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How to Make the Most of College Visits

How to Make the Most of College Visits


When you and your college-bound high school student visit a college campus, make the best use of your time.


By FamilyTime

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Because a physical reaction to a school can be the deciding factor when your son or daughter makes up his or her mind about where to go, college visits can be important.

Here are some surefire ways to get the most of the short time you are there.

What to Do on Campus
When you step on a campus, consider the physical plant. How large is the school? Are the buildings and grounds maintained? Are there inviting areas where students congregate?

Attend the information session offered by the admission office. This may sound like a bore, but if you listen carefully and ask good questions, you will learn a lot about the college or university.

Go on the tour. These are carefully planned to show the best side of the school, and are designed to give you glimpses of the library, cafeteria, classroom buildings, and dormitories.

Tour guides are trained to answer commonly asked questions, so take full advantage of their time.

Both students and parents should keep a list of impressions and answers to specific questions. Students should be encouraged to ask questions -- although parents should not be shy about speaking up.

Find out how large average classes are and if professors or graduate students teach them. Ask to visit a class -- this usually can be arranged. If the prospective student is interested in a particular major, ask about it.

Ask what percentage of the freshman class returns, and what percentage graduates in just four years.

If you are planning to take studio art classes or try out for the swim team, ask to see the appropriate facilities.

Find out if the college has fraternities and sororities and how active Greek life is. What are some of the most popular extra-curricular activities?

Ask about security, on and off campus. How do most students get to town? If the college is in a city, ask about local neighborhoods. How many students live off campus? Can residential students have cars?

As you are whisked from one end of the campus to the other, scan bulletin boards in public places and dorm hallways to see what sort of activities are taking place. Pick up a copy of the college newspaper to read later.

Be a careful observer. It will tell you a lot about campus life.

Try an Overnight
Most colleges offer prospective students the chance to spend the night. Parents should encourage these visits and students should take advantage of them.

Suggest to your child when he spends the night that he should visualize how he will feel being part of this campus. What can he tell from a night in a dorm? Is it quiet? Do most kids seem to be studying? What's the conversation like in the cafeteria?

Urge your child to talk to as many other students as she can. Ask them what they like and, equally importantly, what they don't like about the college. Try to get beyond complaining about the food!

Your child should find out what happens on weekends. Do most kids stay around? What are the parties like? He could ask his host how often he has gone home since school began.

When your son or daughter is on campus for the night, he or she should ask other students how much time they devote to studying, how much sleep they average. 

This is also a chance to investigate important aspects of college life: are the bathrooms co-ed? Is smoking allowed? Are there substance-free floors? Dorms?

Your child may be surprised to discover he loves a college he never thought he would -- and that the school he was sure was "it" is not too interesting.

Your son or daughter should use the college visit as an important -- but not the only -- criterion for making his or her final choice. Remember, he or she will be living there for four years.

 



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