* = Denotes a school I really liked
Clark University* (Worcester, MA)
They bill themselves as the "smallest, urban, research-oriented liberal arts college," or something along those lines. This was the first college I visited, and by the time May 1st (the deadline for submitting deposits) rolls around, I will have visited four times, and is currently tied for top choice. My first visit I was surprised at how small the campus is, but during my later visits, I realized that it's really not. It's bigger than you think, and the campus is actually really nice. My favorite building (other than the life sciences building, of course) was the library. It has really quirky architecture, which fits along with my impression of the student body. The "Class of 2018 Admitted Students" group on FaceBook has a lot of nice, interesting people with a variety of backgrounds. A really diverse (and largely nerdy) bunch. My kind of people!
University of Rhode Island (RI, obviously)
Honestly, I don't remember anything about this visit, no offense to anyone who likes this school. But that just means that for me, it wasn't a good fit.
Roger Williams University (RI)
At first I was really excited about this place. I had read that it had a great marine biology program with its own wet lab. Plus it's right next to a bay. The campus is absolutely beautiful. Not really near in a city, if that's what one's looking for, but beautiful nonetheless. The main thing that made me less certain about this school was the tour guides attitude towards the Honors Program. Honors students there have their own dorm complex/building, and the tour guide said, "They have enforced quiet time 24/7, so it's no fun," among other less supportive things in a rather nasty tone. If I went to Roger Williams, I would have applied to the Honors Program, so the tour guide was not super encouraging on that front. In the end, I decided not to apply.
Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA)
Dickinson is right in the city, which was nice, and it was a nice city. The campus seemed pretty large to me, spread out over several blocks and still kind of integrated into the city. I don't know what it was exactly, but I just didn't feel very comfortable. Not like in danger or unwelcome, but it just didn't feel right, so I didn't end up applying.
Juniata College* (Huntingdon, PA)
Juniata I learned about from Loren Pope's book and have really liked it since first reading about it. My main source of hesitance is it's location; Huntingdon is a nice little town, but the closest big city is 2-3 hours' drive away. Having grown up in such an urban setting, I'm still not sure how I feel about that. I've heard a lot of people find it too small population-wise (I think it's roughly 2,000 undergraduates, no grad students), which is roughly the same size as my high school.
Another cool bit about Juniata is that they have their own field station, the Raystone Environmental Field Station, I think it's called. Additionally, I heard a student from Altoona county (within in an hour or two from campus) that if a someone in their town wants to go into science, they apply to Juniata. Going off of that, the student body is mostly local. Not such high diversity rates, another thing I'm a bit concerned about.
Allegheny College (Meadville, PA)
I really liked Allegheny until I did an overnight. I just didn't feel as at home on this campus as Clark or Junaiata, but my impression was that Allegheny might be a bit more academically rigorous. They require an additional major or minor (or you can opt for both) in addition to your first major, which I heard a few other "prospies" (an affectionate term for "prospective students") moaning about it.
Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, NY)
Saratoga Springs reminded me a lot of where my family goes for the summer, so I really enjoyed that part of the trip. The campus itself was quite nice as well; a lot of trees and covered walkways between buildings. And they had, by far, the nicest cafeteria of all the schools I visited. My dad and I opted to go on a Science Tour after the initial campus tour, and we ran into a professor who recognized my dad. (That was a bit weird.) My overall impression was kind of neutral. There were some nice parts, and my impression from visiting and hearing others' opinions was that it had good academics (as a "prospie," though, I can never really know, of course), but somehow it just didn't stand out to me.
Goucher College (Baltimore, MD)
Goucher had a nice campus (an absolutely beautiful library) with stone bricks all over. Goucher's interesting in that it actually requires students to study abroad, which is something that really peaked my interest. But other than that (and the dorms), it didn't quite catch my eye. Also, it's right on the outskirts of Baltimore, off a highway and right next to a big mall complex, and I'm not too keen on those. (I know that as a student there, it's not like I'd be forced to go shopping at the mall, but still. If I'm going to potentially live somewhere for four years, I want to like the area.)
We got lost and then couldn't find the parking, so we actually missed the official tour and info session. But we wandered around for a bit (and loved it) and then talked to a family friend who's a senior there this year. She showed us some dorm rooms, which were quite nice and fairly spacious in comparison to some of the other places. That trip I didn't really learn much about the school, though, for obvious reasons. (On a side note, there's also a river that runs through campus.)