05 November 2014

Colleges in Review, Part 1

We're back from our trip to New England visiting colleges and it seems just in time. There was a big Nor'easter on Sunday and they got snow, at least in Maine. We had a good trip and visiting the colleges definitely helped provide some clarity.

First up was University of Maine at Farmington. We got to the hotel late Friday night but it was pretty easy to find. In the morning we went into Farmington and found where we needed to go on campus. The open house started in Merrill Hall and included a welcome from the Director of Admissions, the President of the college, and a student. The president is a hoot! From everything we saw and heard about her, she's well liked by the students and very involved in campus life. After we finished there we went to one of the other buildings to meet with some of the professors from the business program. Whitney is interested in ORBA - Outdoor Recreation Business Administration. There were only three students there including Whitney, one was also interested in ORBA, the other was looking at business psychology. Since it was a small group it made for some pretty good discussion and we learned a lot. There was quite a bit of discussion about the required internship and we found out that with some coordination with the director of Camp Highroad she'd be able to do her internship there if she wanted. They'd have to have her do more than camp counselor or leading groups on the ropes course but it could be done. Whitney had a better feel for the program and the requirements when we finished talking with them. We stayed to hear what the social science professors had to say during the next session, which was interesting.

We had lunch in the dining hall, actually brunch since it was a Saturday. They had a sandwich bar, salad bar, looked liked an area for soups, and a buffet line set up with hot breakfast stuff and more lunch/dinner type food. The food was good and the dining hall was nice. We happened to sit at a table with a man who works at the college and had a really good conversation with him, mostly about what Whitney was interested in and how much snow they get in Farmington. After lunch we took a tour of the campus. We weren't with the best group (most of the kids were younger high school students) but the campus is nice. When we finished the tour, we made a quick stop at the bookstore then walked around the town some before meeting my aunt and uncle for an early dinner. The town is small, the campus is small, but it sounds like it's a pretty active campus if you like getting out and going - hiking, on the river, skiing/snowboarding, anything outside. There really isn't too much in town but there is a small movie theater, a few stores and cafes, enough for a small town.

We also had a chance to talk with the student that spoke in the morning. She's on the basketball team and was the point of contact for any prospective students that weren't able to make it to the sports discussion in the morning. The athletic director and a few of the coaches were only available in the morning because they had to be at a soccer game in the afternoon so Whitney didn't have a chance to talk to them. It sounds like the ski/snowboard team is pretty active and they'd welcome Whitney onto it to work out and train. It also sounds like they'd be willing to work with her so she'd be able to keep competing.

We stayed overnight in Farmington then drove over to Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. As we crossed the river and went around the traffic circle, Whitney commented that she forgot how pretty it is there. I'd agree that Plymouth probably has the prettiest campus of the ones she's looked at but UMF was nice as well. We parked and walked around campus and around the town a bit since it was Sunday and she'd already taken a tour there. We stopped in an artists co-op and bought a couple of things. Since this was the first non-snowy time that we'd been to Plymouth, it was nice to walk around and see the campus and town as well as some of the surrounding area.

Verdict so far -

UMF - Nice campus, probably the best program (it integrates outdoor learning well with the business), sounds like it offers her the best chance to keep competing in snowboarding while studying

Plymouth - prettiest campus, good program in outdoor education where she could get a minor in business

Both schools are within an hour of several good ski areas where she can snowboard and also work. Both have ski/snowboard teams or clubs as well as an outdoor club for her to get involved with to do things other than snowboarding.

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