Yup, I was “that mom” on the college tour.

Yup, I was “that mom” on the college tour. I was the one that every kid wished their mom wasn’t. The one that kids silently observed, perhaps with an eye roll, that made them suddenly appreciate their own moms for “being cool,” at least for the moment.

I became infamous last fall when I brought my son to visit my alma mater. As a family, we had been there a few times over the years but had never taken an “official” tour.  

On our drive to the school, I assured my son that I wanted him to try to see the school through his eyes, not mine, and that if he liked it (well, I might have said “loved”), he needed to figure that out from what he learned during the tour, not what he already knew having been subjected to my historical highlight reel over the years.

However, you may not be surprised to learn that I had secretly planned a full-court press (no judging!). The night before we stayed at the hotel on campus, we met some of my former students who are students there now; we went to where the “bar” scene is (a block from the main campus), and I showed him where my sorority house was and how close the fraternities were to the rest of campus. You know, just some things that wouldn’t be on the tour.  

I showed him my version of the school so that I could be quiet on the tour. At least, that was my intention. Well, I don’t think I need to tell you, but that did not happen.

To start, it was a beautiful Fall day… 65 degrees and sunny (and if you know upstate New York at all, that does not happen very often after early October, so this was an auspicious start!). The campus was buzzing with students all around and tours ready to roll.  

As we started the tour, I made sure that we were upfront. When we formed the opening semi-circle for introductions, I planted myself and my son Kobi right next to the tour guide. Not too embarrassing yet, but…

At every stop along the tour, I had to add my own bit of trivia and knowledge. I think I even corrected the tour guide once (if I am being honest, it was more like two or three times).

At one point, I think I might have even one-upped another alumni dad on the tour, trying to prove my sports knowledge of the history of the school’s basketball greats.

I may have even taken selfies. Of me! Back on campus! Living the life!

Yup, I was that mom.  

Eventually (too soon for me, not soon enough for Kobi!), the tour was over, and we meandered our way to the student center and the bookstore. Luckily, I have an easygoing kid who allowed me to take a few photos of him (and me) with the giant stuffed mascot that adorns the lobby. (I am well aware that my daughters would have abandoned me after the first tour stop.)

Looking back on this day, I know my antics could have made an impact on my son’s views of the school. He could have been completely turned off by the school after viewing it through my lens, or he may have felt pressured to apply just because he thought I wanted him to. At the end of the day, we have to make sure our kids truly find the school that fits them, not the school we want them to fit.  

So here is my advice, if you enjoyed your time at your undergraduate college, perhaps it’s best if someone else takes your child on the tour!

Grab the Official Guide to Talking About College with Your Teenager

This guide is full of tips and the approach I believe we ALL need when it comes to talking about college as a family. Trust me, when I say I know because I’ve been right where you are, it comes straight from my experiences!