The Grand Tour: A College Adventure

Senior Nnaemeka Obidinma shares how three college visits shifted his perspective and preferences.

University of Mary Washington, courtesy of

University of Mary Washington, courtesy of

Nnaemeka Obidinma , Webmaster

Essential to the college transition process, along with the application, recommendations, and scholarships, is the tour of the grounds. One must be able to see themselves living, studying, and socializing in the environment before accepting an offer. And so, that’s just what I, along with other Hylton seniors, did on Oct. 19. We visited James Madison University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Mary Washington. My reactions were mostly positive, but there were some things I did not enjoy. Here are my results.

  • JMU – James Madison University

The first school I visited was James Madison and it was not what I had expected at all. The campus was very bright and modern. The tour guide I had was friendly and the food was very good. In fact, the salad bar and burgers from the dining hall were incredible! Being a person interested in technology, I was pleased to see the amount of students in one of the areas studying on high-tech macbooks and Windows laptops. The university offers a large variety of clubs and courses students can take.  Overall, the atmosphere was very welcoming.

However, there were a few cons. Unless you’re an athletic person, you probably won’t appreciate the amount of hills on the campus itself. Sure, there are buses (and even a train) but they may not run on the same schedule as you. Also, many students wore stressed and panicked expressions as we passed by them. I don’t like pressured environments; I felt really bad for the students. I still applied to the school, but it may not be my first choice anymore.

  • University of Virginia

Unfortunately, because of traffic, we didn’t get to spend too much time on the vast campus. However, it was very homey and felt like a bustling environment overall. Just walking through one of the libraries felt like walking into a different world. I enjoyed it so much!

On the other hand, diversity isn’t very high on campus. It’s also quite difficult to get into the school in the first place. It’s a bit rustic, even for being relatively close to Charlottesville. If I had gotten a bit more time, I believe I would have enjoyed it a bit better, but I digress. Once again, it’s not what I expected, so I’m split on this choice.

  • University of Mary Washington

This was the last campus we visited.  It was the smallest of the three campuses, so that took me a bit off guard. It was also the closest of the three, so I was a bit turned off as well. However, it was the campus that let us enter the most buildings, including the classrooms, lecture halls, dorms and fitness center. The tour guide was friendly, the campus was homey, and the overall feel was happier than the other two schools. Sure, it was close, but it wasn’t too close, like George Mason. It moved up quite high on my college list after the tour.

As the college application timer winds down, make sure you are informed of each school you’re applying to and try to visit if you can. You might find something good at a school you didn’t think quite highly of. You also may change your mind about a school you were looking forward to. Because, hey, you never know.