Embarking on a chilly Feb. 12, college counselors Mr. Bradley and Mrs. Secor, sophomore dean Ms. Riley, and 17 sophomores and juniors began the annual college trip. This year, the students took the Midwest route, visiting eight colleges including Loyola University, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, DePaul University, Notre Dame, and Purdue University. Along the way, the group caught up with a number of Pace graduates, including Jack Assaf ’13 (at Notre Dame), Maria Grenader ‘15 and Lauren Gold ’12 (both at Northwestern University), Rebecca Husk ‘15 (University of Chicago) and Natalie Marcrum ‘15 (DePaul).
One attendee, sophomore Elizabeth Marr, enjoyed the variety of colleges visited. “My favorite was Indiana University because the campus was pretty, and it looked like an Ivy League school, but it’s not as academically competitive,” she said. Elizabeth shared that she could definitely see herself going there. On whether it was too early to start looking at colleges halfway through her sophomore year, she said, “It is a little early, but there is not a set age to start looking. It just depends on when someone is ready.” She enjoyed seeing the different characteristics of each college, and the trip helped her figure out what she wanted in a college.
Ms. Riley has been on the trip three times now, previously going on the Carolinas tour and the Virginia/D.C. tour. “The Midwest is unique in the way that the colleges offer a variety of qualities,” she said. “For example, Notre Dame is a big sports school, while University of Indiana is a big public institution.” College counselors Mrs. Secor and Mr. Bradley had the chance to visit their alma maters on the trip, Notre Dame and University of Chicago, respectively. “It’s always good to get back to Hyde Park and visit my alma mater. The University of Chicago was recently named the prettiest campus in America and I think the students got a good sense of the place from our visit,” said Mr. Bradley.
One aspect of the trip that was especially unique to the Midwest was the winter weather. The temperatures were at staggering lows, making some students question if they could bear going to college here. One student, sophomore Ryan Mazur did not enjoy the weather. “The snow was fun to play in, but I can’t picture myself going to college here because I hate the freezing temperatures”, said Ryan. On the other hand, sophomore Richard Ellis said that despite the cold and harsh wind, he didn’t think that the weather would impact his choice of college at all.
The goal of the trip was to expose students to different characteristics of colleges, such as religious schools, sports-oriented schools and small/private schools. Ms. Riley said that it was definitely not too early for sophomores to start looking at schools. “Students should be getting a sense of what type of colleges they want, instead of specific schools,” she said. “When students enter their first meeting with a college counselor, they should have an idea of what they want.”
At each college, the students and teachers were given an on-campus tour with a tour guide or a former Pace student. Later, there was an info session and students could roam around and visit the bookstore or food court to get a better sense of the college life.
Overall, this tour had fewer students on it than the popular Carolinas college tour, which alternates every other year. Despite this, there was a lot of positive feedback about the campus tours, free time, and even the snow.