August 19th, 2010


Greetings from State College

We spent most of Wednesday at Cornell University, which I think is the prettiest of the campuses we've visited so far with Daniel -- I am personally partial to city schools (Penn and Columbia were my first choices), but Cornell is up in the Appalachian hills beside Cayuga Lake, and at this time of year the campus is very green with mountains all around it. We took a long campus tour, more than an hour and a half, that went from the admissions office to the student union, libraries, liberal arts quad, rock garden, and many other spots on campus, and we had to leave before the football stadium so we'd have time for lunch before the engineering school information session. We had a picnic in the shade beside the baseball stadium, then went to the engineering admissions office for an interminable introduction and Q&A -- I think they were trying to get rid of some prospective families so they didn't have to take a big crowd on the tour of the labs.

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From Cornell we drove about three hours to Penn State, another school that isn't as high on Daniel's list of priorities, but we figured it would be good for him to get a look at a big state school with a decently ranked engineering program (in addition to Maryland, he's likely to apply to Illinois, Purdue, and maybe Michigan). Adam was adamant that Bucknell seemed too small and isolated, though he really liked Cornell, but Daniel has been silent on whether he'd prefer large vs. small, city vs. rural, closer to home vs. further away, so we're just trying to get a look at a bunch of schools in the hope that he'll voice stronger opinions (right now his hierarchy seems to be based on prestige, which isn't the best indicator of where someone will be happy going to school). We just got back from dessert at Penn State's famous creamery, which has excellent, enormous scoops of ice cream made from milk from the school's dairy production research center -- plus it has the flags of all the Big Ten schools hanging up so people who prefer the Wildcats to the Nittany Lions can feel at home!