Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Campus Visit Guide

Provided by Lauren Kahn M.A., Educational Consultant / CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting, LLC

Maximizing the College Campus Visit
Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors ....
What college campuses will you visit this spring break?

College Campus Visit Guide
Top 10 Ways to Test Drive a College, with Some Added Features

Brown University - Spring 2007
by: Lauren Kahn, M.A.

NOTE: If you are staying in town this spring break and live in the Austin metro area, you may want to consider attending Lone Star Ed Consulting's Essay & Resume Writing Workshop. March 15th - March 19th, 2010. For details, click here.  
Lone Star Ed Consulting will provide you the first six tips in this blog. Contact us directly if you would like to receive the remaining college campus visit tips or call us at 512-294-6608 to schedule a college planning consultation. We serve families throughout Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC.    

1. Timing of Your Visit - Lauren highly recommends visiting a college campus during the academic school year. Try and visit a campus while school is in full swing to get an accurate picture of everyday college life. A prime time to visit is during your high school spring break. Colleges often have spring breaks at different times. Check which schools do not overlap with your break and start your college visit planning.

College Tool Kit reports, "Although summer might be the most convenient time to make such excursions, it is the worst time to experience a college; most smaller schools are not in session, so students and classes are absent. Dorm rooms are empty and devoid of all personal touches, making it difficult to envision oneself there. Bulletin boards, usually so revealing of the cultural and social opportunities of the college, are bare. The campus grounds, on the other hand, look neater and cleaner than they will look again the entire year."

2. Learn about the college before you visit. Read materials from the college and check out their web site. If you are visiting more than one on a particular day, refresh your memory about that school just before you arrive. Be sure to spend at least one-half day at each college.

3. Evaluate the environment of the campus. Is the campus too big or too small for you? Do you like the nearby town or do you feel isolated? Consider how you would get around campus, particularly in the rain or snow.

4. Visit the admissions office and participate in the information session. Ask questions that help you clarify the academic program at the school and the type of student who is most comfortable and successful there. You may choose to have a formal interview with an admissions staff member. Seniors, bring a resume which includes your grades, activities, and test scores (Although, no one will probably ask you for it). Dress nicely, but not out of character. Make sure to sign in when you check in. Some schools prioritize their admission decisions based on interest level. If you take time out of your hectic high school schedule to visit their campus, they appreciate this.

5. Take the student-led tour of campus. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions about campus life from a peer. Recognize, however, that tour guides are not necessarily typical of all students since they formally represent the school.

6. Check out the dorms. Find out about the dorm options available, such as all-Freshman or co-ed. Arrange in advance to spend the night in a dorm, if possible. Picture yourself living in a dorm. Are you comfortable with where they are located on campus, such as the proximity to classes or the campus center?

If you want the rest of Lone Star Ed Consulting's tips on how to test drive a college campus visit, click here.

Twenty Questions to Ask during a College Visit (Plus Nine Annoying Questions
Your Parents Should Ask)

The object of the game Twenty Questions is to get enough information to be able to correctly identify an object. These twenty questions can help you figure out whether a school is the perfect college for you. Ask them during your college tour or admissions interview.

Five Questions To Ask the Admissions Counselor

1. What services are available to help students make a successful transition to college life?
2. Are most freshman classes taught by professors or by graduate students? How many students are likely to be in my first-year and introductory classes?
3. What kind of financial aid do most students receive? What scholarship, work-study, and grant programs am I eligible for?
4. What makes this college different from [a similar or competing college]?
5. Do most of the college’s students get good jobs after graduation? Do many apply to graduate school? Do they have a high acceptance rate?

Five Questions to Ask Your Tour Guide or Other Students

1. What do students do on the weekends? Do most students go home, or are there lots of activities to participate in?
2. Do you feel that your professors really care about you and the other students? Can you get help when you need it?
3. Where else did you look when you were applying to colleges, and what made you choose this one?
4. Is there anything you don’t like about this school? What do you like best?
5. What are the top three issues that concern students here?

Five Questions to Ask a Professor

1. What is a typical workload of homework, papers, and tests in your classes?
2. How accessible are you to students? Are you only available during office hours, or do you interact with students outside of class?
3. What are the main differences I can expect between a high school and a college class?
4. Do students have the opportunity to assist with faculty research? Are students encouraged to pursue their own research?
5. What do you like most about teaching here? Why did you decide to teach at this school?

Five Questions to Ask Yourself

1. Will I fit in with the students I’ve seen and met during my visit?
2. Will the academic programs challenge me and prepare me for a career?
3. Are there clubs, activities, and organizations that interest me?
4. Did I feel welcomed by the staff and students? Can I picture myself living here for four or more years?
5. Is the mission of the school in line with my value system and personal goals?

Nine Bothersome, but Necessary Questions Your Parents Should Ask

1. What is college campus safety like? Can students request escorts to their dorms late at night? Are there emergency call boxes throughout campus? What kind of training do campus security personnel receive?
2. What security measures are in place in the dormitories? How is access to the dorms controlled?
3. Can students have overnight guests? Are there rules about visitation by members of the opposite sex? Are there any single-sex dorms? How about substance-free dorms? (Notre Dame does not allow co-mingling of the opposite sex in their dorms after mid-night on weeknights and after 2AM on the weekends. These housing rules are strictly enforced.)
4. What academic and emotional support systems are available to students? Do you have a counseling center? Is there tutoring help available?
5. What medical services are available on campus? Where is the nearest hospital? How are students billed for medical services? Is student health insurance available?
6. Is there much partying on campus? Are there certain activities that are grounds for expulsion? Will I be informed if my child does something illegal?
7. How are roommates chosen? What is the process for handling conflicts or incompatibility between roommates?
8. What is the return rate for second-year students? What are some of the reasons students leave or transfer?
9. What is a typical financial aid package like? Do most students receive financial aid? Can you help us with the financial paperwork? Under what conditions might my child lose financial aid?

Compiled by and edited by Lauren Kahn from Lone Star Ed Consulting, LLC.

Related Blogs:
Campus Visits
Test Scores

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