Visiting a college is a very important part of your student’s decision process. The glossy brochures from colleges do not really represent the experience on campus. And you want your child to enjoy the experience at the college they choose. That is why it is important to visit the colleges on your student’s short list.
However, you do not need to start there, particularly if some of the colleges are not close to home. To become a more experienced consumer, visit some local colleges during freshman and sophomore year of high school. Take the tours, explore the campus, start to notice what your child likes or does not like about different schools, such as size and campus life.
It is also a good idea for your student to take pictures and keep notes. Schools can start to run together when you see a lot of them. And that prepares your child for the next stage: visiting their target colleges.
By November of their junior year, your student should have a good idea of what schools they would like to consider. And remember, it’s important to understand how much a college is likely to cost before your student even applies. Ideally, your student should apply to schools where he or she will be in the upper quartile (25%) of the incoming class. That’s when your student is likely to get the maximum amount of financial and merit-based aid.
Together, you should screen potential colleges with the expected cost for that college. From there, you and your student can make a short list of colleges to visit. Because you are already an experienced college visitor, you can make the most of every visit to find the good/better/best fits. And if you would like a scorecard you can use to evaluate each school, just email me and I would be happy to share it.
Choosing a college is one of the big three financial commitments for a family. If you would like some help making sure that you choose the right college, both for fit and affordability, I would love to help. You can schedule a free consultation.