05 Aug Part 2 – Setting Goals for College Visits
Creating a List of ‘Musts’
The purpose of visiting colleges is to determine where your child will best fit in and be happy, both academically and socially. Therefore, college visits need to go beyond taking the scheduled group tour and information session at each university. To this end, setting specific goals ahead of time of what to see and do while on campus will go a long way toward helping them make the best choice. No matter if your student is just beginning to look into colleges or if they are at the stage where it is time to make the final decision, having them think about what aspects of college life might be most important to them, will help them make the best use of each college visit.
Visiting Colleges and Choosing the Right Majors
They should first ask themselves what majors they are interested in. Or if they aren’t sure about a major (which is the case for many entering freshmen), what disciplines do they find fascinating? Narrowing down their choices somewhat will give them an idea of where they should concentrate their time while on campus. It will narrow down the academic departments they will want to visit and the classes they should sit in on. Visiting colleges also affords them the lead-time to schedule meetings with various professors in those departments. College tours are marvelous ways of getting a first-hand feel for how each program works and the types of programs that each discipline offers.
Top “Musts” to Consider
Next, encourage your child to consider their top musts aspects of college life that they don’t want to miss out on. This can be anything from the ranking of the basketball team to the weather in the area. College life is about much more than academics, so while this line of questioning may feel trivial, it isnt! They can’t learn and perform well or engage in the community if they are unhappy and that’s why visiting colleges is especially helpful here.
Questions I Ask
I advise preparing a simple worksheet for your teen with some pertinent questions. It doesn’t have to be lengthy to the point of becoming tedious just two pages or so. As I do with my students, be sure to let them know that this worksheet is specifically to help them explore more about what they might be looking for in a college community and what type of school they think might appeal to them. Questions might include:
- What are your favorite academic subjects? Are these academic areas that youd like to continue studying in college?
- What extracurricular activities are your favorite and which, if any would you like to continue in college?
- Are there regions of the U.S. or specific states that you would not consider? If so, why?
- Would you consider visiting colleges again before you choose one?
- Aside from academics, what do you consider to be the five most important things that you are looking for in a college? These could be anything a variety of dining choices, certain clubs you’d like to join, college traditions, importance of athletic culture, etc.
- What size school do you think you would like to attend? Under 1000? 1,000-5,000? 5,000-10,000? Over 10,000? Why?
Once your teen has an initial list of musts, visiting colleges won’t seem so tedious. You will know what arrangements need to be made and the entire college visit planning process will be easier to see though. Campus visit plans may include visits to the sporting arenas, talking to current students about the weather and popular activities, and trying local restaurants. Most important, make time in the trip to explore the various ways that your childs musts can be met on each campus.
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