College Crash Course


One of many mascots we met

My first post, about two years ago, was about my oldest daughter getting ready to head off to university back in her “home” country of the U.S. This post is continuing the college tradition with a look at my youngest daughter’s recent cross continent college tour experience, a common one for Third Culture Kids.

So here’s how it played out: looking ahead to our summer calendar, it became very apparent that with a Spanish immersion and service trip, a camp counselor job at our school’s summer camp, the traditional visit to see relatives in Ohio, and a possible visit to see friends in New Jersey, the summer was going to be an absolute, insanity causing, fiasco if we didn’t somehow jettison the college exploration tour that would take us to the West Coast.  Luckily, my husband had work back at his corporate offices in that area, and thought it would be a great idea if we used this year’s “ski break” in mid February, to check off some college tours.  Add in the bonus of really cheap flight tickets to the Pacific Northwest, and we were in.

The first step was having my daughter line up the tours. I really think it is key to have the college students-to-be take on this task of organization, correspondence and scheduling, to give them a warm-up to handling similar scenarios in their university years and later life.  My youngest spent a lot of time on the computer with emails back and forth to admissions offices, and her father and me, to get a schedule that was workable for all involved, and, I have to say, she pretty much rocked it.

In fact, it was pretty much what I imagine rock concert tours to be; one after-high-school-graduation gig to the next. We covered seven colleges in five days, took in some of the surrounding areas to give my city girl a feel for the urban offerings, and, since we arrived in Seattle on a Saturday, and none of the relevant schools gave tours that day, we had the privilege to meet some former Vienna pals for a nice, reuniting brunch, before piling in the rental and setting the GPS.

We lucked out weather-wise, and truly had an informative, successful trip.  What did we come away with? A nice feel for the genuine warmth and authenticity of the people in this area.  A forward-thinking outlook that is well-matched to my worldly girl. Beautiful vistas of mountains, greenery and sunsets to compliment the architecture of the cities and campuses. Enough informational pamphlets and give-away promotional items to weigh down our carry-ons.  And the realization that TCKs definitely need to take the time, even if jam packed, jet-lagged, and far from relaxing, to see their potential colleges up close and personal.

This daughter’s experience was definitely different from our first daughter’s summer college search (although she got the benefit of those tours, as well, and still has some interest in schools from big sis’s tour). Our eldest knew that after a very small international school experience, she was looking for bigger, so we didn’t even visit smaller schools.

Our youngest, who always has had a variety of likes and interests, wanted to experience the gamut.  From about 2,000 to 60,000 students, we got a great feel for the vast variety of college experiences, and also learned that some of the smaller schools are more willing and wanting to personally welcome far-away students. Discussions of scholarships and financial opportunities were definitely more prevalent on this college outing.  We also had individualized sessions with admissions representatives that sought and singled us out.  And, she even got some time to chat with a basketball coach. These personalized interactions were new, and a nice touch.

So, definitely not a relaxing vacation, and still a few “hope to dos” that had to be crossed off the list for lack of time, energy, or ability to keep the eyes open and form complete sentences, but this college crash course was definitely worthwhile.  Out of 7 visits, my daughter was able to eliminate 3 (always a plus for the girl who finds good in everything) and prioritize the others, giving two, top follow-up honors.  And speaking of follow-ups, she has cards of admissions reps who she has sent additional questions, and is involved in online searches to answer questions that we didn’t quite have time for.

The first leg of my second daughter’s unique college search is complete.  So now, I guess it’s time to peek back at that first post I wrote about not believing it was time for my oldest to leave, and wrap my head around the fact that it is now my  youngest. My daughter just completed a step toward her independence, and my husband and I, a step toward an empty nest. Where can I find the informational pamphlets on that?



  1. Todd Gummersbach

    Tracy – Boy was that college post a real eye opener. Keep sharing! It is a blast to read it.

    Todd Gummersbach

    • Many thanks, Todd. Appreciate your taking the time. All the best and hope our paths cross again soon.

  2. Sounds like a great experience for all of you! Can’t wait to hear where she decides to go!

    • Thanks, Leanne! Exciting times and decisions!

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