Passing The Torch Reply

collegeDear Senior Year,

It’s been a rough few months trying to get the best grades possible and finishing all my college visits and applications, and I just wanted to say thanks for hanging in there with me. I know at times you wanted to disown me. I saw the way you looked at me when I threw my laptop across the room, unable to write another reason why University X is the only place I would want to go, but here we are, mid-January and I just wanted to say thank you for hanging in. Everyone is telling me how time will fly over the next few months and that I need to slow it down, enjoy every minute and make these last days of childhood count. Not to worry, I have a very long senior year bucket list, and I plan on ticking off my to-do list items one by one. But as I was thinking about all the fun things I still want to do before graduation, it occurred to me that all of my good friends who are juniors might be writing this same letter next year after a grueling six months of getting through their college process. Why not pass on some words of wisdom that might make the most stressful process I’ve ever been through a little easier, or minimally to save them some time.

  1.  When you are on college visits, make sure to write down at least three things that struck you as unique. Because after your 10th college visit, all schools will blur together. When it comes time to write the Why Us essay you will be thrilled to pull out your little notepad. All of a sudden, memories of the fresh sushi you ate in the cafeteria, the diverse signage on the bulletin board in the union and how Sydney, your tour guide, was one of the most interesting 19-year-olds you’ve ever met will come flooding back.
  2. Don’t wait to write your Common Application essay. Last year, the prompts came out at the end of January. That means you can start writing your essay in the next few weeks. Many of my friends said they wanted to wait to write the essay because nothing big had happened to them and they were hoping over the summer, they would have this huge epiphany and the essay would write itself. What I’ve realized is that most kids our age don’t have a big story to tell and that isn’t what admissions are looking for anyway. They are looking for the small story that tells the larger one. That story already exists in your memory bank, and you can start writing about it as soon as the prompts are announced. The best essay is one that goes through many many edits and isn’t rushed in the fall.
  3. Try to have a college list that includes Early Action and Rolling Admissions as well as Regular (in addition to Early Decision if you are going that route). I knew where I wanted to apply Early Decision, but I also had a few Early Action schools. It’s nice to have a few acceptances if your ED doesn’t work out. Trust me; you’ll be happy to know you are going somewhere instead of having to wait until April.
  4. Get organized! Once you have your list of schools that you want to apply to, do the research to find out which have supplemental essays, what their word counts are and when they are due. Then arrange them in due date order and see if there is any crossover between schools. Many schools ask for supplementals about work experience or extracurriculars. Write the essay that has the longest word count first and then edit it down to the lower word count for the additional school. Work efficiently. There can be a lot of supplemental essays, and you don’t want to make more work for yourself than necessary.
  5. Stay cool. They say there is a school for everyone and there is. Don’t pay too much attention to what your friends and peers are doing – everyone is unique, has their selling points, and experiences and your applications will reflect those differences. Just make sure your list is thorough and includes schools across the range from safer to reach.

There is no easy way through the process but its a right of passage that most teenagers must go through. Hopefully, these tips can help make it a little less anxiety ridden for the next group of seniors. Now, back to my senior bucket list!

The Tour Comes To An End: What We Learned From Davidson to Nashville via Asheville 1


While on the phone making a reservation at the Carnegie House, the on campus inn at Davidson College, as I was just about to hang up, I realized something… “Wait! You haven’t asked for my credit card information.” “Oh, we don’t take credit cards for reservations. We’re on the honor code at Davidson.” I have to say this blew me away. I book a lot of hotels and never has someone said that. But what I would learn over the next 24 hours that we spent at Davidson, the honor code is a very big deal.

As I’ve said before in my college tour blogs, we love making plans with students that are already attending the campuses we visit. We were super lucky at Davidson because not only was Grace (Davidson, Class of 2016) available, a great friend from the Tokyo American School, her mom, Mary Beth, one of my closest friends was there too! We started our visit with a great girls lunch at Toast on Main Street.


That night we had an unbelievable dinner at Kindred. This spot is so hot, it’s getting national attention and was voted one of the top ten best new restaurants in the US in 2015 by Bon Appetite. The restaurant is across the street from campus (I love a place you can walk home to after a few glasses of wine) on a tiny main street with a handful of other shops and restaurants. It’s just so unexpected.

So back to the honor code. It’s taken very seriously here, and you sign it as a freshman, and they hang it in the academic building. The trust is so strong on campus, that you can leave your laptop and walk away from it.  If students or faculty find money on campus they tack it up with a note nearby.  Teachers allow take home closed book timed tests. And according to everyone I spoke to on campus it really works. That is pretty amazing. IMG_8247

Davidson is a Division 1 school that feels more like a Division 3 – in the best way. Most Division 1 football stadiums are not located in front of the dining hall. IMG_8249

After our tour ended we knew we had a lot of miles to go before we slept, so we wasted no time and got on Route I40 – a straight shot from Davidson to Nashville. Annie did some research in the car, trying to find a place for us to stop for lunch somewhere around Asheville. Using the iPhone app TV Food Maps she found 12 Bones Smokehouse, which only took us a few miles off course. It’s in the middle of an industrial area, but when we pulled into the parking lot, we knew we hit pay dirt.




7 hours after we started our road trip, we pulled into Nashville, TN. We are staying at the Hutton Hotel, which is about a 15 minute walk to Vanderbilt Admissions. It’s a very nice boutique hotel that isn’t too expensive. We had reservations at Husk, one of my favorite restaurants on the planet (Sophie and I had an amazing meal in Charleston when we were visiting College of Charleston). Unfortunately, Annie didn’t feel the same way and literally gagged when I made her try the fried pig ear sliders. I don’t know what her problem was.


Saturday morning we had our last info session and tour of the week. I realize that admissions counselors need to give their presentation as if they are speaking to a person who has never listened to an information session before and this is their first college visit. But there is so much repetition it can become mindnumbing. At some point, you feel like you can get up and give the presentation yourself. Most of the schools these days have similiar things to brag about. If I hear one more obscure example of the breadth of research opportunities available to freshman, I might just scream – and usually these all include some on the brink of extinction animal from the Antarctic or the Amazon.  I also feel like taking the time to have each student in a room stand up and introduce themselves and give one fun fact about them is just embarrasing for the student and it’s hard for me to really see the purpose and it takes a LOT OF TIME. All schools these days draw students from across the US and around the world. We get it.

Can you tell it’s been a long week?

I forgot to mention we had a dog on our last college tour today. That was different.


We ended the week with a fun lunch with another friend from Tokyo – Julie!

And in this photo it looks like I’m sitting on her lap. #longtorso


Annie and I are having dinner at Puckett’s Grocery tonight and then going to hear country music at The Listening Room – yes I said Country Music.

All in all, it’s been a great week, and we’ve learned a lot. It’s just as important to winnow your school list as it is to find schools to keep on it. It’s a process, and college is a big investment, so it really is important to walk on campus, meet the students, eat the food, ask the questions. One third of all freshman college students in the US do not graduate from the school they started at. Transferring can be expensive (lost credits) and can prolong graduation. Doing all you can up front to make sure a school is the right fit is important. And these days, most schools want to see demonstrated interest, and there really is no better way to show that than to show up.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to take notes at the info session. Your child will most likely need to write a supplemental essay that answers the question “Why Us?” It will be so much easier to write if you have a nice list of reasons why you liked it when you visited.

Stay tuned for next month when we visit San Francisco!


Day 3 of the college tour: How It Took Me 25 minutes to go 1 mile to Admissions 1

Last night Annie and I arrived at Graylyn, a quirky college hotel/castle about a mile from the Wake Forest campus. This is what it looks like: graylyn

The inside didn’t exactly match the outside (as in: grandma called and she wants all her bed linens back) but the southern hospitality was on full display from the home made butterscotch cookies in the lobby to the very unique ice cream room, which we learned about at check-in. “Feel free to help yourself to as much ice cream as you want at all times, day or night.” I travel a fair amount and I have yet to encounter an ice cream room. In case you were wondering, this is what it looks like:


Sometimes it’s best to leave things to the imagination.

For dinner we drove to downtown Winston Salem and walked along N. Trade Street. This street and the surrounding area are now the heart of the Art District which was once know for it’s thriving tobacco market.IMG_8213

Many of the buildings that once housed feed and seed shops at the turn of the century now house art galleries and lofts. We ate at Sweet Potatoes (well shut my mouth!) yes that is the actual name. We started with our new favorite pimento cheese with ritz crackers (Annie suggested I get the recipe) and then had fried catfish, fried chicken, insane sweet potatoes, sweet potato and cornbread muffins with molasses on the side and finished with a piece of sweet potato pie. The place was buzzing with a beautifully diverse crowd and everyone seemed to be in a very good mood. IMG_8214


In the morning, after a delicious breakfast at the Graylyn, we jumped in the car for the 1 mile drive to campus. I had the campus map and the directions from the concierge in hand and I felt more confident that I usually do when I set off to find the admissions office at a new school. Unfortunately, my confidence was ill-founded as it took two u-turns, a few choice words from my daughter, an extra 25 minutes and the kindness of strangers for us to find it. Let’s just say directions and maps are not my strong suit.

While touring the campus, I was so excited to see the first signs of spring in what I thought were magnolia trees in the quad.


And then I remembered from the info session Wake Forest’s tradition of “rolling the quad”. Their enthusiasm for athletic victories can be measured in the amount of toilet paper they cover their quad in. Here is a picture of it when it’s in full cover:

Wake Forest fans roll the Quad after winning the ACC championship in this time-lapse photography made on Saturday, December 2, 2006.

The school was very impressive, especially the dorms which had kitchens, rec rooms, theaters, grand pianos, outdoor patios and a/c. Not to mention each freshman student gets a new laptop full loaded with software. That was a first for me.

Next up, driving to Davidson and a visit with some very special friends.

*Interesting tip: I love college search software and apps and found a new one today. It’s called SCOIR and it can be used on your laptop or iPhone. Its a great way to keep track of information while on tours (taking notes and photos) as well as getting quick overview information (what SAT score do I need to get in here? How many undergrads?)

Here are a few screen shots of my day at Wake Forest using the app.

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Day 2 College Tour – Duke: Hogwarts in the Land of Tobacco and BBQ Reply

IMG_8188The last time I visited Duke, Tom was applying to graduate school (20+ years ago) and I have to say a lot has changed in downtown Durham. Annie and I were thrilled to find JuJu, a delicious Asian Fusion restaurant on Ninth Street that was recommended by a friend who recently toured Duke. Our lunch of banh mi, pork buns and wild boar dumplings was so unexpectedly good. As much as Durham has changed, thankfully Duke is still Duke – an absolutely beautiful campus where you just feel smarter by simply walking among it’s select student population. I’m so in awe of college students these days; they major, they minor, they earn certificates, they save the world over summer vacation, study abroad in places like Antartica and have jobs before they enter senior year. As I sit in college info sessions I’m torn between wishing I could return to college in 2016 and thanking god that I went in the 80’s where you were just happy to graduate.

We arrived on campus the day of the Duke UNC basketball game which is a HUGE deal for both of these schools. Have you heard of tenting? It’s a Duke event/tradition – and begins several months before each Duke UNC basketball game. Supposedly there are no student tickets to games. Students are admitted from a student “line” 90 minutes before each game. But seats at this semiannual event are so hot, the line becomes a tented city that starts in early January. Each tent “team” must have 12 students and in the first few weeks, each team must have 2 people in the tent at all times and 10 must sleep there each night. The inhabitant requirements diminish as the game nears, but the line monitoring tent checks increase. If a tent is caught violating the rules, it can get moved to the end of the tent line. If they are caught violating it more than once, they can get kicked out of K-ville (the tent area named after Coach K). Duke has installed WiFi and Ethernet ports in the light posts so students won’t fall behind on their school work. Heaters are not permitted and it’s been pretty cold these past few weeks. Annie and I stopped by for a little tent tour:


These two pictures are looking left and right…

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This was a really big tent complete with white picket fence, a mailbox and an instagram account.

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And, if they are victorious tonight, the game will climax with the…wait for it… burning of the benches!

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*** helpful tip of the day: If you are signed up for the early morning info session, arrival time is important. Arrive too early and although there are lots of parking spots, there is no one to give you a parking permit. Arrive too late and the spots are all taken. Plan on getting where you are going 30 minutes before the actual start time. And always, always check in! (Demonstrated Interest)

The Light At The End of The Tunnel: Taking the 4th (and last) Child on College Tours Reply

IMG_8161Having just recently received word that child #3 had been admitted to college (Tulane, Class of 2020), I find myself back on the open road doing the college tour all over again with child #4. Since each one is different, there are no repeats in the school list. It’s a clean slate, which in my case means all new opportunities to get lost, eat food high in calories and saturated fat and have one on one mother/daughter time where I will learn all of my downfalls and shortcomings. If you’ve never had the pleasure of touring colleges you should know the planning can sometimes be more complicated than a European vacation. Weather is a big factor as is obtaining a spot at a coveted info session and tour during a school break. And most schools are far from one another and require various modes of transportation even when you try and scale it down to size by a geographic area.

This trip we are doing North Carolina with a finale in Tennessee. Winter in North Carolina is tricky and can change in one day which makes packing a carryon with a week’s worth of clothes challenging. We arrived Monday night in an ice storm keeping us from venturing outside for dinner (there was an attempt – after a quick slip we turned right around and headed back inside). I highly recommend reaching out to anyone you may know that has attended the school you are visiting prior to making your reservations. A well situated hotel, close to campus with a great bar and restaurant can be key especially in bad weather. Our Carolina advice came from Stephanie, a friend from Rye who graduated a few years ago. She couldn’t have given us better counsel by suggesting the Carolina Inn. Dinner was delicious, our room was large and the bed very comfortable. The homemade cookies by our pillow sealed the deal. Last night, while watching the Grammy’s, the school delays scrolled as we watched. This morning we woke to a sunny mid-50 degree day: crazy North Carolina weather.

Breakfast was at the Waffle House on Franklin Street. However, if you are visiting UNC, don’t just go into the first Waffle House you find on Franklin Street because if you do, you’ll realize after you’ve eaten, that when you walk a little further that is was the wrong Waffle House. You were actually looking for Ye Olde Waffle House. This sort of thing happens to me a lot. Regardless, it was a good enough waffle and the coffee was pretty decent.

IMG_8170We happen to be visiting UNC at a very interesting time. They play Duke at home tomorrow night (they only play Duke twice a year) and so everyone is getting in the sprit of things.

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I particularly liked the window display at the bookstore. I wasn’t sure if this was on purpose or not…


UNC, which I now know students here call Carolina, has a lot of old and quirky superstitions. One is drinking out of a fountain that used to be a well that served as the only water source for the school back when it opened in the late 1700’s. It guarantees a 4.0 each semester you drink from it. I thought it couldn’t hurt for Annie to take a drink.

IMG_8183A little bonus on this trip is the proximity of UNC and Duke. We actually don’t need to switch hotels today! It will be a little strange to visit Duke after our day of hearing about the ongoing rivalry from the Carolina perspective. I’m sure we’ll here more of the same but different tomorrow as we hit the cross town rival’s campus. Stay tuned…

Bucket List Birthday Reply

IMG_6477My husband was born while his father was in Iowa, coaching Bob Griese and Purdue to victory. His mother should have been given the game ball, but it went to the head coach’s wife (it was her birthday). That’s just one of those family fables I’ve heard many times since becoming a member of his family. Having a father as a college football coach, most of Tom’s family’s stories involve an 11-inch pig skin ball. Flash forward 50 years and it was obvious what I would get Tom for a birthday gift. Two tickets on the 50-yard line to a sick college football game.

Last year, over dinner on a Saturday night, when it was just the two of us, I asked Tom what was on his bucket list. It was one of those questions that could spark a long, interesting conversation. He thought about it for awhile and then said, “Death Valley”. Hmmm… Death Valley? I didn’t want to seem clueless about the bucket list item of the man I’ve spent most of my adult life with, but I honestly couldn’t figure out what he was talking about. “Is that somewhere in Arizona?” “Lis, really? Come on. You should know where Death Valley is. It’s the football stadium where the LSU Tigers play. I want to see a game in Death Valley.” I smiled and changed the conversation.

When the tickets went on sale, I used my past experience buying excellent seats for Broadway shows (more of my type of bucket list item). I bought two seats in the middle of the stadium three rows back from the field. Since it was in Baton Rouge, LA, a 90 minute drive from New Orleans, I decided to make the weekend more palatable for me and planned a stay in NOLA including delicious meals and interesting city walks.  Several months ago, I told him to take Friday October 16th off from work as I was taking him away for a birthday surprise weekend. When I gave him his gift, and told him where we were going, he was extremely happy. Especially because I had chosen the best game of the season (according to him). Two undefeated teams, LSU and Florida in Death Valley on a Saturday night. He couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate.

Friday night we walked down Bourbon street, taking in all sorts of crazy and then had an incredible dinner at Peche (James Beard Winner – Top 10 Restaurants 2014). Saturday we started the day with breakfast at the Camellia Grill followed by a walk on Tulane’s campus, a visit to Lafayette Cemetery and the Garden District and a long walk down Magazine street to Shaya (James Beard Winner – Best Chef in the South 2015) for lunch.  And then… it was game time.

We arrived in Baton Rouge around 3 for a 6:10 kickoff. I’ve been to tailgates, but not like this. Here are a few fun pictures…

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The stadium holds 102,321 people, and they were all there grilling burgers and drinking beer. It was surreal. People didn’t just set up tables and grill a few hot dogs. They had double flat screen tv’s on moveable walls with couches. Each tent had a generator with a trailer hitched to their truck to bring all the equipment. And I’ve never seen prettier girls all dolled up for a football game. Cute short dresses with cowboy boots were de rigueur.

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We entered the stadium about 90 minutes before kickoff just to take it all in. What I found was that unlike Broadway, the 3rd row is not necessarily the best location to see over the heads of the players standing on the sidelines, however, we were so close to the action it felt like we were sitting with the team. When Leonard Fournette (Tom’s pick for the Heisman) came running into the sidelines I, felt like I could reach out and give him a high five. When a ball flew into the crowd Tom and I both got our hands on it. We watched the ESPN guy go back and forth on the moving ladder chasing the ball, and we watched athletes get taped and players get coached.

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Watching football is something I’ve always done while I’m doing something else (except when my boys played – then I really paid attention). But this game was something totally different. I had no idea that the entire stadium would stand during the game. The only time people sat was during TV time-outs. Imagine 102k people standing on their feet, chanting the same cheers in unison. It was hypnotic. I loved it all and I’m torn about where we’ll see a game next year; the Grove, The Horseshoe or The Big House – I’m open to suggestions!

The Soundtrack of A Marriage 3

June 1990

June 1990

Last Tuesday, my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in Paris. I’d spent a lot of time planning the trip which included stops in Istanbul and Bodrum and wanted to make sure our trip wasn’t just another “vacation”. It was important to me to truly acknowledge this huge accomplishment in our lives – being happily married for 25 years is not an easy task.

One of the special things I planned was inspired by the recent movie Begin Again with Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley. There is a scene at the end of the movie where they walk around NYC at night sharing headphones and listening to all the songs on their iphones. I loved that scene and thought it would be great to recreate it in Paris with all of the songs that were important to Tom and I over the past two and half decades together. I started the playlist with a few songs that we had listened to when we first met (like George Michael and Simply Red) and then threw in a few songs we both had loved independently in high school and college (like the Hooters and Tears for Fears) and then the songs we had loved and listened to all throughout our marriage (like Dido and Genesis). There was our wedding song (What a Wonderful World) and our wedding video song (Slave to Love) and our newest favorite (Sugar by Maroon 5). And then of course I had to throw in a  French songs (like Carla Bruni and Grace Jones) because, well, we were in France.

When you plan something like this, especially after watching it work so beautifully on the big screen you do set yourself up for a big disappointment. So many things can go wrong including your spouse looking at you like you’re nuts when you hand him a pair of headphones and a splitter. But then, there’s the chance that it goes exactly according to plan and it far exceeds your expectations. That’s what happened last Monday night.

It was our first night in Paris and we had finished a really romantic dinner at Les Ombres on top of the Quai de Branly Museum which has a front row seat to the Eiffel Tour. It was still pretty early so we decided to walk over to the tower to get a closer look. It was around 10:30 and it seemed like everyone in Paris was out, sitting on the grass, drinking wine, laughing, kissing, buying souvenirs. As we came full circle around the base of the tower, I pulled out the headphones and told Tom I had a little surprise. We both put them on and I pushed play on the 25th Anniversary Playlist. The first song was She by Charles Aznavour, a French singer my mom introduced me to when I was still a teenager and would dream about falling in love.  We held hands and crossed the street to walk home along the Seine. I had the playlist set to shuffle so when each song ended we both waited in anticipation for the next – would it be a really old song we hadn’t heard in ages or one we listened to in the car last week? Would it be slow and tender like The Way We Were or fast and fun like Tom Jones’ It’s Not Unusual to Be Loved By Anyone. We adapted our pace with each song and walked the two miles home dancing and singing and squeezing hands, each new song a gift.

Here is the playlist in it’s entirety:

She (Charles Aznavour)

Let me Down Easy (Paolo Nutini)

Slave to Love (Bryan Ferry)

Sledgehammer, Big Time (Peter Gabriel)

Misunderstanding, Follow You Follow Me (Genesis)

La Vie En Rose, Pull up To the Bumper (Grace Jones)

Freedom, Faith, I Want Your Sex (George Michael)

I Would Die 4 U (Prince)

Tainted Love (Soft Cell)

And We Danced, Day by Day, All You Zombies (The Hooters)

Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears)

Everyday I Write the Book (Elvis Costello)

Don’t Dream It’s Over (Crowded House)

Queiqu’un M’a Dit, L’Amour (Carla Bruni)

It’s Not Unusual (Tom Jones)

Lost Stars (Adam Levine)

Paris Ooh La La (Grace Potter)

What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)

Here with Me, Thank You, White Flag (Dido)

The Way We Were (Barbra Streisand)

Sugar (Maroon 5)

If You Don’t Know Me By Now, Holding Back the Years (Simply Red)

Besame Mucho (Andrea Bocelli)

June 2015

June 2015

On The Road Again…the final day and “what we learned”… 3

Our last school visit on the eleven day college tour was at the College of Charleston and after having spent a nice weekend in the city we were primed to love it and love it we did. It’s honestly the best of both worlds, a 10,000 undergrad university smack in the middle of an amazingly historical city, one hour by plane from new york and it’s warm! The campus is beautiful and one of the oldest in the nation.



The fine arts building is gorgeous, centrally located (we found that most of the schools we visited stuck their fine arts building at the edge of campus) and the student art work was very impressive. So after a very long trip, covering 5 states and 7 different colleges I can honestly say it was a successful trip. Sophie liked all seven schools – all for different reasons and she will apply to all of them. I asked her to put the schools in order from most desired to least and she did but she said not to hold her to it as the order is subject to change. Good for her. I think there is a lot to marinate on after a long trip and to really think about everything each school has to offer. We collected tons of materials and they are in our large accordian folder for reference…

Here are a few things we learned about making a college trip successful:

1. When making your college list (for visiting) take a lot of time beforehand deciding whether or not this is a school you would seriously be interested in attending. The last thing you want to do, is drive or fly long distances, arrive and take one look around and say “no way”. The best way to do this is to ask friends who’ve visited, read up on all their stats and spend time on their website. Even then it’s not always going to work out but at least you’ll feel like you tried your best for a good fit.

2. Do research the night before attending the info session and tour to come up with some good questions to ask  – not to impress anyone, but to really find out what you need to know. Most of our questions had to do with art portfolios and the gen ed requirements for an art degree. Each school was different.

3. Food is important. One of the ways we got to know the city or town that the school was in was through it’s restaurants. My daughter would not be happy going to college in a place where she could only eat fast food or cafeteria food. If you have a child like that, you might want to consider where the school is located. I have a friend who recently toured a great school that they were really impressed with but the fact that it was “in the middle of nowhere” and they had to stop at subway for lunch was a deal breaker.

4. After the info session and tour, go back to the Admissions office and ask for the business card of your area admissions rep. This is a great way to reach out directly to the person who will be reading your child’s application and the perfect person to contact with additional questions you may have.

5. Take notes. As mentioned in another posting, most schools want the student to write a “why this school” essay. It’s so much easier to write the essay if you’ve taken notes during your tour about why you really liked it. You will most likely forget the small details months later when it comes time to write it.

6. Bring bandaids. Walking for 1.5 hours every day takes a toll.

And here are some things I learned about myself on this trip (with the help of my daughter)…

I’m terrible at taking pictures, I don’t know how to put makeup on properly, I can’t multi-task, I’m terrible at zooming in, I don’t know how to drive, I have zero sense of direction, i’m too loud in restaurants, I nag way too much about doing homework, I need better strapless bras, and I don’t walk fast enough.

Here’s a photo I took on the last day of Sophie walking way ahead of me (not because we were fighting, she just doesn’t have patience for the pace at which I walk).


Thanks for reading along, it’s been quite the trip. Best of luck to all those parents out there who will embark on college tours soon! It actually was a really great opportunity to spend one on one time with my daughter, the last time we spent this much alone time was the week she was born. The fact that this time next year she will be getting ready to move on is so bittersweet. I’m sure this trip will get even better with age.

On The Road Again…The Weekend Off (a much needed respite!) 1

On Friday afternoon (the 8th day of our college tour) Tom arrived for a fun weekend in Charleston. Sophie’s tour of the College of Charleston is not until Monday and so we picked Charleston as the city we would stop in and take a little break before the last tour. It was a really good choice. Our dinner reservation that night at McCrady’s wasn’t until 8:45 so we had a lot of time to go out and investigate. We were staying at the northern border of the historic district, about a 15 minute walk to the center of everything (The Francis Marion Hotel, which I would not recommend) and we walked down King Street until we got to the South Battery which is the end of the peninsula and looks out at Fort Sumter. Charleston is beautiful with great shops and restaurants and filled with centuries-old homes that have been very carefully perserved and are still lived in. This city definitely has a great vibe.


Dinner was in a building with it’s own incredible history; George Washington was served a 30 course meal there. The food was absolutely delicious even if the chef had an overabundance of love for the popped kernel of corn. This James Beard winner was completely fixated on popcorn and it showed up in almost every dish on the menu.

Saturday morning we had breakfast at The Hominy Grill which was delicious and thankfully we arrived right after it opened because within minutes there was a line around the block.


I had eggs with hominy grits, bacon and an amazing biscuit. We cabbed to the Charleston City Market, an outdoor covered marketplace that goes on for blocks that was originially a sort of farmer’s market for city slaves to buy food from country slaves on behalf of their masters. It wasn’t your ordinary outdoor market and there were a ton of local artisans selling really interesting and creative things. I loved this lady, making baskets…


At 11 we met up with Tommy Dew for an historical walking tour recommended by my friend Deb from Tokyo. I highly recommend him too. Originally from Richmond, VA with an amazing southern accent, he told the story of the south, specifically through the lens of Charleston and it put a completely new prospective on the war between the states. I loved it and learned a ton. If only all history could be taught while walking through it.

After the tour we had a delicous lunch at Magnolia’s. Tom said it was the best fried chicken he has EVER eaten, and he doesn’t say the word BEST very often.  We also had to get a plate of these homemade potato chips with blue cheese.


What was on the agenda next? A much needed NAP. We had dinner reservations at 6 but had to cancel, we were just too stuffed to eat any more food. Around 7 we went to the Vendue Inn, a newly renovated boutique hotel that boasts over 300 works of art sprinkled through it. This is where I would stay if i returned. They have a really nice rooftop bar where we went for drinks. They had a fun art installation that everyone was playing with. Most people made imprints of their butt or chest but Sophie made a really sweet heart that people took photos of. We were watching from the other side to see what she was going to create.

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We woke up on Easter Sunday in the bible belt and for the most part the city was pretty quiet. Everyone must have been in church. We went to the Granary for brunch, which i didn’t realize was in “North Charleston” about a 20 minute drive from downtown Charleston but we did get to go over a pretty beautiful bridge to get there.


After brunch, we did a little poking around the campus of the College of Charleston so Tom could get a little taste.


Back to the hotel, Tom packed up and left for the airport and Sophie worked on some homework. Our plan this afternoon is a little shopping and dinner at Edmund’s Oast. Mad Men is on the to do list tonight and then first thing tomorrow is our very last college visit to the College of Charleston and then HOME!!!!! Living out of a small carry on for ten days is a challenge!

On The Road Again…Day 8 of The College Tour Reply

We are officially into the second week of the very long college tour but today we had a breath of fresh air. Up until now the college tours and info sessions have pretty much been the same, following the same format, the check in at admissions, the finding of a seat (sometimes being squeezed into a small room with a ton of other sardines and sometimes being more spread out). College office of admissions for the most part, all look the same and the tours follow the same sort of track around the campus (science building, gym, cafeteria, food trucks, dorm, student center…you get the picture). But today we woke up in Savannah, Georgia and took a tour of the Savannah College of Art and Design and we knew from the moment we arrived, we weren’t in Kansas (aka the “normal” college tour) anymore. From the outside, the building looked like this:


But then we walked into what felt like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and this is where the info session was held…and they were serving breakfast too!


I was almost giddy with excitement. This seemed like the college of dreams, where everything was shiny and new and creative and possible. And it only got better. We started the visit at the Student Center in a converted synagogue! The lights in the ceiling turned colors while we heard about all the amazing features of the building. I didn’t even include the picture of the room with skeeball, pool tables, pin ball machines, foozball, etc… because…


There were napping pods! Like Google and Facebook have.


and the cones of silence that drop down from the ceiling (actually i named them the cones of slilence; they are really cool speakers that only let the few students who are in that particular area watch a video while not disturbing the other kids watching a different video nearby).


And the ceiling of the photography building looked like this:


So you get the idea – 100% totally different and super duper awesome. Then they told us that 93% of their graduating seniors either have a job in their field or are admitted to grad school. Is this possibly true? If so, it’s positively dreamy.

We even had lunch at the student run gourmet, farm to table, delicious tea room called Gryphon I loved the napkin rings just as much as the cold sesame noodles with grilled shrimp and fresh greens.


And after the info session and tour we actually got to meet with an admissions counselor who took the time to look at sophie’s art (we travel avec thumbstick). All in all, a very positive experience all around.  After lunch we got back in the car and drove 2.5 hours to Charleston, SC the very last stop on our tour. Our visit to the College of Charleston isn’t until Monday so we have the entire weekend off! and we were THRILLLED to welcome Tom! He flew in and joined up with us in time for a nice long walk around the city where we saw some amazing homes and historic statues. He arrived just in the nick of time as I had been without a right contact lens for most of the trip and was in desperate need of my denim jacket – it does get a little chilly in the south at night. I’ve learned my lesson – no matter where I travel the denim jacket comes too. Our first meal of the weekend (and there will be many to come) was at McCrady’s, James Beard winner Sean Brock’s restaurant on E. Bay Street. The man is obsessed with popcorn. It was in every dish on the menu in some way shape or form but I’m not complaining. The food was amazing, even if he shaved popcorn over my sashimi tuna. I’m so happy to have reinforcements and I’m very excited for the weekend!

Happy Pesach and Good Friday to all.

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