Fall is a great time to plan a college visit. What should you be sure to do and what information should you gather?
Some colleges plan a full day of events for rising juniors and seniors and they provide a schedule of dates on their websites. These events provide you with a great overview of the school and typically include a brief presentation by the admissions and financial aid personnel, a tour of the campus (usually led by a current student), an opportunity to talk with various department heads, a walk through the dorms, and a chance to eat in the cafeteria!
Other colleges prefer that you make an individual appointment to visit the campus on a day that is convenient for you. Set up an appointment with the admissions office, and prior to the visit have your teen do some research on the school so that he can be prepared to ask questions.
Visiting a college is a great way to determine if the school “fits” your teen. Does she prefer a rural to an urban setting? Is he interested in seeing the science labs and finding out about sports opportunities? Is the school well known for the major that your teen is interested in? What is the teacher to student ratio? Will your teen be comfortable in a class with hundreds of students or does he prefer a lower teacher to student ratio? If your teen has an interest in study abroad programs, what opportunities does the school offer? A college visit can be beneficial as a factor in narrowing down the colleges to which your teen will actually apply.
Admissions officers can tell you what kind of student the school is looking for by sharing the school’s freshman profile with you. Although this information is usually found on the college’s website, it is beneficial to know how your teen compares to the other students on campus. Is the school known for its music programs or its student internships? Are there job opportunities near the school if your teen plans to work part time?
You may want to stay an extra day in the vicinity to check out churches your teen may want to explore if he attends the school. Try to make contacts and network with the Christian ministries on campus so that your teens can begin to connect with others who share their faith.
The College Board provides a helpful checklist that you may want to use as you explore colleges.
College visits take time, money, and planning! Be sure to take notes during your visit, and shortly after the visit discuss with your teen the various pros and cons of attending a particular college. College visits with my two children were always enjoyable and gave us a great opportunity to discuss their future plans.
Have fun as you explore colleges with your teens!