On the road: southward bound on Route 89, I believe, gearing up for day three of the Consortium of Vermont Colleges tour. After two days of ice-breaking, trying to get to know some of these great traveling companions, I somehow had the presence of mind to get to the bus early enough to get my own seat at the way back. With only a slight delay due to a temporary yogurt-in-the-lap crisis, things are back on track. But I’ve got to make it quick.

These middle three days of the tour are a bit grueling: four schools in a day, roughly two hours each. We warmed up on Sunday with Middlebury and UVM, and yesterday really got the variety pack, starting with the tiny liberal arts school Burlington College, then lunching with New England Culinary Institute, then falling in with our cadet guide at Norwich University, and wrapping everything up with dinner at Vermont Tech.

While the variety helped to keep things as interesting and engaging as possible, that’s still a long day, and unfortunately for VT Tech, I know my saturation point is three schools at the absolute max. (That one was doubly tough, though, because the programs were well outside of my typical students’ wheelhouse…hopefully if the appropriate student ever comes along, I’ll be able to make some sense out of the notes I was mindlessly tapping out on my phone. Or pass along the phone number of the admissions guy I bonded with over a rousing Game of Thrones dinner conversation.)

It’s also bewildering trying to get a handle on these first-time experiences. I’d never been to a culinary school nor a technical school, so without any real frame of reference, I feel like I’m drifting around in the currents of all my colleagues’ opinions. Norwich, the military school, was easier to grasp since it’s a more traditional small university with military dimension that is optional for students. Fascinating – never seen anything like it.

Today: Landmark, Marlboro, Southern VT, and Bennington – a couple of which I’ve definitely done my Fiske work on in the past. I’m wondering if the heightened sense of relevance will be the remedy for my retention, or if they’re more likely to bleed together. Either way, it’s a good reminder of how overwhelming these super-packed college visit trips must be for students, who don’t have all these other knowledgeable people asking smart, discerning questions.

By Nick Soper