Starting the Texas Tour
Prior to the IECA Conference in Austin this year, I had the opportunity to visit 6 Texas colleges and universities in east and central Texas with a group of other IECA college consultants. Starting on a Sunday night at the Hilton School of Hospitality Management at the University of Houston, I learned about the origins of this internationally-known program and enjoyed a lovely dinner hosted by the students and staff in the school. After an overnight stay in the Hilton University of Houston, we then had the opportunity to learn more about the university as well as their engineering and honors programs. It was fun to be there the day after graduation and see happy students in their caps and gowns posing with their loved ones in the fountains in the center of campus.
From there we went to Rice University, a highly selective university that is known for having some of the happiest students in the United States. Though I had been there before, I learned more about the campus and their culture, and got a clearer sense of the kind of student who would thrive there. In short, they seem to attract not only very highly achieving students, but those who have multiple interests and are actively involved in numerous productive and positive activities. A surprise for me was the installation of a swing-set in one of the residential quads which was a student-led initiative to help promote wellness and balance. And sure enough, every time I looked, there was a student swinging with the enjoyment of a child!
Next up was a long ride to College Station to visit the famous Texas A&M. While touring the campus, we saw lots of ROTC cadets running in cadence as part of their training, the ROTC program being one of their signature programs. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to visit the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, and we arrived the day after former First Lady Barbara Bush’s burial there. I would have like to have seen that – next time!
That night’s destination was San Antonio, so it was a day with lots of seat time on the bus. But it was worth it to wake up in San Antonio in time to enjoy a lovely brunch with the faculty and admissions staff at Trinity College. Trinity’s campus was built over a former limestone quarry, and the way the landscape has been used to create architectural interest throughout the stunning campus was stunning. Beyond the beautiful buildings, Trinity students we talked to demonstrated their level of engagement in their own learning and educations in a way that is the hallmark of a great liberal arts experience.
On the way to Austin, our last stop was in the small town of Fredericksburg where we were warmly welcomed for lunch at Schreiner University. At first, I admit I wasn’t sure why this small college was on the itinerary, but after learning more about it and meeting the people there, I understood. It is a hidden gem of a small college that will work with a student and do whatever they can to help him or her succeed. Among their interesting programs are pathways to nursing, engineering, education, psychology, and also those students seeking an ROTC scholarship but who might need more time.
I have visited many of the other colleges and universities in Texas, but it was a real treat to see these particular schools. I greatly enjoyed seeing these wonderful options and for each college, I was able to think about how they might be a good fit for a particular student I had in mind. And that’s why IECs travel so much – there really is a college for everyone!
Rebecca (Becky) Grappo, M.Ed,, has visited hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the United State and overseas, and prides herself on finding the right college for the individual needs of a student. If you’d like to learn more about how she works with individual students, send us an email at [email protected].