Sorry, Dad, this one's picture heavy. I hope it doesn't crash your computer :) Today we visited Harvey Mudd College, one of many my son applied to. On paper, it looks like a great college for Computer engineering, which is what my son wants to be. In person, my son was not impressed and neither was I. We got there after a long day of traveling and getting stuck in LA traffic. I was surprised to find blue skies, which is abnormal for LA weather. You might find that 3 days out of the year. I grew up in Southern California and am used to having brown skies. But coming over the Grapevine, the sky was clear and you could see for miles. We didn't hit traffic until about 10 miles from the college and then it took us almost 45 minutes to get those last 10 miles. So, we were late to the tour.
We stopped in at the admissions office, figuring since we had missed the beginning of the tour, we would just ask some questions and then walk around the campus ourselves. The campus is part of a 5 college system and my older daughters both applied to the other 4 schools and got in. My oldest applied to Pomona-Pitzer and they recruited her heavily for their tennis team. We met with the coach and she was really turned off by the coach's attitude. She said that if my daughter got better on her own, that was great, but she really didn't see her helping my daughter out much. She let the kids improve by themselves.
What was the point in joining a team if the coach didn't take an interest in you after getting you on the team? She (the coach) was a bit strange.
Daughter #2 applied and got into Claremont-McKenna and then after not getting much in scholarship decided that she would rather come out with only $60,000 in debt instead of $240,000 in debt. The campus is pretty small and she decided that going to high school for another 4 years wasn't her thing. She would rather go to a school of 30,000 people vs. a school of 2,000 was better for her. Harvey Mudd has only 800 students. My son's high school has 1700. That's a huge difference!
After getting to the admissions office, we asked about scholarships because there is just no way we could afford the $60,000 a year the school costs. My son asked about the President's Scholarship. The secretary got one of the financial aid officers to come out in the lobby to talk to us. In front of all the other people that were there. AWKWARD.
So the lady said the scholarship was for under-represented students-ethnic minorities, women, low income, students whose parents hadn't been to college...
I was waiting for her to say, you are too male and too white. She said, you can still apply, of course. Wow, way to encourage him. Thanks so much!
Almost everyone got around on skateboards there and they had these cool skateboard parking spots. We also saw a lot of unicycles. My son cannot ride either. We even saw a guy on uni-skates. They only had one wheel on each foot. I wasn't quick enough to get a picture, he was really fast.
We managed to catch the tour as it came past us when we left the admissions office. They were about half way done, but heading to the dorms. The girl took us into her dorm room, which was really great. The rooms were really big, much bigger than any dorm room I've ever been in, but outside the dorms, they had really filthy couches and loud music and there was no way anyone was getting any studying done. She told stories of kids jumping out of the second story onto their mattresses and how at 10:30 at night how they would have people banging gongs to call everyone out to play capture the flag and how great it was. I'm thinking, if you are trying to sell the campus to a bunch of parents who are going to pay $60,000 a year to get an education, these might not be the stories you want to tell.
The dorms looked like a bunch of Frat Houses with graffiti painted on them and trash everywhere. She said each one had a different personality, but each story she told didn't include a 'study' dorm so I'm not sure where that group of students lived. We walked around the campus ourselves and my son said he really didn't feel like he would fit in there. He said he wanted a campus where he could study and get a good education, not be around kids who party all the time. From what we saw and heard, this wasn't the place for him.
It is really important to visit potential campuses before making a really important decision like this. Tomorrow is UC Irvine and UCLA. From my daughters' experiences, when you step on the college you are meant to attend, you just know it. You feel at home.