We started last summer, during Iowa Private College Week, and have visited five colleges. We're focusing on colleges that are within a 3-hour drive and are in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest consortium. Coe is part of the ACM consortium and most of the colleges offer a tuition exchange. Meaning: Robbie can go to them tuition-free. One of the perks of being a PK! (Professors' Kid)
So here's the wrap-up, in chronological order.
Coe's take-home message:
"We love you!"
(The tour guides cheered and clapped when the prospectives and their parents went out of the building to go on tours.)
Cool thing about this college: "I know a lot of people who teach there already," says Robbie.
Memorable moments: Robbie meets Robbie Benson, who works in the digital music lab. Also, Robbie wins a door prize, a Coe water bottle.
Cornell's take-home message:
One course at a time--students take just one course at a time. It meets for 4 hours a day, 5 days a week for about 3 1/2 weeks.
Robbie is intrigued by this. He likes the idea of not being distracted by too many classes, and getting to focus just on one. But he's not sure about how it would work out.
Cool thing about this college: Picturesque campus and a cute small town.
Grinell's take-home message:
"We can make it happen." (Grinell boasts a $1 billion endowment. Yes, billion!)
Cool thing about this college: Awesome new science building financed by one of the Intel guys. It's where our friend Jean went to college.
Memorable moment: Discovering the "treehouse"-style carrels in the library.
Luther's take-home message:
The Luther Community cares.
Math, science, and music--Luther is known for excellence in those.
Cool thing about the college: "Luther: it's chill," says Robbie. I think that means he likes it. He also liked that it is "north" and has an unusual setting (on a hill, bluffs surround it, there's a local waterfall and caves). "Can I just skip my senior year and go straight to college?" Robbie asked after our day at Luther.
Memorable moment: Robbie going to the Jazz Orchestra rehearsal and sitting right in the middle of the trumpet section. The FT (first trumpet) was a Wash grad.
Knox's take-home message:
A glorious past. (established in 1837 by abolitionists; Lincoln-Douglas debate here . . .)
Creative Writing. (one of their most popular majors. I got some awesome publications with student work!)
Cool thing about the college: Beautiful old buildings, excellent cafeteria, history.
Memorable moment: Robbie got to attend a Jazz history class, which he enjoyed very much.
Which does he like? I asked Robbie on the way home from our last visit, Knox. He said he liked Luther and Cornell best so far. So we'll find out more about those, and probably send Robbie for overnight visits at both.
And me? By far, I felt most "at home" at Luther. It reminded me so much of my college, The College of Wooster--
- the somewhat isolated location that leads to a tight community, and lots of cultural events on campus,
- the socially-conscious students who make things happen (at COW, our "Soup and Bread" night; at Luther, serving locally-grown food and erecting a wind turbine),
- commitment to academic excellence--the Luther tour guide was often saying "this is a great place to study,"
- importance of music
- spiritual grounding. Yet, the tour guide at Luther assured us that despite the religion course requirement, she never felt coerced to participate in religious activities on campus. "And I have friends of different faiths, and some who are atheists," she said. "They don't feel pressured either." This last comment was good for Robbie, my agnostic boy, to hear. I told him he would enjoy the (required) religion courses because he could study religion/bible from a scholarly perspective.
I asked Robbie if he wanted to visit the state schools, University of Iowa and Iowa State University. Most of his friends are planning to go to state schools. "Um, no," he said. "Not really?" I probed. "Not at all. I'm not interested," he said.
I would be happy if he chose any of these ACM schools! You can't go wrong with ACM schools, and I'm so happy we have these choices.