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Please, No College Visits for High Schoolers during the Family Vacation

If you’re on the way to a family vacation and don’t hear, “Are we there yet?” at least 10 times, then are you really on a family vacation? As a 17-year-old girl with two sisters (ages 14 and 9), I hear this phrase whined more times than you can imagine. Yes, I’m even guilty of muttering it myself.

In high school, I became obsessed with traveling to Europe. I idolized the members of the band One Direction. I dreamed about visiting Versailles after Kimye’s (Kim Kardashian and Kanye West) wedding party and of seeing the places my teacher talked about in AP European History.

When my family announced our plans to visit Europe for our family vacation, I was ecstatic.

I wore the same facial expression as the audience members when Ellen Degeneres announces the “12 Days of Giveaways.” I couldn’t believe it. All I could think about was, “What should I wear when I meet Harry Styles?”

In eighth grade, we learned about the Hero’s Journey. The hero takes a journey and is confronted with all kinds of challenges. In a way, our family vacations have a similar storyline. In England, we were locked out of our apartment. And in France, I was locked in a bathroom stall for 30 minutes. On our way home, United Airlines had too many passengers to fit us on our first flight—and our second flight was cancelled. We had to stay in the airport hotel for two days longer than planned.

Obviously, bad luck is no stranger to my family when it comes to vacations. We’ve left suitcases at home. I’ve had the blessing of food poisoning. My mother likes to call it, “The Clampetts go on vacation.”

Lately, that bad luck has taken another turn as I’ve begun the process of applying to college. In fact, you could say that college has invaded our family vacations.

Now, wherever we go, my parents seem to find time to squeeze in a college visit, getting a quick tour of whatever college is nearby.

Our once fun-filled trips have transformed into glamorized college roadshows right before my eyes.

As much as I appreciate their efforts—dragging my sisters and me across the state to visit campuses that are now a blur in my mind—a vacation is meant to be an escape from reality. It’s a time to live in the moment, make memories—and maybe a memorable sunburn along the way. The last thing I want to do is a college visit or discuss is where I’m going to college. Ultimately, all of the questions my family asks always come back to college. My answers? “I’m not sure yet. Hanging in there. ” What I wish I could say? “Please remove ‘college’ from your vocabulary. We’re on vacation.”

Live a little. High school is stressful, especially since we’ve had the importance of getting into the “right” college ingrained into our minds ever since we entered elementary school.

As crucial as college visits are, parents, for the sake of our sanity, leave the ‘college’ word at home on vacation (and definitely NO college visits). For a week or two, it can’t hurt to eliminate it from everyone’s terminology.

Make the best of the time you have left together, even if your family resembles the Clampetts while it happens.

Claire Kodell is a high school student in Columbus, Ohio.

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