Planning Your College Campus Visits
The campus visit is one of the most valuable informational tools at your disposal. It can serve to motivate and engage younger students and help older ones determine which schools are a good fit. There’s really no substitute for first-hand experience. After all, this is where four years and lots of dough will be spent – it’s smart to be an educated consumer!
Use preliminary campus visits to motivate and engage your student. Seeing the colleges gives them the perspective that there really is “life after high school,” and it’s worth working for. Check out campuses close to home or visit a few while away on a family vacation or business trip. It doesn’t matter if the schools have appeal or not – you’re just doing preliminary research in order to become educated consumers. Look at small and large schools in rural and urban settings to get an idea of what setting/size scenario feels right.
Now it’s time to get down to business. If you can, visit every school on the wish list. Take the tour, go to the info sessions, and schedule an interview, if possible. Stay overnight in the area and take in the scene. Walk around; eat at a local hang out, do something fun. Read the newspaper, watch local television, and talk to the natives about living there. Be sure to take notes so that you can compare your insights at a later date.
Once the acceptance letters come in, arrange an overnight visit to the top two schools during the week, while classes are in session. Your teen should stay in the dorms, attend classes, immerse her in campus life, and investigate areas of interest. Talk to as many students and teachers as possible about their experience at the school. This is also a good time to check out internship and community service opportunities available in the area.