This is the second in a 3-part series about college visits. Today I am posting I through P in the ABCs of College Visits.
I – Interviews – Some schools require a counselor interview, alumni interview or current student interview as part of the application process. There are other schools that offer interviews, but make them optional. It really is a good idea to let someone connected with the application process see your child in person, rather than just on paper. If your child projects a confident, articulate image, it can only help with acceptance and possibly scholarship offers.
J – Just ask – Is there something specific you want to see or do on your college visit? Just ask the admissions office. They are usually very accommodating unless there is a good reason – like, no you can’t see the chapel because it is undergoing a major renovation and there are workers everywhere.
K – Keep in mind that the administration wants to show off the campus. You probably won’t get to see the oldest dorms and classrooms. You will be taken to the nicest places on campus.
L – Lunch on campus – Many visit days include lunch on campus in the cafeteria. This gives your child a good opportunity to see and experience the variety of food offered, how it is set up, and how it tastes. Beware of colleges that have a separate and limited meal for the visit day. I understand that sometimes logistics don’t allow for a big group of visitors to squeeze into the cafeteria with regular students, but are they trying to hide something? At some point in the process on some type of visit, I would want to make sure my child has the opportunity to eat in the cafeteria before he or she gets stuck with it for the next four years or some portion of them!
M – Map out your route before you go on the visit down to the building you need to report to and the lot to park in. Some colleges will send you a detailed map, but others won’t. We actually had the hardest time with the college that sent the most detailed map. The problem was that we entered campus in the wrong spot and then couldn’t figure out how to get around to the building. We used Mapquest to get to campus and then expected to follow the map. Just make sure you know exactly where you are going and how to get there.
N – Neighborhood – Make sure you check out the neighborhood around the campus. Is it run down? Is it safe? It seems that there are many colleges that are not located in the best part of town. Make sure that there is adequate campus security and that you feel safe about your child being in the neighborhood. Remember that college students tend to walk to a lot of places. Check what other types of transportation are offered to get around town. If you child is bringing a car, are there safe places to park it?
O – Overnight visit – I highly recommend sending your child on an overnight visit at his or her top school choices, especially after being accepted at all of them. This may be a critical step in picking the college to attend. It is going to provide a whole different feel than a visit day or private visit does. There will be interactions with the students, sleeping in a dorm, hopefully sitting in on a class, and the visit will give your child the feel of what it is like to live on campus.
P – Panel Discussions – Some scheduled visit days include student panel discussions. These can be helpful for hearing different points of view from different students and provide a less formal opportunity to learn about the school. Even if your child isn’t big on asking questions, he or she can benefit from listening to the questions and answers from others.