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Visiting Colleges & Unis Around PHL/EWR/JFK

Visiting Colleges & Unis Around PHL/EWR/JFK

Old Oct 23, 18, 4:09 pm
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Your plan seems fine to me (although as you are already aware, pretty much every school on your list except for Lehigh is very selective). I’d agree with Mickidon that once you get to Philly (and finish with Princeton), return the car and use your feet, public transit, and rideshares. Parking in Philly can be quite daunting and it’s a very easy town to navigate without a car.
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Old Oct 23, 18, 8:21 pm
  #62  
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Since you have RPI and Cornell on your list, have you considered flying into ALB? Boston is REALLY out of your way. Look how wide MA is and then how wide NYS is en route to Cornell. Even BDL is better than BOS.

Here are two pieces of unsolicited advice: if your son is filing out the common app, have him enter his SSN only right before he submits it. He doesn't want his SSN populated while he goes back and forth filling out the Common App.

Second, if he's had at least 4 years of foreign language classes and feels comfortable with it, have him feel confident enough to say that he is fluent in that language.

Good luck!

Originally Posted by travelmad478
Your plan seems fine to me (although as you are already aware, pretty much every school on your list except for Lehigh is very selective).
Glad you said that so I don't sound like a broken record from upthread. I see all reaches and one middle-of-the-road/safety on that list. RPI could waitlist the OP's son simply because of his outstanding application.
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Last edited by Analise; Oct 23, 18 at 8:28 pm
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Old Oct 24, 18, 11:56 am
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Originally Posted by Analise View Post
Since you have RPI and Cornell on your list, have you considered flying into ALB? Boston is REALLY out of your way. Look how wide MA is and then how wide NYS is en route to Cornell. Even BDL is better than BOS.
The die is cast, so to speak, and it's not strictly a business trip. Neither of us has been to this area, so part of the purpose is to take in the scenery, have a look around. Road trips can be cathartic, and spending a bit of time on the road also provides time to talk about our impressions, what we like and dislike, and so forth. It's all good.

Originally Posted by Analise View Post
Here are two pieces of unsolicited advice: if your son is filing out the common app, have him enter his SSN only right before he submits it. He doesn't want his SSN populated while he goes back and forth filling out the Common App.

Second, if he's had at least 4 years of foreign language classes and feels comfortable with it, have him feel confident enough to say that he is fluent in that language.
This is great advice, and if you have other unsolicited advice, feel free to share it. It is quite possible future searchers will stumble on this thread and benefit from reading it. Too, it happens that he has been taking Mandarin Chinese since middle school, so we will certainly do as you suggest.

Originally Posted by Analise View Post
Good luck! Glad you said that so I don't sound like a broken record from upthread. I see all reaches and one middle-of-the-road/safety on that list. RPI could waitlist the OP's son simply because of his outstanding application.
I agree, but part of my job as a parent is to help him find his way, to provide reasonable encouragement, some sober judgment based on my own experience, to unlock his potential, and so forth. A good number of his peers from his IB program have gained admission to "reaches." As I mentioned upthread, we sat down with his very seasoned and experienced counselor in August, and talked about this trip, so it's not like we're going off purely on the basis of a wild hair or some unrealistic dream. His SAT math and SAT math level 2 were 800/800, and he's only a junior; before he got into high school, he made it to the National Spelling Bee twice. Does it matter? I've no idea, and see no benefit from worrying about it. Part of the purpose of this trip is to gather concrete examples of what he likes and what he does not like, and to help inform the eventual decision. A couple of years ago he was fixated on MIT, now on Princeton. What will it be next year? My own ideas regarding this have evolved in the past four years or so, so how much more will his ideas evolve and change?
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Old Oct 26, 18, 7:57 pm
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Many more people in this thread are far more seasoned than I in the college admission game; as a teacher I leave that to the guidance counselors I wish you nothing but the best of luck with it all. However as I life long New Jersey resident and someone who lives near Princeton, I did have a few dining choices to offer!

Agricola is a wonderful, slightly upscale restaurant that offers delicious farm to table options. They do an excellent job sourcing locally and the environment, especially in the front room, is outstanding. You can find out more about them here.

Right around the corner is Triumph Brewing, a local brew pub that's been making some delicious beer and good food well before the microbrewery boom here. You can check out what their serving here.

And if you're going to be dining, might as well finish it off with some great ice cream at The Bent Spoon.

Lastly, if you're feeling adventurous, you can take the short ride up Route 1 to New Brunswick where us dirty state school kids went to Rutgers and try the famous fat sandwiches. Don't let those Princetonians fool you into thinking they invented the fat sandwich (or still don't have our cannon - which you will most certainly hear about on your walking tour, if you choose to do one) at Hoagie Haven - it's an RU invention.
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Old Oct 26, 18, 9:46 pm
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Flying into Boston, and based on the schools on your list I would think about visiting Northeastern and Tufts in the Boston Area.
FYI The Springfield Armory is worthwhile, but it's only a couple of hours visit at best.
Your drive will include a lot of toll roads including some cashless ones. Check with your rental company about toll payment. You may want to consider getting your own EZ Pass.
Parking on Cornell's Campus is very wonky. Check their web site and try to pre arrange.
If you are going to Penn, you should visit Drexel. They are next door to each other and Drexel would probably make a good safety school. Their co-op program is one of the best in the country (Northeastern's is also very good)
If he's still interested in Ursinus, It's not that far out of the way if you are driving from Lehigh to Phila.
I agree with the others that dumping the car and spending a couple of days in Phila. is worthwhile. Penn and Drexel are in an area called University City which is separated from Center City by the Schuylkill RIver. My recommendation is to stay in Center City and either walk or take the "El", the Market Frankford Line to Penn and Drexel. It's also an easy ride on the commuter rail to get to PHL. King of Prussia is ok, but the traffic can be bad.

Have a Pork and Broccoli Rabe sandwich at DaNicks in the Reding Terminal Market and top it off with Bassetts Ice cream there. Actually just have a meal or two in the Terminal Market. There's also a lot of history in Phila, so enjoy!
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Old Oct 27, 18, 9:19 am
  #66  
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I believe that Massachusetts offers its E-Z Pass transponders to out-of-state residents with no shipping charge, and no monthly maintenance fees (unlike some other E-Z Pass issuers).

You would register your personal auto's license plate initially, and could temporarily add a rental car's license plate once it is known. Details here:

https://www.ezdrivema.com/PrivatePrePaidPrerequisites
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Old Oct 27, 18, 11:20 am
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Originally Posted by dantorsiello View Post
Many more people in this thread are far more seasoned than I in the college admission game; as a teacher I leave that to the guidance counselors I wish you nothing but the best of luck with it all. However as I life long New Jersey resident and someone who lives near Princeton, I did have a few dining choices to offer!
[...]
Lastly, if you're feeling adventurous, you can take the short ride up Route 1 to New Brunswick where us dirty state school kids went to Rutgers and try the famous fat sandwiches. Don't let those Princetonians fool you into thinking they invented the fat sandwich (or still don't have our cannon - which you will most certainly hear about on your walking tour, if you choose to do one) at Hoagie Haven - it's an RU invention.
We really appreciate these suggestions and will certainly follow up. Gotta admit, we are really looking forward to trying some east coast fare. Not totally germane, but I have a retired friend who holidays in Maine, and the annual photos of the lobster rolls always make my mouth water. What some folks on the east coast may take for granted may be new to us, and vice-versa. We hope to minimize the number of wasted meals.

Originally Posted by AMflier View Post
Flying into Boston, and based on the schools on your list I would think about visiting Northeastern and Tufts in the Boston Area.
FYI The Springfield Armory is worthwhile, but it's only a couple of hours visit at best.
[...]
Have a Pork and Broccoli Rabe sandwich at DaNicks in the Reding Terminal Market and top it off with Bassetts Ice cream there. Actually just have a meal or two in the Terminal Market. There's also a lot of history in Phila, so enjoy!
We added those schools to the spreadsheet. I'm not making firm plans to visit any campus until later. For example, MIT is on break when we're there, but the campus visit coordinator told us that the last few years they had students who stayed on-campus during the break, and they can do tours, but she won't know regarding 2019 until the week before we depart, maybe later.

I've had problems with rental cars and tolls before, so many thanks for that EZ Pass suggestion. I will pursue this.

I looked up that pork & broccoli rabe sandwich on Yelp and it seems like a counterintuitive combination, on some level, but they have to be doing something right. We will certainly try that. My son was also asking in re: Philly Cheesesteak sources. I see many choices on Yelp, but if any of you care to advise on that important decision, we would be grateful.

Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post
I believe that Massachusetts offers its E-Z Pass transponders to out-of-state residents with no shipping charge, and no monthly maintenance fees (unlike some other E-Z Pass issuers).
You would register your personal auto's license plate initially, and could temporarily add a rental car's license plate once it is known. Details here:
https://www.ezdrivema.com/PrivatePrePaidPrerequisites
So I take it each state has a toll-road vendor? Out here, we can sign up for a transponder-free account which uses photos of pre-registered license plates, and they no longer collect cash tolls. (If you use the toll road without an account, you have just five days to pay online, or a ticket is issued.) Obviously that could be a problem with a rental car, and I don't want to be paying a premium on top of the tolls, or paying for someone else's toll road use.

Out here, prime-time use of the 91 express lanes (toll lanes) or the toll roads can be almost $10 for one use, so I'm sure the amounts can add up. We have a single vendor who covers all the lanes in the state; you can even buy the transponders at Costco. But you have to give them your money to use a transponder.

Thanks again to everyone.
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Old Oct 27, 18, 11:33 am
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"My son was also asking in re: Philly Cheesesteak sources. I see many choices on Yelp, but if any of you care to advise on that important decision, we would be grateful."

Oh dear, the debate on this topic might have to be moved to Bad Omni. I will stay clear, because I honestly don't find the top venue cheesesteaks that different from one another.
My advice is to pick a convenient location from the list under consideration.

I've never tried the pork/broccoli rabe combo - it's much lauded but does not sound a bit appealing to me. You might also encounter scrapple on a breakfast menu. My
SO loves it but I'd google it first....
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Old Oct 27, 18, 12:05 pm
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Originally Posted by zippy the pinhead View Post
I looked up that pork & broccoli rabe sandwich on Yelp and it seems like a counterintuitive combination, on some level, but they have to be doing something right. We will certainly try that. My son was also asking in re: Philly Cheesesteak sources. I see many choices on Yelp, but if any of you care to advise on that important decision, we would be grateful.
John's Roast Pork I'll be honest, I don't think I've ever even had their cheesesteaks (though I've heard good things), because roast pork! Maybe get one of each and split em? (go before you ditch the car, cash only, closes "when they run out" in the afternoon, so try to get there early!)

Re: EZPass - It's a unified system, but each state offers their own transponder and has their own rules about monthly non-use fees / shipping out of state / HOV switches. But you can still use a Massachusetts-issued EZPass for tolls in NY, NJ, PA, etc.
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Old Oct 28, 18, 9:24 pm
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Originally Posted by zippy the pinhead
I looked up that pork & broccoli rabe sandwich on Yelp and it seems like a counterintuitive combination, on some level, but they have to be doing something right. We will certainly try that. My son was also asking in re: Philly Cheesesteak sources. I see many choices on Yelp, but if any of you care to advise on that important decision, we would be grateful.
Trust me, you want the roast pork with broccoli rabe and sharp cheddar at DiNic's (note the spelling ).

Absolutely get a cheesesteak, too. Really can't go wrong with any of the big three. Pat's and Geno's across the corner from each other on Passyunk Ave. Or Jim's on South Street (my go-to).
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Old Nov 4, 18, 9:50 am
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Originally Posted by bitburgr View Post
Trust me, you want the roast pork with broccoli rabe and sharp cheddar at DiNic's (note the spelling ).

Absolutely get a cheesesteak, too. Really can't go wrong with any of the big three. Pat's and Geno's across the corner from each other on Passyunk Ave. Or Jim's on South Street (my go-to).
I'm partial to the original Jim's Steaks on 62nd street in West Phila. but I wouldn't recommend a special trip. If you are in University City, Abner's was quite good and is walkable from Penn and Drexel. It was started by the owner of Jim's at 4th & South. I'm not sure of the ownership now.
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Old Feb 2, 19, 8:46 pm
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Would anyone be able to suggest a breakfast venue for an early Sunday morning breakfast somewhere around the USS Constitution? I have a reservation to pick up a rental car at BOS, but I can push it back if it would be smarter to take breakfast at the airport.
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Old Mar 28, 19, 3:24 pm
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The Dinky

Originally Posted by amanuensis View Post


During a business trip, I made a swing from NYC to Princeton University by train. I did not think changing at Princeton Junction was a big deal. It was actually kind of fun to pretend I was on the Hogwarts Express. And the architecture at Princeton allowed me to continue believing that the train really did take me to Hogwarts. Beautiful gothic campus.
The Princeton Junction to NYC commute is straight forward. Get on NJTransit at PJC and get off on the last stop at NYPenn Station (as opposed to Newark Penn Station), NYP sits right below Madison Square Garden btw. EWR also has a stop on that same Northeast Corridor line.

Hogwarts Express, that's funny, and I can see how that might pop into one's brain! Just a note that the "Dinky" (the one or two car train that goes from Princeton Junction to Princeton in just a few minutes) isn't running right now. Currently they are running bus service between the two. Not sure when (or if) the Dinky will be back up and running.

Last edited by notmypetunia; Mar 28, 19 at 3:29 pm
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Old Mar 31, 19, 8:34 pm
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We feel like we owe the thread an update, since we got so much good and helpful advice here.

Flew in to BOS on a redeye, aboard a former US Airways A321 (limited recline seats). Day one was a visit to the USS Constitution and Springfield Armory NHS. After, we drove all the way to West Point, NY. I don't mind occasional longish drives, but prefer to do them when well-rested. I was really dragging, having slept poorly on the flight. Still, I was prepared to drop in excess of 220K miles for the flights, but managed to get the seats for less than 100K miles.


Spar deck of the USS Constitution


USS Constitution. Sailors on board said that the only original wood from when the ship was first built is the keel.

First campus tour was USMA West Point, which was day two. It is an active military post so the only tour generally available (unless you’re applying to become a cadet, or have appropriate DoD identification) is a bus ride with a couple of stops on the post. Beautiful campus, very impressive. My son is not really interested in becoming a cadet, so we opted for the bus tour. After, we stopped by the West Point Museum, which has a very impressive collection, and then drove on to Ithaca.


Cadet Chapel at West Point. Completed in 1910 by Italian emigrant masons.


Each window was sold to USMA for $300 over a span of about 70 years by the generations of a family that specializes in making them.

Day three was Cornell. They didn't have any tours scheduled that day, which was fine with us, as it was cold. We met someone in the hotel who took the tour the day before and said it was difficult because a lot of the tour was outdoors and it was too cold and windy. My son sat in on a few classes— you can request permission to attend online— and we walked around the campus. After, we drove to King of Prussia, PA.

Day four was Princeton. My son sat in on a class, and after we took a tour of the Engineering Quad (four conjoined buildings). One of his friends attends Princeton, so after meeting him we had a more personal tour of various parts of the campus, and we grabbed some lunch.

Day five was U Penn. We listened to a presentation in a large auditorium, followed by a campus tour, followed by a “chat and chew” lunch where prospective students got to take lunch with current U Penn students. During the afternoon, my son sat in on a class while I took the Engineering tour. After, we met one of his friends who attends U Penn and took dinner at Abner's, which is walking distance from the campus.

Day six was Swarthmore. We had planned to tour Haverford in the afternoon, but we were sort of put off by the Swarthmore tour, so we called an audible and hopped on the SEPTA after the tour ended. We took the train down to Reading Terminal Market, which is like a giant food court, and includes Spataro's (hoagies and cheesesteaks) and Tommy Dinic's (roast pork and broccoli rabe). We really enjoyed that place, and appreciated the chance to try some of the food suggested upthread. The roast pork and broccoli rabe sandwich from Dinic's was great, as was the cheesesteak we split from Spataro's.

Day seven was a chance to sleep in for an hour or two, and after coffee, we checked out and decided to see Valley Forge National Park. It turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day, which one local said was the nicest day they'd had since September. There is a 5.2-mile loop trail ("Joseph Plumb Martin Trail") that goes around Valley Forge, so we walked it in about 90 minutes and enjoyed the weather and the scenery. After that, we grabbed a late lunch and eventually headed to PHL for the flight home.

In hindsight, I was glad to have made this trip, as it helped my son to realize certain campuses were not good choices for him, for various reasons. For example, though Swarthmore has a beautiful campus, almost as soon as the tour started he realized it wasn't a good fit for him. We were at U Penn on Ivy Day, and via text he heard from some friends at school regarding who got in (just a couple) and who got rejected (everyone else), which I was glad for. The timing was perfect. I've known students who yearn for admission to some big university, and because they have never visited said university, or seen it with their own eyes, sometimes the idea of attending there gains an outsized influence on them, and the tail begins to wag the dog. The trip was also helpful to me, in that some places I probably would have balked at funding an application for-- specifically, Princeton and U Penn-- I will now fund, even if the odds are against him. His friend who studies mathematics at U Penn, with whom we ate at Abner's, remarked that to an extent, the college admissions process is like a lottery, and the good grades, extra-curricular activities, and test scores are simply various ways of buying more tickets. I can't say that I entirely disagree.

As an aside, the advice to rent a car and get an EZ-Pass was great advice. I got a small SUV for less than $400 total, and we put just under 1,000 miles on it across the week.

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the thread.
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Last edited by zippy the pinhead; Apr 3, 19 at 12:14 pm Reason: typos
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Old Apr 1, 19, 7:20 am
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Sounds like you had a fun and productive trip...you visited two of my three universities! Good job on getting to Reading Terminal Market and eating the right food when you were there Best of luck to your son in his applications!
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