April 24, 2013

We have a winner!

We went down to NYC for a couple of nights to hang out a little bit, go on a tour of the Brookdale Dorm, and attend the Macaulay at Hunter Accepted Students Day. It was, eee, okay. The dorm was in worse shape than we had anticipated, and since it's scheduled to be demolished in two years, I'm assuming they're not going to be worrying about it too much - so the way it is now is likely as good as it'll get. We loved *everything* Macaulay, but we didn't quite love much about Hunter. The general facilities are just a bit sad looking, and we were disappointed (and surprised) that they didn't show us ANY of the academic facilities. We didn't get to see a single classroom, they brought us to and talked to us outside of the library door but wouldn't let us even look in, and when asked even about the Macaulay Lounge on campus we were told it was "under construction" and that we couldn't see it. We were concerned. Hmmm. . . They also didn't have department rep areas at the event, so we didn't get to talk with any of the professors he would theoretically be taking classes with. We did like all of the students we heard from and met. They were very nice, and I kept thinking what good role models they would be for Julian. Unfortunately, though, he didn't feel any real connection to them and I concur that he seemed very "different" than the rest of the group. Not that I don't think of Julian as a good kid, but they just all seemed like REALLY good kids in a different sort of way (if that makes any sense). We happened to spend some time talking to the Macaulay advisor who interviewed Julian, and she was very sweet, so that was nice. 

So the next week, we had two visits scheduled - one up in Saratoga Springs at Skidmore (Thursday) and one down in Annandale-on-Hudson at Bard (Saturday). 

On Wednesday night, completely out of the blue, Julian and I each got an e-mail from University of Vermont (where he had back in December been accepted and invited to join the Honors College) saying the president and senior staff had committed more merit money to a select group of first year students and that Julian had been selected for one of the additional awards. Oh my goodness - what a surprise! I knew I was supposed to be delighted, but I actually felt like crying because the process was already overwhelming enough without this twist thrown in at the 11th hour. We loved UVM but it was just too expensive, the most expensive of the entire bunch, so we had put it in the "definite no" bucket. With the extra merit money, though, the cost was brought down right in between Skidmore and Bard. They only had one more Accepted Students Day planned - for FRIDAY! - so we signed up last-minute for it! 

On Thursday, we went up to Skidmore, and Julian didn't like it at all - thought it felt "too refined". I thought it seemed like a pretty pleasant place, but he put it at the bottom of the list (not of just the finalists but of ALL the colleges). Yikes! 

We went home, quickly packed, and headed up to Burlington - didn't get in until after 10 PM and were at UVM's registration at 8 AM the next morning. (Starting to feel pretty tired by this point!) Spent the day there and we loved it as much as the first time we visited. The faculty were terrific - very bright but seemingly laid back at the same time. We got to spend almost an hour in the Philosophy Department with two of the professors, and Julian really liked them a lot. We also spent some time learning about the Honors College and what that all entailed, and we liked that too. We ate in the little cafe nearest where the honors kids live, and he was thrilled to be able to order a fresh made-to-order fruit smoothie and to pick up a few locally-made baked goods to bring home for his siblings. We also walked into the downtown area, which is a real delight. (And of course, being sandwiched in between the Adirondack Mountains on the west and the Green Mountains on the east right next to Lake Champlain doesn't hurt!) 

We drove home after the UVM events and were ready to hit the road again at 8 AM the next morning to visit Bard. (I was seriously starting to wonder if this madness really did have an end!) It was so sad. We had absolutely LOVED Bard when we visited in the fall, but we weren't feeling so much love on this second visit. They had a faculty panel, and we also got to meet personally with a couple philosophy and music professors. They all seemed nice enough and were clearly very bright, but there was just an air of intellectual arrogance that we neither appreciated nor enjoyed. Julian is totally laid back and extremely modest, and that is something he doesn't identify with at all. Halfway through the day, he said that we may as well go home because he had decided he wanted to attend UVM!! 

Can you believe that story?! It's like we went full circle. He'll be attending a college we loved but had definitely ruled out due to cost. UVM was the first campus we visited, the first he applied to, and the first one to accept him! I cannot believe it, but it feels very right. I definitely think he's making the best decision, but it's just so bizarre how we ended up at it!

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