Visiting colleges is an important step in determining where your child will apply. It shows colleges that you are interested in coming to their school. With college visits, you'll want to have prepared some questions in advance that will give yo...
Is your child a high school Junior? It's time for college visits!
Ask questions during college visits. Try to ask questions that will engage people in dialog and show you value their opinions. When you are talking with people during college visits, you want them to get to know you. Open questions with plenty of dialog can help them get to know you better. You can show that you trust their opinion by asking them important questions about your future. Asking open ended questions can demonstrate that you can listen, as well as talk. Do you struggle with coming up with questions? My blog post, Essential Questions for Your College Visits, can help.
For example, you might discuss your college major. "I'm thinking about this major but I don't really like one aspect" or "I really love this major, do you think it is a good fit, and how do you know?" Asking questions during college visits is not always about yes or no questions such as, "Do you offer a biology major?" or questions that can be answered with a one sentence reply such as "Is Chapel required for all students?" Part of asking questions is allowing the college to get to know you and who you are as a person. They will get to know you and be more likely to remember you, particularly if you ask questions that show you value their opinion.
You may want to discuss extra-curricular on-campus activities. "I've had so much fun with my high school activities and I'm wondering what activities you think I might enjoy on campus." This kind of question will answer the usually unspoken question, "What about socialization?" By openly discussing your high school activities and saying how much you enjoy them, it demonstrates great social skills. More importantly perhaps, colleges value students that will become active on campus. They want students who will participate in more than just academics. By showing that you are eager to join on-campus groups, you are showing that you will be a valuable asset to the college for the long run. You want them to know you won't just be hiding in the library studying, and will bring more to campus than just your brain.
Everyone likes the sound of their own voice, even college admission advisers. Ask questions, but also ask them what they think, and show you value their opinion. Remember, it's mostly about being yourself, vulnerable and genuine. Look them in the eye, and be interested in them as a person.
Each time you and your child interact with a college, the student should send a "Thank You" note by email within a few days of their visit. In the past, these were traditionally snail-mail letters, but now we have a powerful weapon: email. Whereas a ...
When you visit a college campus with your high school student, you will likely be given the opportunity to visit a classroom and take a campus tour. These are great opportunities—don’t miss them! Choose a class that interests your student, or a general freshman level class to see what the first year of college will be like. Throughout these activities, you and your student should be taking notes. Write down the details (names, classes visited, strengths, etc.). This information will help you remember each college you visit, and will provide your student with great content as they prepare their application essays.
Use your 5 senses While you are visiting, use all of your senses as you walk around; look, listen, feel, taste and touch. Does this college seem like a positive environment? Can you picture your child living here for four years? Is it a pleasant atmosphere? How does it make you feel about safety and security? Is the food healthy and appealing? Your answers might help you choose between colleges that seem to be equal on paper.
After you visit a college, you have one more job: Say thank you!
After each campus visit, make sure your student writes a thank you note to the admissions staff and professors. This simple act will show the staff that you’re interested in the school. If you don’t intend to go to the school, then emailing a thank you note is fine. But if you do intend to apply to the school, then a mailed thank you note is best. Some colleges keep a record of how many contacts you make, so it can actually help to write a letter by hand.
Buyer Beware A campus visit is a critical step in choosing a college. Assess each college carefully. You want to know their views. You need to know whether a college with “Christian” in their name will match your family values. You can tell very little by the name of a college; you can tell only a little more from their marketing materials. For help in getting past the glitz and marketing to discern the truth about prospective colleges, I recommend my DVD, Finding a College. You won’t really know the personality of the college until you encounter it in person – during a college visit. There is no perfect college, just like there are no perfect people. But a purposeful visit can help you find the college that is best for your child.
I have created a series of videos on creating great homeschool records for college. You can find them here.
If you’re a parent of a homeschooled teenager, you’ve probably been thinking about college for a while now! As you and your student prepare for that not-so-far-away event, now is the time to start visiting colleges that interest you. Deciding which colleges to consider is a big job—and you should take your time doing it, since your student will be spending four years of their life in this place. For help in the process of selecting and visiting colleges, my online training course, Finding a College is a perfect place to start. I recommend you visit colleges in the spring of junior year or earlier. Colleges can look very similar on paper, with brochures full of sunny days and beautiful fall leaves. Even when pictures and statistics look the same, you really don’t know what a college is like until you visit.
Let them know you’re coming Whether you visit a campus on a special preview day, a regular school day or for an overnight visit, you should sign up with the Admissions department and let them know you are coming. It’s very easy. Most college websites will have a place to register for a visit. Don’t miss this opportunity to let colleges know you’re interested in them! Some colleges keep records of how often prospective students come to visit. 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 you more because of it.
Meet the admission representative 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. Students should make a point to talk to the college admission staff. It’s easy for parents to take control here and run the show, but this is actually a mistake. This time your student should do most of the interaction. It is, of course, important for parents to find out the college’s policy for homeschooled applicants, and determine what sort of records they need from your homeschool. Many colleges treat homeschoolers the same as all other applicants, while others will have certain hoops that homeschoolers have to jump through, such as testing or something unique to that college. It’s important to know this information up front, so make sure to ask during your visit.
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