Visiting Colleges: Plan on multiple visits
When planning a college visit, it is highly recommended that you begin the process early. This will help you and your child gain insight about college life (yes it has changed) in their freshman and sophomore years of high school so that they can make better informed decisions on which colleges are the best fit for them. You may also want to include visits to colleges during vacations so that you can save a bit of money along the way.
If you haven’t conducted college visits yet, here are some tips that you should keep in mind to make things go smoother.
Consider the first round of college visits as the “survey” portion of your search.
Many families today perform their initial research online. While there is a great deal of information you can find about schools online, you should still take every opportunity to visit schools your child is interested in first hand. Planned vacations are a great opportunity to take a look at colleges in a different area than where you live. If you are traveling with a freshman or sophomore it may be a great time to take a look at some of the colleges in the location you are traveling to. It will give your son or daughter a perspective of college life that they cannot receive online.
Investigate your school choices during the second visit.
After you have conducted the first bout of visits and have narrowed down your search, the next thing you should do is investigate each of those that have been retained on your list more carefully. Your objective during this period is to obtain information that you cannot obtain online. It is important that you talk to as many students as you can aside from speaking with the faculty and the staff members. Educate yourself about the culture they have in the school, especially when it comes to extracurricular activities such as music, volunteerism, athletics, theater, etc. Take the tours, but do not limit yourself as you can learn a great deal by engaging yourself in a “normal day” of a college student. Many colleges will allow you to eat in the cafeteria (for a small fee), attend a class, and workout at the gym.
Conduct the last bout of visits
Last, but not the least, is to conduct a final visit to each of the schools that have made it to your final list and that you have decided to apply to. During these visits, bring your application letters and show initiative by setting up interviews if possible. Interviews are a great way to not only impress key contributors to the decision of whether your son or daughter is accepted or denied but to also find out specific information about the academic programs that you may not receive from online.