Visiting colleges can be a fun, although time consuming, part of the selection process. Considering the many aspects that go into getting into your student’s top-choice school, it is a step that should not be skipped. Although there is typically a standard process for a college visit, taking the time to get a real look at a school can be very worthwhile. Here are 8 ways to make the most of a college visit:
1. Explore the Neighborhood, Not Just the School
This community will be your child’s home for the next four years, so you want to make sure it is a place that both feels safe and has what your child needs. Will your child have a car on campus? Many schools do not allow them in early years, making it important that he can walk or catch public transportation to places he may need to go.
2. Talk to Current Students
These are the people who are currently living where your child is thinking about attending. Take a few moments to see what they have to say about classes, campus life, activities, and anything else that is important to your child.
3. Sit In On a Class
Most schools will allow you to sit in on a class to give you an idea of teaching style, class size, etc. Choosing a subject in the major your child is considering is ideal, but a general class is good if he is not yet sure. Stay after to meet the professor and ask any questions you have.
4. Take Photos
It may seem simple, but many college visits will blend together if you visit more than a few schools. Snap some photos and take some notes so you can remind yourself of the environment when the time comes for your student to make his decision.
5. Give Yourself a Tour
Most visits include a standard tour that is meant to sell you on the campus. After this, take the time to walk around on your own and explore parts of campus you may not have seen on the scripted tour. If athletics are important to your student, take time to check out the gym and fields where they may spend some of their free time.
If your child’s plan includes living in the dorms, spending the night in one is a valuable experience. This allows them to actually understand what it feels like to live on campus in a room that may be a lot smaller than what they are used to! Overnight visits are typically easily scheduled through the admissions office.
7. Experience the Cafeteria
Eat lunch in the school cafeteria, the place your child will probably eat a lot of his meals in the first few years. Some schools have considerably better food than others and may pay more attention to dietary restrictions. It won’t be Michelin rated, but it will definitely be an experience!
8. Grab a Student Newspaper
Pick up a student newspaper while on campus which gives you an idea of activities as well as the issues that students care about at the school. It also gives you a different perspective that you may not have received during the structured tour.
Make sure you help your child understand that college is more than studying – it is a lifestyle change. College can be one of the most exciting and impactful experiences in a person’s life and taking the time to choose wisely can impact a student down the road. These tips will help you think about all of the aspects that go into a college experience.