When College Smells Like Chocolate

The last time I updated you on the older boy’s college search, it was to tell you about the local community college and how our tour guide was, shall we say, probably not the best person for that job. Since then, we hadn’t, until Friday, made any actual visits, but the brochures and various other paperwork are cluttering up our mailbox on a daily basis and one of these days we’re going to have to reformat my lovely college information filing system.

On Friday we drove over the northern border to America’s Dairyland in order to visit a private college which is located on the shores of Lake Michigan in a town we actually lived in for four years. (Both boys were born there!) As our family was very young then, we had no reason to go to this college campus (it’s on the far north end of town and is fairly isolated), so it was totally new to us.

This college has the major that the boy wants, plus the secondary major he’s considering. It only has about 2,100 students, and they have a men’s lacrosse team. It is only about a 90 minute drive from the house, which means that he can come home on the weekends if he wants to but can still enjoy a good away-from-home college experience. It seems like the perfect storm. (Other than the cost. But we’ll deal with that obstacle when we get a little closer to making decisions.)

Triple bonus? The campus is gorgeous.


Our tour guide was awesome, which is something we totally appreciated. We visited during an Open House Day and walked around with about four other families.

I think the older boy could really visualize himself fitting in at this place. In fact, the younger boy really liked it too.

As we walked around, there was a distinct aroma of chocolate floating in the air. We couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Finally, the older boy noticed that the college was using cocoa bean mulch. When I looked at the flower beds, I had to laugh. I noticed that this mulch was only in certain areas (along walkways, mostly) and didn’t even fill each flower bed; it might have only been in one corner of the flower bed, or along the side of the flower bed that ran along the walkway. I made the comment that this college is truly smart. The boys asked what I meant, and I told them that it was my opinion that they used the special mulch to make the common areas smell like chocolate, which would, release endorphins in anyone who could smell it, making them feel really good about visiting this college. I thought it was a genius marketing plan.

After our two-hour tour, we enjoyed a complimentary lunch in one of the dining halls, and got on the road towards home as the older boy declared this college to be on the Keeper List.



  • Baby News

    That truly is a smart marketing scheme. It sounds like an amazing place. I'm certainly glad, though, that I don't have to worry about any of that stuff for a LONG time. 18 more years!

  • Mags

    Walt Disney used this idea too-it's called Sensory Tickling. It's most prominent on Main St. USA when they waft the smell of popcorn into the air near the train station and also near the bakery when you can smell chocolate chip cookies.

    Very smart indeed!

    In regard to the 1 1/2 hr drive from you-it's perfect. I went to 2 schools-one about that far and on in Florida. I loved being far enough away from my parents that I could learn about myself and be a true college student but also loved that if I was sick and wanted my own bed I could drive home at a moments notice. Florida was just too far away…

  • WeaselMomma

    I use cocoa bean mulch too. Maybe that's why the whole neighborhood of kids hangs out over here. Maybe I should rethink or stop handing out popsicles.

  • PJ Mullen

    Hmm…I need to go get some and throw it in my yard…maybe it will help sell my house 🙂

  • surprised mom

    Cocoa bean mulch. How deviously clever to reel in students by this method. I LOVE chocolate. Chocolate is my friend. You'll have to email me the name of the college so the youngest can take a look. It will be a lovely thing to have one child 90 minutes away rather than 9 hours away. But the youngest has time. She's only a hs sophomore in the fall. Maybe I can get the oldest to transfer? The campus is very lovely. Thanks for sharing the photos!

  • Tom

    Any place of higher learning that makes it pleasant to indulge in sniffing the shrubbery with utter impugnity is a-ok in my book.

  • Kat

    Those sneaky colleges…what a way to lure in the newbies. I wish my university had smelled like that. Instead it smelled of pee and floor polish.

  • NukeDad

    Don't send him there. Last time I picked this college for my NCAA Tournament bracket, they failed me. I'll never pick Willie Wonka University again.

  • melissa

    i think i'm going to go there. yeah. seriously. it smells a lot better there than it does here, in my house, with my husband.

  • Michelle

    And that was why I loved working downtown.. the smell from the chocolate factory on a summer afternoon where it felt like you were just swimming through chocolate. ahhhh…


    Glad the boy found a college he likes! I just can't believe you're really truly seriously looking at them. Eek!

    So Northwestern isn't on the list? Lacrosse rocks there, and it seems to have many of the same features (8600 instead of 2100 students though) 😉

    I promise I'd check up on him every Saturday there was a home football game!

  • OhCaptain

    Cocoa bean mulch is a cool idea. I really liked the colleges that had the co-eds sunbathing on the hillsides. What? I was 17, what did you think I would notice?

  • Heather

    yum. i have never heard of such a thing. but i bet it smelled FANTASTIC.

    🙂 i am glad that the boy found a college that he likes.


    (and thank you SO much for your comment on my last entry, that was so awesome of you! really, thank you!

  • Melissa

    My fil uses cocoa bean mulch…oddly I've never smelled the chocolate smell…next time we visit you will find me sniffing around his backyard!!

    Can't believe you have a kid ready for college, yikes.

  • Andie

    I wish him the best of luck! I say go for it. That's what student loans are for.. and scholarships! I'm sure he'll qualify for something!

  • Mrs4444

    I love how I keep learning what I'm supposed to be doing from you. Guess we should be doing this campus tour thing, too…Thanks~

  • The Microblogologist

    The small size, closeness to home and solid reputation had me choose Benedictine in Lisle. I commuted the four years, didn't like the idea of living on-campus and it was beyond too expensive even if I wanted to. I would have commuted to grad school if there was a graduate program in micro with profs I'd have wanted to work with in Chicago. It is nice having my own place for the most part but I do not like being 5-6 hours from my family and friends. I would be a lot happier if I lived only 90 or so minutes away! Best of luck on the college search.

  • Mrs4444

    I had forgotten about this post! My principal and a fellow teacher are alumni from Carthage, and they've been talking it up, so we're looking at it. Kyle really wants to go to Green Bay (I'm not sure he wants to be away from home just yet), but if the price is right, we'll see…