Round 1 – University of New Haven, New Haven, CT
First let me say this, no offense to anyone who lives in New Haven, but let me ask you this; why? Why do you live in New Haven? To get to New Haven, which I will refer to as NHCT from here on, you have to drive through MA. This is the most boring, and unpicturesque drive, I have ever been on. Except Idaho… Idaho is really boring too. In any case, there is nothing pretty to look at, the landscape is dirty, and perpetually under construction. If you have ever driven the highways in MA, then you know what I’m talking about; pot hole mine fields, trash, and run down city scape.
Once we got into NHCT, which I have never been to before, I suddenly knew what everyone was warning me about. They said “New Haven? Eww”, “Why are you going there?”, “You don’t want to send your daughter there”, and my favorite: the silent screwed up face of disgust. We exited the highway into the ghetto, or more accurately and politely stated, a very run down area on the outskirts of the city, and drove for about five-ish miles before we came across the university, which once used to be part of Yale. Now when I, a self-professed helicopter mom, read up on UNHCT I was pleasantly surprised to read that it was once part of Yale, and that Yale resides merely a stones throw away from the UNHCT campus. I thought it was incredible news that loaded very well for the academics, and the area must be amazingly beautiful, I mean Yale is an ivy league college after all. So you can imagine the shock on my face when we drove straight through a helicopter mom’s worst safety nightmare only to arrive at the university to see that it is completely fenced in, a beautiful campus, but only way in by car and one way out by car, that I could see.
Now here’s the thing about the campus being completely fenced in; you can say it’s to keep the students in, or you can say that its to keep the “riff raff” out. I say the school is smart enough to know that no parent is going to let their child go to a school, let alone pay for said school, knowing the campus and their child are exposed to the “riff raff.” A very good friend of mine, whose daughter went to UNHCT, once told me that it was fine and her daughter loved the school. She also said that there were never any issues with her daughter wandering off campus because that just wasn’t something she was interested in. If T was like that, then I wouldn’t be having this mini panic attack right now! T is one of those brave, and daring girls who love to have adventures, explore, have fun, and see what places have to offer outside of her immediate surroundings. Especially when those surroundings are as small as this campus is. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this… Of course the school does have its own on site and fully functional police station, blue light system, and safety app that tracks on campus and off. This should make me feel better right? Nope, although I will say that the surroundings are even more boring, and desolate than the 2.5 hour drive down, so maybe that will be a deterrent for any off campus exploring. Maybe I’ll win the lottery on Wednesday as well!
I will hand it to the UNHCT for having the most appealing academic program for what T is looking to study. Fully supported by an incredibly experienced faculty, and diverse learning opportunities and internships. State of the art facilities, and who can overlook the amount of money they give, which is a lot. For the academics and money alone, it is the school of choice, and it was cool that they gave T a free t-shirt, she has a crazy obsession with college logo t-shirts. For the surrounding environment, not so much.
Round 2 – Champlain College, Burlington, VT
On the total opposite side of the spectrum, we have Champlain College in VT, known as CVT going forward. This was the most beautiful 3 hour drive on the highway I have ever had, to date. It was nothing but lush green foliage, green rolling hills, farms, fields, mountains, blue skies, rocky rivers, crystalline lakes, and eco-friendly rest stops. There were a few solar farms along the way, but they didn’t detract from the beauty of the country at all, on the contrary, they made it even more beautiful.
Once we made it to Burlington, another city I had not been to before, we exited the highway into what could only be described as a typical rural New England town, as the city center was still a few miles up. Quaint little pizza parlors, yoga studios, smoothie joints, boutiques, and a specialty bagel shop lined the street interspersed with older Victorian style homes that got more extravagant, the closer to CVT that you got. Of course there was the beautiful specter of Lake Champlain across the street, views were interspersed with more industrial type buildings along the train track.
For being a somewhat smaller school, CVT gave off the big university vibe, with its set up right in the middle of a thriving community. This is a plus for the college student who is looking for room to move without being in the big city, and perfect for the helicopter mom who has a daughter that likes to explore. Burlington, VT having been named the safest place in the US to live, and the beauty of the city also attribute to this helicopter mom feeling more at ease with her little girl being 3 hours away at school, and there not being any fences needed to keep the “riff raff” out. They also use the blue light system along the campus but, through proven data, have not had to use it for anything other than the occasional, “I’ve been locked out of my dorm” call.
CVT did also provide a ridiculously good BBQ lunch spread, AND Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for dessert. NO free t-shirt, but they gave visitors a discount in the store, should they want to procure a shirt, or in our case, a sweatshirt. The only, so far, downside to CVT is the academics. While they are top of the game in all majors they offer, they don’t offer the exact area of study that T is looking for. As a result, she would have to double major, and combine courses only to graduate with a degree in a non-specialized field within her field. If that makes sense. But mom… they don’t require SAT OR ACT scores… HA!
In summary, the helicopter mom in me says for safety sake, CVT. For academics, UNHCT. What does T say? As of right now, she says UNHCT because the campus (not the surroundings) is beautiful, the academics are perfect for what she wants to study, she feels she could really excel at UNHCT, and after she graduates she would be more desirable in the job market because of her academic history.
I’m sure you can all imagine the look on my face right now. Needless to say it looks to be helicopter mom – zero, college tour – 1. This is only two schools visited so far so this may change, however with UNHCT being the number 1 school for her area of study, I have a feeling this helicopter mom is going to suffer a few more break downs long the way.
FYI… I did not cry once while on either tour….. ok, I may or may not have buried my face in my pillow later at night and did it!!
Until next time…