Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day Trip

November 2010

We have begun. College visits, that is. Back when I started this blog we were touring schools with my son, who is now a college sophomore. Now it's my daughter's turn. She is in 11th grade so we have time yet. But we decided to do leisurely visits to schools within driving distance this fall, and then plan a more intensive trip to see a few colleges further afield in the spring. Last weekend we went to see a school that was literally a 15 minute drive north, much too close to home for my daughter. "I thought this would be a road trip," complained the girl who loves nothing more than a road trip complete with a night or two in a nice hotel.

But she was game anyway, since we teamed up with one of her closest friends in the world and her family for the visit. Her friend's mom Isabella and I are also friends. We possess a mutual difficulty with all things unresolved, and a similarly obsessive turn of mind, and so we have set out to find the exact right schools for our daughters, encouraged by our girls who are just happy that we're keeping each other occupied and out of their hair! It was perfect, really. Isabella and I compared notes, the men and older sister looked on amused, and our girls listened and toured and revealed little of their thinking, except to each other.

Isabella and I ended up liking the school so much that my husband teased that we could be roommates and they could visit us in the dorm on weekends. Ha! In fact, my daughter does not yet know if she will apply, in part because the school is only 28 percent boys. She wants a more equal male-female ratio. But the school does not require SATs or ACTs. It has no tests. You take just three seminar-based classes per semester plus a 20-30 page conference paper or project for each class, which you develop yourself in conjunction with the professor. There are no core requirements either, just a course catalogue that your browse through and pick whatever the heck you want to take. The setting is really pretty, especially now in the fall with the changing trees. It did kind of have the feel of an exclusive girls boarding school, but everyone was really sweet/funny/quirky/open and all around campus there were hand-drawn posters inviting us to "Fuck Gender," "Bend Gender" and "Reverse Gender."

The program is definitely writing intensive and boasts alumni from Alice Walker to Barbara Walters to Rahm Emmanuel. Students end up writing a hundred or more pages a term, which I know our girls would have no problem with. They wrote their autobiographies in 7th grade, which were roughly 100 pages each, churned out with great inspiration between February and April of that year. They were amazing poetic excavations of their young lives. And having produced them by going deeper and deeper through several rounds of drafts—under the guidance of the most extraordinary teacher, Carol O'Donnell—our girls have never again doubted their ability to produce thoughtful, engaged, well-crafted writing.

Since there are no majors in the traditional sense, the young man who was doing the tour (the admissions staff made sure there were many young men in evidence) asked each of the prospective applicants what they were interested in pursuing. I got very still waiting to hear what my daughter would answer. "Cooking, photography and writing," she said.

The photo above is of our girls filling out their visiting forms before the info session. The one below was taken when they were in kindergarten. They were at their school's farm and were soaked head to toe from building a dam in the river. They are so beautiful, these girls. They are part of a soul cluster that has loved one another since that time. They are soul mates, really.

June 2000


  1. Gosh, your daughter's gorgeous! Good luck with choosing a school. We're almost done with the college thing at our house. Our youngest is cramming six years into four! ;^)

  2. That school reminds me of New College in Florida. Lots of boys there.
    Have y'all checked that out?

  3. Only 15 minutes away, yet those 2 priceless photos are a true expression of the distance traveled. Thank you for documenting a historic day. Much love

  4. willow, i wonder if your youngest should be cramming things? i recall college being a particularly charmed time that was over much too soon. but that could just be the lie of nostalgia! In any case, my hat is off to you for navigating this pass so successfully. exhale.

    Ms. Moon, thank you, we will check out New College. It has a great rep, too, if I recall correctly.

    Isabella, I am so glad we are on this journey together. Such magic along the way! Much love to you too.