I'm in Peabody Hall for the first time in two weeks. It's great to be home! Two weeks ago, I spent six days in New England with colleagues from UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins for "group travel" and last week, I was in Northern Virginia for high school visits. I'm sure you know what high school visits look like, so I thought I'd show you what group travel looks like from our perspective.
Group travel is when a admission officers from a few schools organize programs together in a region. At night, they often host information sessions for students and their parents and in the morning followed by breakfasts for area guidance counselors the next morning. After breakfast, the group usually moves to another location for another set of programs.
UVa travels with quite a few schools, but I usually travel in New England with Hopkins, Northwestern and Berkeley. This year's trip was a little different. We went to two new locations and had a new Hopkins traveler with us. Our friend from Northwestern couldn't join us this year, so we traveled as a trio.
Night 1: Burlington, MA
The crowd in Burlington (a Boston suburb) was large and they arrived quickly, so there wasn't much time for pictures. Here's my colleague from Berkeley giving his presentation that night:
Here's when we told them we were going to post a picture of the crowd on our Facebook/Twitter pages. We told them to tag themselves in our photos. No takers on that, yet.
Night 2: Providence, RI
I lived in Providence for four years and have insisted that we eat well at lunch, since we rarely get to eat a real dinner on our trips. We usually have to set up our presentation rooms around 6:00-6:30 PM because people start arriving up to an hour before the official start time. We aren't usually done until 9:00-9:30 PM. So, lunch has to hold us over.
We shared our Northwestern friend's favorite as a tribute.
This isn't becoming a food blog, but I had to share my pretty salad and those beautiful scallops.
Night 2 in Providence went well. We had a nice crowd and great questions. I even had a recent graduate join me at the UVa table to answer questions afterwards.
Night 3: Tarrytown, NY
I have a bit of a uniform when I'm on the road. I always try to wear something with our school colors, along with my gold name badge.
Inevitably, my hotel room is a mile away from the room where we are presenting, so I leave my room way early to meet my colleagues to set up.
Along the way, it becomes clear that the hotel has made the mistake that our Hopkins friends loath. They forgot the "s" on "Johns." Our banquet manager looks at her contracts and goes off to make new signs.
The Tarrytown room is huge, but they haven't set up a screen for our LCD projector. It's 6:30 PM at this point, so they have an hour to set one up. The first families start arriving at this point, an hour before the presentation is set to begin.
The banquet staff corrects the signage and the families start pouring in.
As I'm checking people in, I notice a funny entry for "high school" on the registration form.
Within half an hour, the room is almost completely full.
We've given ourselves 12 minutes each to present on our schools. After that, we take general questions, then retreat to our school tables to answer individual questions. By the third night, we've gotten our timing down perfectly.
Our program officially ends at 9:00 PM, but people always linger with questions. When we were finally done and packing up, a student came back to the ballroom with a question. My Berkeley colleague made him help fold a table banner while they talked.
Night 4: Teaneck, NJ
Our last program brought two of us close to home. My Hopkins colleague, who grew up in Queens, was presented a Giants hat by the banquet manager. Interestingly, the room we were using is where the Giants gather before games to run plays.
We were just a few towns away from where I grew up, so I decided to start the session with "My name is Dean J and I was born at Valley Hospital!" As I anticipated, that got applause. It's always nice to be in front of a Jersey crowd.
That's a week on the road in pictures. Have you been to these group programs at hotels before? Are you planning on attending any this year? How do you like these events?