Today we braved the impending snowstorm and headed out for our first college tour with Steph. We visited Andy's alma mater, Clark University. For those who don't know it, it's a small liberal arts school in Worcester; in many ways it reminded me of Wesleyan (my alma mater) in its size, setting, and overall "feel." (I told Steph that pretty much all of the good, small liberal arts schools in New England have this same general "feel.") She liked it a lot, and I was ready to sign myself up to go!
It was fun for Andy to see familiar buildings that look the same or have been renovated, as well as completely new buildings. We saw the dining hall, library, science center, athletic complex, main academic building, and more. By pure coincidence, when the tour guide took us to see what a typical freshman dorm room looks, it was Andy's exact room from 1977! Imagine that.
Clark has an amazing program you can apply to as a junior. If you've maintained a 3.4 GPA during your first three years there, you can start taking graduate-level courses as a senior and then tack on a fifth year for free—and graduate with a Master's degree! Something like 40% of seniors do that, not surprisingly.
Clark's admissions policy is test-optional, which means that you don't have to send in your SAT scores if you don't want to! This policy is a rarity, but I sure hope that it catches on elsewhere. The SATs cause so much stress and really don't predict success in college. Many studies have shown that a student's performance in high school classes is a far better indicator of her performance in college classes than standardized test scores. We all know that there are good students who just don't test well, and then there are bright kids who ace their SATs but are lazy students; Clark would clearly prefer to admit the former type. I wish more schools would go this route, as Steph makes honor roll every semester but is not a great tester.
Tomorrow we are visiting Curry College, which I know absolutely nothing about (Steph was attracted to it because there's a preschool on campus, and she thinks she'd like to major in early childhood education). Then on Thursday we're going to Simmons College, alma mater of both my mother and Andy's mother! There are many other schools on Steph's (not so) short list, but three visits for one snowy vacation week seemed like a good start.