As your child settles into the high school experience, it's a great time for him or her to take on new challenges. It's also not too early to explore colleges, college majors and career goals. While some parts of the college planning process must be reserved for later, there's nothing wrong with starting early. In fact, beginning to think about college during your freshman year of high school can significantly help you to achieve your college goals.
When should you visit college campuses?
The College Board recommends spring of junior year as a good time to visit campuses for students who have already done the research on those colleges. If you are considering early admissions, you may want to visit during fall/winter of your junior year. Due to distance, you don’t have to visit all the colleges on your wish list. In fact, for many students, this is not possible. It can be expensive and time consuming to visit colleges.
Should I apply first or visit first?
While each student's circumstances are different, it is recommended to visit or view a virtual tour, of the schools you are interested in attending, either before applying or once you have been accepted. It is up to each student to decide what is best for their education and personal situation.
What if schools aren’t doing visits due to COVID19?
Get both a college and student view of what your short list school has to offer without setting foot on campus using these tips:
• Visit the college website and watch available videos of campus and common areas and hear their “pitch”.
• Visit CampusReel.com to get real, student produced videos of their college campus, including behind the scenes and insider information.
• YouTube and Google searches may also produce quite a few results.
• Search social media for photos and videos from current students attending your preferred universities. Some universities have social media channels run by students for students.
• Check out the Student Affairs website for your desired colleges and universities. Student Affairs is responsible for supporting student life outside the classroom. See what resources are available, what events are planned for students, what clubs exist on campus, and more.
• Check out the university’s Strategic Plan to get a sense of what they are planning for the next several years. Make sure the future vision for the university reflects a university that you want to attend.
• If you have a connection to a student at the school (even a friend of a friend of a friend), have your child shoot them a text telling them they are considering attending the school, and ask if they have a few minutes to talk about their experience. Most college kids are happy to give a prospective student a glimpse into life on campus and answer any questions.
• If you don't have a connection to the school, reach out to the Admissions office and see if they can arrange for your teen to speak with a current student who shares some of their academic and/or extracurricular interests. They should also be able to help your student get in touch with a faculty member in the major or program they're considering.
What do I need to do before in-person visits?
• Establish a budget for college visits. Trying to plan extended road trips to a long
list of schools can be laborious and expensive, particularly if a student is interested in colleges far away from home. That's why it makes sense to set a budget for college tours, so it doesn’t take away from funds needed for admission and tuition.
• Along with being comfortable with the campus environment, students should explore academic departments that interest them. A great way to start can be touring facilities, sitting in on a class and meeting professors.
• Ask about campus safety. With the amount of time traditional college students spend on campus, feeling safe on school grounds is an important factor to consider when exploring colleges. Prospective students should ask tour guides about campus safety policies.
• Get financial aid information. Along with understanding the culture of a school and the academic options it provides, students should also research financial aid opportunities at a college.
• Let’s get social! Sharing details on social media may be an admissions bonus. "Post (pictures) on Twitter or Instagram and have something positive to say about the university," says Judi Robinovitz, a certified educational planner and founder and co-owner of Score At The Top Learning Centers & Schools in Florida. Considering that admissions officers may already be checking social media, applicants should give them something positive to look at.
Leave us a comment to tell us about your college tour experiences and tips and tricks!
Ref: Picking a School During Coronavirus; 10 Tips for an Effective College Visit