College Preparation & Planning

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Monday, February 4, 2013

College Visits 101 - Plan Now for Later

Spring break will be here soon...and that means more than just fun in the sun and sand between your toes.

For many high school juniors and seniors, it's time to visit college and university campuses as part of their college planning process.

Visiting schools during spring break is an annual tradition, and it marks a major milestone in the college planning process.

Make sure when you go to visit your college or university of choice, you're spending time wisely and utilizing every minute!

Picking a school is a huge planning before you go will help you in the process.  Spending a little time planning for your visit now will help keep you on track, optimize your experience and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.  Regardless of which schools you visit this spring, here are some ways to make the experience more valuable:

Talk to other students.
You don't want to limit your conversations to the tour guide, who is, after all, being paid to present their schools in a positive light.  Stop a  few students during your time on a campus and asking them these questions:
  • Why did you decide to attend this college? 
  • What do you like best about this school?
  • What do you like least about this school? 
  •  If you could change anything about your college what would it be?
You determine if a college or university is a good fit for you if you ask targeted questions. Click here for your college question guide.

Talk with staff and faculty.
Arrange to speak with a professor in your possible major. Professors are usually  happy to answer questions and give a tour through their departments.  It's a great way to see the facilities and get a feel for the department culture and leadership.

Don't be afraid to take notes, photos and video.
You might think that you will remember what you saw and heard at a school, but don't count on it, especially if you are visiting more than one campus. Always ask you campus guide if it's allowed to photograph or video campus housing, classrooms or other facilities.

Take a class.
Attend a class in a subject that interests you or that you hope to major in. This will be another opportunity to ask students what they think about their college.

Stay overnight on campus.
Consider spending the night on campus in one of the dorms.  Many colleges will allow accepted students to spend the night in a dorm with a student host if they are given enough advance notice.

Take full advantage of your opportunity.
The stakes are too high to treat your campus visit as a lark. Too many students end up unhappy with their schools because they made rash decisions. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 1 in 5 students transfer from one four-year college to another. Don't let that happen to you!

For student advise on planning your college visit, click here.  The website is a great resource to find out all kinds of information on college planning and the college experience.

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