College Decision Day: Where will you attend?

You have researched colleges, visited campuses, applied and been accepted, evaluated your award letter, and now it’s time to make your final choice.  May 1st is the date that most colleges would like you decision and deposit, but you are free to make the decision earlier if you would like.  You have worked hard to get to this moment.  What will your college decision be?  Here are some final thoughts to consider as you make this most important decision.

College Decision Day: Show me the college
College Decision campus visit

By now you have probably visited the college at least once, but you may want to take a more leisurely visit before your final decision.  Take a stroll around the campus, have a picnic on the quad, take some time to experience the campus and college life.  Sometimes, when you go for a scheduled visit you are too busy with your itinerary to slow down and really experience what the normal routine may be.  Try to image what a normal day of college life might be for you at that particular college or university.  You can learn a lot by slowing down and observing.

College Decision Day: Show me the money

Whether you like it or not, college is a financial decision.  So take a moment to look through the financials.  You may even want to schedule a family discussion about college plans.  This is a great time to make a college spending plan.  There is also still time to apply for some scholarships.  You may want to check your employers, local service organization, an other community involvement agencies.  Do as much work as you can now to help your financial picture for your first year of college.

College Decision Day: Make the Decision

Once you are confident in your decision, you need to submit your deposit and any final paperwork necessary.  Most students show their decision by wearing a T-shirt proudly declaring their college decision.  It’s a time of celebration….a right of passage of sorts.  The high school years will soon be over, and a whole new door of opportunity awaits!

So celebrate your decision now, for classes will begin sooner than you think!

 

 

College Campus Trip Strategy – Places to see

The college campus trip is one of the most effective tools in  making your final college decision.  You have done your research and gathered all the information you can find online; now it’s time to see, hear, smell, taste and feel the campus for yourself.  Once you have scheduled the proper meetings for your visit, you need to consider what places you need to see.  So here is a College Campus Trip Strategy regarding the places you will want to see.

Visit the Student Life Facilities!

Here is where your sense of smell comes in…let it guide you to the cafeteria.  It is important to have a meal on campus during your college campus trip.  You can learn a lot about a campus by visiting the cafeteria.  You see how the students interact with each other.  And you can hear the sounds of college campus life.  Not to mention the most important part of visiting the college cafeteria, you can taste the food.  Remember, if you are living on campus, you will be eating here 3 times a day.

Another student life area of interest is the student housing.  You need to visit the dorms and see them first hand.  It’s one thing to see them online or in a flier, but you want to see them when they are full of the campus life.  For what are you looking?  Look at the size, is it crowded or comfy?  Look at convenience, where is the restroom located?  Do you like the layout of a particular dorm style over another?  Make note of what you observe.

Make sure you visit the student center.  All student centers are different, but what you are looking for is a place to relax with friends.  Some student centers include office for people who serve the student body, which could include: health offices, academic services, student life service, etc.

Visit the Academic Life Areas!

Academic life is an important part of your college life.  Here are a few places you will want to visit.  First, make sure you visit a classroom.  If you are able to sit in on a class you will be able to see and experience the classroom at it’s best.

Second, make sure you visit the Library.  US News identified “4 Reasons Why the Library Should Affect Your College Choice”.  No matter how much time you spend in the Library, it is a great stop for you to make during your college campus trip.

Third, make sure you visit the bookstore.  While many books are bought online, there will still be the occasional book that can only be found quickly by a visit to the bookstore.  Anyway, you are going to need a new t-shirt with your college’s mascot as a way to say, “I was there!

Visit the Specialized Facilities!

We are using this term as broadly as possible.  For instance, if you are an athlete, the specialized facilities may be the sports arena/field, the locker rooms and workout facility.  If you are an artist, you will want to check out the art rooms.  If you are a science major you will will want to check out the labs.  A great amount of your college life will be spent in these “specialized areas”.  Make sure you see these areas and ask yourself some simple questions:

  • How do these areas compare with the ones you are already familiar with using?
  • Do you believe these areas will meet the specific needs you will have during your college years?

Your college campus trip is an invaluable tool in choosing which college to attend.  It is worth the investment of time and money to visit each college you are seriously considering.  With the right strategy, you will be able to find the college of your dreams.

College Campus Visit Strategy – Who to meet?

VISITING the college campus is the single best thing that you can do to move forward in your college search.  Absolutely nothing takes the place of being physically present on a campus, and picturing yourself as a student on that campus. There is a gut feeling that almost all students express when they visit a campus.  “Do I see myself fitting in here – in this environment and with these students?” That is the most basic thing that you want to accomplish on your campus visit.  So here is a college campus visit strategy that will help you get the most out of your visit…schedule a meeting with the right people.

When you visit the college campus there are certain people with whom you want to speak in person.  These individuals will help you gain a clearer picture of what college life will be if you choose that particular college.  So let’s identify those individuals and some of the questions that may be important for you to ask.

Meet the College Admission Representative

The importance of this meeting can not be understated.  It is here that you will find any college information that you were unable to find while researching the particular college.  You should be able to find ample college data online such as:  student to faculty ratio, Average SAT/ACT Scores, academic programs and specialties, etc.  However, any information you did not find online can be obtained by meeting with the college admission representative.  Here are some additional questions you may need to ask:

  • What does your college offer in terms of career services?
  • What types of academic assistance are available?
  • How are roommates assigned?
  • What can you tell me about job placement data for recent graduates?

This meeting will be a great place to start the financial aid conversation.  You may or may not be able to meet with a financial aid representative.  But you can certainly ask some of your financial aid questions at this meeting.  Ask what kind of scholarship opportunities are available?  What kind of scholarships may be available to your specific circumstances?  This simple question may lead to thousands of unknown scholarship funds.

Meet the Department Representative

Before you scheduled your college campus visit, you ensured that they have a major in your particular area of interest.  On your visit, you want to meet with a department representative.  It is during this meeting that you can ask specific academic questions that you may have regarding your area of interest.  Here are some questions that may be of importance during this meeting:

  • How much flexibility does this major have with upper-level courses?
  • What are the specific course requirements for this major?
  • Are there any specific requirements a student must meet/complete before they can declare this major (i.e., completion of specific courses, a GPA requirement, etc.)?
  • Are there scholarships available specifically for students in this major?
  • What kinds of jobs do students who graduate with this major typically pursue?

This information is invaluable to your college decision process.  Again, a question regarding specific scholarships related to this field of study would be appropriate to ask the department representative.

Meet with a Current Student

The timing of your college campus visit is very important.  You want to meet while classes are in session and while other students are on campus.  One reason for this is so that you get an opportunity to sit down and talk with a student.  You can learn a lot from a student’s view of their college.  Here are a few questions you might want to ask a current student:

  • Why did you select this university?
  • What is your favorite thing about this university?
  • What is a typical day like?
  • Does social life revolve around the campus or do students leave on the weekend?
  • How is the on-campus food?
  • Did you live in the Dorms? Did you enjoy them?
  • Do you feel safe? What is campus security like?

As you can tell, a college campus visit is vital to making the best decision when it comes time to choose a college.  However, to make the best of your visit, you may need to plan your trip.  These meetings that we have mentioned will help you have a great college campus visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

College Fair Strategies

This is the time of year for college fairs.  Perhaps you have already  received an invitation to your local event.  These kind of events offer a great amount of information for college planning.  According to BigFuture by college Board, “A college fair is a gathering of college representatives who are looking for the right students for their institutions. They’re there to spread the word about their college to high school students — and they want to talk to you.”  So attend!  But before you do, you need to have a plan.  So here are some college fair strategies that will help you make the most of your college planning adventure.

Don’t attend without a plan!

Here is the first of our college fair strategies…make a plan.  There will be many colleges at the fair and it may be impossible to see every single one. This is why a plan is so important.  If possible, get a list of the colleges that will be in attendance.  This information should be available at the college fair website.  Also, see if you can find a map of the college fair itself.  You may be able to map out your trip even before the doors open.  (Power Tip: You can eliminate every college that does not have you intended major.)  This will save you lots of time.

Also, make sure you have everything you need for your information finding adventure.  You will need a pen, paper, and clipboard (or something else on which to write).  Bring a small bag/tote, because there will be a lot of informational handouts.  It would be helpful to bring a bottle of water to refresh yourself after talking to the college representatives.  But the most important thing you will need to prepare prior to the event is a list of questions!

Make a list of questions!

Okay, let’s move forward with our college fair strategies.  Strategy #2: ask the right questions.  The entire focus of the college fair is information, but the wrong information will not help you.  So, take some time prior to the college fair and ask yourself what information is most valuable to you.  A quick search of the internet will help you find a lot of good questions to ask at your college fair.  These questions may or may not be the main questions you have, but at least they are a starting place.

In fact, we recommend you find a good college fair worksheet.  You can find many of these resources online.  We suggest that you find the most detailed worksheet you can and then start your research early online.  You can find financial information, demographic information, graduation rate, average debt load of graduates and much, much more.  If you use the college fair to find information that is already available online, you will miss the full potential of the college fair.  College fairs are most valuable when you ask the questions you can’t find elsewhere.

Plan time to Evaluate!

Here is the last of our college fair strategies today.  Take time to evaluate your college fair findings.  You should do this as soon after the fair as possible, while all the information is fresh in your mind.  Yes, you made good notes and asked great questions, but that information is not valuable until you place it in the context of your college plans.  Place your worksheets side by side and start to see what are your “likes” and “dislikes” about the individual colleges.  Then prioritize the list of college from the ones you like the most to the ones you dislike.

Congratulations, you have just made your college list!  And you already have many of your questions answered.  Breathe a sigh of relief and get ready for the next step in your college preparation…the college campus visit.