Choosing which Colleges to Visit: The 5-Hour Drive Limit
Nov28

Choosing which Colleges to Visit: The 5-Hour Drive Limit

Academics. Extracurriculars. Costs. Any of these are important factors to consider when deciding which college makes the list of schools to visit, but often even that is not enough –  a 5-hour drive limit can save time and money. We talked with Celeste, mom of a high school junior, about the other factors that influenced the college selection process for her son. Check out what made this family’s list, then tell us, what’s on your list of criteria? SCV: You mentioned visiting three schools with two more on the list for fall. How did you/your son decide which schools to visit? Celeste: My son is VERY interested in doing Air Force ROTC in college. (In fact, his first choice is actually the Air Force Academy.) He wants to go to a college where the ROTC program is actually on campus, which severely limits his options. My husband and I created a list for him of those schools that were within about a five-hour drive of family members on the East Coast–we can’t afford to fly him back and forth across the country and we want family members to be able to reach him if there is an emergency. SCV: Aside from ROTC and location, what were the other factors related to deciding where to visit? Celeste: My son looked at the web sites and found that most of them had programs for what he most wants to participate in for extracurriculars–cross-country and band–so that was not a deciding factor. He then looked at the acceptance rates, GPAs, SATs. The ones that were more demanding were more interesting to him because he likes a challenge. The schools that made his list were: University of Virginia (UVA), Virginia Tech, Duke, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) and the United States Air Force Academy (the only exception to our 5-hour drive rule). SCV: What were the visit experiences like for you/your son? Celeste: The first one was amazing, possibly because everything was new and a bit overwhelming. By the fourth one, we were tired of information sessions. Some schools, like UVA and UNC-Chapel Hill, did a great job of making it interesting and engaging. We walked away with a good sense of the school’s culture and what they stood for. Duke’s was average–it provided a good overview, but it was too long. Virginia Tech’s seemed boring–although it might have more to do with our early-morning drive there than the speaker herself, I didn’t feel I had a sense of what Tech was all about. My son felt that way about the information session as well, but he really enjoyed the tour there. The...

Read More