What we do:

College Trips provides fun, educational tours to California's top colleges.

Most high school and transfer students want to go to a great university, but they need to know what kind of college is right for them. Big or small? Private or public? Tucked into the redwoods, or in the heart of the city? It's hard to decide these things based on a website; you've got to check it out yourself.

That's where we come in. With College Trips, you'll get the official tour, but we'll also introduce you to alumni who can give you the inside scoop. While we're in town, we'll throw in an awesome local excursion: Maybe a trip to the Getty Museum on our Southern California Special (Cal Poly, UCSB, UCLA, and Northridge) or a sightseeing jaunt to San Francisco during our Golden Gate Adventure (Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCSF, and UCSC). Best of all, our tour packages are offered at a rock-bottom price, and we've never turned anyone away for financial reasons. If you're a good, college bound student but can't afford a trip, contact us at (805) 674-4008 to inquire about making special arrangements.

Who can come?

Most College Trippers are high school juniors or seniors, though we've had some ambitious 8th graders on the tour, too. Parents are welcome to come along as well.

Who we are:

Aaron Cantrell

College Trips founder Aaron Cantrell has been leading student tours to California's top colleges since 2001. A graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and Stanford University, Cantrell teaches Advanced Placement English Literature at Paso Robles High School.

Ironically, Cantrell didn't always consider himself college-bound. A wrestler in his high school days, he attended Cal Poly partly for the college's wrestling team. When he began to think about grad school, Cantrell says, he recalled a junior high counselor who'd encouraged him to apply to Stanford, his alma mater.

"I walked around the campus on the way home to Vacaville," recalls Cantrell of the Stanford grounds. "I fell in love with the place and began to daydream about going there someday. Every second on that campus was bliss."

For Cantrell, the experience confirmed the importance of place as a factor in higher education choices. He considers his time at Stanford invaluable.

"It's really the best possible setting to learn and to do research. The professors were unbelievable," he says. "I studied under the premier MLK scholar, Clay Carson. We had Hoover Fellows as teachers, for example, Russell Berman."

Today, Cantrell is a strong advocate not only for his own alma mater, but for the importance of making considered choices that will enable college-bound students to make the most of their experience.

"Students get a mental picture of what a school is like," he explained. "I'm convinced that you need to visit, however. It seems silly for a kid to spend thousands of hours preparing to gain acceptance to a great school and then not spend a day or two seeing if the school is a good fit. I mean, how silly is that?"

Cantrell's passion for helping students find the right fit is what drives College Trips. Intriguingly, many students on his tours end up changing their mind about their top schools, he says:

"It's just anecdotal, but I'd say that a student who really wants to attend a college will find his or her interest changed about half the time. The other half of the time, the trip confirms that it's indeed the right spot."

Small tour sizes also give Cantrell the freedom to adapt his tours to suit individual needs and interests. And in his years of leading tours, Cantrell adds, traveler feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

"We always give out surveys and routinely hear how the trips inspired and motivated students to follow their dreams. We've actually never had a negative survey. The kids and their parents (who often accompany their kids) come back excited about what they've seen."

Ready to sign up? Click here for information about upcoming adventures.

Questions? Call us at (805) 674-4008.

For up-to-date information, useful college tips, and to connect with College Trippers past and present, visit Facebook.com/CollegeTrips.

Aaron Cantrell.