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  • Vivian Kou

From Boston to DC: College Tour Realities

The densely packed college tour itinerary may initially seem overwhelming to juniors during the first half of spring break, including visits to an average of three schools per day. The blend of atmospheres in the cities of Massachusetts, changeable weather, school dimensions, and tour guides shaped and refined the preferences of students as students gradually developed future prospects while gaining acquaintance with local lifestyles.

Students visit Wellesley College on the annual junior East Coast college trip.

While one might expect college tours to reflect the glories colleges post on their websites and their admission booklets, other unexpected factors shape the experience — such as how the varying weather conditions influenced students’ choices and impressions towards universities.

Abbie Zhang remarked,

“The rainy days and dampness of the east coast are sometimes frustrating. There were also dead worms that scattered around when we were at Wesleyan on a rainy day, which to some extent affected my initial impression of the school.”

Despite some showing annoyance towards the overly energetic tour guide accompanying the group on the bus, students felt comfortable sharing their questions and concerns when led by enthusiastic Stevenson alumni who guided the group during their visits.

“Most of the tour guides were really passionate and eager to share about their school. Even if I wasn’t interested in the school initially, they made me interested in applying,” says Taylor Onitsuka, who spoke with delight.

After a tiring day of excursion and bearing the soreness from long rides, students liked the suite-style hotels and the ample space to accommodate two individuals in each room, and they expressed their satisfaction with this element of the experience. Students wandered around the cities and absorbed the vibes in Boston, New York, and Washington DC to relax during the frenetic pace of the tour. Students had fun exploring boba shops, cafés, and restaurants during the visits to various cities.

Two students show drinks they bought at Gong Cha in New York City. The college tour service allowed the students to explore the cities after they finished touring the colleges in that particular area.

Students explored boba shops such as Gong Cha, Meet Fresh, and Italian restaurants residing in the North End of Boston. However, some students expressed their disappointment towards the limited amount of time as they struggled to find a restaurant during rush hours. “I wish we had more time to explore, and I feel like our first day was quite rushed,” says Isabella Zuo, showing some disappointment.

Above, students explored the bustling streets of Little Italy in Boston. Most were welcomed with cannolis and hot pizza.

Besides exploring local cuisine, cafeterias from relatively unfamiliar universities were found to be unexpectedly impressive. For instance, the cafeteria of Fordham University was the most favored among the students, as it displays a variety of food options. Whether students are in the mood for pasta, a fresh salad, donuts, or multi-flavored ice cream, they can find it all in one place. This not only saves time but also offers the convenience of having a diverse range of meal options.

Surprisingly, during the visits, it was found that universities with a higher acceptance rate had the most modernized equipment, facilities, and abundant resources. Across the diverse range of schools visited students come to appreciate that there are several excellent institutions outside of the Ivy League.

In addition, some students find programs that incorporate practical job experience captivating. For instance, the Cooperative Education program from Northeastern University provides paid and unpaid professional work experience to students. Others find the entrepreneurship program from Babson College appealing, which offers opportunities for undergraduate students to start their own businesses.

In general, despite some students facing some challenges and unexpected factors, the journey as a whole makes a memorable and valuable experience for prospective students and helps them make informed decisions about their future and visualize potential college lifestyles.

Students visit Northeastern University in Boston, MA.


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