Summer is here and if you are thinking of visiting colleges, here are some key points to keep in mind. Remember, when it comes to maximizing your “free money” from each school, college selection is CRITICAL! So, make sure you get the most out of each visit.
It may seem obvious, but, make sure the campus is open. If the campus is closed, no one knows you were there. Part of the reason it is important to visit the campus is that it DEMONSTRATES INTEREST. There are several things that you can do to show you are seriously considering a college. Many colleges have started tracking this. They sometimes use this information, both for acceptance and financial aid packages.
TO MAXIMIZE YOUR VISIT, MAKE SURE YOU:
1. Go on the campus tour. (I recommend you start visiting colleges as early as Freshman year.) You can go to the college website and sign up for the tour. These typically start out with an information session and then a tour by a student guide. Make sure to ask your guide questions. These tours are very positive and will show off the campus in the best light. They are still very worthwhile. Signing up for one demonstrates interest and, if, after the tour, you are not “in love” with the school, it may be time to look elsewhere.
2. Meet with Admissions and an Advocate. Make sure you go to see someone in admissions after the tour. Make sure to ask questions!! What’s an advocate? Someone on campus that knows your name. This can be a coach, a department head, the band leader, etc. When going back to find out if any more money is available, it’s better that someone knows your name vs., being application number XXX. (Get a business card from everyone you meet and send a thank you note!!)
3. Explore on your own. Make sure you have enough time to walk around on your own. The tours have a specific path, but, that is not the entire campus. Walk around, get a feel for campus. And, most importantly, talk to students. They will give you their unvarnished opinion.
4. Eat in the Dining Hall. If you attend this college, you will spend 100’s of hours in the dining hall. Go in, eat the food, and get a feel for the atmosphere.
5. Read Bulletin Boards. Campus bulletin boards are filled with information. You can get a sense of what is important to students, what sort of activities are popular and what clubs and club activities are available.
6. Take Notes. Make sure you take notes soon after your visit. If you don’t, you will forget. Write down likes and dislikes. If you’d like an evaluation for, just call our office.
7. Don’t let the sticker price deter you from applying. Many private colleges have a high sticker price, but, many of those also have generous endowments. If you understand the “rules”, private schools can be less expensive that public schools. Make sure to educate yourself.
Most importantly, remember, THIS IS FUN! You are very fortunate to live in a time where your opportunities are unlimited. Make sure you take advantage of all that is offered and make the most out of your college experience. That starts with picking the right college!