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College Prep: 5 Tips to Make the Most of High School Summers

College Prep: 5 Tips to Make the Most of High School Summers

By Lisa Margolin, Founder of Journey Ahead, College Admissions Guidance

As an independent educational consultant who helps students and families identify suitable colleges and successfully apply, I am often asked what high school students should be doing during their summers. In short, gone are the days when students could hang around all summer doing nothing in particular except waiting for the next school year to start. Now students need to make the most of high school summers.

These days, colleges are expecting that students do something meaningful with their summers This could translate into a lot of different possibilities, depending on the student.

girl holding two kittens

Caring for animals at the Humane Society can be a rewarding summer experience.

5 Tips to Make the Most of High School Summers

Here are 5 tips high school students can do to make the most of summer breaks.

1. Gain Work Experience

Work experience is a very valuable way for students to spend time during the summer. They learn responsibility, how to be part of a team, some new skills, and make new friends outside of their peer group. Paid work can be just about anything for colleges to consider it a valuable experience — fast food or restaurant work, yard work, babysitting, or whatever a student can line up. The type of work is not important. The fact that the student found a job, kept regular hours, and accepted responsibility is.

Checkout Server Serving Young Woman Customer Ordering at Fast Food Restaurant

High school students can always benefit from summer work experience.

2. Get Internships

It used to be that students late into their college career were the only students that were seeking and gaining experience from internships. Now, high school students are finding that internships are a good way to learn about the world of work, specific careers and industries. Colleges find this experience valuable for a number of reasons. Many internships require students to go through an application process that requires job search and employment skills.  Internships also introduce college applicants to potential majors and careers, research skills, and lab skills. In addition, internships give students a view into the real world of work and careers. This happens in a way that an entry-level summer job can’t, allowing students to understand their potential options.

Students seeking summer internships must keep in mind that many applications close between January and early Spring.

To obtain internships, students can google internships in their area. They can also ask friends and family if any of their contacts would consider a high school student summer intern.

High school intern learning how to use a builder's level

Internships are helpful in learning valuable on-the-job experience before college.

3. Create a Personal Project

Some students undertake a personal project in their area of interest that can teach a student business, social, or entrepreneurial skills. Some students start a business, collect money for an existing non-profit organization or start their own, work on a political campaign, or any variety of possibilities that would create a meaningful experience.

4. Volunteer at a Non-Profit

Summer camps and churches are often looking for teens to help out with programs targeting younger students. Those who enjoy working with kids or animals may find non-profit work stimulating and enjoyable.

volunteers planting seedlings of trees in the park

Volunteering for a non-profit has many advantages.

5. Take Classes

Summer is a great time to make up a class in which a student performed poorly. It also can be used to get ahead by taking a community college course in a favorite subject. Some students take a community college class so that they can advance to a different class when they get back to school in the fall. Or simply because they are interested in a topic not offered in high school. Before taking a community college class, students must make sure that their high school honors credits earned from community college.

Young Male Student attends class

Summer school can be a great way to make up low grades.

Rising Seniors

Summer is a low-stress time for rising seniors to knock out a number of time-consuming tasks in advance of applying to college in fall. I recommend my private students have these items finished before the fall semester of senior year begins:

  • Create a meaningful summer, as noted above. Job, internship, volunteer, etc.
  • Finalize your college list. Research all colleges you are interested in, and make a final determination whether you are going to apply. If you are going to apply, determine if you will apply early or within the regular decision timeframe.
  • Start the Common Application, the online portal most most students will use to apply. Set up an account, enter demographic and school information. Then begin to fill in the extra curricular activities list and the honors and awards list.
  • Start on any other applications your list requires. Those might include University of California application, the California State University application, the ApplyTexas application, or others.
  • Review personal statement, personal insight, and essay prompts for all colleges on your list. Essay prompts for colleges using the Common Application will be visible in the application.
  • Finish standardized testing. If a student wants to take a final try at the SAT or ACT to improve their scores, summer is a good time. Spend two weeks preparing on your own, online, or with a tutor, and take the test for the last time.
student volunteers with donation boxes

High school volunteers gather donations of clothing for people in need. (photo credit: fstop123)

If rising seniors complete the items above, they will be ahead of the game and have much less to do once school starts.


Journey Ahead is an independent educational consulting firm located in San Diego, CA that helps students find and apply to colleges that fit their educational, academic, and financial needs. They can be reached at 619-417-9242.

Lisa Margolin, Journey Ahead

Lisa Margolin of Journey Ahead, College Admissions Counseling













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Equipping Your College Kids’ Medicine Chest

Equipping Your College Kids’ Medicine Chest

This post was sponsored by College Student First Aid Kit, but honestly we’d write about it anyway because it’s so darn cool.

Although it might seem early to be thinking about the start of the school year in the Fall, a lot of kids are graduating soon. Yikes! Sophia and Ava have a bunch of friends who are seniors, soon to walk in their high school graduation ceremonies. These kids (mostly their parents really) are obsessively making lists upon lists of all the things they need to equip their college dorms. But rarely do they think about the medicine chest, or a college student first aid kit for their college-bound kid.

It seems like something a parent might not think about. In the hubbub of getting ready, packing up necessities, clothes, school supplies and such, a college student first aid kit may not be on the forefront. Until it’s needed, anyway.

Created by a mother of 2 college students, the College Student First Aid Kit is the ideal antidote for clueless college kids.

man with College Student First Aid Kit

Ordering from the website was easy, and my College Student First Aid Kit arrived at my door.

College Student First Aid Kit

To be honest I would not have thought about this either, but it makes perfect sense. A college-bound kid, particularly a freshman on their own for the first time, may not know how to fully care for themselves. They’ve been all cushy at home, surrounded by caring family members and friends. When they get sick or hurt, there is a village of loved ones nearby to help.

Move away to college and live in a dorm, and all of a sudden that support system is gone. When that college student gets sick, they are left hanging on to dim memories of treatments their parents might have administered back home.

Like a portable medicine chest, the College Student First Aid Kit is packed full of first aid supplies and remedies. After all, the creator of this kit is a Certified Nurse Practitioner and mom.

College Student First Aid Kit

Compact and organized, the College Student First Aid Kit is easy store for ready use.

Packed Full of Goodness

We’ve got the Premium Plus First Aid Kit ($89.95). As I looked through the well-stocked and very organized kit, I was impressed with how much thought it’s creator, Beth Palmer Stewart, put into each chosen item.

Beth thought about everything. It seems that when her own kids were going to college, she went looking for a first aid kit to send along with them and she couldn’t find one. She painstakingly researched all the things a college student would need in medications and supplies. Sourcing items carefully, she selected all the best items based on her research.

fully stocked First Aid Kit

In case of college dorm craziness, or zombie apocalypse, this kit will help students cope.

Our Premium Plus First Aid Kit has cold medicine, cough drops, a thermometer, eye drops, ear drops, anti-itch cream and more. It also includes a hangover kit, because let’s face it. These kids are college students, and may on very rare occasions have a drink. Or two.

The Premium Plus First Aid Kit sells for $89.95, and the Premium First Aid Kit is priced at $74.95. There is also a more compact, portable First Aid Travel Kit for the car, luggage or sports, which is priced at $64.95.

(I wish this had been around when I was a college freshman. It would have come in very handy!)

girl with portable First Aid Kit

Sophia is happy to know there is a thermometer in the kit as well.

First Aid Essentials

All kidding aside, I honestly think if one of our girls injured themselves they would not be prepared. If we did not buy them all the essentials, pack it up and send it with them in a box, our kids would be clueless.

The College Student First Aid Kit also contains bandages, gauze, antiseptic, bandaids and other stuff for wound care. It parents had to buy all this stuff individually and try to cobble this kit together ourselves, we’d spend a bloody fortune. (Pun intended.) This kit saves both time and money!

I mean, how many of us parents would run around town to buy comforters and fancy bedding for our kids’ dorm rooms. How about dorm room decor that will get trashed by Christmas, or plants that will die before the Fall Semester is half way through?

girl with box of eye drops

They’ve thought of everything to put in this kit – including eye drops!

This College Student First Aid Kit is a good investment in making sure my kid makes it to class in one piece. With all that money we’ll be paying for four (or five) years of college, we want to ensure they make it to classes.

Investing in our kids health and safety suddenly seems like an even higher priority!

First aid kit stocked full

This kit is stocked full of all the essentials.

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4 Ways to Get the Most Out of College Visits

4 Ways to Get the Most Out of College Visits

By Lisa Margolin, Founder of Journey Ahead, College Admissions Guidance

Visiting colleges and universities is an important summer activity for rising high school juniors and seniors. It’s important for college bound high school students in their later years to visit at least a few colleges, to see first hand what a campus is like, and to imagine themselves among real college students. This goes for all college visits, whether or not the campus you visit is your student’s dream college.

Caesar Chavez Student Center at San Francisco State University

Self-guided tour of San Francisco State University to get a sense of the campus.

4 Ways to Get the Most Out of College Visits

Here are four ways to get the most out of your college visits:

1. Visit a variety of colleges nearby

Your student may be sure they are moving out of their childhood bedroom, your house, and their community. Still, visiting colleges nearby is a cost effective way to determine the type of college your student likes.

Plan a visit to a large public university in your area. What’s it like to be on a sprawling, busy, diverse campus? Check out the school newspaper if there is one, and some of the bulletin boards around campus to assess the vibe. Eat in the school cafeteria. Ask students what they like or don’t like about their college.

Visit a small, private college or university nearby. A small school will likely feel very different to you and your student than a large one. See if your student appreciates or needs a smaller environment, smaller class size, more opportunities to participate in clubs and groups on campus, more leadership opportunities, and more robust academic and career advising. These are generally the benefits of attending a smaller college.

Group of college students on university campus

If your family is open to a college that has a religious bent and there is one nearby, consider visiting. Many communities have a Catholic, Christian or Jesuit school. Most colleges accept all students, regardless of religious affiliation, and students of other religions or no religion generally feel welcome on these campuses.

After you have a sense of the types of colleges in your community your student likes, expand your search to include like colleges outside of your area. However, you should not feel compelled to visit every college that winds up on your student’s short list, especially if it is far away. There will time for that if and when your student is admitted. And if they aren’t, you haven’t wasted a trip.

2. Go on the student led tour, but take it with a grain of salt

When your student visits a college that truly interests them, take your research task seriously. You are about to spend more than $100,000 on your student’s education, and you need to make sure the college on your list is suitable for your student.

Take the student led tour, but keep in mind that tour guides work for the admissions office, are proud of their school and are trying to put its best face forward. That’s their job. You can glean a lot of information from a student led tour. But you’re still going to have to dig in with your own questions to determine if the college is suitable for your student.

While you’re on the tour, ask questions of the guide. Meet with an admissions officer to discuss how the school will meet your student’s needs.

Jean and Charles Schultz Information Center at California State University Sonoma.

Getting a guided tour of the beautiful campus at California State University Sonoma.

3. Have a list of questions

Questions will vary by student, but here are some topics to consider exploring with your guide or admissions officer:

Do undergraduate research opportunities exist? Is it competitive to obtain one?

Is my major offered here?

How easy is it to get an internship in my field?

What is advising like here?

Does the college offer direct admittance into my major, or do I have to meet certain criteria before declaring my major?

Will there be career advising is offered here?

How many Freshmen live on campus?

Number of upperclassmen live on campus?

What’s the percentage of students who graduate in four years?

Is this a commuter or a residential campus?

Are study abroad opportunities  available?

What percentage of students participate in Greek Life?

What’s a typical day like on this campus?

Beautiful college student talking to professor outdoors after class

4. Take Photos or Make Notes

Most students have trouble remembering the specifics of one college vs. another. Photos serve as a visual reminder of the campus, and students will remember why they took a photo of something meaningful during their visit. Photos bring back powerful memories. We find that it’s a better reminder of the campus vibe and how the student felt on that campus than written notes.

Arizona State University campus tour

The tour at Arizona State University is extremely organized and informative.

Now, start searching.

After you’ve visited a variety of colleges in your hometown, follow with some that your student actually is considering applying to. Then search for other colleges that share the same attributes that your student wants in a college.

*Editor’s note: We wrote about some tips for planning college tours recently, and there is some good additional information in that story.

There are many college search tools available online, including Big Future, College Navigator, and CollegeXpress. Each will provide families with the ability to isolate key features and search comprehensively.

You may need the services of an Independent Educational Consultant to help you search for appropriate colleges with your student’s best fit in mind. That person can help manage financial issues related to college as well. Make sure to hire one that is affiliated with one or more professional membership organizations such as the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) or Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA).

Lisa Margolin, Journey Ahead

Lisa Margolin of Journey Ahead, College Admissions Counseling





Lisa Margolin, founder of Journey Ahead, is an Independent Educational Consultant based in San Diego, CA. She provides college admissions guidance to students all over the United States, and is a professional member of the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) and the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). She can be reached via email at

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Tucson is a Desert Paradise for Families

Tucson is a Desert Paradise for Families

We partnered with Visit Tucson, Loews Hotels and Chevrolet for this visit, and the opinions expressed here are our own as always.

There’s just something special about Tucson that draws people from all over the world. Maybe it’s the spikey saguaro cactus that sticks up from the desert floor, or the purple and red mountains that surround this high desert hamlet. Or maybe it’s the darn good food? Whatever floats your boat, there are tons of things for families to do in Tucson. It really is a desert paradise.

Our recent visit here was guised as a college tour for Sophia, who is now a high school junior. At this age, juniors have to start thinking about where they might like to apply for college. Most don’t have a good concept of what they are getting into, thus the college tours. Parents like us go to great lengths to show our kids a variety of options so they can better envision themselves on a campus somewhere. We love Arizona, so we loaded up the spacious hatch of a sweet new 2019 Chevrolet Traverse and headed for Tucson.

2019 Chevrolet Traverse hatch open with luggage

The 2019 Chevy Traverse fit all of our bags and still had three rows of seats for spreading out.

Of course while there, we explored some super cool spots to share with you for your next visit.

Things for Families To Do in Tucson

Not sure why, but some people’s impression of Arizona is a bunch of retirees. Well yes, there might be some of those mixed in with the young families, hipsters, scholars, artists, adventurists, makers and scientists. In Tucson, you get all that and more. A pool of blue in a red state, Tucson is liberal, progressive and undeniably chill. It’s a live-and-let-live kind of place, where LGBTQ families like ours are welcomed with a hug.

Ventana Canyon mountain landscape

The mountains behind Loews Resort Ventana Canyon are breathtaking, especially in the bright clear mornings.

Full of history and Western lore, the city of Tucson has maintained it’s blended roots from Native American, Mexican and Spanish influences. People from all over have been attracted to this place, and now that diversity makes it really special.

If you visit here, we’ve got some recommendations on things for families to do in Tucson. And if this is not enough, check out Visit Tucson for more suggestions and ideas.

For a Taste of the Old West

Head to Downtown Tucson to catch the flavor of the Old West. In the blocks surrounding the Hotel Congress, the early roots of this town can still be seen and experienced. In fact Hotel Congress looks a lot like it did back in 1918 when it was built. The Hotel is famous as the site where legendary gangster John Dillinger was finally captured, after hiding out at the Congress from the long arm of the law. (He’s now celebrated there with his own Dillinger Days events every January). Now the Hotel is full of old-time memorabilia, hip guests with a downtown vibe, some pretty great live music, and a really great cafe (see below for more on the restaurant).

Cup Cafe interior Hotel Congress Tucson

The Cup Cafe at Hotel Congress in Tucson serves up a mean French Dip Sandwich with a southwest flair.

Fun Fact: The Hotel Congress did not have air conditioning until 2010. Say what?!? Summer temps in Tucson rise to 100-degrees+.

For the Desert Flora and Fauna

If you love the desert landscape and its scrappy critters as much as we do, you will love the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Just so you know, “museum” is not really the right word for this place. It’s like a zoo and botanical gardens and aquarium and bird show and art gallery and nature hike all in one. Phew! There is a lot to see here, so don’t plan on doing it in 90 minutes.

burrowing owl at Desert Museum Tucson

This little dude gave us the evil eye when we arrived at the Desert Museum in Tucson, and the burrowing owl did too.

From the moment we walked in, were were greeted by a man with a Burrowing Owl on his arm. From there, it was a cavalcade of desert animals including vultures, coyotes, javelinas (wild boars), prairie dogs, rattlesnakes, tarantulas and more.  Heed the advice of the kind guides when they suggest you make your way into the gardens for the Raptor Show. As these impressive hawks and owls fly overhead, it’s fascinating to observe their delicate wingspans and learn more about their desert homesteads.

napping coyote at Arizona-Sonoma Desert Museum Tucson

We’ve seen a few coyotes in our neighborhood at home, but never as relaxed as this dude at the Desert Museum in Tucson.

Fun Fact: Great Horned Owls do not build their own nests. They lay their eggs in the abandoned nests of other birds. Squatters!

For Homage to Early Missionaries

If my Catholic mom were still alive, she would be proud we visited the Mission San Xavier del Bac while in Tucson. The thing is, we’re suckers for mission architecture and this one is pretty spectacular. Built in 1783, the Mission is considered by experts as the best example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the US.

Mission San Xavier del Bac Tucson

I promise the sky above the Mission San Xavier del Bac in Tucson was even more beautiful than this photo shows.

From the exterior, it looks unfinished – like the builders never got to the second bell tower. But from the inside, the frescoes and tile work are truly impressive. Combined with the flickering votive candles and the voluminous ceilings, the effect made me feel like I was in Europe. For those feeling perky, there is a nearby path that climbs to a cross on the hilltop. We did not make that pilgrimage though, opting instead for some warm and delicious Indian Fry Bread purchased from locals in the courtyard.

Fun Fact: This Mission was built in New Spain, which transferred to Mexico and ultimately became US territory.

For Your Empty Stomach

Tucson has a broad range of culinary options to match any taste. In fact, the city was recently named the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the U.S. Here’s a few of our favorites:

Tucson, and Arizona in general, is known for some pretty great Mexican food. And so we did have to try it out, and headed to dinner at El Charro Cafe. Touted as the oldest family-owned Mexican restaurant in the US, El Charro lived up to the hype. The carne seca was delicious, and so were the enchiladas, tacos, chile relleños and more.

family dinner at El Charro Cafe Tucson

It’s nice to have family in Tucson that takes us to great places like El Charro for delicious Mexican food.

If a modern take on diner food is more your game, then Welcome Diner is the place. The kids loved the kitschy 1950s architecture, which the owners had updated and funkified from a previous Sambo’s Restaurant location. And the food! Oh that food  – it was a collection really inventive and delicious version of diner food. We viewed fried chicken, chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, and several kinds of pie.

exterior of Welcome Diner in Tucson

The architecture of the Welcome Diner in Tucson is so kitschy and fun, and so is the food – so delicious.

Back at the Hotel Congress, the lobby restaurant Cup Cafe is something of a local legend. With some staff members on the team here for more than 50 years, Cup Cafe and the hotel bar have stood the test of time. The food here is dependable and tasty. My French Dip sandwich had an interesting southwest flavor twist, and the kids loved their breakfast-for-lunch omelettes. But here, save room for dessert because they are famous for it. An old-fashioned spiraling display case shows guests a variety of sweet treats. We chose to try the coconut cream pie and the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

Carrot Cake at Cup Cafe in Hotel Congress Tucson

The carrot cake at Cup Cafe is just one of the desserts that called our names at the Hotel Congress in Tucson.

For Your Sleepy Heads

It was a real pleasure to stay at the luxurious Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, and we highly recommend it. The rooms are large, and some are connected to a full suite with living room, dining room and even a working fireplace! It was just the right amount of cozy and chic at the same time. We slept on the Murphy bed in the living room suite, letting the girls each have one of the queen beds in the bedroom. Both Ava and Sophia said they were the comfiest hotel beds they had ever experienced.

Front entrance Loews Ventana Canyon Resort Tucson

The architecture of the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort was designed by one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s students.

One of our favorite things about this hotel’s public spaces was all the enormous amethyst crystals and geodes on display. And by enormous, we mean museum-quality sizes. We were told the hotel was designed by one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s students. That influence was strong in the unique architecture of these buildings inside and out.

Loews Ventana Canyon Resort Tucson Arizona

The lobby of the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson.

Tucked up against the Catalina Mountains at the entrance to Ventana Canyon, the Loews Resort in Tucson has some gorgeous views of the high desert. From the hotel’s entrance, guests can look down towards the lights of downtown Tucson. We loved the grounds surrounding the hotel, and walked the paths to have an up-close look at the local flora and fauna.

So beautiful.

pool view Loews Ventana Canyon Resort

The view from our room at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort was pretty spectacular.

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9 Tips for Planning College Tours for Your High School Kid

9 Tips for Planning College Tours for Your High School Kid

It’s really hard to believe that Sophia is a Junior in high school already. It was just the other day we were pushing her around in the stroller while she gummed a handful of Goldfish Crackers. Now as a high school Junior, she has to start thinking about college. But where to go? Many parents have to help their kid visualize potential college options by actually going to visit them. We’re starting this now, and wow is it fraught with questions and landmines. Turns out planning college tours for your high school kid is no walk in the park!

This past week, we loaded up a sleek 2019 Chevrolet Traverse (#brandpartner) on loan for our family to test drive, and headed to Arizona. First up on the college tour schedule were Arizona State University in Tempe, and University of Arizona in Tucson.

Chevrolet Traverse with desert background in Tempe Arizona

With the Arizona desert landscape of Tempe in the background, the Chevy Traverse showed up nicely. #brandpartner

9 Tips for Planning College Tours for Your High School Kid

As we prepped for beginning this process, we learned some things about planning college tours for your high school kid worth sharing. Already we’ve made a couple of mistakes, so let us help you avoid some of our pitfalls and learn from our experiences. I imagine this will be an ongoing series, because we still have a lot to go!

9 Tips For Planning College Tours
  1. Talk with you kid about what they want to study. I know this seems obvious, but when we started planning this process Sophia did not have an answer to this question. Without knowing what she wanted to study, we were flying in the dark on choosing college campuses to visit.
  2. Know your budget in advance. One of our mistakes was planning to visit schools before we had checked on tuition and other costs. Well THAT was a shocker. We live in California, and out-of-state tuition and associated costs like housing, books, etc comes to $44,000/year for ASU and $48,000 for UofA. Not to get into anyone’s personal finances, but that might be a lot for some people to shoulder for 4-5 years. PER KID.
  3. Buy this book: Fiske Guide to Colleges. It lists every college in the US, complete with important stats like tuition costs, GPA/SAT requirements, strong areas of study, acceptance rates, financial aid and more. We’ve been pouring through this book, looking for potential college fits for Sophia using a list of criteria combining her desires and ours. It has been immensely helpful in narrowing down on great options.
    Fiske Guide to Colleges book cover

    This book, Fiske Guide to Colleges, is the bible for kids (and parents!) researching which colleges best suit their needs.

  4. Consider hiring a college coach. This may seem like a luxury for some, but we have found it to be money extremely well spent. You know that thing your teen does, where she looks at you like you are an idiot and know absolutely nothing about anything? Yeah, well they don’t pull that with a neutral third party. The college coach has gotten more information out of Sophia than we have. Plus she’s helping Sophia prepare for writing entrance applications, essays and more.
  5. Plan your college visits to include an actual school day. It may be hard to drag your kid out of school to miss a day for touring, but it will be good to see the campus with actual students and activity. On our recent tours, school was out on vacation and the colleges were deserted. It was a chilly way to see what is normally a bustling campus. Part of the reason for touring is to see the other students, and have your kid determine if they like what they see. Can they be friends with these people? Are these people they could be dorm roommates with?
  6. Make appointments for your college visits far in advance – the dates book up quickly. Most college websites have a built-in scheduling function so you can request your chosen day and time. The tours are very full, and no walk-ups are allowed.
  7. Encourage visits to large and small campuses, colleges and universities, public and private, small town and big city. This will help you kid start to envision themselves in this place, living here for most of the year. Do they like the energy and bright lights of the big city? Or maybe they prefer a quieter, less active country location.
    University of Arizona sweatshirts

    Waiting at the UofA bookstore for our tour of the campus, it was hard not to purchase a signature sweatshirt.

  8. Don’t stress if they hate it. This touring business is as much about helping your kid determine what she doesn’t like as what she does. Just like you, they are not going to like or feel comfortable in every location. Some will naturally drop off the list after touring.
  9. Have your kid keep a notebook for writing down pros and cons of each college you visit. Good advice given to us by our coach was for Sophia to ask herself the same four or five questions after each campus tour.
Tucson mountain landscape

The landscapes in Arizona are breathtaking, like this one in Tucson.

Arizona College Overview

Arizona State University

ASU is located in a sweet little town called Tempe, a suburb of Phoenix. Located right next to downtown Phoenix, Tempe is a mix of hotels, retail, residences and the Arizona State University campus. Our tour started at the Welcome Center, and was extremely well organized and planned. Starting in an auditorium with a slide show and video, our host guided us through a great amount of information. She was warm and personable, and Sophia felt instantly at ease.

family entering Arizona State University Welcome Center

The ASU Welcome Center was, well, extremely welcoming! Great way to start a campus tour.

After that 30-minute orientation, we were split into groups by major or interest, and off we went to tour the campus. Because it was holiday break, we did not see lecture halls or dorm rooms. However, we did tour the sports center and student union buildings – both were very impressive. Sophia’s eyes were wide open, taking it all in.

University of Arizona

A more informal tour, this one started at the bookstore on the Tucson campus. We were split into random groups and assigned to a guide for our walking tour. Since there was no orientation, the guide became the source of information about all things University of Arizona in Tucson. Our guide was knowledgeable and funny, but not overwhelmingly personable. We toured the student union, sports center and even a dorm building.

Old Main building at University of Arizona

The Old Main building at UofA was the original university structure, and now houses administration offices.

Sophia was not feeling this one, and I think maybe seeing a dorm room was the clincher. She will get used to it, but at first glance these rooms are S-M-A-L-L. She did not like the idea of having the shared bathroom down the hall either. We will be encouraging her to shake off the princess attitude, but this first tour was not the time to address that.

After a very brief comparison of pros and cons, Sophia decided that she did not want to pursue either of these colleges in Arizona. We’ll see if that view changes after touring more!

red 2019 Chevrolet Traverse in driveway

This sweet red 2019 Chevy Traverse was our loaner car for our Arizona college tours, and it was the perfect fit for our family. #brandpartner