Visiting colleges is really the most enjoyable part of the college application process. It's something that parents and children and even entire families can do together. Before you roll your eyes at me, it REALLY is possible to make college visits fun. Here are some tips to get the most out of college visits:
- Don't see too many colleges in one day. Seriously-more than two colleges in one day is too many colleges. After a couple of college tours and info sessions, they all seem to blend together.
- DO try to see different types of colleges on one trip. What I mean by that is if you are going to see a state university that has 30,000 students, go visit a smaller college with 5,000. Or if you are visiting a college in the middle of a big city, try to see another one that has a more suburban or rural camp
- Take notes! Remember when I said colleges blend together? Just wait until a week or two or three have passed. Where did I hear about that great class? What did that tour guide say about dorm rooms? If you take notes, you don't have to worry about forgetting anything. And you don't have to walk around with a pad and pencil. Take notes (and pictures!) on your phone.
- Try to have a meal on campus. You can learn a lot about a college just by hanging out, watching and listening. And get a copy of the school newspaper. You can also learn a lot by reading about what is happening on campus and what is important to the student body.
- Not every college cares about demonstrated interest, but a lot of them do. What do I mean by that? When you show a college that you are interested, they are more likely to take an interest in you. How do you show them you are interested? Make sure you sign in when you take a tour or see an info session. If possible, speak to the admissions representative who is giving the talk. Get the business card of the admissions representative who covers your school and send them an email expressing your interest. For the bigger schools, where it is almost impossible to make a personal connection, make sure that you "Like" or "Follow" the school on social media. Believe it or not, schools now keep track of these things!
Most of all, though, have fun! These visits aren't about impressing anyone or making yourself look good to colleges. This is the time to see what impresses YOU! Which colleges do you think you would be happy attending? Where do you think you fit in? These are the questions you are trying to answer on your college tour.
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