Nine schools. Five states. Six days.

Looking for a perfect college match

Brown walks towards the St. George’s campus exit. Brown has had three college guidance meetings already.

Miriam Brown, Editor-in-Chief

“I have no idea.” That was my consistent response when asked which colleges I was considering, and it was true. I had not thought about my future schooling at all because I was “trying to get through high school first.” I could barely plan what I would be doing next week, much less two years from now, so searching for colleges was a confusing, overwhelming process.

Admitting I had no current plans for my future schooling was daunting. So, because of the anxiety it gave me, I quickly came up with a list of several small liberal arts colleges with college guidance counselors Mr. Timothy Gibson and Ms. Jessica Hardy, all of which emphasized academics and community service, which I value the most.

I made the mistake of sharing this list with my parents before fall break, and thus, while my friends headed off on vacation, I was on a plane ready to visit nine colleges in five states.

Oct. 7 – Maine

7 a.m.

After two delayed flights, confiscated luggage and a car ride until 1 a.m., we drove to the first college of the day. Today was my father’s birthday, so he spent it visiting colleges with me. Happy birthday, Dad!

9 a.m.

We first went to a small mill town with brutal winters where we visited Colby College. Our tour guide was dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans and stressed aspects of the college such as unlimited food and the napping club. The students exuded warmth and were involved in too many extracurriculars, making me feel at home.

Our tour guide told us Iggy Azalea performed there before she was well-known, but she was booed off the stage because they thought she was so bad. I liked these people already.

1 p.m.

At Bowdoin College, a school so chilly in winter that they have a polar bear as a mascot, I attended a tour, information session and introductory Philosophy class. The class was discussion-based, and Bowdoin’s slightly greater academic focus seemed to bring a little more competitive atmosphere.

The tour guide bragged about the school’s number one ranking in food. Why wouldn’t you?

Oct. 8 – Maine & Massachusetts

9 a.m.

Bates College was the last college of the Maine trifecta, and the visits were starting to sound similar. Every college representative showed off the chemistry lab and acted as if I was a rare species when I said I was from Tennessee.

What stuck out about Bates was its competitive eating club, nighttime knitting club, dining hall’s selection of 70 cereals and a Puddle Jump event that mirrored a St. George’s Polar Plunge.

Many students were also artistically gifted. If I’m not artistic or musically inclined, at all, does appreciating the arts count for something?

1 p.m.

We left Maine’s hills for Tufts University in the Boston suburbs. I was already a fan of Tufts for its acapella group, the Beelzebubs, who play the fictional acapella group the Warblers in “Glee.”

Tufts has three times as many undergraduates as the Maine schools and a more urban feel. In fact, a subway stop was being built right on campus.

Tufts allows its students freedom of expression through a cannon on campus that students traditionally paint messages on at night, and then guard until morning to prevent others from painting over it.

4 p.m.

Thanks to standstill Boston traffic, we arrived to Boston College 30 minutes late. We searched around for a tour group, but the campus was so huge that by the time we found one, the tour guide was saying her goodbyes.

I can say that Boston College is beautiful, but I can’t say much more. If today were any indicator, I am not cut out for the big-city life.

Oct. 9 – Vermont & New York

10 a.m.

Middlebury College is known for its global studies programs and 40 study abroad programs.

It offers a strong support system with upperclassmen, major and freshman advisors for each student. Like St. George’s, it has an honor system, and the administration trusts its students, keeping its buildings open 24 hours a day.

Middlebury also owns its own ski area that mid-year graduates ski down in caps and gowns. After some students tried to sled down in a canoe, Middlebury now limits the tradition to only skiing.

3 p.m.

St. Lawrence University is in upstate New York near Canada. The school offered other prospective students and me a one-on-one tour, immediately earning my respect.

In addition to offering specialized housing for students sharing interests like service and the outdoors, it offers unique study rooms, including a “treehouse” study carrel with a ladder leading to a quiet desk.

Our tour guide was laid-back and outdoorsy, and other students reflected his relaxed attitude.

As I left, my guide handed me a large chocolate chip cookie that read, “Thanks for visiting!” Being a chocolate fanatic, it certainly did not hurt.

Oct. 10 – New York

10 a.m.

The Colgate University information session, with more than 100 people packing an auditorium, was a big contrast with the intimate St. Lawrence visit, but its facilities were incredible.

In its student center, a fire is lit in an enormous fireplace on the first snowfall of the year and put out on the last, which was on graduation day one year.

Oct. 12 – Minnesota & Tennessee

8 a.m.

Carleton College is located in the rural town of Northfield, Minnesota, but the geographic isolation fosters a non-judgmental, non-competitive atmosphere.

Its students value academics and wholesome fun. A house on campus with cookie ingredients for anyone with sudden cravings is open 24 hours a day. In the winter, students have been known to sled down hills on cafeteria trays and have snowball fights with neighboring schools.

Carleton also matches roommate applications by hand.  A student who wrote “Just don’t give me an axe murderer” was paired with another student who wrote, “I’m not an axe murderer, I promise.” They’re now best friends.

3 p.m.

After five plane rides and about 1,000 miles of driving, I still haven’t chosen a college. However, I now know that what is most important to me isn’t the impressive facilities we toured, but finding schools where I felt at home with the students. Friends make our high school experience special, and they will make our college experience special, too.

Now that I have a tentative list of colleges to consider, I finally have an answer for when people ask me about my future. And, if I alter my list, I’m going to share it with my parents after the next school break, not before.