I just returned from a Spring Break college-visiting trip with my son. Two years ago my daughter and I did a nine-day tour of northeast colleges during Spring Break. I had been telling my reluctant son for a while that we needed to do the same thing. We ended up having a good trip and he found out that college included fun things like all-you-can-eat cafeterias and recreational centers.
My son said he wanted to get away from home but not go too far so we headed north to Oklahoma and Missouri. We visited a small liberal arts college, a medium-size private university and a large public university. Our first campus visit was at Austin College in Sherman in north Texas. The liberal arts school has about 1300 students and the football stadium was smaller than the one our high school plays at in San Antonio. The campus had a peaceful comfortable feel with trees and green space. The students were gone for Spring Break but the friendly admissions staff promised a lot of personal attention and a close-knit community.
Next stop was the University of Tulsa (TU), a private university with about 3,000 students. The campus buildings were spread out giving the impression of a larger school. The school promised the personal attention of a small school with the excitement of Division I sports. The admissions staff set up a lengthy visit for us including a campus tour, a meeting with the study abroad office, lunch with students in the cafeteria and a meeting with the Dean of Arts & Sciences. The Dean turned out to be a very entertaining man who talked about the city of Tulsa, entertaining wealthy donors, the music department and the controversial construction of a mosque on campus. My son seemed to like the size of the school and the campus.
For our final campus visit we headed north to Missouri, which was noticeably colder. We chose to visit the University of Missouri at Columbia because of their highly ranked Journalism School. The university has about 30,000 students and is located in a very cute college town with lots of restaurants and shops near campus. We listened to an admissions overview talk, went on a campus tour, ate lunch in the student cafeteria and then joined a tour of the journalism school (J-School). A highlight of the campus tour was the huge recreation center that included a rock climbing wall, spa, basketball gyms, weight rooms, large indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a hot tub for 50 people. The J-School was very impressive with 2,000 students obtaining hands-on experience working on newspapers, magazines, TV and radio broadcasting, and advertising. The Mizzou campus had a lot to offer but my son quickly determined it was too big to suit his personality.