An Alternative Spring Break
If you’re a high school junior, chances are your inbox and mailbox have been filled with letters from the marketing departments of colleges across the country. I also received those one page letters. And if you do not feel like waiting until the summer before your senior year to figure out whether you should apply to these schools, even better.
And so it was during the spring of my junior year in high school that My Dad and I decided to take a road trip and visit some schools in the area who had been so kind to send us boiler-plate introduction letters. This time, “in the area” referred to schools beyond the city limits of Los Angeles, namely UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Sonoma Sate, and UC Santa Barbara.
Below you will find some observations and tips from our trip should you choose to visit some schools during your spring break.
Call Ahead, but not before 11 AM
On the first day of spring break, my Dad and I left our house in the suburbs of LA at 5:30 AM hoping to arrive at UC Berkeley in time for an 11:15 AM tour. We also planned on meeting up with a family friend’s daughter, a rising senior, to get an inside perspective on the heralded bay area university. Her father told us that we should not call her before 11 AM, as, “most college students do not wake-up until noon.” We thought he was joking until we called Jessica at 10:55 AM only to hear a groggy, half-conscious voice on the other end. While the “noon rule” does not apply to all college students, the best way to avoid any faux-pas is to confirm a visit a few days ahead. Because a non-groggy, well rested college student makes for a much better host / hostess.
Even when your college friend gives you a high level overview of what you he / she plans on doing with you or showing you, be prepared for a surprise or two along the way. One of the most memorable moments occurred when visiting Sonoma State’s admission office. My Dad and I were having a lovely chat with one of the student workers when the conversation transitioned to our weekend plans. Some how the student worker mistook my Dad for a prospective student too. Puzzled, we continued chatting as if we thought nothing of it.
Later that night we drove down the 5 freeway to UC Santa Barbara, where I linked up with my buddy Jared (we played for our high school’s volleyball team). Though he was two grade levels ahead of me, we managed to keep in touch after he graduated from high school. My dad and I joined him for Shabbat services at Hillel. After dinner, Jared took me to his frat house. We arrived around 10:00 PM and did not leave until 2:00 AM. I will spare the details but can share that there were a lot of people dancing in the backyard and one creepy exchange student who tried to make small talk. The key takeaway from this experience was that I was able to see and experience the collegiate social scene in full and spend some time catching up with a close friend
So, can Cancun and kick Key West. Spending spring break looking at colleges will make for a more worthwhile and rewarding experience.