In the past ten days we took our son across the country to see six colleges. The list comprised of two renowned schools in his field and four Ivies.

Some observations:

The saying “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity” is real, and even realer when it’s both. I grew up in New England, lived in the mid-Atlantic for several years, and heck, multiple trips to southern India were more comfortable. Next time, I will bring SCUBA gear.

I was the only mom with visible tattoos at any of the tours. This earned me some side-eye, particularly from dads. Since you were wondering, male strangers, I absolutely have tattoos that you can not and will not see. I nearly fistbumped the one mom with purple hair at Yale.

Other parents behave as if the other families present for tours are competition and cannot be acknowledged or spoken to. That said, when I found out the other “who’s here from the west coast” family was from Seattle, the obvious soccer chant went off in my head. Clap clap, clap clap clap.

Did you know it is possible to ask a family of non-white ethnicity where they traveled from for the tour without sounding like an asshole? It’s amazing but true! I should give seminars in this stuff.

My son rocked a vintage beaded purse at his last two tours. It was a gift from a friend, and my kid swiped it to carry his wallet. My kid claims not to have confidence but he demonstrated a lot of poise with understated swagger.

I’m already self-censoring a bit, because nothing like these tours to make one feel that it’s all such a delicate process and one small misstep tips the admittance scales out of your kid’s favor. Sigh.