December 2012 Issue
Editor's Note: Roads to Academia
Want to get to know a state better? Take a teenager on a college tour.
Our annual Excellence in Education section (see page 58) brings back memories of road trips to nearly every corner of Ohio to help my daughters find the right college campus. (Sure, we looked outside the state, but found plenty of excellent choices within our borders.)
It started inauspiciously during a visit with my brother and his family in northwest Ohio. We convinced my eldest, then a high school sophomore, to take a ride to check out a nearby university. It did not go well. The prospective co-ed ended up wedged into the back seat of her uncle’s Chevy Suburban as we — an extended family of seven — drove around campus gawking at buildings and students. Unfortunately, the mortification she felt cast a negative light on a perfectly fine school.
My daughters and I traveled every Ohio interstate and many scenic roads to visit campuses, from small private colleges to large universities — Gambier to Delaware, Wooster to Marietta, Oxford to Athens. It was easy to lose focus and become tourists rather than education consumers as we discovered alluring shops, coffee houses and restaurants.
College towns, we found, are delightful places even when you’re not touring the local school.
The best of our college visits combined good information from admissions staff with an engaging student-led walking tour. Do colleges understand how important these student ambassadors are? It’s not just their ability to talk while walking backward — these guides have to connect with reticent high-schoolers and their sometimes overbearing parents. Our best guide was a young man at Ohio State who gave the tour a personal touch by showing us his favorite study spot (the geology building library) and describing in tantalizing detail the breakfast cereal options in his dining hall.
Soon, Ohio parents and high school juniors will be planning their spring and summer campus visits. Along with the serious business of choosing a college, they’ll get to spend time with each other before the kids move out and on to the future. And they’ll also have abundant opportunities to get to know our state.
I envy them.
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As we close out 2012, Ohio Magazine
looks forward to celebrating 35 years of publishing in 2013. Thanks to our readers who have ensured our longevity and contributed valuable ideas and feedback over the years. We’ll keep looking for fascinating Ohio people and places to share with you, and we hope you’ll continue to let us know how we’re doing.