South by Southwest

I recently had lunch with my friend, Compulsive Swimmer (CS). CS is well on the other side of the college admissions process. Two of her children have graduated from college, one from Wash U St. Louis and one from Vanderbilt. And the youngest is a junior at Penn. CS and her husband, Triathelete Physician (TP), are enjoying life and building a gorgeous second home in Wyoming.

Before we even had ordered, I began to pick CS’s brain about colleges. I told her that we had visited Vanderbilt and she began to rave about her daughter’s experience there.

“Vanderbilt,” she said with authority, “is a great mid-sized school in a fun city. Of the three colleges my kids went to, I would have to say it’s my favorite.”

She paused, then revealed why: You can get to Nashville via a non-stop flight on Southwest Airlines.

“On Southwest,” she explained, “you can rebook your flight ten times and they don’t charge you anything. You can use Amex points or easily pay with their own miles.”

I was impressed. But there was even more.

“You can check two bags and you don’t have to pay a fee for excess baggage – In this day and age, all the other airlines allow you to check just one bag.”

She paused. I hoped she would mention something about the academics at Vanderbilt, But all she wanted to discuss was her favorite airline.

“I absolutely would not let my kids go to a school in a city that is not serviced by Southwest,” she said, “Before applying anywhere, you should go to their website and see where they fly. They have three nonstops a day to Nashville. Wash U and Penn are good universities, but there is only one non-stop to St. Louis and to get to Philadelphia, you have to stop or change planes in Vegas.”

Was I crazy to have let CJ look at schools in cities he would have to fly to on other airlines? Clearly CS had let me in on a secret shared by neurotic parents in the know, a whole new reasonable way to select colleges. And I publish it here, with the hope that the marketing people at Southwest are reading this blog and looking for a hot new place to spend their advertising dollars.


South by Southwest — 2 Comments

  1. This is actually a pretty important selection comment. For a certain type of kid and a certain type of college experience, there’s something to be said for idyllic isolation and the schools that are really hard to get to (Middlebury), but it seems like the single flight theory will generally that. It did in our case, and might have been the actual tipping point. Based on this recommendation, it’s very worthwhile to study that Southwest schedule very carefully.

  2. This blog is invaluable. Where else could we get great tips like this!!