1. Schedule Your Own Visit – The college search and selection process is a part of a maturing process that proves to everyone that a student is prepared for the next stage in life. A student must be prepared to take ownership of their responsibilities.
2. Research the School – It is important to know why you are visiting a particular college and be able to articulate that motivation. Know what programs are offered, the reputation of the school, the admission process, size and type of college. Most importantly be able to answer the question “Why are you visiting today?”
3. Prepare Questions, And Ask Them! – The questions you prepare should not be easily accessible to you. If you ask “what is the student to faculty ratio” you are informing a college that you didn’t do #2 on our list and didn’t take the time to prepare for your visit. Do not role your eyes when your mom asks about campus safety!
4. Get Direction – Know how to get to the college. Print up back-up directions in case the GPS batteries run out. Call and ask what to expect from the visit: how to dress, who you will be meeting with, and where to park. Phone receptionists are great resources. Ask them if you will have a chance to meet the office individual responsible for reviewing your application.
5. Make A Good Great First Impression – Smile and be nice to everyone you encounter. Make sure they know you are excited to visit their home. Remember your manners, they are appreciated! Don’t wear another school’s attire to your visit.
6. Leave Your Cell Phone in the Car – Do we really need to explain why? This is also a great recommendation for Mom and Dad.
7. Engage People and Look Engaged – During your entire visit you are evaluating campus: the food, the dorms, the programs, the parking, the tour guide. This evaluation is reciprocal. The college is also evaluating you. Ask questions, show appreciation, compliment people, show interest. You never know who is next to you.
8. Stay After Your Tour – Too many families report for their information session, take the tour, and then leave campus. Ask your Tour Guide and others in the admission office for a recommendation of where students eat and hangout either on or off campus. The admission office might even offer to pay for lunch! Poke your head around, kick the tires, ask random people questions and see what type of reactions you get. If any major areas on campus were not shown on tour, find out, sometimes there is a reason. Find out what campus is like after normal class times.
9. Discuss the Visit – No pillows and iPads on the way home. Discuss the visit as a family. What things did you observe? What did you hear? What did you like and not like? Compare notes and ask yourself, “do I want to visit again?”
10. Follow-Up – When carrying out #7 you should get names and contact information of those that you speak to. Easiest way is to request a business card. Send a thank you email to anyone you came in contact with and a handwritten note to the regional counselor informing them of you excitement and appreciation. If there are any questions in #9 that need answered, send an email.
11. BONUS – For Parents – Let and encourage your child to take the lead the their college visits. Some examples include: student should check in and introduce themselves at a welcome desk or registration table, when being greeted by someone the student should be first to accept a greeting and introduce her family and guests, and allow him to answer all questions to completion and resist the urge to interrupt or add additional comments.
– Bring a copy of your transcript and resume.
– Talk to your College Counselor prior to your visit. They may know someone at the office you are visiting or have recommendations for your visit.
– If you are interviewing, prepare for questions. See previous bullet point if you do not know what type of questions to prepare for.
– Don’t try to schedule more visits than can fit in your day. It is insulting to leave a visit early for another school or to be late for an appointment because of another visit.
– Take notes, pictures, even videos. You will probably visit a lot of campuses and visits begin to blend. These will help with #9.
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