Weathering the Storms – and the Snow!

On Sunday, I’m headed for Massachusetts to visit some boarding schools, a college or two, and attend the annual highlight of my fall, the Equine Affaire event in West Springfield.  (Attending Equine Affaire yourself?  Let me know – we should meet up!)  Recent weather phenomena (e.g. the “Great Blizzard of October 2011”), however, have recently made me re-think my packing list (um, mukluks, anyone?), as well as my approach to these forthcoming campus visits.

This picture was taken in Putney, Vermont (home of Landmark College) on Monday. I hope to visit Landmark next week when I'm on the East Coast.

Much research has already been conducted on the effects that weather can have on prospective students’ perceptions of the campuses they visit (and their subsequent decisions on whether or not to enroll), so I won’t bore you with the scientific details, charts, or graphs.  (If you really, really want them, check out what the folks over at Target X – namely Jeff Kallay and Trent Gilbert – have to say on the topic.)  But for the sake of the wintery weather that’s going to hit all of us in the northern regions of the country very soon (whether we want it to or not), I’m going to sum up the high points here:

You can’t let the weather choose your college for you!

(Okay, correction, I’m only going to mention one point – but that’s because it’s the most important one.)

Weather happens.  And it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that, if you apply to a school in Ohio or New York or Connecticut or Michigan that it’s going to snow in the winter.  Likewise, rain has been known to fall from the sky in many parts of the world, heat waves happen, and high winds have been known to blow campus tours off course (or at least driven them inside of buildings).

But bear in mind that what happens outside of the classrooms and laboratories (and equestrian centers!) on college campuses is of far less importance than what happens inside them.

This Wake Forest student is armed for the weather on her way to class. (Photo by Ken Bennett.)

Now, you certainly might allow Mother Nature to inform some of the questions that you ask on your campus tour.  Ask about snow removal on sidewalks during the winter (because you’ll need to get to class with little hassle) and ask whether the school horses in the riding program are clipped or not to help speed the cool out process after lessons.  Notice how far you might have to walk from a residence hall to the dining hall (and picture making that walk in the rain or snow to see what precautions you may need – a sturdy umbrella, rain boots, etc.).  Find out what temperature the riding instructors consider to be too cold (or too hot!) to teach lessons for horse and rider health and safety.

But at the end of the day, as long as all of your schools can demonstrate that they have great services – and a great education! – to provide to you regardless of the weather, you can’t allow that to be the sole deciding factor in your college choice.

Want someone to help you narrow down the field after you’ve removed the weather as a factor?  Contact me – I’m happy to help!

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