Campus Visits – A Parent’s Point of View by Kathleen Thometz

Welcome  Kathleen Thometz to CollegeintheBag’s guest blog spot! Kathleen, is a  very cool & creative mother of four who is preparing to send her oldest off to college in the fall of 2013. As she shared tales of recent college visits, I begged her to write about them. Thanks Kathleen and enjoy everyone!   

Up until Thanksgiving my husband had been in charge of our son’s college visits.  As we are from the Chicago area, they had been driving through the Midwest looking at various small colleges, Loras and St. Ambrose, in Iowa and Bradley in Peori, Loyola in Chicago.

As I was driving out to the east coast for Thanksgiving, I was charged with taking him to McDaniel (formerly Western Maryland) in Westminster and Goucher in Towson, Maryland.

I was surprised that I actually found myself enjoying those visits, in spite of the fact that McDaniel gave a lively 2 hour presentation to the parents before a tour of the lovely, colonial-feeling campus, and delicious lunch in their brand new cafeteria.

Goucher’s presentation was a one-man-band affair and down and dirty.  The one thing I liked about the school, besides the prairie style architecture, was the fact that it is the only school in the country that requires every student go abroad.  This is wonderful because it gives our students the much-lauded global experience.  It also allows them to savor the experience long after it happens because all of the older students have already done it and will want to continue to share their experiences and the younger students are gathering information to choose their experience abroad.

While I enjoyed the tours for the most part, I think these schools need to come up with a better way to give the tours.  Following a young man or woman across what feels like miles of campus, while they walk backward is disconcerting.  How about a mini-PA system or just walk frontwards and make the groups smaller? Since the writing of this piece I’ve discovered that it is very good for you, both physically and mentally, to walk backwards.

I was struck by the amount of great things, that don’t cost anything, offered at these schools that I don’t remember being offered when I went to college nearly 30 years ago.  I was impressed with the affinity housing, students with similar interests living together.  At McDaniel there is a house where the students raise a service dog together each year. I love the writing clinics both schools had available to students.

I know I’m a dinosaur but what I don’t like about college campuses in general is the too-fancy facilities. McDaniel just built a state of art cafeteria. I’d rather send my kid to a dumpy college with great professors and have lower tuition. I am not keen on paying to

High Point’s waterfall wall at the entrance of the cafeteria.

have my child eat in a kitchen more gorgeous than mine.  These kids will be in for a rude awakening when they move into their first dumpy apartment.  I’d rather have that experience come in college at less financial cost to me.