Spring Break 2024

This Spring Break we did college tours! I’ve never been on a college tour so I’m pretty sure I was more excited for this Spring Break than Jack was. In fact, I know he wasn’t that excited about it. Although I’m sure Jack was curious, the thought of putting himself out there, making himself vulnerable in front of a group of strangers, was not appealing to him in anyway.

We delayed our departure by a few days so we could run the Shamrock Shuffle.

Jack’s Ankle is Still Injured from Soccer so He Didn’t Run

We got there early to go over the meet up procedure after the race. All the kids are now faster than us so we need to pick a place to meet after it’s over. At the Turkey Trot Ben got lost and luckily Sam spotting him running the wrong way and we caught him. We didn’t want that to happen again. We walked by the meetup spot and pointed out the sign above it so everyone could get a visual and see how far it was in relation to the finish line. Then we went back and lined up in the starting corral.

In the shuffle of people I lost everyone but Sam pretty quickly. In the end Ben finished first, then Aaron, Adam, Sam and finally me.

At the meetup spot, everyone was waiting for me but Ben. We waited for a while but eventually went to tell a race spotter (people who stand in towers raised above the ground) to look for him. They called the lost and found and verified that he finished about 30 minutes before. We spent a good hour and a half wandering the grounds looking for him, Adam even had the police helping. Finally Aaron spotting him walking by himself by the gear drop off. I ran to him, crying, and folded him into a hug. I was so happy to find him. My mind had been racing about all the bad things that could be happening to him. He, on the other hand, was eating the large bag of gummies they gave out at the race end. When I asked him if he was worried he said, no, he knew we’d find each other eventually. I guess I’m glad he had so much confidence in us? But after getting lost at 2 out of 2 races that we have done as a family, he doesn’t run another one without a phone strapped to his arm!

After that we rushed home, showered and ate, then got on the road for our college tour trip.

Jack is interested in pursuing a degree in Engineering, so Adam built a trip that could maximize as many schools as we could see that had engineering majors. And you know how Adam plans trips, right?

30 Hours of Driving in Six Days

We started at Case Western Reserve, a D3 school with a sprawling campus in downtown Cleveland. Jack was most impressed with their Sears think[box], an open-access innovation center and makerspace. I was impressed when they took us to the hall that had plaques of all the Nobel Prize winners that went to the school!

Case Western Tour

That afternoon we headed over to the University of Pittsburgh. Jack really got to see what it’s like to go to a D1 school. This is more like the experience that Adam and I had. A huge student body large enough to have their own football stadium. I remember University of Florida football games being a big part of the college experience.

Tour of University of Pittsburgh

Pitt lies in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh and had a lively feel to it. It is also surrounded by other colleges, most notably Carnegie Mellon, which we didn’t tour but could see their stately buildings nearby. Adam mentioned to Jack that it was worth considering. The tour was super well organized and I learned a bunch of important facts, like the level of math that is prefered for applicants of the Engineering program. Jack saw the inside of a dorm room for the first time. I think that was a bit of a shock for him.

University of Virgina

Next we drove to University of Virginia. Again a large school with sprawling lawns and stately buildings. This time we did a tour of the Engineer School specifically. It was much more focused on what Jack was interested in and I think he liked that a lot. We were shown into many of the engineering buildings and got to see how they sent little boxes up into space with other launches to conduct research. Also a room full of 3D printers that you can use anytime. I really enjoyed listening to the 2 female students talking about all their work and adventures at the University. Their futures seemed so bright. I wanted that for Jack.

Thomas Jefferson’s Monicello

After the school tour, we booked another tour, not of a college but of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. It was really impressive to see and we learned so much about Thomas Jefferson! How could one man be a US president, the founder of University of Virginia, an inventor, and single handedly helped restock the Library of Congress after a fire. At one point the tour guide asked what other US President died the same day as Jefferson and Ben raised his hand and knew the answer! I guess playing President’s vs. Aliens on his iPad was not a complete waste of time!

Jefferson’s Tombstone looks like the Washington Monument

We also drove out to see Virginia Tech. This was the only school we saw that was not in a big city. It was also the largest school we toured. Based on the name I assumed it would have a large Engineering focus but they didn’t touch too much on it during the presentation. Instead the presenter told us about their former Miss America graduate, their large alumni network that guarantees to hire Virginia Tech students above others, and the fact that they don’t read the essays but instead focus on learning how you have served your community. Virginia Tech’s motto is “Ut Prosim” meaning, “That I May Serve” and both the presenter and the tour guide put a lot of focus on it. They also talked a lot about their military cadet program, which is small part of the student population but has historical significance to the school. It was a beautiful campus, but when I saw the large quad (called the Drillfield) and the massive buildings, I worried about my shy, introverted son feeling lost here.

Virginia Tech

Finally we stopped in Tennessee and took a quick walk around Vanderbilt in downtown Nashville. Again I loved the old buildings with tons of pockets of green space interspersed. It is also a D1 school but is smaller than the other D1 schools was saw. It didn’t feel so big and overwhelming.


By the end of the trip Jack was finally on board. When we got back home, I caught Adam and Jack in front of the computer talking about other colleges he would be interested in visiting. Jack even showed us how we could color code our ‘college tour’ map that we created on google maps to show which school we visited and which ones we did not. Color coding a map? He is definitely MY SON!

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