10 Types of Guides You See on Campus Tours

image If you haven’t yet been on a college tour, there’s something you need to be aware of.  Your tour guide can make or break your impression of a school. After going on dozens of college tours, here are 10 types of tour guides you might meet. You may have better chemistry with some than others. It’s better to be prepared.

10 Types of Campus Tour Guides

Welcome! I’m Davina. I’m a dance major from Rochester. At the moment, I’m working on my senior project — which is an interpretation in movement of an 18th century Japanese feminist tract incorporating elements of African dance, primal scream and pogo sticks. After graduation, I’m hoping to get a job as an investment banker.  Let’s get started.

Hey. My name is Brett. I’m from Arlington. I’d appreciate it if you would keep your voices down. I’m super hungover.

Hi!!!! 🌺🌷💐 I’m Amber!!!!! 🦄🐶🐱🌈 I’m from Orlando, and I’m sooooo excited to tell you about the community service activities I do with my sorority sisters!!!! 💛❤️💙💜💚!!!

Hi! I’m Zell. My preferred pronouns are zhe and zher. I’m from Portland, and I’m majoring in oppression studies. But before we start, I’d like to apologize that our campus is so ableist.  If you’ll follow me, I’ll take you to our first stop — the yurt.

Hi! I’m William. I’m from Boise, Idaho.  I’m an honors English major.  I’m working on my thesis “The Epistemology of Elegy and Essentialism in Frankenstein and Fifty Shades of Grey — A Proto-Feminist Critique.” I’m also president of the College Republicans.

Hi? I’m Maya? I’m from Newport Beach? I’m majoring in marketing? With a minor in fashion design? After graduation, I’m hoping to work for Ralph Lauren? Or as a personal assistant to Kimye?

Hi. I’m Julia. I’m a computer science major from Wayzata, Minnesota. I’m president of the Tri-College furry club. And I play the oboe.

Hi, I’m Rob. I’m an exercise science major from Lenexa, Kansas.  I can bench press 2 times my body weight.  Seriously.  If you’ll hold still, I’ll lift you over my head.

Welcome! I’m Eleanor.  I’m from Boulder and I’m majoring in environmental science and sustainability studies.  Let’s head to the new language study center.  It’s LEED certified and has a vegetable garden and chicken coop on the roof.  We use the produce and eggs from the roof garden in our cafeteria and I sleep on a pillow stuffed with molted chicken feathers. I’m also so excited that we’ve convinced facilities to acquire a herd of goats that will be used for weed control on campus instead of carbon emitting machinery.

Hi! I’m Marcus.  Sorry I was a few minutes late.  I just got back from my internship in Sen. Warren’s office. Anyway, I’m the president of the SGA, so if you want to know anything about student government, I’m your man.  Also, I run cross country.  And I’m doing research on using robotics to stimulate cell regeneration.  And I’m playing Stanley in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” If anyone needs me to do this tour in ASL while walking backwards, please let me know.

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Ten Questions I’d REALLY Like to Have Answered at a College Information Session


As a veteran of many — probably too many — college information sessions, I’ve come to realize that they’re all pretty much the same. Some of the fine details may differ, but generally, you’ll get a description of the curriculum, the graduation requirements, the application process, financial aid, study abroad and some vague description abou . . .


Sorry. I think nodded off for a minute there.  That happened to me a lot during information sessions.

Ahem. Back to business. I can barely remember any of the information sessions Boo and I attended — with the exception of two spectacularly bad ones; one of which left me wanting to punch the pretentiousness out of the admissions officer and the other made me want to stuff a sock in the mouth of another parent. I might have actually done the sock stuffing except that it was very clear that her daughter wanted to do it way more than I did, and I hate to rob kids of their fun.

In any event, the sameness of the sessions made me ponder the questions that I would really like to hear answered during an information session.  What would really be practical information and set the schools apart and give me a sense of what the school is really like? So I came up with this list of the ten questions I would really like to have answered at an information session.

Information Session Questions

1. What is your policy on responding to a panicked mother who has watched too many episodes of Dateline and whose daughter is not responding to texts?  Asking for a friend.

2. Which movie most accurately reflects life on your campus: a) Animal House (party school); b) The Social Network (school full of ruthless/annoying dweebs); c) Revenge of the Nerds (speaks for itself); d) Scream 2 (for God’s sake, are you so stupid that you’re going out by yourself? There’s a serial killer on campus!); or e) Pitch Perfect (awesome a cappella battles!)?

3. Are admissions here rigged?  Because I hear they’re rigged.  Believe me.

4. What footwear am I most likely to find in the closet of a female identifying student: a) Birkenstocks; b) Ferragamo pumps; c) super cute flip-flops (squee!); d) hiking boots; or e) Manolos?

5. Has your marching band ever been disciplined for an obscene or offensive half time show?  If yes, please describe the theme of the show.

6. Is there parking for helicopters?  Again, asking for a friend.

7. Name the alumnus/alumna you are most embarrassed to admit attended your school.

8. Which academic department is led by the craziest person?

9. It’s 11:00 p.m. on a Saturday, where is my child most likely to be: a) a frat party; b) a poetry slam; c) hanging out with friends from high school; d) in the library; or e) passed out?

10. Which of these most accurately reflects the usual level of interaction between students and professors: a) my professor came to a party in my dorm room;* b) my professor and her spouse have her students over for dinner; c) office hours only; d) I’m the person in row 23; or e) what professors — I only see grad students.

*Some day I’ll tell the story of when the Mayor of Providence ended up at a party in my dorm room.

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Your Mom’s Guide to the Personal Statement

Now that we have finalized Boo’s college list, she is in the throes of writing her personal statement.  She is busily trying to figure out how to be be authentic, sincere, humble, honest, thoughtful, humorous, sagacious, scintillating, peppy,  mysterious, illuminating, perspicacious, and . . . uh . . clean!  Oh, and don’t forget — the statement should let colleges “hear her voice.”  (I have come to hate that stupid term.  Everyone uses it.  If they want to hear Boo’s voice, she’ll happily sing for them.)

Things were much easier when I was applying to college.  I could get away with a “what I did on my summer vacation” essay that did little more than demonstrate that I was marginally literate and intermittently conscious.  And that I had spent a summer in Sweden, weirded out by their love of lutfisk, ABBA and Bjorn Borg.  But, back then, that essay was good enough to get me into Brown.

Over the summer, Boo wrote a personal statement that centered on a series of calamities she faced during a trip to Turkey last year with a group from her school.  The essay culminated with her falling into a river and then having to wear her teacher’s spare pair of size 0 shorts for the rest of the day.  (Boo is slim but not that small. So as if having to wear her teacher’s shorts was not humiliating enough, the loss of circulation below her waist was positively mortifying.) Then she decided that essay was horrible, an abomination, and a possible crime against humanity and that she needed to start fresh with a new topic.

So in my usual helpful fashion, I came up with some topics that I thought would be perfect for her personal statement.  Much to my astonishment, Boo has rejected all my suggestions, so I share them with you.  Feel free to pass them on to anyone who is struggling with a topic. I’d hate to see all my hard work go to waste.  You’re welcome.

Personal Statement Topic Suggestions

❤️‍‍🐶❤️🐶‍❤️‍‍Why my doggie is the cutest doggie ever!!!!!!!!❤️🐶‍❤️🐶‍❤️‍ (emojis mandatory)

How Justin Bieber has informed my weltanschauung. (For the record, let it be known amongst all people of good faith and for all generations from now to the end of days that Boo is not now and never has been a fan. She would smite me if I left the impression that she was.)

Pringles — Tasty, tasty snack food or abomination against nature? . . . . Or both?  

The past season of “The Bachelorette” through the lens of Eastern philosophies.  (Boo rejected this topic because she doesn’t watch “The Bachelorette.”  On advice of counsel, I plead the Fifth.)

Why pumping your own gasoline in Oregon is a threat to global stability.

My summer in Sweden.

Inappropriate show tunes I have sung.  (This one was under serious consideration.  And yes, she knew the entire score of “Avenue Q” by the time she was 10.  I  have no idea how that happened. Nope. No. Idea. At. All.)

Why my spirit animal is a sloth.

Fights I have had over pronouns. #firstworldarguments

And last but certainly not least:

How my mother got into the World’s Dumbest Feud (©2016 Your Mom) with College Confidential!

Next — Your Mom’s Guide to College Rankings

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Look for my Guides to the Hippie Colleges of America and the Ivy League here.

Your Mom’s Guide to College

For my popular Guide to the Hippie Colleges of America start here and then move forward to the next entries.  There are reviews of Hippie Colleges in the Pacific Northwest, Ohio, and two trips to the Northeast.

Now new and improved with the addition of:

Your Mom’s Guide to the Ivy League”

Your Mom’s Guide to the Personal Statement

Your Mom’s Guide to College Rankings

Ten Questions I’d REALLY like to Have Answered at a College Information Session” and

10 Types of Guides You Meet on Campus Tours

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Your Mom’s Guide to the Hippie Colleges of the Pacific Northwest

Hippie Colleges of the Pacific Northwest Tour 2016 (Day 1) — Even though I have lived in California for 25 years, the area between Sacramento and the Oregon border had been unexplored territory for me until today. (I know. Ridiculous.) I discovered today that far Northern California has far fewer Amish than rural Ohio — the venue of our last hippie college tour. Also, Ohio is shockingly devoid of volcanoes. (WTF, Ohio?) Boo and I took an 8 hour drive to our first pit stop, Roseburg, Oregon. It was the first time we have taken a road trip where she did half the driving. (Yay! My first significant step toward fulfilling my dream of being driven like Miss Daisy.) We had a full 8 hours of listening to the Sirius XM “On Broadway” channel. I’m pretty sure we got hippie demerits for that. But our nerd ratings are through the roof. We are now comfortably in the Comfort Inn in Roseburg which is conveniently located just steps away from a cannabis dispensary. (Open 7 days!) Boo asked me what the legal purchase age is. I told her 40. Thanks to my awesome street cred, she did not question my response. Tomorrow, we visit our first hippie college of the PNW — Willamette University.


Hippie Colleges of the Pacific Northwest Tour 2016 (Day 2) — Today we bid a tearful goodbye to the cannabis dispensary, packed up my brownies, and hit the road for Oregon’s capital, Salem, to visit Willamette University. Salem has all the charm and sophistication of Sacramento — only with fewer celebrities, more rain and a capitol building that resembles an Art Deco prison. Right across the street from the Erte-meets-Alcatraz Capitol is Willamette U. I’ve started to judge colleges exclusively by the level of torture involved in locating the admissions office (Hampshire College, I’m looking at you), and Willamette’s was clearly labeled, so I was sold before we exited the parking lot. After our tour, however, Boo declared Willamette “not hippie enough.” I’ll concede that there WAS an awful lot of discussion about the exercise science major (totally not a hippie major; oppression studies — THAT’s a hippie major) and no mention of gender neutral bathrooms (which is pretty much de rigueur at any school that claims to be a hippie college), so I could understand Boo’s point of view. The tour was followed up by a chemistry-free interview with an admissions officer. As a result, Willamette has been crossed off the list, despite its superior labeling. Tonight we’re in Portland, resting up for a double header of college visits tomorrow. If Boo tells me that Portland is not hippie enough, I’m giving up.


Hippie Colleges of the Pacific Northwest Tour 2016 (Day 3) — Today was a double header of hippie colleges — Reed followed by Lewis & Clark. Both colleges got off to a somewhat shaky start as they were not labeled as clearly as I like. But they were no Hampshire in that we found the admissions offices without too much difficulty, and I did not feel like punching the first person I saw. Unfortunately, that feeling did not last long at Reed. I think I discovered a new subspecies of homo sapiens today at Reed which I am calling the western homo sapien-more-than-you. The eastern variety is known to frequent the area around Harvard University.  #sorrynotsorryHarvardfriends #youknowitstrue‬. The western variety thinks as highly of its intellectual prowess as the eastern variety only with extra heroin. (I later discovered — via the always reliable Wikipedia — that Reed’s school song is literally written to the tune of “Fair Harvard.” That explains SO much.) Reedies may look like hippies on the outside, but in their heart of hearts, they are massive gunners. No wonder Reedies have a reputation for taking lots and lots of drugs. In fact, the pressure cooker atmosphere was so intense that *I* was ready to scarf down a whole pan of cannabis brownies by the time we were halfway through the information session. To Reed’s credit, the subject of agendered bathrooms WAS mentioned on the tour, but that and its lovely campus were among its few redeeming qualities. Lewis & Clark was much, much better. L&C satisfied the bathroom gender prerequisite needed to be considered a “hippie college” and was way friendlier and more laid back than Reed. I don’t feel like Boo will turn out to be a pretentious drug addicted twit if she goes to L&C. Plus, L&C also has a lovely campus. I will have to check to make sure that they have not plagiarized their school song from Wesleyan or Brown, but even if they have, the source material is much better. So, we end the day with one thumbs up and one thumbs down. Tomorrow, no colleges! Instead, we have a morning in Portland with old friends and then an afternoon drive to Walla Walla for a Thursday visit to Whitman.


Hippie Colleges of the Pacific Northwest Tour 2016 (Day 4) — No colleges today. Instead, this morning we met up with our old friends and recent Portland area transplants, Anna and Olivia Church. (The names have been changed to protect the innocent.) Poor Oliviia had to go to school to take a standardized test in the early morning. Then, poor Olivia was not allowed to play hooky for the rest of the day because playing hooky is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. So instead, poor Olivia had to leave school to do four hours of “field work” in the “hospitality industry” with a couple of dumb tourists named “Page” and “Boo.” First, we met for coffee in a warehouse downtown. (Boo thought Anna might be pranking us with the location, but it was delightful inside.). Then, Anna helped us complete the donut tour of Portland. The verdict? Blue Star > Voodoo. No contest. Next, we did a driving/walking tour of the city and confirmed that there are, indeed, many, many man-buns on display in Portland. We then had some delicious tapas in the Pine Street Market and finished up with a tour of the Rose Garden and Japanese Garden. After giving Olivia an A+ grade on her “field work” and bidding the Churches a tearful goodbye, Boo and I hopped into the car for the drive to Walla Walla. The first hundred miles are a lovely drive up the Columbia River Gorge but after that, it turns pretty bleak. I made the mistake of trying to pump my own gas at a service station and was severely rebuked by the attendant who told me that pumping your own gas is “highly illegal” in Oregon. Since I try to keep my infractions to those that are, at most, “moderately illegal,” I felt duly chastened. I can only hope that no one rats me out to the Oregon gas station authorities as I do not want to go to prison for such a shameful transgression against the glue that holds the fabric of our society together. I, with my libertine gas pumping ways, am apparently why America is no longer great. Finally we reached Walla Walla, the home of Whitman College. The bad news — Walla Walla is in the middle of freaking nowhere.


(The view from our motel window — proving that Walla Walla is, indeed, in the middle of nowhere.)

The good news — Whitman is lovely and the town of Walla Walla itself seems quirkily charming — which is a good thing for the students because there is no easy escape. Hey, wait a minute! Maybe Walla Walla is where they send service station scofflaws to serve out their terms. I guess we’ll find out when I attempt to leave town tomorrow.


Hippie Colleges of the Pacific Northwest Tour 2016 (Day 5) — Today was our last official college visit of this trip at Whitman College in Walla Walla. Despite the absence of a billboard and flashing arrows (my preferred geolocators), we were able to find the admissions office with no difficulty. The college is lovely and does not seem to be an academic pressure cooker. Our tour guide was super friendly and the deal was sealed when she brought up the bathroom (a)gender issue without prompting. After the info session, we took a quick look around Walla Walla. The good news is that about every 4th storefront is a wine tasting room.  My kind of town!  I then decided it was time to try to make my escape from the Gas Station Stasi who I suspected might be building a wall around Walla Walla to keep gas pumping dissidents like me contained. So I threw a blanket over my head and told Boo to floor it on the way out of town. She gave me the usual teenage “what the f*** are you talking about?” stare and calmly drove out of town. (BTW: the movie rights to my riveting escape story are now available to the highest bidder.) We then retraced our steps back toward Portland and finally caught a glimpse of Mt. Hood. I kept telling Boo that there was a huge volcano nearby but because we hadn’t been able to see it, I think she thought that my stories about Mt. Hood were like my stories of having my Miss America crown taken away because of acts of moral turpitude. But tonight we sleep in a motel on the slopes of said volcano before our wild girls’ weekend in Ashland commences tomorrow. Nighty night, sleep tight.  Here’s hoping the pyroclastic flows don’t bite.


Hippie Colleges of the Pacific Northwest Tour 2016 (Day 6) — Today we were dull. We ate. We drove. We were not killed by a volcano. The end.


Hippie Colleges of the Pacific Northwest Tour 2016 (Final Day) — So we actually weren’t completely dull yesterday. Just mostly dull. We got to Ashland in time to drop off our bags at our Airbnb. (A first for us. I’m feeling like quite the middle aged sharing economy hipster except that the bed is so high that I have to do a Fosbury flop on to the bed, landing backwards on my shoulders and then pray that I have the abdominal strength to get my legs into the bed too.) We then headed into town to see “Great Expectations” at the Oregon Shakespeare festival. This is my first trip to Ashland, but Boo has been here before and loves, loves, loves it. Not surprising. It is hippie central with fantastic theater so it’s right up her alley. She says she might like to live here someday, and since I’ll be moving in next door to her wherever she lands, that works for me too. Tonight, we’ll be bringing this hippie college tour to a close with one last show — Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Yeoman of the Guard” set in the Wild West. Really. And even though this tour is wrapping up, stay tuned. The Hippie(ish) Colleges of the Northeast Tour (Part 2) starts in less than 3 weeks.

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Your Mom’s Guide to the Hippie Colleges of Ohio

Hippie Colleges of Ohio Tour 2016 (Day 1) Following a red eye flight, Boo and I arrived safely in Pittsburgh at an obscene hour PDT. Within 10 minutes, the word “patriarchy” came out of my daughter’s mouth. Just warming up for the main events, I think. BTW: People park like absolute lunatics in Pittsburgh.  Between the lack of sleep and the crazy parking, I felt totally discombobulated.  After braving the lunatic fringe of Pittsburgh parkers, we hit the Warhol museum where I decided that I really need a Warhol “Superstar ” name. The current front runner is “Fluorescent Beige” but it’s not settled yet. Then we hightailed it across one of the many rivers around here to the campus of Carnegie Mellon (not a hippie college and not in Ohio) for a very crowded campus tour led by students who were remarkable in their normalcy but disappointingly ill-informed about the difference between an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony and a Golden Globe — no small matter at CMU because CMU arguably has one of the top drama programs in the country. Really, engineering, computer science and drama — a natural combination. Boo has been offered a spot in CMU’s summer vocal performance program, so I figured that while we were in the neighborhood, she should have a look. (Her other option is NYU Steinhardt. If anyone has strong opinions about which program she should attend, please weigh in because it’s really a case of the Fluorescent leading the blind-with-perfect-pitch here). After a quick caffeine infusion, we were able to get into our room at the Hampton Superfund Inn of Pittsburgh. It’s literally built on the former site of a bunch a steel mills. The smoke stacks artfully loom over the Starbucks and PF Chang’s. I’m thinking I might actually be fluorescent in the morning.


Hippie Colleges of Ohio Tour 2016 (Day 2). I awoke this morning at the Hampton Superfund Inn with no visible signs of fluorescence. But I haven’t been near a blacklight all day, so who knows? We drove through snow dusted western Pennsylvania and into Ohio, land of $1.89 gasoline, suicidal birds, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And hippie colleges. Boo and I spent the afternoon at the R&R HOF which is completely awesome. Borderline close to worth a special trip to Cleveland. Except that you have to go to Cleveland. Boo and I spent some time figuring out some of the artists who we were shocked to discover have been snubbed by the HOF. No Moody Blues, B-52’s, Bon Jovi, Billy Preston, Journey, Cars, Lionel Richie/Commodores, Whitney Houston, Neil Diamond (oh wait, Neil Diamond IS in the HOF. So is KISS. Explain that to Jon Bon Jovi). Ridiculously, it took Linda Ronstadt 19 years to be inducted while Van Halen made it in 3. (SMH!). We have now settled in for the evening at the Hampton Inn in Elyria, Ohio, home of a mall, lots of chain restaurants, and many “Notable People” of whom I have never heard. (Arthur Lovett Garford, anyone? He invented the padded bicycle seat!) Tomorrow, we hit Oberlin and the real purpose of this trip begins. I’m figuring out ways to check my privilege as we speak.


Hippie Colleges of Ohio Tour 2016 (Day 3) — Boo and I finally made it to the Mecca of Ohio hippie colleges — Oberlin College. We performed the usual rituals (throwing stones at a statue of Dick Cheney, circling a “Sanders for President” sign seven times, dressing in organic vegan garments, determining which gendered or agendered pronouns to use when referring to others, etc.). Unfortunately, the weather goddess did not look down on us favorably. It was 32 degrees and lightly raining all day — which seemed effing freezing to us spoiled Californians. Boo did a couple of lessons at the conservatory, then we went on a tour of the college. Our guide described herself as having attended a tiny hippie school in D.C. It turned out she was an amateur when it came to tiny hippie schools. It had three times as many kids as Boo’s high school, and Boo’s high school is in Berkeley. There’s no way she could top that. The highlight of the tour was a lengthy discussion of how dormitory bathrooms are gendered or not gendered or whatever. But we were assured that group showers were not part of the program — unless, of course, that’s your thing. Whatever. It’s totally cool.


Hippie Colleges of Ohio Tour 2016 (Day 4) — I write tonight from the Overlook Hotel of Central Ohio. It’s a nearly empty large resort in the middle of nowhere. I suspect that in season, the location is lovely, but now, in the off season, I expect to see creepy little twins saying “REDRUM” every time I step into the hall. We began the day by returning to Mecca for a visit to the Oberlin Conservatory. Boo visibly surprised the receptionist by not being a boy.  (Her real name is more commonly a boy’s name.)  We had a “group” meeting (us plus one other student and her mom) with one of the associate directors of admission for the conservatory. I’ll give him credit for being honest, but he basically said to Boo, “You’re a soprano? Good luck with that.” Awesome. Good thing Boo doesn’t have her heart set on the Oberlin Conservatory. After a quick tour, we hopped into the car and drove through the farmlands and small towns of Central Ohio. I kept thinking of “Our Town” and half expected to see the ghost of Emily Webb in the cemeteries we passed. We saw an Amish horse and buggy on the road.  Also lots of “Trump for President” signs.  I managed to only gag a little.  (I had to keep it together. I was driving, after all.)  We then checked into the Ohio Overlook, had some pizza, and watched the topiary walk around.  If I don’t post tomorrow, it’s probably because Jack Nicholson has murdered me.


Hippie Colleges of Ohio Tour 2016 (Day 5) — So we were not murdered in our beds at the Ohio Overlook Hotel. Today, we drove deeper into rural Central Ohio. No Trump signs in sight, but lots and lots of buggies and even a mule team. And horrible roads. Portions unpaved. The Amish clearly don’t complain enough. We finally arrived in the tiny, cute and remote town of Granville, home of Denison University. Denison is probably more preppy than hippie, but it was by far the friendliest campus we’ve visited anywhere, and I think a hippie could be happy there. They do a superb job of selling the school, starting with excellent labeling of the directions to the admissions office.  Boo and I both walked away very impressed. Then back on the crappy roads to the Overlook — this time in a rainstorm. No time for more. Someone is at the door.  He says his name is Johnny.


Hippie Colleges of Ohio Tour 2016 (Final Day) — I’m pleased to say that we survived our last night at the Overlook. This morning we partially retraced our route along the unpaved Amish roads to Kenyon College. Forget what I said yesterday about Granville being tiny and remote. Granville looks like Times Square next to Gambier, Ohio, home of Kenyon. We started the morning with a tour of the college where they separated the kids into one group and the parents into another. Our tour was pretty standard, but I kept imagining what was going on on the kids’ tour. “Is it hard to get a fake ID?” “Are there orgies?” “Can I major in hip hop?” At the end of the tour, we reunited for the world’s worst information session. Boring and hard to hear. Made all the more intolerable when we were joined half way through by a mother and her sullen, sapphire-haired daughter. The mother proceeded to ask approximately 40 questions very specific to her daughter (including the inevitable bathroom gender question ) while the mortified daughter alternately rolled her eyes and hid her face in her hands. Boo then had an interview with a senior who was an admissions office “fellow” where Boo either assured her admission or completely killed her chances. The interviewer asked Boo what her spirit animal would be.  Hilariously, Boo responded by saying that that her spirit animal was a sloth.  Best. Answer. Ever.


(Boo’s spirit animal)

I’m guessing no one has ever responded that way in any interview anywhere before. (She went on to explain that she’s laid-back and deliberate but still.). It totally cracked me up. At least she’ll be memorable. And so ends this tour. Very early tomorrow we fly back home. But stay tuned, the Hippie Colleges of the Northwest Tour 2016 is coming soon.

Next — The Hippie Colleges of the Pacific Northwest

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Your Mom’s Guide to the Hippie Colleges of the Northeast (Part 1)

Hippie Colleges of the Northeast Tour 2015 (Day 1) — Today we embarked on our quest to find Boo the college of her dreams.   So what is the college of her dreams?  Probably something small(ish), liberal arts with strong music and theater options, possibly a conservatory or joint degree program.  Must have lots of hippies, be LGBTQ-friendly, and the more protests, the better.  (I’m saving up for bail money while I save up for college.)  Our first stop was Bard College.  Bard is #2 on the Princeton Review’s list of colleges for Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging vegetarians, which is perfect for Boo except for the Birkenstock part.  (She’s a girl who loves her high heels.) Also, not so much the vegetarian part either.  (She likes her bacon.) But tree-hugging is awesome.  Anyway, Bard’s campus is way the hell out in the middle of nowhere, but it is lovely.  Bard has the strangest placement of a campus building I have ever seen.  They have a gorgeous Frank Gehry designed performing arts center plopped down in a pasture.  It’s like the Bilbao Guggenheim got caught in the Twilight Zone and transported to a field in upstate New York.



(There should be cows in the picture.)

Anyway, Boo really liked Bard, and but for the fact that it’s in the middle of nowhere, it would likely be a good fit.  So Bard stays on the list.

In the afternoon, we backtracked to Vassar, the only extant college of the former seven sisters that is co-ed.  Thanks to a merger with Harvard, one sister is dead.  It figures that it would be Harvard that would kill its sister.  (RIP Radcliffe.)  Vassar is definitely less isolated than Bard.   It has a beautiful library that looks like something out of Hogwarts.


(Where’s Hermione?)

Plus, they allegedly have really great theater options.  I thought Boo would love Vassar.  She liked it fine, but not as much as Bard.  Perhaps because Vassar is only #8 on the Princeton Review tree-huggers list.  So Vassar is on the bubble.


Hippie Colleges of the Northeast Tour 2015 (Day 2) — We arrived late yesterday in Saratoga Springs, home of Skidmore College.  First, I have to say that I heart me some Saratoga Springs.  I had never been there before, but it is about as adorable as it can be.  Like our hometown, Saratoga Springs was built as a resort for city dwellers and while our hometown has its charming Victorians, SS has massive Victorian mansions everywhere.  (In other words, SS was way, way swankier in its heyday than our town.)   Nowadays, however, the cost of a charmless condo in our town will buy you one of those Victorian mansions in SS.  The times, they have changed.  Boo once again had a different reaction to Skidmore than I expected.  I loved it.  She was meh — even though Skidmore is #4 on the tree-huggers list.  Go figure.  So it looks like I will not have an excuse for selling my house and acquiring a mansion in Saratoga Springs.  Wah!

This afternoon was a different story.  We crossed into Vermont to visit Bennington College, alma mater of Tyrion Lannister.  Who would have thought that Tyrion was educated in the bucolic environs of Nowheresville, Vermont?  It must have been quite a change from King’s Landing.  Anyway, Bennington (#3 on the tree-huggers list) was a hit.  For such a tiny school, it has fabulous theater facilities, and it has a groovy design-your-own-major curriculum.  The downside is that it is tiny.  I mean tiny.  I told Boo that if she goes to Bennington, she is not allowed to have a bad breakup because there will be no avoiding that person.  And it’s in the middle of nowhere.  But it would be fabulous if Boo wants to be deeply involved in theater.  Plus, it’s full of hippies. So Boo loved it.


Hippie Colleges of the Northeast Tour 2015 (Day 3) — This morning we visited Hampshire College.  Our visit did not get off to a good start because they have the world’s worst signage when it comes to locating the admissions office.  We drove in a circle for 20 mins. I figured they were trying to play some sort of head game with us because the sign allegedly pointing towards the admissions office turned out to point away from the admissions office.   Maybe they meant this as some sort of weird metaphor.  (“If you closely follow signs then you are a conforming tool.  If you go where the signs tell you not to go, you will end up where you need to be.”)  I finally had to call the office to ask them where they were.  Surprisingly, Hampshire does not make the tree-hugging list.  My theory is that Hampshire is so far beyond “hippie” that it doesn’t even qualify as hippie.   They have a yurt.  No really, a yurt.  The Hampshire crowd made the Bard and Bennington hippies look like a bunch of stuffed shirt investment bankers. It was WAY too much for me, and even too much for Boo.  But IF Boo ends up at Hampshire, I will be running a “design Boo’s first tattoo” contest.

We followed up our morning at Hampshire with visits to Mt. Holyoke and Smith — which were pretty much indistinguishable in my eyes except that you can apparently get credit for dog walking at Holyoke (which is particularly impressive because that’s something they don’t even offer at Brown).  Boo liked Holyoke better.  It might have been the dog walking.  We finished our day with a drive to Cambridge and a walk around the periphery of MIT — which is likely as close as Boo is ever going to get to attending MIT given that I am the person called for “tech help” at our house, and my version of “tech help” is disconnecting the machine from its power source and then plugging it back in.

Tomorrow we will take a brief break from visiting colleges for a morning walk through American history along the Freedom Trail in Boston followed by an afternoon walk through my personal history when we visit my alma mater, Brown University.  I’ll be stocking up on cheap liquor just to make the experience a more realistic representation of my past.


Day 4 of College Tour 2015 — This morning we took a break from looking at colleges to explore a little American history. We took a guided Freedom Trail walk through Boston. Boo spent much of the walk muttering under her breath about how the guide was oversimplifying things. Like a guy in a costume with a tri-cornered hat, knee breeches and buckled shoes is going to get into the subtleties of the philosophies of the various Sons of Liberty.

Then we spent some time at the Kennedy Library where Boo asked me what I had thought of JFK when he was in office. I told her that my opinion of him at the time was somewhat unformed given that I had not yet celebrated my 2nd birthday when he was killed. But I’m sure that whatever my opinion was at the time, it was oversimplified.

We ended the day with a visit to my alma mater, Brown University, where I gave Boo a tour. So now she knows what it would be like to go to Brown — in 1984. Which was awesome! So now she’s ready to go to Brown circa 1984. Which might be an issue, but I think that if she is able to invent a time travel machine, it will improve her chances of being admitted to Brown. No guarantees of course — because these days Brown has many excellent applicants who undoubtedly have done things far more impressive than inventing a working time machine.


Day 5 of College Tour 2015 — Psych! No colleges today! Instead, we got up early and drove from Providence to New York. Boo slept all the way across Connecticut. I can’t blame her. Connecticut from I-95 is kinda boring. I had to stop halfway across the state for a caffeine infusion or I might have fallen asleep too. I also had a Dunkin’ Donut — which definitely did NOT live up to my memories. I guess over the years I’ve become a donut snob — a title I will wear with a mixture of pride and horror.

We dropped the car off at JFK and raced into Manhattan in time for the matinee of “Fun Home.” Awesome show made even more memorable by the fact that one of the children is played by another student of Boo’s voice teacher.  So we got to meet some of the cast after the show.  Fun indeed.


Day 6 of College Tour 2015 — our last college visit of this trip.  We took a half hour train ride from Manhattan to Sarah Lawrence College — the #1 college on the tree-huggers list.  SLC is to arts dropouts what Harvard is to tech dropouts.  Seriously, SLC has the most impressive list of dropouts.  (Carrie Fisher, Kyra Sedgewick, Sigourney Weaver, Tea Leoni, Carly Simon, plus both Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney.)  Fortunately, there are also some very successful people who have managed to graduate.  (JJ Abrams, Barbara Walters, Vera Wang, Alice Walker, Julianna Margulies, etc.)  Boo loved this place.  I saw her starting to fall when she was told about the annual screening of her favorite movie, “The Princess Bride” (starring SLC dropout, Cary Elwes) on the college lawn with everyone reciting the lines and the annual Halloween enactments of “Rocky Horror.” Then she was told about the tiny classes and the mandatory close work with professors (you have to meet with them one on one every 2 weeks for most classes). There are no distribution requirements and no majors or letter grades. There’s tons of theater and music and other arts on campus, and Manhattan is only a half hour away. Great study abroad programs. Beautiful campus near a cute town. And there’s a swing set right outside the main administration building. Plus, the unofficial slogan is “Queer by New Year.”  She was sold.

It may turn out that this is just infatuation but at the moment she’s in love — with the most expensive college in the country. Figures.

Next — The Hippie Colleges of Ohio

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