Poised and ready for The Big College Road Trip

California beach viewAfter discussing it for months and months, tomorrow my 16yo daughter A- and I are flying out to San Jose, CA and driving down the famed Pacific Coast Highway (aka “Highway 1”) from Santa Cruz to San Diego, visiting colleges along the way. She’s just finished up 10th grade, so my goal with the trip is a) to have fun and b) to have her step foot on a variety of different college campuses so she can start getting a sense of where the next chapter of her life is going to take her. 11th grade success is critical for kids wanting to get into a top college, with estimates as high as 40% of admission scores being based on that one year’s performance.

Why California? Her preference. She was born in California and is definitely a California beach girl far more than she’s a Colorado mountain girl. And me? I grew up in SoCal and spent over a decade in Silicon Valley. If I could, I’d move back and get a place walking distance (or maybe biking distance) from the beach. I miss the ocean and the beach culture.

Another factor is that I did my undergraduate studies at UC San Diego and since one area she’s expressed interest in, albeit not in the last year, is oceanography, it’s perfect that Scripps Institute is easily one of the half dozen best places to study that in the world and it’s part of my alma mater, UCSD. Convenient, really.

What’s going to be fun is that Ford has generously offered us a C-MAX Hybrid for the road trip, so we’ll be picking that up at the airport in San Jose and putting 500+ miles on it. “Now that’s a test drive!” (in my best Paul Hogan imitation voice).

I’m excited to try the C-MAX because the most recent car I had prior to my Highlander was a Toyota Prius, and while it felt new and tech when I got it, I was ultimately glad to get rid of it, after being plagued by battery issues that Toyota assured me were just the result of living in a cold climate. We were hoping for a convertible muscle car, but c’mon, it’s 2013, not 1987, so we’ll make do with a 47mpg hybrid and I’ll dream of the top being down and my hair streaming in the wind.

ford cmax hybrid, blue
The peppy Ford C-MAX Hybrid

First stop tomorrow is UC Santa Cruz, just to get our feet wet, then a day playing in Monterey, including a visit to the fabulous Monterey Bay Aquarium and, ocean permitting, some sea kayaking for us both. Then… we’ll see.

On my mental checklist of colleges are Cal Poly San Luis Obisbo, UC Santa Barbara, Pepperdine and UCSD. We’re definitely open to suggestions, however, but if it’s inland, it’s probably not going to be too interesting to A- since she’s dreaming of a college on the beach.

We also don’t yet have a specific checklist of things to see or do on each campus, but when I suggested she keep notes as we visit different campuses, A- liked that idea and wants a small notebook to tote with us. As I’ve told her, the goal isn’t to find The One, the college she wants to attend, but rather to get a sense of how different campuses feel and what it’d be like to live in that particular city or area of California.

And with that, it’s time for me to sign off and get some sleep prior to starting our trip.

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