that it had things like the Rodin Garden and a concert venue on campus); DD liked that. DW really liked that they have their own mall, with Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel, Potter Barn, etc. The size of the campus makes having a bike pretty important. I was disappointed that my favorite restaurant in the area (Jose’s) had closed.

    -UC Berkeley. We visited in the summer, and they had no formal tours, so we just walked around campus. DS liked the architecture, really liked the neighboring town, and also liked the Lawrence Hall of Science (well worth the visit on its own for any TBers traveling to the area). He didn’t like the dearth of dorms, requiring most students to live off-campus. A buddy of mine who lives in the Bay Area told us that budget cuts have made it harder for kids to get all the classes they want and need, and I’ve also read that all, or nearly all, aid money is for in-state students.

    -Columbia. I was actually on a campus tour here when we had a college topic that set a record for posts. DS really liked the campus, the location, the guarantee of four years of on-campus housing. He didn’t like that the college of engineering is separated, and that must be chosen when applying. DD didn’t like the setting, and after the info session, found a bench to sit and read while we went on the tour.

    -MIT. No bait and switch on the weather; it was gray, cold, and rainy on the summer day we visited. Neither the info session nor the campus tour was particularly enlightening, mostly because we’d already heard a lot about the school before, and the campus itself was not especially remarkable. DS liked the proximity to Boston (we walked from our hotel at Copley Square, and that there is a Chipotle across the street.

    -Harvard. It was pretty much as expected. The campus is full of old buildings with a certain gravitas (and IMO worth taking the tour even if you’re not a prospective student or the parent of one), and their housing system sounded somewhat like Hogwart’s. DS liked that he could take classes at MIT (Harvard is a backdoor way into MIT), and he wouldn’t need to apply specifically to a college of engineering if he wants to major in that. Everyone (we were in a group with several other families) really liked the hot chocolate place recommended by SM (

  78. ” Rocky, when you actually get your house can you please use Banana Slug as your handle when you’re posting from there?”

    And we will abbreviate appropriately when replying to her posts.

  79. I just want to say – I appreciate all of you who are posting about your experiences.

    I saw my parents today, and almost asked them why they didn’t take me to visit any schools, but then decided no answer could be satisfactory, so I just let it go.

    I really want to be a supportive parent in this process, without being the one driving the whole process, so I love reading what the rest of you are doing.

  80. Lark: Things have changed since we were kids. I didn’t go on college tours, and neither did my friends. Now, it’s a given. The goal is to make the concept of college “real” and give DS a general understanding of different sizes, locations, etc. We didn’t go out of our way for any tour, except one.

  81. “Were any of your kids influenced or I should heard of a college from their friends and decided to apply based on that?”

    That happens at my kids’ school all the time. Starting when they were freshmen, when they first get back to school after summer, there’s a lot of comparing notes WRT the campus tours taken over the summer. The school also schedules an event every year between Xmas and New Year in which they invite back recent grads so current juniors and seniors can talk to them about their college experiences.

    DS has also been talking about colleges a lot this year with his senior friends.

  82. Louise, DS looked into Morehead-Cain, but he’s not interested in UNC, in part because UNC doesn’t have a college of engineering.

    Another similar program is Jefferson Scholars, which may be relevant to Sheep, since they did tour UVA.

  83. I would say my daughter was initially influenced by friends in that she didn’t want to go where a bunch of them were going – she wanted to break away. (And after checking off that box to confirm she could go it, transferred the next year to where they all/boyfriend went)

  84. DD originally did not want to go where her friends were going. Now she has at least one friend at her final two picks. She didn’t love one of her top two on the first visit…we got there after driving for several hours, forgot to get lunch, it was rainy, tour guide was meh. I encouraged/nagged her to apply because I wanted to be sure she got in somewhere. They offered enough aid to make a second trip worthwhile. We went to an admitted student day, it was a bright, sunshiny day, the campus was beautiful, everyone we asked for directions was friendly, by Friday afternoon, half clothed students were playing volleyball in the sun, the college has an opportunity for her to start early with a program in Europe five weeks before classes start. Now she is going to the other top pick to see if she still likes it as much as she did on the first visit.

    We went to a Pacific Northwest SLAC propaganda evening. One of the schools, I think it was Willamette, had their rep go on about how the school was all about being organic and sustainable. DD wouldn’t even look at it.

  85. Finn – have you looked at Georgia Tech ?
    Lark – you are correct about my handle. When the time comes, if this blog is around, our oldest kids may be looking at a similar set of colleges.

    I found myself giving suggestions to a colleague from the West Coast who was visiting the Northeast for a college tour with her DD. The schools on the list were RISD, Parsons, MIT. I suggested BU. I haven’t checked with her how it went but it was cold and gray in the Northeast when they went.

  86. Louise, DS has decided he doesn’t want to go somewhere with a strong engineering focus. While he’s considering that as a major, he’s still not sure, and he wants a school where he can explore a broad range of interests. I think he’s interested in studying classics no matter what he majors in.

    Aren’t your kids pretty close to this, especially if they start while in 8th grade?

  87. Finn – Harvard finally got its expansionary wish (we were demonstrating against the real estate land grab in 1969) and is redeveloping a large plot of land near the Stadium for a huge Engineering and Applied Sciences complex. It will be open in 2020, so by DS’s Junior year if I have the math right. Construction begins this summer. MIT, as both WCE and my DD discovered, provides its aid mostly via loans.

    Fred – I have an IRA with Merrill Edge. For some reason I and many others (I gleaned this from the online commentary) who did not seek it at all received a Wealth Management designation for our accounts – I just thought it was BofA changing the titles. Apparently there were all sorts of ML services we were supposed to start using, but they never actually explained it. So those of us who did not increase our investment activity and holdings sufficiently were swept out of a program we never requested. No change to Preferred Rewards.

  88. Finn – DS is going to 7th grade next year. If, I am correct in my assessment of his interests, he will want an engineering focused school.
    If your DS wants to something more than engineering, somehow Princeton popped into my mind. They have liberal arts plus engineering.

  89. Wow, I missed all of this.

    I started looking at architecture programs, and based on what I saw, if DS2 wants to go for it, he is going to have to get serious about drawing skills. Several require a drawing test, and the others require a portfolio. That was actually what kept me from going into my first idea of a major when I was a senior – I had gotten interested in the idea of graphic design as a major, but didn’t have a portfolio.

  90. When I go to those conferences at various schools, I do get a sense of the places. I’ve been to Providence College and Holy Cross in the past year or so, and what impressed me the most: how incredibly white those schools are. It is like they are totally ignoring demographics. Does Providence College, in particular, have a future even? Its academics aren’t that great and it seems to concentrate on a declining demographic, Irish Catholics.

    BTW, I turned down a job offer from them many years ago.

  91. I also interviewed at Smith College some years ago. When they took me around campus, they were very excited to point out the stables where the girls can board their horses. It seemed kind of out of line with Smith’s other reputation as a school for hard partying lesbians.

  92. Louise, I’m thinking that in less than a year, your DS will need to be planning out his HS courses. In doing so, as Mooshi’s posts point out, he’d be well served to consider admissions requirements for whatever majors he’s interested in.

    As I’ve written before, IMO that’s also a good time to start low-level SAT prep (unless he’s already taken the SAT, e.g., for a Johns Hopkins program for gifted kids) and planning when/if to take the SAT, ACT, and subject tests.

    I’m glad DS is not considering architecture; Mooshi’s post suggests he would not be able to get into a program.

  93. “somehow Princeton popped into my mind. They have liberal arts plus engineering.”

    And Einstein used to work there.

    It’s not on DS’ list. Like Mémé’s daughters, I don’t think he thinks it would be a great fit for him socially.

    Typing up the recap of our campus visits helped me to distill what I think he’s looking for. One thing I think he’d prefer is an urban setting, and while I’ve never been there, I’ve read it’s in more of a wealthy suburb than an urban setting.

    I think he wants a large university, so he can take a broad spectrum of classes, in an urban area, but where he can dorm for 4 years. It needs to have an engineering program. I think he also would like to try a bigger pond, but one that can freeze (i.e., he’d like to try a HSS where it gets cold).

    This rules out primarily engineering schools (e.g., Caltech, MIT, Ga Tech) and SLACs (except Harvey Mudd, although calling it a SLAC might be a mischaracterization).

    Any suggestions?

  94. Another very popular college in the midwest is Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, north of Cincinnati. Sometimes referred to as the “Midwest’s Ivy”, it has a very, very beautiful campus and boasts an excellent business school. Their engineering program is growing and becoming recognized. Very high rate of employment post graduation and most students graduate in four years. Their communications program is well regarded and quite a few students get into medical school. MU also has a very high retention rate. If you are travelling anywhere in the vicinity looking at OSU, Kenyon, University of Dayton etc., , it is well worth your time to take a look at Miami.

    Interesting story about Case Western Reserve: Nearly a decade ago, I was on a campus tour with our son in early December. It was cold and the skies definitely said snow was on the way. I was in the back of the pack and son was up front, chatting with the tour guide. I was thinking that this tour was a waste, the campus was not impressive and could we please cut out now so we could beat the snow? Son tapped me on the arm and said, ‘This is it. This is where I want to go.” All’s I could think was, “Really?, Why?” Fast forward: Son did go there. Loved it and still lives in Cleveland which he refers to as his new hometown.

    So, you may think the tour is awful, but that tour may change your child’s life.

  95. Finn–Northwestern fits all those criteria. Especially the freezing part.
    If he’s willing to go a little smaller/warmer, WashU in StLouis.
    Brown might also be a good choice.

  96. Mémé, MIT may have changed its financial aid policy since WCE and your DDs applied.

    Currently policy is to provide an MIT scholarship (which I assume is a grant) for cost of attending – EFC (I think they use the CSS) – $7500. The $7500 is based on at least $2000 of summer earnings and the rest in ” a combination of outside scholarships or grants (including Pell Grants), student loans, or term-time work earnings.”

    For those who qualify for aid, and also get other scholarships and/or Pell Grants, that could be even more generous than many of the other HSS, where outside scholarships and/or Pell Grants could reduce the school-provided aid.

  97. Finn: Rice University is warmer than he’d like, but your DS should check it out.

  98. I like hearing what impresses people about one school or another but my kids are too young to visit yet. I went to a SLAC, that prides itself on the student reported rigor of the curriculum. There is a metric where the graduates rate how much they got out of college, not includingt the name brand effect.

    I gave a college tour to another athlete the coach wanted to attend. I showed him the library and told him coach was not a liar about putting academics first. Then we talked about going to IU Bloomington for a road trip party. He graduated from my alma mater and remembered the tour 20 years later.

    We live somewhat close to the 2 state flagship schools. I follow them on Twitter with the plan to attend the occassional concert or convocation. Twitter gives out a bunch of information as well, but it is hard to really discern what is really going on.

  99. Did not have a chance to read most of the comments but wanted to chime in anyhow. I am on campus and see tours nearly every day. DS was a student tour guide and DH’s dept sends top faculty to admitted student days. My observation is that far too many parents ask questions that could be answered by using the phone in their hand. Or else the questions are so narrow and obscure regarding specific programs that no student tour guide could reasonably be expected to know the answer.

  100. Finn – If USC’s neighborhood gives you parental heebie jeebies, don’t even bother to visit the University of Chicago. DD2 lived in the dorm briefly (they have since built a nice new freshman dorm) and apartments in the neighborhood without incident for 5 years, but she is a city kid through and through.

  101. Meme – thanks. I’m in your boat. I do not need ML’s “wealth management”. Edge is fine for my rollover.

  102. Hey! We lived in Hyde Park for three years and lived to tell the tale. It’s not THAT bad.

  103. Perhaps I should add that my preferences would include generous merit aid, e.g., NMSF scholarships.

    Unfortunately, it seems one thing my DS and Houston’s have in common is not wanting to go to a certain small private college in Dallas.

    HM– a couple of seniors he is pretty close to are both going there.

    Northwestern and WashU are both on his long list. I think Rice and UCLA are too warm. Although I don’t really understand why he has that preference, he does need some criteria for narrowing his list.

    I think Brown not being on his list has something to do with their build your own major thing.

  104. Finn – I agree with HM on Harvard.
    Urban, cold, liberal arts plus new engineering complex (if he chooses engineering). All the other schools mentioned by various posters are too engineery (made up word), not in a cold place, in the suburbs…
    If I were to do over my college experience, I would choose Boston/Cambridge. I was there as a 20 something and had a great time.

  105. Finn and HM, I am just curious as to how many kids actually leave the state to study on the mainland. I didn’t really gave this much thought until today when I read several of the posts from earlier today.

    It is true that many of the regulars from different parts of this country could easily visit many schools within 5 – 6 hours drive from our homes. When I compare that to the plane ride that would be required just to reach the west coast, it must become a very different decision as to whether to leave for college.

  106. It grates on me, too, that people (parents, kids) ask questions for which answers are readily available on the school’s website.

  107. Finn, Drake? As a Hawaiian, he doesn’t appear to be eligible for the Drake physics prize. It’s not highly selective though

  108. Mémé, I recently read a stat about the murder rate in Chicago being very high, several times what it is in NYC.

    GreenEyes– CMU is on his list; I hear it really meets the cold criterion. However, DD has a friend whose dad went there; he told us he thought the engineering school was more focused on research and grad programs than on undergrads. OTOH, I’m guessing that’s not unique to CMU.

  109. WCE, eligibility for the Drake physics prize seems to be based on residence, not ancestry.

    But I don’t know if that’s been on DS’ radar. It was definitely under mine, and his CC didn’t suggest it either, and Naviance didn’t suggest it to me. But I think he’s received mail from them.

  110. HM, interesting. I am going to explore, and see how that compares to other states because I am curious.

  111. @Rocky: congrats on the closing!! Do we just start calling you BS now, or wait until May 1?

    On an order-of-magnitude-lower level of excitement, we have the garage permit in hand, and the batting cage is coming down tomorrow. Good thing college tuition is still several years off. 😉

  112. The vast majority of kids from my kids’ school head to the mainland for college, although local Flagship U enrolls more grads than any other single school. I believe that’s typical of the top privates here.

    Many of them do come back to attend law or medical school at flagship U. My niece told me most of her law school classmates were local private school grads, and I’ve met many of my kids’ parent who fit that profile as well.

  113. I think the idea is she’s BS while at SC, but RMS while in the RM. Not sure what she is when she’s anywhere else.

  114. Lauren, college is such a good chance to experience a completely new part of the country, different landscapes, different weather, different people, and different views. Now that’s just as true for kids from your area as the kids from here, but I think the difference may be that kids here are aware that we’re isolated from the rest of the country and that many things look different there, whereas kids from your area may not be because so much of the media, tv, movies, is more or less created for people like them. All the upcoming national tv shows are announced as something like 9 Eastern, 6 Pacific. We’re used to doing the time zone math, but on the east coast you don’t even have to think about it. Online sales that end at midnight end earlier than that here. Movies, tv, rarely portray someplace that looks like here. Listings of national tours coming to a city near you aren’t usually coming to a city near us. So it’s hard for kids not to notice that there’s another world out there, and be curious about what it’s like to see snow and have everything revolve around your time zone.

  115. Finn – Northwestern seems to check all the boxes including the highly regarded Engineering school which U Chicago doesn’t have. Not sure what the merit aid is. It is technically suburban but next to the city with public transit/walkable entertainment, etc. Stunning campus on the Lake. Seems like most of the other Northern options are not urban except Harvard/MIT. (Michigan is nice but Ann Arbor is not Chicago or Boston. Illinois and Purdue are in the middle of nowhere.) Maybe Carnegie Mellon? I hear Pittsburgh is hip these days!

    MM – That’s interesting about DePaul. They’ve been building like crazy. They have great local job connections too.

  116. MM,
    Schools like Holy Cross and Providence may not attract interest from minorities (especially non-Catholics), but there still seem to be enough white Catholic kids to go around. Not all Irish Catholics, of course, but as schools like Georgetown, Notre Dame and maybe Boston College get more competitive, the smaller schools are an option. And though the US is diverse, many Catholic high schools outside big cities are mostly white.

  117. Cornell is not urban.
    Penn is on his long list, but he doesn’t like that he has to pick a college when applying.
    I thought of Vandy too (I’ve worked with Vandy grads) but it’s not on his list. Perhaps not cold enough. I think very few, if any, kids from his school go there.

  118. Finn: what about University of Maryland? Close to DC, gets snow and has an Engineering school.

  119. The Amazon Echo is on sale for a short while longer, although their math is suspect.

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  120. “We started visiting colleges about when our oldest started high school. At first we just stopped by random colleges whenever we traveled, getting a tour if we had the time.”

    Ditto. Our first college visits were during the summer right after DS finished 8th grade. Based on experience to date, I think that’s a good time to start, although I may feel otherwise in a few years, when I can look back on the entire experience.

  121. I’m surprised that MM felt that lack of a portfolio was a barrier to a career in graphic design. A number of people I went to school with have carved out careers in various arts related areas; I doubt any of them arrived at school with a portfolio.

    State flagship U has one of the best architecture programs in the country. You don’t even apply for admission until you are 1-2 years into your college education. At that time, they state that it is optional to submit some drawings.

    The idea that 8th graders are already too far behind to even consider careers in certain fields is crazy.

  122. “If wpi means Worcester polytechnic Institute, I can’t praise it enough.”

    Meme-that is great to hear. DD attended a summer program there last summer and loved everything about the school and the program. She will probably apply early decision there this fall.

  123. Finn – BC has a nice campus and is more competitive than when I went to school, but may not feel urban enough. BU definitely does feel urban. Harvard fits his criteria perfectly and there will be several other kids from his school there if he gets in. Columbia and NYU would seem to fit, although I don’t know much about their undergrad programs. Tufts?? In Medford so not as urban, but you can easily get to the city. Johns Hopkins? Yale?

  124. NY Times did a series called The Choice. It was from there that I learned of colleges I had never heard of before. There lots of SLACs as well as regional colleges.
    There was one kid who had many great acceptances. His final choices were UNC-CH as a Morehead-Cain scholar or Reed College. He chose Reed College.

  125. This is an interesting article/confession. I didn’t want to post it to gloat about look how much more responsible Totebaggers are than this guy, but just to offer a different perspective. This isn’t about disadvantaged people, either. This guy is well-educated, professionally respected, solid marriage, kids in private school, a daughter who went to Stanford (Finn!) and became a Rhode scholar…

    He’s not looking for sympathy, nor will he find any from me. But he’s honest, at least.

  126. Finn – I don’t know Reed College’s location (is it urban enough ?) but it has Classics and a science program. Maybe a fit. WCE – can comment.

  127. HM – thanks for writing what you did at 935 (yeah, 435 your time). I think it’s a really good perspective and something I hadn’t really considered, especially the “…coming to a place near you.”

  128. Milo, I’ve been obsessed with thinking about that article. I agree he’s honest about his situation. He drained his 401k to pay for a his daughter’s wedding.  His parents paid for their grandkids’ private college.  I know plenty of people like him.  Living the “high life” but saving very little for their retirement.  I wonder about my own children.  This is related:

    College Grads Buried in Student Loan Debt, but Unwilling to Give Up Luxuries

    Many people are simply unwilling to live within their means.

  129. “I’m surprised that MM felt that lack of a portfolio was a barrier to a career in graphic design. A number of people I went to school with have carved out careers in various arts related areas; I doubt any of them arrived at school with a portfolio.”

    I am totally aware that there are people who got into graphic design late – I have friends who have done exactly that. Graphic design is a big field that covers a lot. But to a 16 year old senior in high school, those kind of winding career switching paths are not that apparent. No high schooler says “I plan to major in psychology, get bored, and switch to graphic design” or “I plan to get my MBA, lose my job, and then take courses at Pratt in web design”. What I saw as a 16 year old was that all the serious art schools wanted a portfolio.

    Accredited Architecture programs in NY:
    Cornell needs a portfolio
    Cooper Union needs a drawing test
    CUNY needs a “creative challenge” test which looks like a drawing test, transfers must submit a portfolio
    NYIT (a school I do not think highly of) does not require a portfolio but one must be submitted by the end of the second year to go on.
    Parsons requires both a portfolio and a test of artistic ability
    Pratt requires a portfolio
    RPI requires a portfolio. I also notice that they offer, in addition to their undergrad architecture degree, a degree in building science which looks more technical. I wonder if DS2 would be interested in that.
    SUNY Buffalo gives the choice of a portfolio or completing a design project, but encourages applicants to do both
    Syracuse requires a portfolio.

    This was actually useful – now I know I need to sit down with DS2 and really discuss what path he wants to take. I notice a number of majors that are not architecture but also not full on civil engineering, which he might be interested in. I also just remembered that a friend from church is an urban planner – he might be able to give us some insight.

  130. Louise – Reed College is in Portland Oregon, SE of the city center, so probably not real urban.

  131. One other funny portfolio story – when I was an undergrad, one of the freshmen in my dorm was trying to transfer to a culinary school, for the pastry program. SHe had a porfolio – of cakes! It was totally fun to look at

  132. Lark, I agree that other seem to know where posters are but I don’t always know except the obvious ones

  133. Mooshi – is Fine Arts available as an elective in your DS2 high school ? From glancing at electives offered at my kids’ school taking the Fine Arts option will mean completing a portfolio. I just glanced over it, but now combined with the info you provided, I see where “portfolio” fits in with college.

  134. I read Milo’s article yesterday. I appreciated the author’s honesty, and he had an interesting POV. If I didn’t work, we could easily be in that same situation. I think there are a lot more people “like us” in this situation than we think.

  135. The Atlantic guy just sounds immature? Clueless? Not possessing the ability or desire to delay gratification? The boomers, man. No wonder so many of the millennials have turned out like they have. 😉

  136. I am pretty easygoing on judgement but paying for his daughter’s wedding when he didn’t have the money was a bit much. He did pay for school and college, which is plenty.

  137. He didn’t pay for college! He asked his poor parents to drain their accounts! And they complied. So now no inheritance to sweep in and save him.

    I would love to see a follow up in 15 years about how everything is going/went.

  138. Houston – What grates on me about the article is not the argument that if a few circumstances were different, any of us could be in household situations where we’d be earning significantly less, because that’s undoubtedly true. Rather, it’s the mostly unstated assumption that if People Like Us were to find ourselves in such a situation, it’s better to spend your whole life broke and keeping up UMC appearances than it would be to live like the working middle class and take a part-time job at Hobby Lobby.

    My sympathies extend to people who have young children for whom childcare might be prohibitively expensive. But once they’re past that age, just get God Da*n job. Any job. Or a second job.

  139. Milo, this is a lesson I learned from SIL, who has a very successful career, ending up as a VP at a major cable network (she downsized recently to a less stressful job but held that VP position for years). Twice in her career, she was between jobs. Both times, she worked at low level retail jobs just to keep money coming in. And she was fine with it. The second time was after walking from the high stress position. Her gig was in a kitchenware store, and she said it was reallly fun and that she learned a lot about cooking. She eventually did find just the kind of job she wanted, running the finances of a well known but small and laid back catalog operation. But both times, it wasn’t clear when she was going to find a new position “commensurate with her experience”, so she just went with the flow and worked retail

  140. I agree Milo. The author and his wife could have easily supplemented their income with other work. Uber, tutoring, part time job. I’m surprised they didn’t and don’t understand why not. If you’re living on eggs and need to ask your kids for heating oil money, it seems that an additional part time job would be the easier road to travel.

  141. MM – I thought you were going to say that it could have hurt her professionally, but it doesn’t sound like that was the case.

    When DW and I were talking about buying a boat and after we’d looked at a few models, she was researching online the specific details and eligibility requirements for the employee discount at Bass Pro Shops, and wondering if she should send me all the way down there to work Sundays in order to qualify. :)

  142. I thought the author’s most telling comment was that he didn’t want to keep up with the Joneses, but that he wanted his kids to keep up with the Joneses’ children. Add to that his acknowledged personal need to measure himself in great part by his role as THE provider in a family of women (wife stays home for years, daughters never get denied, 401k pays for a wedding). I do appreciate his honesty. I certainly was one shoe drop from financial ruin for many years, but although I had no idea until the very end of her life that the Bank of Grandmom was in such a fine asset position, I knew that we had a safety net against homelessness or starvation. My first husband’s family had been wealthy in the 20s and lost it all in the Depression, so there was a residual seeking-money-is-vulgar-it-will-appear-as-needed strain that reminds me of the article’s author.

  143. “Rather, it’s the mostly unstated assumption that if People Like Us were to find ourselves in such a situation, it’s better to spend your whole life broke and keeping up UMC appearances than it would be to live like the working middle class and take a part-time job at Hobby Lobby.”

    +1. He had me with the explanation of the advances (unpredictability/need to spread over several years), the lack of increase in freelance rates, etc. He lost me with Stanford/Harvard, the 401(k) wedding debacle, and the SAHW-even-after-kids-are-gone. Even if he needed to work more-than-full-time to earn his advances, and she had been out of the market for decades, she could still work at Hobby Lobby or for Uber. Or, if he’s the sole breadwinner, move to small-town-somewhere that costs a lot less (again, after the kids are off).

    I admired his openness and his admitting it was on him. But he still seems blind to choices he can make even today that could make things a lot more secure.

  144. When DW was young, all through elementary school, MIL worked on Saturdays as a retail demonstrator for kitchen gadgets like the Vitamix and rotisserie ovens. My mom taught driver’s ed a couple nights a week for a few years.

    Neither of these was necessary, just more to add a few extras to middle-class life, but we’ve never known anything like that feeling where seeking money is vulgar. My grandfather worked part-time low-level retail until he was 81, and only stopped then because the store closed.

  145. I have a friend who is a teacher back in my hometown. Her DH lost his job recently, so not only is he driving Uber, but she is doing it too, in the evening, so they can replace more of his income until he finds something

  146. My Mom’s side of the family is the hustle, take up job, work type. My Dad’s side is like what Meme describes. My Mom, has been hyper critical of “those people”, who she says, do nothing but wait for their interest check and childless relatives to die.

  147. DH’s parents and my mother are like this so I get it but that was a tough article to read. DH’s parents emptied IRAs to help fund my BIL’s wedding to “be fair” since they had paid for a decent portion of our wedding a few years prior (when things were much better financially). My in-laws did exceptionally well for about ten years with their own business but didn’t save all that much. They got an offer around 2000 to sell for $1 million and they thought it wasn’t enough to retire on so they passed and then the company went bankrupt a few years later.

  148. Houston would undoubtedly NOT end up like the Atlantic article guy if she did not work. And I disagree with the often unstated assumption that “there but for the grace of God go I” so many people seem to believe in cases like this. Yes, financial fragility is stressful and makes it hard to make smart decisions, but not all of us would end up like this guy if we suffered similar “hardships”.

  149. I guess it would be appropriate to invoke the Totebag motto now: “Holier than thou since 2012.” :)

  150. The real danger for those of us from the school of thrift and work at whatever you can is failing the reality test when we actually do have money. We all know people who can’t break the habit of self denial or construct remote scenarios by which disaster will befall them. Or who keep moving the goal posts on what is an adequate retirement nest egg or “fair” dynastic generational transfer and deny themselves and their families comforts and experiences in pursuit of financial goals for their own sake. Milo, I want you to come to my house and try to determine by sound alone whether the dishwasher is running in the next room.

  151. The Great Recession was a real eye opener because a few of my coworkers were very over extended. The carrying of two mortgages, credit card and car loans, the carrying of their own student loans for years all surfaced. It wasn’t any one single thing but all accumulated debt with no serious effort to pay it off until the crisis forced them to look hard at their finances.

  152. “Milo, I want you to come to my house and try to determine by sound alone whether the dishwasher is running in the next room.”

    LOL. Cleaning up the kitchen after dinner is generally my job, and I load the dishwasher, but don’t start it until we go to bed. That way, when you’re all the way on the second floor, you might only hear it when the detergent cup snaps open-mid cycle. :)

    I’ve had too many expenses lately, with a tax bill, the roof repairs (going on right now), boat, boat sales tax, boat slip annual lease… Plus property taxes will be due in June.

  153. “The carrying of two mortgages”

    The first episode of the new season of Lakefront Bargain Hunt was at Lake Norman. :)

  154. @CoC: despite my post above, I do feel the “there but for the grace of God” argument, because of the significant role that luck and timing played in my life. What if I had been one of the @50 lawyers laid off in @’92? A year out of law school, no firms hiring, no other qualifications, and a new condo. I absolutely would have jumped on some job to bring in the income, but being a Kelly Girl or working in the deli wouldn’t have covered the mortgage and condo fees (and foreclosure was still a “gasp”[clench pearls] thing). Or what if one of us couldn’t find a job the multiple times DH shut down a plant?

    In the end, I am confident that we would have done better than this guy, because we would have scrambled and cut expenses, and we have family on whom we could rely to tide us over (whether our psyches or our marriage would have survived that kind of a turn is another issue entirely). But being on the other side of the luck coin at specific points in time would have us in a very different place right now.

  155. Milo, you bought the boat. That is plenty of discretionary spending for this year. But when you finally do replace the dishwasher, go for the Miele.

  156. “go for the Miele”

    Ehhhhh, I don’t know. I hear so many horror stories about the 99% brands. I like the 80% brand–in all things (this is particularly relevant when you’re looking at SERE ratings on HVAC units). My dishwasher right now is probably a 20% brand.

    What does the guy at Sears recommend as the best value when you can afford any of them.

  157. I don’t mean to harp on this, but the way of New York is not the way of the world. I looked at two top 10 programs, not on the east coast, in architecture, University of Texas at Austin and Cal poly San Luis Obispo and neither of them allow freshman applicants to submit portfolios.

    I’m not going to convince everyone on this board that most 14-year-olds still have a lot of potential, and haven’t closed permanently certain doors in their lives. I don’t even actually think that architecture is a great path with potential for a stable career.

  158. @lfb — I agree that luck plays a big part, but it’s unlikely that you or I would have ended up like the Atlantic guy even if we had been unluckier.

  159. CoC that article was interesting. Half of graduates regret how much money they borrowed and a third said they would not have gone to college at all if they had understood the total cost. I wish high school students could be forced to read info like that.

  160. When I think of those who “can’t break the habit of self-denial”, I think of my parents, who still have a 20″ non-HDTV. My dad watches sports about 3 feet from the TV and leans in. I am going to encourage them to buy a big TV once he retires. :)

    I have very little sympathy for the guy in the article – it is hard for me to understand that kind of mindset.

  161. ” I agree that luck plays a big part, but it’s unlikely that you or I would have ended up like the Atlantic guy even if we had been unluckier.”

    I’m going to go the other direction here and say that you both have this all wrong.

    I have been far less lucky in professional life than that Atlantic guy. It takes huge (YUUUGE) amounts of luck to declare oneself a freelance writer and be able to work productively for an entire career, securing multiple book deals with significant advances, writing for the Atlantic, writing for television, and making enough money to live the middle class life that they’ve lived in East Hampton, even if they have nothing saved to show for it.

    Unlucky my eye! That guy has hit the jackpot of all jackpots.

  162. “I think of my parents, who still have a 20″ non-HDTV.”

    Just buy one for them the next time you’re at Costco. Or, now I’m remembering, didn’t you try that already and they didn’t want it?

  163. “I think of my parents, who still have a 20″ non-HDTV.”

    My mother finally replaced her CRT, which still had the push-buttons you could push to select the channels (hey, it was the height of technology in 1986; she probably bought it on sale in 1992). I believe she was forced to change because her DVD player died and she couldn’t figure out how to make the new one hook up properly to the STB and TV so she could watch Netflix. She finally took my advice: just take DH to Best Buy and give him a budget. Now she thinks it’s the best thing ever.

    When we went to the Florida house with her over Christmas, DH actually went out and bought her a TV and DVD player, because my Great-Aunt’s TV was even older (mind you, my Great-Aunt died in @ 2005). It was all of about $250 for both. Again, revelatory. And yet she still just. can’t. do. it.

  164. Freelance writers often have spouses who provide the stable income and health insurance. Or they at least don’t buy a new house without selling the co-op while sending the kids to private school. This guy is just a bozo. He didn’t have bad luck and lots of unexpected expenses. He just didn’t make enough money for the expensive choices that be made. And apparently his wife didn’t notice enough to do anything about it? I am certain that 99% of the board would never be in his position. Most wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.

  165. Milo – Sears doesn’t carry Miele. Bosch (which has two price tiers, one European made and one not) is the highest end brand there, and the upper tier as a 90% brand is not worth the premium over a bit less quiet 70% brand. The cheapest Miele (95% brand) is hugely better at a slight upcharge over the higher Bosch. But a cutlery tray is worth the premium, no matter what brand or price point you settle on.

  166. It all sounds too hoity-toity for me. Just give me a nice Kenmore or Maytag or something.

  167. Was it DD who is planning a trip to Iceland? Fun article from the NYT about the community around the local hot pools. Having been to Blue Lagoon twice – I would skip it in favor of the local pools next time.

    Yes, it’s me. We’re definitely planning on going to the smaller pools. Everything I’ve read about the Blue Lagoon says it’s become way too crowded.

    We actually just finished booking places to stay. You know you’re staying somewhere remote when their directions are simply “here’s our gps coordinates.” I was really surprised that one town we wanted to stay in is totally booked up so we’re staying about an hour away.

  168. My new dishwasher has a cutlery tray but I don’t use it. Am I missing the greatness of it?

  169. We had a 10% dishwasher before, and it was so loud. Our house is pretty small, so even running it at night was too loud. I could handle the noise if it actually cleaned the dishes. We had passed on the Miele the first time around and regretted it for 8 years until the 10% dishwasher broke. We’ve had the Miele for 2 years now, and it has been worth every penny. For us though living in a small house having a quiet feature is a huge plus. I wasn’t really sure about the cutlery tray, but it is great too. Compared to the 10% dishwasher it is really easy to clean out the filter and to fix any small problems – food stuck in the trap etc.

    Meme – do you use the Miele dishwasher tabs?

  170. “Just give me a nice Kenmore or Maytag or something.”

    I walked in planning to buy a Bosch, but walked out with a $350 Frigidaire. It has a heating coil that actually dries the dishes.

  171. We had a 10% dishwasher before, and it was so loud.

    That was our issue as well. We bought a Bosch about 5 years ago, and it is soooo quiet. The down side is it has less space because of the extra insulation, but the tradeoff is totally worth it.

  172. “I think of my parents, who still have a 20″ non-HDTV. My dad watches sports about 3 feet from the TV and leans in. I am going to encourage them to buy a big TV once he retires. :)”

    One advantage of having parents like this is that it’s easy to buy them gifts.

  173. You know the Kenmore has to be another brand because Sears doesn’t manufacture any appliances. The sales person will usually tell you what it is, or you can practically tell if you’ve been shopping for a little while. There is a model number on every kenmore, and there are web sites that will match the model number to the exact manufacturer such as Whirlpool, Amana, Frigidaire, GE, etc., if the Sears sales person doesn’t want to share the info.

    We have a Bosch. It is about five years old, and it still works great. I got it with other appliances, so it was free as part of a promotion.

  174. Milo, consider if repair is readily available for a Miele in your location. I’ve been happy with our Kenmore Elite for ~10 years, Joe-my-appliance-guy stocks the parts for it if it ever breaks, and we have river water, so it cleans fine. The dB range of Miele dishwashers is 38-46 vs 43-49 dB for Kenmore Elite. Quick repair is more important to me than that decibel difference, in part because I live in a 2300 sq ft house where the dishwasher is 20+ ft away from the rest of the house.

    Finn, Reed is urban by Oregon standards, but someone else’s point that SE Portland would be more properly considered “suburban” is probably correct. I’m reminded of an acquaintance who went to Cornell from Billings, Montana, and raised her hand when her professor asked who grew up in a big city. She’d grown up in Billings, the largest city in Montana!

    An acquaintance (physician) who went to Reed for undergrad, med school, then Harvard for a fellowship liked Reed much better than Harvard. Reed is undergrad focused and he received a fine science education there, in his opinion better than what Harvard offers to undergrads. There are, in my opinion, no good engineering programs in the Portland area, but your son will likely go to grad school anyway and many/most engineering programs (I’m thinking biomedical) would accept a science undergrad from Reed. Reed is liberal even by Oregon standards, but it’s a live-and-let-live kind of liberal, I suspect, not a we-are-the-thought-police kind of liberal.

  175. Louise, DS did check out Reed. It’s a SLAC with no engineering program, although it does have a 3/2 with Caltech (!).

    We are well aware that Harvard checks all the boxes. We’re also well aware that Harvard is a reach for nearly everybody, and DS is a good student with good scores but not much of a hook, more like a barb or two. What we need to find is someplace that checks all or most of the boxes that he’s more likely to get into, or where a box or two is not checked off but that will have significantly lower net cost.

    I’ve identified ASU/Barrett Honors College as checking some of the boxes and offering excellent NMSF merit aid, but DS has cooled on it. Northeastern is another possibility; I wish we’d visited the campus while we were in Boston.

  176. “I’m reminded of an acquaintance who went to Cornell from Billings, Montana, and raised her hand when her professor asked who grew up in a big city. She’d grown up in Billings, the largest city in Montana!”

    I used to work with someone who fits that description. She moved to your area shortly after having her first kid.

    I think DS is only interested, at this point, in engineering as an undergrad major. He plans on some sort of grad school, and he wants an undergrad degree that leads directly to a well-paying job that can pay for grad school.

  177. My dad got his master’s in EE at NE, but that was long ago (and night/weekend grad school) so I don’t know how relevant his experience would be.

  178. Finn, for me a 3/2 program with a liberal arts school and Caltech would have been livin’ the dream. Not sure if that’s true for your son.

  179. Hmm, I wonder if his undergrad would work for your son? Classics, engineering, gets snow, small city urban, selective but not crazy selective — U of Wisconsin Madison. (No, neither of my parents is from Wisconsin, they just met there after traveling far from their respective home states.)

  180. Milo, yes, they did return that TV that we bought them (it was only a 32″!).

    Kate – where do you put the cutlery then???? I love that thing so much, I am definitely replacing the dishwashers in the new house with Mieles when they croak.

  181. The dishwasher that wore out after 8 years was a Bosch. It was very good, but for 15% more in price this was much better.

    I don’t understand “don’t use the cutlery tray” The point is that you don’t have to take up all that space on the bottom shelf with the cutlery basket. You take it out!!! Then all the cups and glasses fit on the top shelf, and the plates and pots and mixing bowls and storage containers fit on the bottom. And the serving and cooking utensils, lids and tiny items, and table cutlery all go in the tray.

    WCE – Your Kenmore Elite from 10 years ago is a dinosaur, just like my Kenmore washer and dryer of the same vintage. Even new low end dishwashers now have something like a motherboard or CPU that doesn’t have separate small sensors or relays that fail. The mechanicals never fail.

  182. The problem with the 3/2 with Caltech is that “Admission to Caltech is not automatic upon recommendation, but is subject to review by Caltech and may depend upon factors that cannot be anticipated.”

    I’d be leery about him matriculating at Reed while thinking that he’d finish at Caltech.

  183. Finn, from talking to a guy who went to Caltech, I’m not sure the competition at Reed would prepare you for junior level classes at Caltech. Caltech concentrates people with high CPU.

    “The mechanicals never fail”
    provided no one decides standing on the open dishwasher door is a good way to reach the upper cupboards. :) I live with four children and a dog, so the dishwasher isn’t even on my noise pareto. I’d probably choose a Miele now after reading your comment about electronics reliability.

  184. I put the cutlery in the basket on the bottom. My basket is long and narrow and that space is only for the basket, so I am not giving up any space by using it. The tray seemed like a PITA the few times I used it.

  185. WCE – or you could just buy two mid range dishwashers in succession for the same total price and equal the life span of the Miele. And Mr WCE or your repairman friend could install them for free or at a reasonable price.

    tcmama – Finish tabs work just fine in mine. I do use rinse agent as well. I need to buy a container of liquid for the times I want to run the express cycle – they said not to use tabs then. I don’t have the model that claims to do crystal and fine china, since I don’t have any.

  186. Kate – do you mean the tray at the top that slides out? I thought it was weird at first, but now I am used to it, and I like not having to bend down to pull out the silverware.

  187. Yes! I don’t like having to place each piece and then pull them out one by one. In the basket, I place all the teaspoons in one slot, knives in another, salad forks in another, etc, and pull them out all at once.

  188. “And Mr WCE or your repairman friend could install them for free or at a reasonable price.”

    I’ve installed a couple of dishwashers. It’s not that difficult; I’m pretty sure Mr. or Ms. WCE could do it.

    “Finish tabs work just fine in mine. I do use rinse agent as well.”

    Isn’t the little ball in the tab the rinse agent?

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