As I was helping my niece get her things in order for her college pursuits, I realized that my sophomore is at a prime time for starting to get familiar with options for his future. When my niece wanted to go visit UNT, I figured I should just make my efforts efficient and take as many as I could. So I took six kids instead of one. Why not start exposing my kids to future possibilities when they're in the 7th grade?
Part of why I have been dragging my feet with all of the college business is that my time and resources are limited. If I want to help my son make the best decision, I need to give him enough information. So how do you maximize your time and efforts with College visits?
A great place to start is a local college night. In our area, Heart of Texas hosts their college night where they bring together representatives from over 50 colleges. They also offer resources for finding scholarships, discovering strengths, and earning dual credits.
This type of event is great for finding colleges you'd like to visit in person. Since you can't visit them all, it's good to narrow down your options and then make a plan to go see them.
Make a Game Plan
Before you attend one of these epic events, make a game plan with your student. Help them find a couple of aspects about a college that might be "make or break" elements. If they are equipped with these filter elements, they can navigate the recruiters while getting the most important information.
- Do you offer (insert your major here)?
- What are your professor to student ratios?
- What services do you offer students who struggle with their work?
These are some great questions to start with, but work with your student to to find out what is important to both of you for their future.
Take a Virtual Tour
Before you head off to visit the school in person, do your research. You can find out the basics of many major colleges as well as take tours from the comfort of your home on the CampusTours website. Additionally, college websites offer a wealth of information about their programs, housing, and fees.
Some colleges even offer a virtual tour so you can get familiar with the college before you even book a trip. Even though these types of tours won't give you a true feel of the campus, you will have the opportunity to start developing questions you might want to ask when you do get to go in person.
Maximizing Your College Visits
When you finally narrow down your options, you want to make your time and resources count. Here are some ways you get the most out of your visit:
Go on a Regular School Day
It's so tempting to go on your break, but often times, your break is also their break. As good as your tour guide is, they can't replicate the feel of an actual school day. You want to see the school in action, so go when it's open for class.
This also offers additional opportunities for:
- Sitting in on a class
- Meeting with department heads
- Interviewing current students
- Getting a vibe for the culture of the students
Take Friends and Family With You
Although it can be a hassle, adding in extra observers can be a great tool for maximizing your college visit. If you're bringing in younger siblings, you're giving them an opportunity to gain insight for their own future as well as helping their older sibling make a wise decision.
If you're bringing other friends along with you, they can be a wealth of different perspectives. It's impossible to take it all in, so taking more eyes can help you see more.
And it just keeps things fun!
See As Much As You Can
Scheduling a campus tour is a great start, but if you know your emphasis for study, check with that department on campus to see if they can show you around their facilities. Here are some other areas you should be sure to check out:
- Student housing
- Financial aid department
- Local neighborhood in the daytime and at night
Even with all of the research you could possibly do, there will always be surprises along the way. Cover your college visits with prayer, and you're sure to find the exact place for your student to thrive.