As the pandemic eases, opportunities will reappear. Got teenage kids? Got time? Try a family field trip to a college town. They’re interesting places for all, and get us thinking about what to do after high school.

It’s not that a college town’s college is necessarily the best sort of higher education. But aspects of going to college are concentrated there, unlike bigger cities, for example. So, let’s consider Farmington, Plymouth (NH), and Brunswick, public and private, in-state and out.

Coming from Bethel, one of the first things we notice is that these are young people’s places, full of students and the facilities, businesses, entertainments, etc. that cater to them. Coffee and cafes in which to drink it are important. Movies are still shown on big screens. Hamburgers, hot dogs, whole grain and vegan options…

College towns are book towns. The campus bookstores may be mostly texts. But! Where there’s literate demand, there’s supply. Gulf of Maine Books for new books in Brunswick (check out the poetry); Twice Sold Tales for used books in Farmington… great places.

Check the college website or phone the admissions office: you’re looking for a student-guided tour. The sites/sights are covered, hopefully including a lab, a classroom, a dorm… The insights can be more important; most guides, while walking backwards, face the tourists with their experiences and ideas.

Hang around the student union. Watch people: everyone wanders in. What do they say and do, eat and buy, wear? (Are branded college garments the current fashion? Holey or whole jeans?) What are all those notices about?

Check out the library; books are still important. Modern college libraries provide access and expertise in dealing with digital resources as well. And they were designed to provide study space: imagine needing to work when the dorm, or shared house or apartment, gets rowdy; or just seeking relaxing quiet with a good book.

Museums are educational, and fun. Bowdoin’s Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum reminds us that students and professors may explore in the world as well as the lab. The art gallery has started many a student on a career.

If possible, attend something. Catch a concert or play; cheer a home team (after all, you’re guests).

As a student, David R. Jones’s college town was St Andrews, Scotland.

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