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Janeway

WWYD, every child wants to come along for college visit

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This is so frustrating. We are supposed to leave in the morning for a college road trip. We will be gone less than 36 hrs. We will stay in a hotel one night. Whenever we bring the younger children, it turns out that one of us sits out while the other sees things. it is not possible to drag three children in to lectures and every single thing. To top it off, 10 yr old has special needs where he acts up. We did say that we could take the four year old with us because 4 yr old misses us a lot and we do not think he would do well an entire day with a babysitter. Plus, four year old is extremely calm. I have never had such a calm child at this age. He is like an old man in a little boy body. Well, then 8 yr old decided she really wants to go. She got herself all excited. Okay..adding 8 yr old would be tough. But, I suppose if we take a blow up mattress, someone could sleep on the floor at the hotel. Today, 10 yr old started saying he has to go. OKAY..well..I went to the store and bought 10 yr old a new Lego set. I have not given it to him but told him the babysitter has a present for him. I was leaving a bunch of money for the babysitter (someone he likes and already knows well) to take him anywhere they want to go.

Then 10 yr old comes to me and says he really wants to go with us. He does not want to be the only one left out. I am sitting here and calling the hotel to find out if they have another room. Adding 10 yr old means adding another room. I explain to 10 yr old and 8 yr old that literally, we will drive in to town and then go to the hotel and sit in the hotel room and then get up early the next morning and go to the college campus and sit for several hours for lectures. 10 yr old STILL wants to go. I remind him of the presents and also that Grandpa gets out of the hospital tomorrow likely and would like a visitor. Nope. He wants to go. He wants to see the hotel too. He wants to go on a road trip too. He wants to have fun too. Meanwhile, 8 yr old has packed an entire suitcase of a variety of outfits for herself "because it is good to have choices."

How do you be fair in this? 10 yr old terrorizes the 8 yr old. He hyper focuses on her and picks on her constantly. I was okay with taking 8 yr old just because I knew the babysitter would have to deal with him bullying her all the time. But he also has ASD and I do not want to just leave him feel left out and bad. BUT..this is supposed to be for helping oldest child make his decision about college and now the younger kids have made it all about themselves and do not get it at all when we tell them no...no...and no. 

 

What do you do? What is fair? I hate to tell my husband to just go without me. It seems wrong to skip out on this time of 18 yr old's life because his younger siblings cannot comprehend what it is. 

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The ship has sailed, but at the outset I would have determined whether all are going, or just parents and college student. I don’t know how to get around somebody having hard feelings at this point.

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I would do what you were originally going to do.  If you’ve already promised 4yo he could go with you, then I guess take him?  But I’m not sure why you feel guilty about the young ones missing out and not feel guilt about the oldest kids‘ trip being ruined?   This trip is essentially a business trip for the oldest.   The youngers will get their ‘business trip’ in a few years.   They’ll get over it.  

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You just say "no." Your older child deserves your full attention on this trip. 

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I would establish the rule ONLY high school students go on college tours. Period. Other kids stay at home. 

You are the parent. Everyone wants to go, but this is for the high school student and IS important. Do not let the younger children distract from the main event. Their turn will come.  They should stay home. 

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IMO, you should have drawn the boundary right at the beginning. I try to keep my decisions firm and understand why I have made the decision I made. So, if it were me, and I already had decided at the outset that the littles don’t go to these things, I wouldn’t have made an exception. IME, as soon as I have made an exception, it was a good way to get nagged to freakin death. 

I’m not sure what I would do in your position *now*. I think it’s hard to fix once you have capitulated. If it were me, I would probably ask myself, “How do I want/need this to go?” And then, make that happen. I have found that I most often do well when I ask myself that question and then make it happen. 

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"I made a mistake and I'm sorry. I will only be taking oldest on this trip and next month we're all going to this really cool thing to make up for it. Only oldest will be attending college visits from here on out."

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Agree with all the others, but I’d like to add that in all of the college trips we made, I don’t recall EVER seeing young kids. Not on the walking tours or lunches or financial-help talks or classroom visits. It’s not a mini-vacation,it’s not a place for children, it’s a serious trip for the senior. 

Edited by Dotwithaperiod
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I agree with everyone. If you always intended to only leave the 8 & 10 yr old with the babysitter, I wouldn't add the 4 yr old to her job at the last minute, and I would explain to the 8 & 10 yr old that this visit is not for them, and you will do a fun family outing another time. 

It's fair and legitimate to say "I'm sorry guys, I made a mistake; we really need to only take Oldest Child & Baby Brother on this trip; Sitter will be here with you, and it's a short trip, we'll face time you/call you when we get there, but you cannot come, it's not a trip for kids."  And then....don't take them. 

If you need to not take the 4 yr old in order to not feel unfair, then you need to clear that with the babysitter and do that if she's able/willing, but bottom line - this is not a case where the kids get to decide. You do. They will survive if you tell them no. 

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Agree with others on this one -  "College visits are for high school kids and parents only.   We've got a great babysitter coming for you.  Yes, you will miss us, but that is ok."  It might be easier if the 4 year old stays home and could play with the 8 year old while the babysitter focuses on the 10 year old, but the sitter might not be ok with 3 kids at the last minute.  

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7 minutes ago, Dotwithaperiod said:

Agree with all the others, but I’d like to add that in all of the college trips we made, I don’t recall EVER seeing young kids. Not on the walking tours or lunches or financial-help talks or classroom visits. It’s not a mini-vacation,it’s not a place for children, it’s a serious trip for the senior. 

Same. The only siblings I have seen on college tours (rare) are clearly close in age.

I agree, college visits are not for young kids. They would be a distraction/disruption to all the students there to decide their futures.

 

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The hotel may have rules against 6 people staying in a single room anyway. Sometimes even 5 is a problem, young children or no.

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11 minutes ago, Dotwithaperiod said:

Agree with all the others, but I’d like to add that in all of the college trips we made, I don’t recall EVER seeing young kids. Not on the walking tours or lunches or financial-help talks or classroom visits. It’s not a mini-vacation,it’s not a place for children, it’s a serious trip for the senior. 

 

1 minute ago, MEmama said:

Same. The only siblings I have seen on college tours (rare) are clearly close in age.

I agree, college visits are not for young kids. They would be a distraction/disruption to all the students there to decide their futures.

 

Having had to do college visits with a barely one-year old, I agree with this. There was occasionally another high school age sibling there, but I was very aware of how strange it was that we were there with a baby. It would very definitely not be a situation that was appropriate to have the whole family along for. Mostly I had to miss visits to stay home with baby while dh went, but when we reached the "this is the one" stage, it was important for me to be there, but that meant bringing the baby. The other siblings stayed home. Dh and I took turns being the one to go into sessions with dd while the other stayed out with the baby. We had to register for the things we went to, and it wouldn't have been okay saying we needed an extra several seats; that wasn't an option.

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Just do what you want to do even if you have to backtrack and apologize and say you made a mistake. 

I try not to take extra kids on college tours but there have been times that we have had all different configurations of our family on tours for whatever reason. But I would never take extra kids just because it sounded fun to them. They aren't old enough to assess whether or not they would enjoy or behave on a college tour and it just isn't their call.

Even though you made the mistake of agreeing to something you shouldn't have you are not stuck with it at the cost of ruining or at least complicating your trip. You made a mistake. Just own it and say you changed your mind and do it the way that makes sense. 

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Agreeing with the others--it should be just you and your college student to be.

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18 year old deserves you full attention and some "adult" time.  If you have a capable sitter the other ones will all survive 36 hours with out mom and dad.  Even if you have to call in an extra sitter for part of the time I would do that vs. taking younger ones along.  You have years left to do lots of stuff with the younger ones.  Your time with the oldest is quite limited and they deserve this time....and so do you and your husband.  Just say, "sorry,  I misspoke.  College visits are only for the student gong to college and their parents."

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1 hour ago, Janeway said:

 Then 10 yr old comes to me and says he really wants to go with us. He does not want to be the only one left out. I am sitting here and calling the hotel to find out if they have another room. Adding 10 yr old means adding another room.  

I realize this doesn't help for tomorrow, but it makes more sense to pay for a second sitter rather than another hotel room (so he isn't bullying his sibling). The 4-yr-old goes with the second sitter also, and he'll do just fine. 

Did you tell the 10-yr-old he could go? If you haven't, I'd tell him plans can't be changed this late, sorry. Same for 8-yr-old. Plus, you've already hired a sitter, right? If you cancel this late, they may not accept future jobs.  

And next time, no other kids. There really is nothing for them to do and nowhere for them to be. 

 

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And your eldest needs to make a good impression. That could be difficult if s/he is distracted by the younger kids. 

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5 minutes ago, katilac said:

I realize this doesn't help for tomorrow, but it makes more sense to pay for a second sitter rather than another hotel room (so he isn't bullying his sibling). The 4-yr-old goes with the second sitter also, and he'll do just fine. 

Did you tell the 10-yr-old he could go? If you haven't, I'd tell him plans can't be changed this late, sorry. Same for 8-yr-old. Plus, you've already hired a sitter, right? If you cancel this late, they may not accept future jobs.  

And next time, no other kids. There really is nothing for them to do and nowhere for them to be. 

 

I never told 10 yr old he could go. And when he brought up wanting to go (when I said in my post OKAY...I did not mean I told him okay, sorry about that confusion) I went and bought him a present. I started trying to build up how nice it will be at have this time with the sitter and do things together. I told him the present is from the sitter and I have hidden it so the sitter can pull it out tomorrow after we are gone. 

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2 minutes ago, Janeway said:

I never told 10 yr old he could go. And when he brought up wanting to go (when I said in my post OKAY...I did not mean I told him okay, sorry about that confusion) I went and bought him a present. I started trying to build up how nice it will be at have this time with the sitter and do things together. I told him the present is from the sitter and I have hidden it so the sitter can pull it out tomorrow after we are gone. 

Then don't feel a bit bad about leaving him home! He's not wanting to feel left out, I get that, but he will have far more fun at home. 

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I would not leave one child out and take the rest.  I think that is cruel regardless of the reasons.

But I would take on the college child and leave the rest home with the sitter.  The focus should be on the college-entering child, and should be special time to spend with them before they are gone from your life. 

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12 minutes ago, Ethel Mertz said:

And your eldest needs to make a good impression. That could be difficult if s/he is distracted by the younger kids. 

I had not considered this and I feel this a big deal.

(I really wish we could like mod posts! It would save time and we promise not to suck up!)

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I would not take any extra kids along, regardless of the reason. Fair = oldest getting to view colleges without sharing time and resources with siblings. Unfair = any siblings going along on the visits. 
 

I would leave all the youngers home with the babysitter. If I didn’t feel comfortable with that solution at this point, we would have one parent stay home while the other parent visits colleges. 
 

For the record, dh and I do not both go on college visits, so my advice is actually what we do in our family. One parent stays home while the other goes on the tour.  The college kid needs to experience the college without siblings underfoot. 

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I'd leave all kids at home, or if necessary, just bring 4-year-old.  As parents, we can't always worry about "fair" because that varies so much with ages and personalities.  When I had major surgery year ago when all the kids were very young, two stayed with an out-of-town aunt, two stayed with grandparents, and one came with me and my dh (but got to hang out with relatives who lived in the town the hospital was in -- several hours from home -- when I was in surgery.  There were very practical reasons for doing it that way.   Of course the dd who got to come with us felt special, but it was all about what was practical and what would be easiest for us.  A parent needs to do what make sense and it might not always be about what seems fair to kids.

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16 hours ago, Janeway said:

What do you do? What is fair? I hate to tell my husband to just go without me. It seems wrong to skip out on this time of 18 yr old's life because his younger siblings cannot comprehend what it is. 

What is fair is doing what will work best for your son, the soon-to-be college student. It will also be fair to the youngers because they won't have to be shushed and silenced and bored to death at the college visit.

If you send your husband alone with him, at least your son will have the full attention of a parent and no little siblings to distract him. 

FWIW, my husband didn't go on any college visits [ETA turns out he went on a couple; I had forgotten and he reminded me]. I went with my kids alone. Actually my son went on most of his visits and tours on his own (but my kids transferred from CC and were older, etc, so I'm not suggesting that's a great alternative for a high school student). 

This is for your oldest child's benefit, not, as others have said, a family trip. Leave the younger kids home.  

ETA: I have sometimes capitulated to my kids' unreasonable demands and then had to backtrack. I just apologize and admit I made a mistake. Others have said this too. "Sorry, guys, I should have made this clear from the beginning and not wavered. None of you are going, this is for Eldest and that's it. You'll get your turn. I'm sorry, I made a mistake in thinking it could work that we'd all go, but I realized that was a mistake on my part."

IIRC, my kids had to respond with the number of guests they were bringing. Your son may not have had to do this. But, if he did, the school is not going to be happy seeing 3 extra people. Most likely they are not going to be happy seeing  little people.  Both my kids' schools have family days so the whole crew can go see the school, after the college kid is accepted. I'm sure that's not  unusual. Wait and take your kids then.

 

Edited by marbel
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If 4 year old really can't make it with a parent that long, than a parent stays home.  Younger siblings really don't belong on college tours.  Others on the tour might find it a distraction and it's not really fair to them. Even though you have to backtrack, you just tell them all they have to stay home this time.

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If younger siblings couldn't get along without a parent, one of us would stay home.  College visits are only for the teen and parent(s).  On one of DD's college tours some of the familys had a younger siblings and they were distracting.

I would have told siblings no in the first place, but if for some reason I didn't I would just tell them that on further reflection they will need to stay home after all.  I would make sure they have fun foods and games/movies and then go without worrying about it.

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I've done zillions of college tours at this point as we did quite a few with both of the older kids. It was always a one-parent deal for us because of logistics, and we never, ever brought siblings along. It is a bad idea to bring any youngers. This is a huge decision for your oldest--he deserves a parent's full attention. This is far more than walking around campus to see if it looks nice. You need to go prepared with questions for the advisors. You should try to get a schedule of courses for any majors he is interested in. You should do your best to peek in at a class and talk to a professor, ideally within your son's intended major. (Sometimes I just went to the department office and asked if anyone was available; other times we emailed ahead of time and set up formal appointments.) You need to talk with your son while there about the majors and minors, the finances, extracurriculars, the LIFE he will live there. It is not a time for younger children.

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Leave all the littles at home. It's not a vacation, it's a college tour.  It's like a business trip or an out-of-town job interview.  The kids don't need to be there.  It's a shame if they feel disappointed, but sometimes we feel disappointed in life? 

 

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I wouldn't bring siblings - when they are ready for college, it will be their turn.  I doubt what they're interested in is "college", and more just getting away and doing something they perceive as "fun".

just have responsible adults in charge of the youngers while you're gone.

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Since you’re considering getting another hotel room anyway could you bring the babysitter along? Then the other kids can stay at the hotel with the babysitter during the college visit.

If that’s not possible I agree with everyone else that all the kids except the prospective college student need to stay home.

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There would be no way I'd be adding the others. I would go back to the original plan.  I'd even consider leaving 4 year old too .  My kids are 4 years apart and my 2nd kid was sometimes grumbly when I went off with college kid.  But we did have to take her once to a local college tour and she complained all day.  They will all get their chances. This is a working trip for the oldest and it's only 36 hours.  My oldest was irritated by the one time we took his sibling and college kid should be the focus of the trip.  ETA - to be clear, it was usually me on the road with college kid and spouse at home with sibling.  

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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Also, is this just a tour for your oldest, or is it part of a larger group tour of the campus? (In which case, it may be bothersome/distracting for other college-bound students to have to tour with a group of littles...)

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Leave all 3 littles at home. Apologize for changing your mind but tell them your attention needs to be on the oldest and remind them that they have.previoisly not behaved on the trip because they find it boring

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I have lots of kids, too.  Leave all of them and enjoy this time with just your high schooler.  It isn't fair to you rdd big kid to bring the littles along.  It isn't a vacation and the decisions being made are big!  Both you, DH and the high schooler need to be focusing on that.  If you bring littles, you will be focusing on them.  

And I'm right there with you!  We are planning 2 short trips to look at colleges this spring.  I'm already lining up childcare for the littles.  The only one of my kids I might consider taking is my freshman, but then I decided that this is a special time just for my oldest.  No sibling allowed.  

Put your foot down,  and try to find someone to also watch the 4 year old if possible.

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Is this just a college tour?  I assume there will be others?  I would NOT make it about the little kids.  I'd have one parent stay with the little kids, and one do the trip with the college-bound trip, then switch roles on the next tour.  It would be awesome if both parents could go, but I'm not sure your sitter is up to that. It's not about the disappointment of the younger kids, it's about having some time with the oldest before they leave home and your family life changes forever.  THIS is a time to choose the oldest and let the younger kids suck it up. Maybe bring them all to drop-off or family day when your oldest is in school.

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Leave all the others behind.  I agree so much with everyone who has said that.  We live in a college town and are on campus during the week and see a lot of tours.  I just recently saw one with a family that brought a younger sibling who was under 8.   If there was a close in age sibling that would be ok, but not an 8 , 10, or 4 year old.   If you can't leave the 4 year old then one of you stay with the kids. 

Edited by mommyoffive
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5 hours ago, QueenCat said:

You just say "no." Your older child deserves your full attention on this trip. 

 

Older kid earned the privilege of going on a college visit. When they are his age, they will have the same opportunity. 

It’s also like movie ratings. Just because the oldest is old enough to see a PG-13 rated film doesn’t mean the younger ones should go along “to be fair.” Many privileges in life are age-dependent.

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Is this your first time on a college visit? Because ime, no matter how calm your 4yo is, it is not the proper venue for that child, either. 

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I would ask the oldest child going on the college tours which parent they would prefer to have go with them. Make sure they understand there will be no hard feelings no matter what they choose but this is their trip and their tour so it is their choice which parent they want to have accompany them. That way, if he chooses dad to go with him you don't have to feel bad about not being there. If he would rather have you, then dad can hold down the fort while you have one on one time with your oldest before he leaves the nest. I absolutely agree with everyone else. This is your oldest child's special trip, I wouldn't have ever let the younger ones think that it was an option to tag along on a college tour. They will get their chance when they are old enough to tour colleges.

In our house, "fair" doesn't always mean that every one gets "the same" or that every one gets "something" every time. In this particular case, I would define "fair" as all the children will get the same opportunity to have a special trip with either mom or dad when they are old enough to tour colleges. The younger children may not like it. They may not completely understand it right now. They may even think that it isn't fair and that's ok. It is still completely fair and some day they will understand it.

Edited by sweet2ndchance
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I agree that the best thing is to not bring the extra children, even though they are likely to be upset.

Because I agree with what others have posted, I wouldn't typically think it necessary to respond. But I wanted to say that I think that it's important for you to really consider the messages that you are sending to your 10 year old, that you are willing to take everyone except for him.

I get it that he's difficult. I do!! One of my kids is challenging and also has ASD, so I do get it.

But I would not ever take my other three kids along somewhere and leave him behind, because that can really feel like rejection. Which, I am sure, is not what you want. Kids with ASD are prone to feeling that way anyway, because they often find it hard to fit in, and it would be a real blow, in my opinion, for him to get that message, even if unintended, from his parents.

I don't mean to seem critical of you. I think perhaps that you haven't thought this through in this way.

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One adult ( me) did the University stuff with the child who was applying for uni, and no siblings came at all. There were thousands of other potential students at the Universites , mostly accompanied by one parent  and NO young children at all, not a single one.

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1 hour ago, Melissa in Australia said:

One adult ( me) did the University stuff with the child who was applying for uni, and no siblings came at all. There were thousands of other potential students at the Universites , mostly accompanied by one parent  and NO young children at all, not a single one.

Ditto

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1 hour ago, Melissa in Australia said:

One adult ( me) did the University stuff with the child who was applying for uni, and no siblings came at all. There were thousands of other potential students at the Universites , mostly accompanied by one parent  and NO young children at all, not a single one.

The pattern varied for us, but in no case included the sibling:

- sometimes Husband or I went with the child - the other parent stayed at home

- sometimes the child went alone

- sometimes the child went with friends.

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I agree.  Don't take them.  College trips are incredibly boring anyway.  If they really give you grief, take them on a local college tour... then they can see that its' not like a trip to the amusement park.  

I'm curious about the meetings you're talking about.  Has college child already been accepted at said college?  Those can be slightly different and with more meetings, but definitely not kid friendly or entertaining.

We only did the one parent with college bound child too.  Did I mention that college tours are boring? 😋

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14 hours ago, Janeway said:

What do you do? What is fair? I hate to tell my husband to just go without me. It seems wrong to skip out on this time of 18 yr old's life because his younger siblings cannot comprehend what it is. 

It isn't wrong to send just one parent. It would be nice if both could go, but if it's not possible, it's no big deal. I've done two college visits with dd and IMHO you only need one parent to attend the parent sessions. They're pretty boring, it's not a "fun experience". The road trip itself is fun, so I'd switch off parents for those if you have more than one.

 

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1 hour ago, Happymomof1 said:

Yes, I am having a ball with my daughter on a college visit right now, just the two of us.  It is awesome.

I know whatever is going to happen is probably happening now, so discussion doesn't really  matter much anymore. Also, I put in my 2 cents already, but just 2 more... 

My college visits with my daughter were a blast too. We didn't go more than a day trip (neither of my kids wanted to go too far and we had plenty of choices within a few hours' drive). It was a great time of bonding. The one I took  my son to was fun too, in a different way.  My husband reminded me that he took my son on one or two as well (I had forgotten that when I posted that earlier), and they also had a great time.

Even though I have only 2 kids (and they are  close in age, only 18 months apart), my interactions with them separately are so different than when they are together. I can only imagine the difference when there is a larger group of youngers. 

Talking in the car, listening to their choice of music and talking about it, talking about their lives without another sibling to hear it too, or their topics of interests that are dead boring to the sibling... those things can be done at home, but there's something about a road trip that makes it easier. I've read that not being face-to-face has something to do with it? Maybe.  Going out to eat where they want to... talking about the pros and cons of the school... so fun and so different from "regular" life.

It brings them into the world of adulthood in a big way. My kids had some of their biggest "aha" moments about life while discussing colleges, majors, etc. 

Janeway, I hope it worked out well for your college-bound son!

Edited by marbel
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Oh, the trips I did with my son were a blast.  He auditioned for music programs too so we got more college campus visits than most families.  That said the actual tours, information sessions, etc are dry.  My son was completely over that part of it by the time he picked his college (which was extremely late in cycle - late april).  But the traveling and discussion was great bonding time with my oldest.  But if the sibling were there,they would have been different for sure.  

I took sibling on a very intentional trip with hotel to her brother's campus about a month into his first term.  That was nice!  He was settled, we did some touristy things in town and on campus, the boy got a break from dorm food.  

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