Last week I went college touring. We saw ten colleges in five days. Yes, you read that correctly; ten colleges in five days. The prospect of spending five days on a bus traveling from one guided tour to the next, following backward-walking students talking about swipes and meal plans and eating turkey sandwiches out of a box was a bit underwhelming. But, was I surprised. After several hundred such tours you would think that I would have seen enough by now but I was impressed and delighted by what I saw and learned on this trip.

We traveled throughout the Southern and Midwestern part of the United States and covered territories that I had little or no exposure to before which made the trip exciting from the get-go. I got to walk along the pathways and across the quads of campuses that were beautiful and green and grand at the same time. After hours I got to walk through streets like Beale Street in Memphis, Broadway in Nashville and The Loop in St. Louis and experience some of the local “scene”.

What impressed me the most is the number of options that our students have in the college selection process. For the student who wants to get away and try something new there are tons of options. If some one wants “a Bates or a Colby that’s in a warmer climate” (I’ve heard that before) they might love Rhodes in Memphis or The University of the South in Sewanee Tennessee. These are two stunningly beautiful campuses that, similar to the NESCACs, have a nice sense of community, strong academics, great outdoor places to explore and have the added bonus of biscuits and gravy for breakfast, shrimp and grits for dinner and other uniquely southern touches that would be new to those of us from New England. Now that I have seen these unique treasures, I’m sure I will find a college list or two onto which I can add them!