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Tony Kornheiser

College Tour: So It's Not Harvard or Yale. How's the Golf Course?

August 16, 2000|Tony Kornheiser

I am resting now, having recently returned from the two-week "Elizabeth Lauren Kornheiser College Tour."

Do you have any idea what it's like to travel in the same car (and stay in the same hotel) with two teenage children for two weeks?

It makes quintuple bypass surgery seem like a pedicure.

It's not that by the end of two weeks everybody in the family hates each other--because by the end of two days, everybody hates each other. By the end of two weeks, the violent energy in the car is such that you could go from 0 to 90 without touching the gas. After the first week, I would get up each morning and pray that the car would turn into the set of "Survivor," and I would be the lucky one kicked off the island, even if that meant being devoured by sharks!

*

Anyway, with Elizabeth entering her senior year in high school, we went off in search of a college she might like. As the high school guidance counselors tell you: "There are thousands of colleges in the country, and one of them is bound to be right for your child."

This is meant to make parents feel better when their kid winds up in some non-accredited two-year school, majoring in badminton or plumbing supplies. (Though who's kidding whom? Have you noticed the top of the political tickets? George Bush, Yale; Al Gore, Harvard; Joe Lieberman, Yale; Dick Cheney, Yale. Recruiters from Dartmouth, Amherst and Stanford can go on about the quality of education at their joints, but, hey, if you can't provide a shot at a national ticket, what good are you? If I was a high school senior and I saw I couldn't get into Harvard or Yale, I wouldn't crack another book until I got a job at Barnes & Noble.)

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We divided the labor on our trip. Elizabeth visited the schools. And Michael and I played golf. I hoped she'd pick a college by the quality of golf courses nearby. If they were top-notch, I might be inclined to visit her. I assured her that since I was going to pay her tuition regardless of what she decided, there was no point in me actually seeing each school.

"Is there anything you want me to look for?" she asked.

"Wide-open fairways and not too much water," I said.

While Lizzie toured Cornell, we played golf at a Robert Trent Jones course on the Cornell campus. (The famous golf-course architect was an undergraduate at Cornell.) While she toured Colgate, we played at a Trent Jones course on the Colgate campus. While Lizzie toured Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., we played the tour course where the pros play the Greater Hartford Open. And while she toured Connecticut College in New London, Michael and I played a Donald Ross course in Waterbury. I was so inspired, I suggested she consider going to the University of California at Pebble Beach.

Elizabeth found that she liked small colleges a lot more than she thought she would. And I learned to hit a flop shot with a lob wedge.

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I'm not quite sure how Lizzie felt about each college, since our conversations were somewhat limited. For example, I would ask her, "Did you like the school today?" And she would say something that sounded like, "Unnnnuuuhh." And I'd be left wondering if she'd answered my question or simply belched.

"Do you think you could go into some more detail?" I'd ask.

"Your questions are so annoying, Dad. Do you spend hours thinking them up?"

I would then point out that I was simply asking if she liked the school--something I felt I had a right to know, since room, board and tuition for just one year was going to cost me more than I had paid for the first house I bought. And at least that had resale value. What's a non-Harvard or -Yale diploma worth these days? You'll be lucky to wind up with one of those dopey jobs nobody cares about, like Secretary of Commerce.

I expect to have a much better rapport with Michael when he takes his college tour in three years. There won't be any point in asking him anything about the schools we visit, because he won't even see them. We can agree right now on where he's going to college: Somewhere on a main road, like I-95 in Florida, at the University of Miami, Doral campus.

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