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Attention College Hopefuls: How Not To Conduct Your College Visits (10 Mistakes To Avoid) This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   First of all, don't plan on driving 1163 miles in two days.

And don't bring your bookbag to New York City.

At the end of September, my father and I decided that we would compress my college hunt into a mere 48 hours, since my father had little time to spare from work. It seemed the perfect opportunity to skip school and see some beautiful college campuses.

Wrong.

Our route: to Ithaca, NY (Cornell U), then Rochester (U of Rochester), down to Philadelphia, PA (U of Pennsylvania), up through Princeton, NJ (Princeton U), and finally to New York City (Columbia).

We embarked on our hellish journey at 3: 30 a.m. on Friday morning. This is the first mistake we made, because by the time we reached our first campus, we were too tired to enjoy it. (Whoever said that you can sleep in the car lied.)

Mistake #2: Listening to the man in the information booth at Cornell University. I'm sure he was a nice man, but he made us park one mile away from the building we had to go to. (Upon reaching the admissions office after a long walk, it was not very gratifying to find an empty parking lot there.)

Mistake #3: A father allowing his newly licensed son to direct him in heavy Rochester traffic. I had a pretty good map, but a bad sense of direction. We'll leave it at that. (I missed the tour by 9 minutes, after planning for it four weeks in advance.)

Mistake #4: Using Krazy glue to stick your rearview mirror back on to the windshield. The day I went to get my license, my father and I got into the car, and I adjusted my mirrors - and inadvertently ripped the important one off the windshield. We fixed it (permanently, we thought). One month later, on Saturday morning at 4 a.m., as we left for Philadelphia - well, let's just say that my father adjusted the mirrors this time, and had some bad luck. (We drove the remainder of the trip without this important piece of equipment.)

Mistake #5: A father allowing his newly-licensed son to drive on four different interstates without a rearview mirror, in the midst of constant fog. (Luckily, no accidents occurred - I don't think.)

Mistake #6: Having the bad luck to get a rookie tour guide at U of Penn. This guy was possibly the worst speaker in the history of the world. (Quite a few times I found him talking to himself, while our tour group lagged one hundred feet behind.)

Mistake #7: Buying Little Caesar's pizza for lunch.

(Princeton went off without a hitch, perhaps it's because we skipped the tour and drove around ourselves.)

Mistake #8: Expecting gas prices to remain stable for two short days. The price per gallon probably went up a dollar in the short time we were on the road. (Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit.)

Mistake #9: Leaving a car overnight on 124th Street in New York City. Our last stop was Columbia U to visit my sister. We slept there, completely exhausted, and woke up the next morning to find the rear vent window of our car smashed. (My father laughed. I was thrilled.)

Mistake #10: Leaving a backpack, a box of change, a good pair of shoes, and a jacket in a car overnight on 124th Street in New York City. That's right, kids. The window smashers were also robbers! (Surprise, surprise!) They took my shoes, my jacket (which happened to have had my good watch in its pocket), and my school bag (hurrah for me!). Since I had my keys in my pocket, my father left all one hundred of his keys in the box - including his car keys, which the robbers were too stupid to use to steal our car. My schoolbag had all of my school belongings in it - notebooks, textbooks, calculator - you name it, I lost it.

Moral: Don't cram your college visits into a short time period. Not only can it be exhausting, fast-paced, and disappointing - it can be quite expensive as well. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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