Summer Campus Visits Can Reveal Much

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I’m a firm believer in that prospective college students who want to get a strong sense for what a school is all about should make their campus visits during the Fall or Spring semesters. During those times visitors can see what the school is like with classes in session, when dorms are filled to capacity, and when the campus is abuzz with related activities including sporting events and the like.

college studentIn reality, lots of students and their families simply do not have the time to take off from school or work while college is in full session, leaving the summer months as their only chance to visit. But, summer college visits don’t mean you won’t be able to gather the information you need in order to make an informed decision on what is best for your school. Rather, you can take some extra time to hunt for those clues revealing whether a school is right for your rising high school senior or not.

Make Every College Visit Count

Let’s take a look at some things you can do to make your summer campus visit a good one:

Time — Chances are you’ll be heading out to visit several campuses this summer with the entire family in tow. That move alone may offer more pressure to your child than what he or she can stand, so consider having one parent keep the rest of the family busy elsewhere while the other parent accompanies your future college student on their visits. Be prepared to spend as much time with your child without him or her feeling rushed — remember, they are gathering information on where to spend four years of their lives.

Walk — To get a good sense of what a school is all about, be prepared to walk around the entire campus taking note of where libraries can be found, as well as the locations of dorms, cafeteria, classrooms, sporting arenas and more. Do this part of your visit apart from the official college-sponsored tour; you want to learn as much as you can about the campus layout before meeting up with your college contact. You probably have already acquainted yourselves with the college website, so print out a map and head out on foot first.

Appointment — The larger the school, the more difficult it can be to get an individualized appointment at some colleges and universities. However, try to get one as you want to be able to ask your guide as many questions as you want without being thrust into the middle of a large group. Some guides offered up to visitors are current college students while others work for the college’s public relations department or they could be alumni volunteers. Regardless, you may not get all of the information you want out of the tour guide, so be prepared to ask a lot of questions. If your questions go unanswered, follow up later with the school.

Investigate — Your college tour guide may be singing the praises of the school, but they may not be telling the whole story. If you’re being shown the model dorm, will that same dorm room arrangement be available to your son or daughter when they’re enrolled? In these days of heightened campus security (which is a good thing) you may not be given access to every dorm building. Find out which ones are the frequent habitat of college freshmen to learn if students are crammed into crowded rooms. If so, this doesn’t mean your child shouldn’t attend that school, but other living arrangements may be necessary.  Check out the neighborhoods surrounding the school too to see what they’re like, if they’re safe and where other students live and frat/sorority houses are located.

Narrow It Down, Follow Up

Of course, the school your child likes may not be the one to accept them, given the extreme competition for seats at some schools. However, you should be able to narrow the list down to two or three schools, each of which you may be able to follow up the following Fall or Spring with a return visit.

In any case, if your visit to a college takes place when summer classes are being held, sit in on a few of those to get a feel of what is being offered. The more information you collect now, the more comfortable everyone will be later when it comes down to applying to these schools and awaiting acceptance.

Adv. — Are you heading off to college this fall? If so, SayCollegeMove.com wants to be your moving guide. Come find everything you need for your dorm as well as what sort of tech gadgets you’ll need to help keep you connected.  Shop wisely to save money!

Photo Credit: Dani Toth

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Categories: Education Tips