If any of my classmates would have asked what school I was going to around March or early April, I would've given them about four different answers. I've been up north but never for a college visit and honestly I just picked my colleges out the blue without visiting any of them.
So when my parents asked me what I wanted to do for spring break, I figured why not visit the places I applied to. It seemed like everyone from Atlanta was going to PCB to contract STDs and take Tequila shots on girls that wouldn't get a second look back on the Eastside. Instead I figured my best friend and I would go to New York City alone, with stops in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Bridgeport, Connecticut for my spring break. Most parents would've said I was out of my damn mind, but my parents said they would pay for the plane tickets, but the rest was on us.
I took it to heart and earned enough money working at a pizza place to pay my way and we stayed with my godsister and her husband in Brooklyn.
The plan was to visit Pace University, St. John's University, the University of Bridgeport and La Salle University. Plus, we would take time to explore the city and maybe take stops elsewhere.
At the beginning of the trip, we came off of the flight at Hell a.k.a. Laguardia Airport (keep in mind, I'm from Atlanta) and spend the rest of the first two days exploring Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island. We visited Pace — my original first choice — and I loved it. We saw about 10 beautiful women walk in and my best friend Leon just said “I can’t go here. My count would be like Curry’s 3-point average.” Pace is in the heart of Lower Manhattan and although I visited, I couldn’t afford it — even if I had all of my tuition covered by scholarships, room and board still costs about $18K.
While visiting my third choice school, the University of Bridgeport, what really made me like the school more than anything was my tour guide “Tuesday.” I personally think that a tour guide can make or break a visit as much as any other aspect of the college. If you do not like him or her, you will hate your time there. But in my case, Tuesday was informative and told me what actually happens like with the girls and in the dorms. Afterward, I had a great feeling that I could thrive there, even though I would be far away from home. Overall, it made the trip to Bridgeport very worthwhile.
I’ll skip St. John’s because I had the same reaction as when I visited Pace, except St. John’s costs more. Finally, this leads me to La Salle University, where I experienced the opposite of a great college visit. I’m not going to bash the school because I wouldn’t have considered it in the first place if it was not a great school. However, I didn’t have a great on-campus experience. It was Accepted Students Day and it felt more for show than an actual chance to learn about the school and what it would be like there as a student.
Then comes my tour guide. It’s a huge turn-off to me if you are super preppy about the school — and that’s exactly what my tour guide was. I felt like it would’ve been a conscription to the North Korean army if I went due to her and the feel of the school I got. What got me was that the Quad as absolutely dead on a Saturday afternoon at about 4 p.m. No one making moves on the city. No one even getting bit. It felt like a ghost town in the middle of Kansas, just dead and this kid from Atlanta just couldn’t do it. I thought that La Salle would be my school for sure, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
My point of all of this is that we are about to spend four plus years at these schools and you should know what you are getting into. I know everyone can’t go across the country to visit their school of choice, but some schools will pay for students to visit free of charge. Call the admissions office and maybe they have a program that might pay for it all or for a reduced price. You can also look at various websites to find cheap plane tickets. There are ways to get it done, you just have to find them.
Lead Image Credit: Janelle McCarthy