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College tour wrap-up

Twelve universities. Roughly 3,200 miles driven. Plenty of impressions that started to crowd each other towards the end. A few obvious judgments and a number of decisions of greater nuance.

Four additional colleges that did not fit into our travel plans were also in the mix. Two of those were from the cheaper/safer category. One was a school with a tremendous appeal to Becky which was located too far for a day trip and yet not conveniently enough to combine a visit there with a stop at another college on a two-day journey. Finally, one other was initially removed from our target list despite placing near the top in terms of matching Becky’s interests, because of mixed reviews we had about it from acquaintances; we eventually reinstated its candidacy but only after we could no longer make reasonable arrangements to visit it before the start of the holiday season. For all of those we figured that we would apply to them regardless and then visit them in spring before the enrolling deadline if they ended up as finalists.

Clearly, we positioned ourselves towards stretching the accepted upper boundary of the number of applications, with the common wisdom suggesting six to eight would be most appropriate. It was mostly down to the disappointing returns for a few of the last-year high school seniors we know who got turned down by many of their top-choice institutions despite having superior credentials. We wanted to give ourselves a wider range of options in case the few colleges we really would jump at a chance of attending did not feel as warmly about us. (In full “hedging risk” mode, I insisted on adding those couple additional “safety” schools to the mix even though I was confident that the chance of Rutgers deciding to pass on Becky was virtually nil.)

If you have been following this series of posts, you know that one of the schools on the itinerary was not really ever in the mix. Of all of the others, we outright eliminated just one single institution which ended up with little in its favor over others on our scale of combined parameters (standout/unique academic opportunities, distance, location, cost-vs-assistance, etc). Which still left us with 14 destinations.

Then, events took an unexpected, although definitely positive, turn. Not fond of procrastinating until the last possible moment, we have been working through and submitting applications to our firm target schools just as we were completing the trip itinerary and deciding on whether to apply to others. Since Rutgers has always been one of those firm targets, it was one of the first in our queue to submit. Unlike most of schools on our list, it employs a rolling admission process. To our immense surprise, it took but a single week for them to come back to us with a congratulating letter on being accepted to the university.

Now all of the remaining schools had to be additionally considered along the “would you go there instead of Rutgers?” parameter. That quickly eliminated three more schools from the list – one of the “hedges” and two that did not excite us enough to compensate for the disadvantages of their cost and/or location. (The other “hedge” did not get eliminated because we had already applied there by the time we received Rutgers acceptance, in order to maximize scholarship chances.) It also left one school hanging in the air, as I argue that acceptance to Rutgers makes it irrelevant but Becky leans towards applying and pushing the final decision to spring.

So, the end count is more manageable: Either 10 or 11 schools, of which we already fully applied to more than half. The remaining applications, bar aforementioned one, are to the schools that we would strongly consider over Rutgers if accepted, so the work is not yet finished.

It will be full four months before we know what we are finally choosing from. I’ll keep you posted.

And in case anyone is interested, only five states of the Union eluded detection of their license plates on our travels: Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Yes, we saw both a Hawaiian and an Alaskan plate, curiously within a couple of miles from each other.


  1. Ilya

    I long lost any contact with him, but I actually knew a guy who said he was from North Dakota. I can’t think of a reason why he’d make that up 😉

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