One Way to Help Decide on What College to Attend

I was accepted to several colleges, but this college was providing a significant scholarship. A scholarship so big there is no way that I wanted to pass it up. However, before I made one of the biggest decisions of my life (the biggest at that time), I wanted to check out the campus. So I scheduled a campus visit. The college wasn’t too far from home but was far enough if you know what I mean. I still remember riding in the car with my parents to visit what I hoped would be my future alma mater. I remember being excited and nervous all at the same time. We finally get there and make our introductions. I don’t recall everything we did on the campus visit but I do remember taking a campus tour. We walked around campus and saw the dorm rooms and cafeteria. While on the tour I became more and more disappointed because I knew and could sense that this college was not the place for me. At the end of the tour, an admissions counselor or it could have been the director welcomed me into his office. He wanted to assess my interest in attending the college. At that moment, I’m embarrassed to say that I began to cry. Yeah, you read that right. I cried right there in front of an admission staff member. I think the reason I cried was because I was disappointed. I had built up in my mind that I was going to attend this college and it was going to be minimal cost to me because I was getting an awesome scholarship. Looking back now, I am so thankful that I attended a campus visit before making my final decision on where to attend school. It is because of my campus visit experience that I urge you and your child to visit all the campuses your student is seriously thinking about attending.

College Campus Visits vs. College Preview Days

 One way to help decide on what college to attend is to attend campus visits. Campus visits are a great way to get the idea of what life would be like on campus. Whether it be through a campus visit, campus preview day, or college preview weekend, you and your student should always visit college campuses before your child decides on where to attend.

As you can read from the story above, it is important to visit college campuses. Placing the emotions aside for a moment just think about it, you and your child are investing thousands of dollars into a college education. Not only is money invested but your child’s time is invested anywhere from 2-6 years. Your child is going to eat, sleep, study, and breathe the college they plan to attend. With the time and money invested in this college decision, you and your student should make sure it is the right fit. Also each college has a personality. When on campus just like I did years ago, you can sense the personality of the campus and if it fits you.

A campus visit is an individual visit with you and your student. A typical campus visit consists of meeting with an admissions representative and taking a campus tour. College campus visits vary for each college. Your student will be the one to schedule a campus visit and can be scheduled online. We recommend our clients to call their admissions counselor and set-up a more personal or detailed campus visit. Here are 10 things we recommend doing while attending a campus visit.

Another way you and your student can check out a campus is by attending a campus preview day. College preview days are on-campus events sponsored by the admissions department. It’s a day set aside for prospective students and families to attend campus. Usually college preview days consists of meeting with professors in the area your student is interested in studying, touring campus, participating in a college student panel, having lunch, and attending an information session with financial aid.

Some colleges have campus preview weekends. The weekends are basically the same as the campus preview days. In addition to the schedule of a preview day, preview weekends are scheduled around games or concerts. Also during campus preview weekends, your student has the option of staying on-campus in a dorm.

Anyway you can get on-campus to visit a college is good. College campus visits are one-on-one while campus preview days or weekends are with other prospective students and their families. It depends on you and your student as to whether you want to have a more personal experience or meet other prospective students and families going through the same process as you and your child.

Related Post: 10 Things to Do While Attending a College Campus Visit

The Best Time to Attend a Campus Visit

 The purpose of participating in a campus visit is to get the idea of what it would be like if your student were to attend the particular college you are visiting. You always want to attend a campus visit during a time when college classes are in session  so that you can get the full experience of what it would be like on-campus.  What are the professors, classes, and students like? How are the dorm rooms? How is the food in the cafeteria? What would it be like if I played for that coach? How does the campus atmosphere feel? All these things you and your student need to know before your child makes their final college decision.

College campus visits can be scheduled anytime during the year. Most campus preview days and weekends are scheduled in the spring semester. There are few scheduled for the fall semester but most are in the spring. Here’s the thing, your scheduled campus visit ultimately relies on you and your child’s schedule. Some families who attend campus visits do so during holiday breaks. Why not visit a campus on the way to the beach or how about scheduling a campus visit on the way back from visiting grandma! Whenever you decide to attend a campus visit make sure classes are in session. Winter and summer breaks aren’t usually a good time because campuses look like a ghost town with students and professors nowhere to be found. We always recommend our clients to visit college campuses when they can experience a typical day on campus.

Related Post: When to Apply to College

I really don’t know exactly why I didn’t like the college campus I visited. I just knew it wasn’t the right fit for me. That is why we at All*Star Financial Aid emphasize helping students and families find the right college “fit”. By “fit” we mean a place where your student feels comfortable, can grow academically, and where their talents can be utilized.

Which do you prefer a campus visit or a campus preview day/weekend?