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College Visits Part One

Hey there, friends! So I’m not sure how I am at the stage of my life to write this post, but we have begun the search for colleges for Ella. It’s funny, because she has dreamed of going to college in South Carolina since probably the fourth grade. I don’t know what sparked it then, but now it’s definitely driven by warmer weather and sunshine!

We made our plans to visit three colleges last week. Starting with High Point, North Carolina, and then moving through to colleges in South Carolina. Driving through the mountains of West Virginia has some wild views. 

To be honest, I had never heard of HighPoint, until Ella told us about it. She had done some research on it and added it to our list to visit. 
A big draw for her was they are rated like one of the top dorms in the country. And what 16-year-old girl doesn’t want to live in the best dorms out there! 

They have the programs she is looking to study, so we put it on our list to check out. When we pulled in, Paul, and I thought we royally screwed up, because the campus was absolutely stunning! 

The buildings were brand new, the flowers were gorgeous, there was classical music playing throughout the campus, her name was in lights in the parking lot, and we had a catered ride on the purple golf cart through the campus.

 We thought, we set the bar way too high for our first visit! LOL

We saw lots of components of the campus, including the athletic facilities, several the academic buildings, the dorms, eating and common areas.

They have some really cool learning labs around campus. This one was designed like an airplane. You cannot be on your phone in this area, but rather be ready to chat and network. The whole concept of "you never know who may be sitting next to you on a plane". 

This arcade center was by far Luke's highlight!

We all left Highpoint thinking it was pretty fabulous. 

 After we left our tour, we were ready for some lunch and made our way to Stock and Grain. This is like a newer food hall style area in High Point, North Carolina. Lots of options for food. 

Ella went with sushi, while Luke, Paul and I got some barbecue. Mine was delicious! It was brisket over a salad, which I had never seen before. 

We got some coffee on our way out, refueled and headed down to South Carolina for our next stop. 

As we drove down, we discussed our pros and cons of High Point. The definite pros were the safety of the campus, the academic program, the newness of the buildings, there was a lot to love at High Point. 

We weren’t really crazy about the town that it was in, as there was not a whole lot to do outside of campus. Apparently High Point is, or was the furniture capital of the world. And it seems as though some of the industry has died down, so there was a lot of vacant areas and not a ton to do outside of the campus or at least not what we saw. 

Our second college stop was at the University of South Carolina. So, we made our way to Columbia and checked into our hotel. The boys were both wiped from our walking tour that morning, so they stayed back at the hotel while Ella and I headed out to do a little shopping and check out the downtown area of Columbia. 

Afterwards, we met the guys for dinner at what we thought was a cool taco and live music place. It ended up to be a bit of a dud. They were out of tortilla chips, and they were playing some sort of live music bingo, where you could win shots. We were not looking for shots- ha!  

We stayed for a little bit and shared some tater tots and then moved on. We ended up finding a really cool spot with amazing desserts. And made the executive decision to do dessert for dinner! 

We saw a pretty sky on our walk back to the hotel and we were all ready to crash!

The next morning, we got up and took a walk to find breakfast, and ended up at sort of a random little crêpe and croissant spot. 

We had some delicious crêpes and then moved on to my favorite coffee shop. I knew there was a Bitty & Beau's in Charleston where we were headed next, but didn’t realize there was one in Columbia as well.Friends, if you have not been to Bitty & Beau's coffee shop, you need to visit. You are guaranteed to walk out smiling!

Bitty & Beau's Coffee describes itself as a human rights movement disguised as a coffee shop, where people with intellectual & developmental disabilities are valued in the workplace. It's a place where diversity isn't just appreciated, it's celebrated. Bitty & Beau's Coffee proudly employs 400+ individuals with disabilities nationwide.  

Each drink comes with a beautiful message written by one of the baristas. This was Ella's message. 

We love this place! We have now visited in three different cities!

  We enjoyed our coffee and made our way to the University of South Carolina. 
This campus was also beautiful, very rich, old looking buildings, with a pretty main corridor and grounds with great shade and trees. We did not have a private tour, as they were all booked when I tried to schedule this a couple months ago. We did the self- guided tour. 

The campus was nice, but it definitely felt more dated than what we had just seen. This is also a much larger school with nearly 27,000 students,  and I think at the end of the day Ella feels that a smaller or midsize school is the right fit for her. The school had some neat architecture, but the insides seemed a little bit dated. I think this is probably one of those schools were most of the money goes to the football team. The campus was right in downtown Columbia, and I didn’t feel like there was as many safety measures as we had seen at High Point. 

But it was still fun to see and visit. We took our picture with the mascot, Ella grabbed a T-shirt at the bookstore and Luke grabbed some golf balls. I think the highlight from his trip was collecting golf balls with the team mascot on it from each of our school visits!

An action packed and fun first two days into our college tour. We loaded our stuff back in the car and made our just under 2 hour drive to Charleston, South Carolina.
I’ll share more about our trip to Charleston and our visit to the college on my next post. 

One thing was for certain, my girl felt right at home in the Carolinas!

See you back here on Friday for Friday Favorites. There is always room for one more at our family table. 


1 comment on "College Visits Part One"
  1. We are starting the round of college visits with our youngest and he's got very different ideas from his older brothers so I am really appreciating this post! We live in New England but he'd love to go somewhere warm for college (who can blame him?!) and while he'd love that small town feel of the first campus he definitely wants to be near a city or an area with lots to do. Good luck on your search!


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