Two nights ago I received a call from the mom of MUNC (Model UN Champ), asking me to recommend a hotel in Nashville, TN. Yes, once again it's that time of year: another crop of juniors are donning their Northface jackets and traipsing across the country in search of the perfect place to investigate the impact of globalization.
After a brief discussion about Marriotts vs. Hampton Inns, MUNC's mom realized, in horror, that she had booked all the wrong flights on all the wrong dates, because she had incorrectly calculated the start of the Passover holiday. This was particularly distressing because her more-competent daughter had secured the last spots on two out of three college tours.
First CTAT score: 1570 (thanks to a very low percentile on the Holiday Comprehension/Calendar Reasoning Skills section)
The Neurotic Parent told MUNC's mom to be thankful that she had booked all travel on Delta, which gives you the option of a "morning-after pill" of sorts, allowing a full refund for any flight you have booked within the last 24 hours. And luckily MUNC is only visiting three schools on this trip – Vanderbilt, Duke and Emory (she already loves Georgetown) – so rebooking was not the nightmare I experienced when I had to change my entire eight-state itinerary after discovering the Northwestern was on Spring Break the date we had originally scheduled to visit…It was comforting for MUNC's mom to learn that arranging college tours is a challenge, even to the Neurotic Parent.
So we started over, attempting to reserve tours, hotels and reasonably-priced flights with minimal layovers. Ninety minutes later we had a plan that seemed to work, until we discovered that Emory did not have room on their 3/31 morning tour and Vanderbilt had no information session space at all on Good Friday. Plus, the only conveniently-scheduled flight from Nashville to Atlanta was on a tiny Cessna turbo-prop on an oddly-named regional airline that neither of us had heard of, called Pacific Wings – I kid you not. We decided to take a break and continue our tour planning in the morning.
Second CTAT score: 1830 (because of a disappointing performance in Southern Tour Scheduling Skills)
The next morning, we booted up our computers and got on the phone, each with two #2 pencils and a TI calculator. Our perseverence paid off. We ended up with a not-too-hectic schedule that saved $366 on flights, $40 on hotels and seven hours of traveling time when compared to the original itinerary. In the end, we did have to include the Pacific Wings flight, but we determined that it was okay after we checked its safety record…The alternative would have been a four-hour road trip through Chattanooga, which MUNC's mom refused to attempt because she hates driving in the rain, and she was convinced that it will definitely be raining in Tennessee on the afternoon of March 30th. But other than one undesired travel leg, MUNC's mom was thrilled with her final CTAT score: 2260, good enough to earn MUNC admission on a tour at any highly selective college.
I think I would rather drive through the rain than fly through the rain on Pacific Wings……….