Tim Blair also said the program helped ease his nerves. Sending his eldest child, Cassie, to McDaniel, nearly 800 miles from the Blairs' hometown of Birmingham, Ala., is a "big, big deal" to him and his wife, Barbara.
Roger Sobrado did not want to make the drive from Cherry Hill, N.J., for the preview. He owns a business that manufactures parts for the aerospace industry and was loath to sacrifice a workday. But, he said, he knows the look on his wife's face that means, "Stop arguing."
"She said, 'We're spending tons of money, and we should know what we're getting,'" he said.
The Sobrados attended community colleges, so when their eldest daughter, Devon, announced her interest in McDaniel, they really could not tell her what to expect.
After going through the preview, Sobrado said it should be mandatory for parents like him.
His daughter is quiet and studious, so he was pleased to hear about McDaniel's peer mentors, older students who get to know freshmen before they move in and who nudge the newcomers out of their rooms to movies and group dinners.
The information sessions were great, Sobrado said, but he got just as much from a quick drive to Wal-Mart to buy a blanket.
"We came back at midnight and, walking around, it felt safe," he said. "It's your baby you're sending out, so it's important to feel at ease."
He also had a blast, he said, grinning at memories of the toga party that wasn't.
At a session with current students, parents asked all their nagging questions: Would their kids need formal clothes? Would they buckle under the academic adjustment? What items were they likely to forget to bring? Would their babies want to see them come Parents' Day?
The answer to the last question had to warm the heart of Roger Sobrado, who already feels what a struggle it will be to drive home after dropping Devon in Westminster.
"Even if they don't say it," said McDaniel junior Emma Duesterhaus, "they want you to be here."
Baltimore Sun reporter Yvonne Wenger contributed to this report.