Dear Mom: College Visits


Dear Mom,

Over the weekend, we made our first visits to college campuses since you passed away.  Visiting two campuses (one on Friday and one on Saturday) in the same vicinity made sense as they were in (what I believe is considered) central New York; a four hour drive (give or take) each way.  I certainly wasn't going to do the drive twice and the campuses were only about 20 miles from each other, although worlds apart.

In the spring, we had visited Marywood University, just outside of Scranton.  I thought it was a good campus and they certainly seemed interested in J.  They had a variety of majors that might fit him (since he is not sure what he wants to do; heck, I'm in my 50s and I'm STILL not sure) and it was a walkable campus.   However, J felt it was too Catholic (think he's being a bit picky here) and didn't like the fact that it was remote from the city.  (What city?  I'm not sure.)

In the summer we visited The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).  TCNJ did not go off well, which was not the college's fault at all.  It was a miserable, rainy day and our tour guide, while nice, was focused on the sciences, which is NOT J's focus at all.  Furthermore, that day you were rather confused and kept calling us.  I lied and said it was not a bother, but it was and pulled us away from what should have been the focus of the day.  Even in the rain, the campus was very walkable and nice. (Although the dorm they showed was awful; I hope there are other buildings that freshman can live in.)  It is easily accessible by mass transit and getting to NYC or Philly would not be a problem.  (It doesn't hurt that it's about a 90 minute drive from our house and only 40 minutes away from my in laws.)  Since the day did not go as planned, we will be going back for an open house next month which I hope will give us a better feel.

Which brings us to this past weekend.  Since there was no school on Friday, we drove up early Friday morning (guess how happy your grandson was about that) to Syracuse for an afternoon tour.  The university is HUGE and has a lot of options that might fit J.   The downsides for us were costs, the city (what we saw did not impress) and the fact that it is a very athletic focused campus.  We had a very fast tour as the entire campus was shutting down at 3 PM due to the football game that night.  We were told that we would be able to visit/meet with the colleges that would best fit J (visual and performing arts and/or arts and sciences), but that didn't happen.  The fact that it was cold and overcast didn't add to its appeal.

 We spent the night at a Hampton Inn outside of town because all the hotels were booked.  The motel was fine (although costly, but then again I don't travel much so maybe my costs are off), but the area it wasn't great (I won't tell you about our fast food dinner) and the "guests" in the room next door were extremely loud.

The next day we drove about 20 miles south east to the very small campus of Cazenovia College.  The town itself was very charming (very picturesque) and it was easy to find where we had to go.  We were quite early, but the counselors were very nice while we waited.  The building that houses admissions is/was a house and when I went to the bathroom I immediately noticed that the "medicine cabinet" was identical to the one at the shore that is off of the kitchen.  J mentioned that the kitchen was very similar to the one at the shore (knotty pine cabinets). I felt like it was a sign (but I don't think J got it).

The tour group was small (though not as small as at Marywood where it was just us and the tour guide), but extensive.  Cazenovia may be a small school, but I was impressed with the facilities and the majors that they offer are right up J's alley (very art focused). It also doesn't hurt that (and yes this is right from their website) it is "the #2 best college in the North by US News, combining quality education with an affordable cost."  Downside, like Syracuse it is a 4 hour drive from home.

Upside, we met with a counselor after the tour who insisted on showing us additional art buildings (including one just for fashion design).  This also gave us a chance to take in the town (which is very walkable) which was hosting its Fall Fest.  I'll be honest, I would have liked to have stayed longer, but there was the drive home to consider.

As of now, I think Cazenovia would be a perfect fit for J, although I don't think he fully realizes it.  Although it ticks off most of the boxes for him, I think he's reluctant because it isn't a "name" school.  (I doubt as if anyone from the high school has gone there.) We will be visiting more schools over the coming weeks.  (Including a visit to Wagner College this Saturday which is only an hour away!)  Keep an eye on us.




  1. Be bold, be different and start the trend to Cazenovia! You may just open the eyes of other students to look there. My daughter went to St. Lawrence University. The last time a VHS grad went there, prior to B. going there, was in 1984. Subsequently, my son went there and 2 other VHS grads.


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