When planning your campus visits for spring break, don’t fall into the overbooked trap of “If it’s Tuesday it must be Tulane.” Over-scheduling fosters frayed nerves and in the end, a far less productive trip.
To get the most bang for their buck, families typically try to squeeze in visiting as many colleges as possible. These whirlwind mega-tours are not nearly as beneficial as a few well-designed visits where students and parents walk away from a campus really feeling like they know what makes it tick and, more importantly, what sets it apart.
When faced with planning these trips, I often tell families that it is worth investing more than just two hours of your time at each college. The typical college visit includes a campus tour (1 hour) and an information session (1 hour). After all, this might be the place where your son or daughter spends the next four years of their life.
Here are a few suggestions for making the most of a college visit. Next week I will wrap up with more tips.
Prepare. Do your homework and find out what’s happening on campus. What specialized programs do they have? Any new majors added? these days, it is important to see if they have eliminated any majors due to budget cuts. Doing your research will help you identify good questions to ask.
Avoid assumptions. It’s almost impossible not to have preconceived notions about individual colleges, but students and parents should try to approach each campus objectively. It is always refreshing when I hear back from a student who says, “I didn’t really even want to visit there because I had heard that the students were mostly preppy northerners, but everyone we talked to was so nice. It’s now my first choice!”
Seek consistency. Ask the same questions to a variety of people – students, admissions representatives and faculty. Make sure you go beyond the campus sound bites and the glossy pictures.
College planning workshop
When: March 20, 8 a.m.-12:45 p.m., UNC Charlotte.
What: Free program sponsored by the Southern Association of College Admission Counseling. Workshop is for students and parents to learn about the key aspects of the college search and admissions process. Presenters will be college admissions officers and experienced school counselors.
Topics: Application process, the scholarship and financial aid process, standardized test options and much more. Register at www.sacac.org and look for Mini-Camp College.