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Archive for July, 2013

College visitation tour

July 22nd, 2013 at 11:42 pm

We just got back from a week visiting a few colleges for our daughter who is a rising high school senior. Someone asked about it in another post on an unrelated topic but I thought I'd talk about it here in case others are interested.

Our daughter is interested in studying mechanical engineering. Prior to this week, we had attended an engineering open house at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in November and a general open house at Univ. of Virginia in April. She fell in love with RIT and it went right to #1 on her list. She didn't care for U. of VA and that got crossed off. It's just as important to know where you don't want to go so we were good with that.

This past week had us checking out 2 new schools and a return visit to RIT. We started in Troy, NY at Rensselaer Polytech. Great school, nice campus, but we just didn't feel it was a good fit. Kind of stuffy. Next was Univ. of Rochester. I knew nothing about the school and I was really blown away. Beautiful campus, great program, staff and students we interacted with were all very down to earth, friendly, had great senses of humor, and were clearly passionate about the school. DD didn't go into that visit expecting much and came away really liking it so it is staying on the list for sure.

Finally, it was back to RIT. Thursday and Friday was for a Woman in Engineering program and the Friday and Saturday was a College and Careers program (which also included an overnight stay in the dorms). There were parts of the programs that she found somewhat boring but overall, the 3 days there just cemented her love of the school and desire to go there.

There are still other schools on her list: Rutgers, Rowan, Lehigh, and more, but I doubt any will displace RIT from the top spot. Now we just have to hope she gets accepted - and figure out how to pay for it.

"New" van

July 2nd, 2013 at 06:11 pm

My wife had a 2000 Toyota Sienna that we bought used in 2002 after she wrecked the previous one. So we've had it just short of 11 years. It had 155,000 miles on it so we had certainly gotten our money's worth but it was starting to get costly to maintain so it was time to replace it.

We've been browsing online for about a month and not really finding a whole lot out there. Lots of 2011 and 2012 models but virtually nothing from 2008-2010. I was hoping to find something 3-4 years old as that is usually the sweet spot for price, condition, and mileage, but it just wasn't to be.

We decided to go exploring in person on Saturday and headed to one local Toyota dealer. They had 2 Siennas on the lot. One was silver so that was out (we won't buy white, black, silver, or gold). They also had one blue van - a 2011 LE. We took a look at it, took it out for a spin, went over some numbers, negotiated them down as best we could, and decided to take the plunge and buy it. We paid about 22K which was little more than I had hoped to spend had we been able to find a 2010 or 2009, but it was a reasonable price for a 2011 and it is in great shape. It has a lot of features that our older van didn't, like Bluetooth, reverse camera, DVD player, back windows that lower, 2 power doors, fold flat back seats (so I don't have to haul them out anymore), etc. Definitely an upgrade. Since we keep our cars for the long haul, it will be nice to have for the next 10 years.

We'll be hitting the road with it in about 2 weeks for a college visitation tour and then driving it to Florida next month so we'll get it all broken in.