As the school year winds to an end, our children are caught up in dreams of summer vacations, swimming pools, and of course, going off to college. By now most students have already paid a visit to their college of choice and we have some tips for those who haven’t and especially for those choosing a college next year.
I’ll go out on a limb and say that all colleges offer some type of visitation program for students considering attending. From simple campus tours to weekend visits, colleges want you to get a feel for their campus life before finalizing your decision.
Students can start out visiting schools as early as sophomore year in most cases. As a rule, most schools allow visits and tours from Sophomores and Juniors, while reserving the overnight visits for seniors; this is partly due to age and also it helps the college make the best use of their resources. When your student begins to settle on 3 or 4 primary college choices, then it is time to begin setting up some visits. Before going, make sure your child does a little background check on the school; that way he/she will be informed of the history and will have a better idea of what to expect from the campus. For example if your child has an aversion to awesome SEC football teams, they may not want to visit the University of Kentucky, and without doing some homework on it they would never know!
Now I’m going to give you the 3 W’s of college visits:
- When to visit?
The best time of year to visit is a big question I get. While there isn’t a particular day or week that is best, try and schedule your visit while school is in session. Visiting during the semester will allow your student to see how the campus ebbs and flows during a normal day. Being able to see the “life” happening on campus can really help solidify a college in terms of attending or not. This also offers the opportunity to interact with students and get a feel for the type of students that attend. I would recommend visiting toward the end of the Spring semester, but not too late or you’ll see a lot of stressed faces at finals time.
- Why visit?
We really covered most of this above, but it is worth repeating. Visiting a school will allow your child to get a feel for how the campus comes together as a community. As your child moves away from home they will want a place they can feel comfortable and accepted if they want to succeed at college.
- Where to visit?
Narrow your list to 3-4 colleges that are realistic choices both financially and as acceptance possibilities. I would recommend having a diverse mix that includes a smaller school (private or otherwise), a large state school, and maybe a liberal arts school. Allowing you student to see what options are available can be a great help. Some students might flourish in a large state school, but wouldn’t do well in a school with a small class size. I have several friends who attended a larger state school having never visited anyplace else. After a weekend trip to visit another friend at his smaller private school the first friend transferred because he loved the campus so much and the attention given to students in the smaller classes.
Overall be sure to support your student in what they want, but help guide them as much as you can. In the long run it is their life and their choice.
Thanks for reading,
Kurt Supe offers Securities through CFD Investments, Inc., Registered Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA & SIPC, and Kurt Supe offers Advisory Services through Creative Financial Designs, Inc., Registered Investment Adviser. Indy College Funding is a separate and unaffiliated company from CFD Investments, Inc. and Creative Financial Designs, Inc.