Wednesday’s Parent: The Student Role in the College Visit


college visitVisiting a college is a great way to evaluate a “good on paper” school but students and parents have different roles. Wendy and I already gave our tips about why these trips are so important on Wednesday’s Parent. I called my post College Visits from the Trenches about how your student might react on those visits. Now it’s time to focus on each family member’s function.

So take those college lists on the road to visit schools for the first time or reevaluate those that offered admission.

These are five parts students play during a college visit:

1. Don’t let the cat get your tongue.

Speak up. Ask questions. Make yourself known. A college visit is the best opportunity to show colleges you are interested. Speak with admissions, financial aid, professors, and any other staff that could help you with your decision about their college. Going on the tour is great, but if you follow in silence, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

2. Be a super sleuth.

Pay attention to everything that is going on around you. Observe the students and how they interact with one another. Observe the faculty and how they communicate with the students and each other. Watch for any signs of discontent, unhappiness, or tension as you walk around campus. A certain amount of it is to be expected, but if every student acts unhappy and is complaining about the college, the professors, and their living conditions, it could be a red flag.

3. Play well with others.

Talk to students. Start a conversation in the student union, with the tour guide, or with students who are mingling around campus. Make connections even on the visit. These connections can be an invaluable source for questions and concerns, even after you leave campus. Get cell numbers and emails if possible and once you return home, make a quick connection by sending a text or firing off an email.

4. Assume the role of a treasure hunter.

Step off the tour and do some investigating. If possible, visit some dorm rooms that you didn’t see on the tour. Walk around campus and get a feel for the place. How far are the classrooms from the freshman dorms? Are the services offered on campus that you didn’t see on the tour? Look at the campus bulletin boards to see what’s happening on campus. In short, look for the hidden treasures on and off campus. You’re going to be living there for the next four years.

5. Be introspective.

It’s time to ask yourself just one question: Can I see myself living and studying here? If the answer is no, it might be time to cross the college off the list. Spend some time reflecting on your visit and the overall “feeling” you got when you visited. Trust your gut here. If you aren’t feeling it, it’s probably not your school. It’s all right to have some questions and some doubts, but if it’s an instant “no” then trust your feelings and move on.

You’ve done your part, now what is your parent’s part? Read Wendy’s blog: The Parent Role in the College Visit.

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