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Tips for Successful College Visits

07/23/2013 Published by: Suzanne

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Categories: Your Child's Ages & Stages, Student 2 Student Programs Worldwide, Transition to College

Still deciding which college to attend after graduating from high school?  Visiting college campuses can help you zero in on what you’re looking for in a school as well as help you narrow down your choices . . . and summer vacation is a great time to get started!

What to consider before your visit:

The folks over at CollegeBoard.org have compiled a list of some aspects to consider when looking at and deciding between colleges:

  • Size
  • Location
  • Distance from home
  • Majors and Degrees available
  • Housing options available
  • Student body makeup
  • Extracurricular activities available
  • Campus atmosphere
  • Financial aid available
  • Private v. Public
  • Admissions requirements
  • Acceptance of transfer of credits (such as Advanced Placement credits from high school and/or credits from another college/university)
Types of visits to consider:
  • Campus organized events for prospective students where information sessions, tours, etc. are pre-planned by the school.
  • Individually planned visits where a student/family contacts a school (usually the Admissions Office) and arranges their own personal visit.
Planning your visit:
  • In order to get a sense for the differences between schools, plan on visiting colleges that vary in the aspects listed above so you can get a feel for which you prefer.
  • If you already have a strong sense for what you want to study as an undergraduate, you’ll be a step ahead in narrowing your field of choices as you’ll want to find the schools with a strong program in that area . . . those would be the campuses you should try to visit!  *Last week’s blog entry, “College Navigator . . . Learn more about it in our SQ Library!” includes college search links which can help you find schools that offer the program(s )you’re interested in.
  • Another aspect that could strongly influence the choice you make is the cost!  Knowing you’ll receive a large scholarship from one school v. another does a lot to make it stand out.  Remember that private institutions are often able to offer more financial aid resulting in a final cost that is similar to that of a public school.  Visit the websites of the schools you’d like to visit to see what kinds of scholarships you may automatically qualify for based upon your GPA and SAT/ACT score.  *In addition, don’t forget to utilize our new Scholarship Finder which can be found in the SchoolQuest™ College Planners section on our home page.
During your visit:
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask while visiting each school so that you can compare their answers later.  To help you get started, here’s a link to the U.S. News & World Report’s “List of 36 Questions to Ask on a College Visit”.
  • College Board also has a great “Campus Visit Checklist” to consider.
  • Keep a list or create a spreadsheet of each school as they relate to the aspects listed above so you can compare them at a later date.
After your visit:
  • Once you’ve visited some campuses, you’ll probably gain a sense for which aspects you feel strongest about.  For example, you may decide that a smaller campus is more important to you than how close it is to home . . . or . . . you may feel the need to be at a campus located in or very close to a major city v. one in a more rural setting.
  • Remember . . . keep an open mind!  What appealed to you before your visits could very well change once you’ve completed them . . . which is why they are so important to arrange!
  • For more tips on making the most of college visits, read the College Board’s “6 Steps to Get the Most Out of a College Visit”.

Good luck and safe travels!

**Help us get the word out about SchoolQuest.org™ by liking us on Facebook!  SchoolQuest.org™ is an initiative of the Military Child Education Coalition® (MCEC®).   Follow us on the MCEC® Twitter feed . . . for the sake of the child!

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