Finding a college is like trying to find the "love of your life." When you have narrowed down your selection of colleges to a few candidate schools, it's time for a visit. Keep in mind that you are trying to find the "love of your life." You would not immediately marry a person without first getting acquainted. Similarly, visiting is an important step in the college search process.
Colleges can look very similar on paper. The brochures they send you will be full of sunny days and beautiful fall leaves. Even the statistics may look exactly the same from college to college. The truth is, you don't know what a college is like until you visit.
"Sonny, true love is the greatest thing in the world, except for a nice MLT, mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is so nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They're so perky, I love that." ~ Miracle Max, The Princess Bride
When to Visit
When should you visit? Early and often! Your student's freshman and sophomore year is not too early, although it's most common to visit during junior year. Some colleges keep records of how often each prospective student comes to visit, and if you decide a particular college may be "the one" and you've visited them four times, they will look at this very favorably and value your child more because of it. While spring is the typical season to visit colleges, any time of year is fine. When you decide to visit, find out if they have special visit days that offer programs for potential students. They might also have a program for parents on topics such as financial aid or academic preparation. It can be equally important to see what a campus is like on a regular day. This will give you a more accurate picture of the school, not just what they want you to see when they know a hundred high school kids are coming.
Whether you go on a special day, a regular day, or an overnight visit, you should sign up with the admissions department and let them know you're coming. Remember, you are trying to make them love you, too. When you tell them you are coming, they pay attention.
It is very easy to register with admissions. Most college websites have a place to contact admissions and register for a visit. All the colleges I looked at were very similar in this regard. Don't miss this opportunity to let those colleges know you're interested in them!
Meet Admission Representatives
Keep in mind you're looking for a college to love, and one that will love you back. Therefore, when visiting a prospective college, your student should dress neatly and be clean, pleasant, and charming. The school will likely be watching you just as closely as you are watching them. In addition to being clean, neat, and engaging when you visit, your student should make a point to talk to the college admissions staff. While it is easy for parents to take control and run the show, this is a mistake. This is the time your student should engage in most of the interaction.
When you meet with admissions, they may want to sit down with you to go over the records you have brought. They will give you feedback, which can be very helpful to have before you apply.
This free ebook is taken from a chapter of The HomeScholar Guide to College Admission and Scholarships: Homeschool Secrets to Getting Ready, Getting In, and Getting Paid. Grab your copy today for more secrets for college preparation, gaining admission, and winning big scholarships!