Groundhog Day

US Wealth Napolitano |

By: Thomas Fletcher, CFP®


Days on the road: 6

Miles driven: about 1500

Number of states visited: NY, OH, PA, CT, MA

Colleges toured: 8

Daily hourly average time in car: 5

Daily complaints about my driving: 15

Quality family time together: unlimited


In a parent’s lifetime we are called upon at least once to make that rite of passage with our kids and explore the world of higher education

outside the confines of our home state: the college tour. In our case, that big trip took place last week. My son is a high school junior and has been kicking the proverbial college tires for the past several months. Now it was time for the rubber to meet the road.

I admit, I’m not much of a road warrior, so it was a bit of a shock to the system to get into the car with my closest companions for about 5 hours every day to travel to places I’ve never been. We travelled as far north as Rochester, NY, as far west as Cleveland, OH, and as far south as Pittsburgh, PA and we stopped at a bunch of places in between.

Even though Punxsutawney Phil wasn’t outside looking for his shadow, his home fell right in the middle of our route, so we paid a visit to his darkened den right next to the police station in downtown Punxsutawney. We found him happily munching on cauliflower. Punxsutawney seemed a fitting place for us because after a few days on the road, each day kind of melded into the next.

In the Covid era, college visits probably aren’t what they used to be. Some schools offer live-guided tours, some the self-guided variety, and some allow you to drive around the campus but prefer that you don’t set foot on the grounds. We encountered all three on our trip. Unfortunately, after all that driving, the result was that we knew little more about the school than we did prior to arrival.

By the end our trip, at least one place seemed a clear-cut winner to all of us (and coincidentally offered the best tour), so at least now a benchmark has been set. It’s early, so we’ll have to see how things develop. For our next round however, we’re going to check out some places closer to home.