Use College Visits to Your Advantage
Choosing a college is one of the more important decisions your child will make. In addition to the quality of the education, your family must navigate issues related to tuition and financial aid, application requirements, and your child’s intended major course of study. College visits can help inform both parents and prospective students, if they are well-planned. The Laurel Springs School Counseling team offers these tips for families of college-bound high school students:
1 | Make a Plan
Sit down with your children and make a list of all the colleges that interest them. Then, collaborate on researching important information about each college, such as whether it offers your child’s major, if your child has a fair chance of being accepted, and if it is a good financial fit for your family.
2 | Select & Schedule
Decide which colleges you will visit in person, and determine when will be the best time to make the trip. Schedule your campus visits on weekdays when classes are in session. Consult the college calendar to avoid exam week, Thanksgiving break, or other times when the campus atmosphere will not reflect a typical day at the college. Similarly, if you schedule your visit during a major event, such as homecoming, the college may be overcrowded, making your trip difficult to enjoy.
3 | Be Purposeful
Call the admissions office to find out when walking tours are held, and work with your child to create a list of questions to ask the admissions representative. During the tour, take notes about your observations as well as topics to discuss later with your family. During your campus trip, make time to explore the popular student gathering areas without a tour guide, such as the student union, the quad, the local shopping district, or any other areas that would be important parts of everyday student life. Take a few photos so that you will remember differences between colleges.
4 | Follow Up at Home
With your child, compare your observations about each college that you visited together. Most families are able to eliminate some colleges from their list after campus visits, and prioritize which colleges are most desirable. If you visited a college that is a top pick, your child can email the admissions representative personally to thank them for the tour. Communications like this can help create a positive profile for your child which could help boost their chances of admission.
The most productive college visits provide valuable information for students and their parents that cannot be gained by exploring the university website or flipping through a catalog. Make the most of your child’s college visits by planning carefully, taking advantage of the best times to visit, maximizing your tour experience, and regrouping at home to streamline your child’s application process.