If your a rising senior, and are planning on attending college in the fall of 2020, then this is the time to plan some college tours. Although we recommend that you start your research with the college’s websites, it is not always possible to really get a feel of the college, so the best option is to schedule a visit. We recommend that you tour when colleges are in session, but this is not always possible right now so summer will do. If you plan the tour the right way the visit can help you to define your priorities allowing you find a school where you will thrive. Just remember that a college campus can look completely different in the summer when it is low on students.
Tim Parros, owner of Parros College Planning says, “Do not rule out any school because of the sticker price”! In his 28 years of college planning he states that this is one of the first things that he emphasizes to parents.”Finding the right college at the right price is something that we work very hard to do, everyone has different needs”.
So let's keep it simple for the summer.
- Plan ahead to ensure you get to see everything you want to see. These may be activities or sights that are not on the official itinerary for the college tour.
- Do your research by looking online for facts and figures that you should know about your school of choice. Know ahead of time the cost of attendance, student body size, and majors. Knowing the answers to these questions will give you a better sense of what questions you will want to ask on your college visit. Read the school newspaper and check out their social media too, to immerse yourself into that school's culture to see what it would be like to be a student at that college.
- Be assertive. Speak up and ask questions to your tour guide, other high schoolers that are touring with you, students on campus, admissions officers, professors and anyone else that you think will give you a good sense of what it will be like to be at the school. Prepare a list of questions beforehand so you don’t forget anything.
- Explore on your own. College tours can’t cover anything that you need to or want to know. Get a better sense of the college campus by visiting the buildings where your major will be taught, local restaurants or cafes. Find out the spots where the students relax and have fun and spend some time there.
- Sit in on a class. Nothing will give you a better sense of being a college student than sitting amongst them in a lecture. This should be scheduled in advance and classes in the summer might be limited.
- Talk to the financial aid office. There are lots of different ways to help pay for college between FAFSA, merit-based aid and scholarships. However, financing college can still be complex. Find someone that can talk to you face-to-face to help make things easier to understand what college is going to cost.
“There are several things that you really don’t want to on a college campus visit,” says Tim Parros, founder of Parros College Planning and financial advisor.
- Don’t visit a college without knowing the basics. When you ask questions about generic and accessible information it will make a bad impression on the people that you’re trying to impress.
- Don’t overstay your welcome. The people working in admissions, your tour guides and the college students are all very busy. Converse and ask questions, but be sure to also be respectful of their time. This includes making appointments prior to your visit.
- Don’t disregard the social scene. Colleges are aware that academics are not the only important thing to be concerned about. It’s important to ask questions about college social life in addition to academics. So don’t be afraid to ask about campus organization, greek life, athletics and any other activities that you are curious about.
- Don’t be invasive. It’s okay to ask about financial aid, academics, and the campus environment, but be cautious to do so without making your tour guide uncomfortable about their own finances, grades, and social life. Keeping your questions simple is a good way to avoid any embarrassment.
- Don’t count a school out because of a bad tour. Even if a tour left you disappointed, do a little more research. Contacting admissions with your concerns is a good idea and learn as much as you can to make sure that the school truly isn’t for you.
Although college visits can get a little hectic and are sometimes costly, it’s still often an imperative part of the process. Visiting the location that you’re likely to spend the next 4 years of your life helps to make sure that it’s really the right place to be in, and can help you become a little more comfortable with it before you move there on your own. At Parros College planning we recommend every student and their parent(s) visit the colleges that they are most serious about. We want to help you and your family find the perfect college, so schedule an appointment to come see us or give us a call so we can guide you in this process.