As the 2017 school year is ending, it is just the beginning for the rising high school senior or the class of 2018. This summer, the college bound student will begin the college search, which may include road trips to visit colleges. Finding the college fit includes the right combination of academics, financial and environmental factors. To make your trips easier, EFC PLUS has created a list of items to review before, during and after your college planning visits. From our own experience, this process can be overwhelming for the student and the parents. Creating a process and a way to rate your opinions during the tours can help to relieve some of the stress. (EFC PLUS College Visit Checklist Download)
As parents, we often think that our home is going to be our largest single purchase. With the rising cost of college, educating multiple children and helping them to be successful, is now for most the most expensive decision for a growing number of parents. Creating a preplanned list for your college trip will make the tour more beneficial and help the student compare the colleges more effectively.
Other Factors to Consider
Here are a few things that may affect your visit and impression of the college. The student and parent need to be aware of these items especially during the summer visits.
The first is the weather and tour guide. Depending on the time of year and the location, the weather could be significantly different than that of the school year. You need to point this out to student during the actual visit to the college.
I often talk about college being a business. The admission office and the tour guides are the sales people of the institution. You need to realize their role, as you are the consumer. Sometimes the personality of the guide can distort your impression of the college either positively or negatively. Many times, you will need to do more research to find the real personality of the college.
As the student refines their college list, I find re-visiting the campus during the school year to be beneficial. With school in session, college bound students can get a clearer picture of the personality of the student body and the campus atmosphere. It is also good to talk to current students and ask about their experience.
Selecting the right college is a very emotional time. There is significant peer pressure that comes from friends, family, high schools, and the colleges. To improve a student’s chances of finding the best college fit, he or she must plan and explore different educational institutes. The aesthetic beauty of the campus is easy to determine during a college visit but to get the best financial and academic fit the student will need to do additional research. Take the extra steps to talk to department heads as well as making a visit to the career center is important. Review the availability of the majors, internships, career demand and job placement can also be important factors in the decision process.
College transfer rate is approximately 35% and currently adults change careers between 3 and 7 times in their lifetime. Having the pressure of selecting that perfect college is not always realistic. As an example, two of my three children changed colleges and majors for very different reasons. The difference is we focused on the outcome. Both graduated on time and got jobs at graduation in the major they pursued. I mentioned my own experience because it is important to discuss major, job placement and graduation date as your children progress through college. Having the pressure of finding the perfect college can be extremely stressful. Life is a series of evolutions and the college decision is just another one in the process.
In the recent Princeton Review survey, student debt and college affordability are now the biggest concerns of both the parents and students. Both of these now are more important than getting into a student’s first choice. College affordability and future debt needs to be discussed since many of the admission presentation will include the statement: “You need to apply. We have plenty of financial aid.”
If this were true, we would not have a student debt crisis of $1.4 trillion affecting 45+ million people.
Families need to understand both what and how they will pay for each college over the four years. EFC PLUS can help families understand issue of college affordability with our College Cost Analyzer software. This software helps high school families create a customized four-year cost of each college, student debt projections and best college value. Our award letter comparison tool allows families to compare their colleges in one place and make a better college decision.
Planning a College Visit Summary
During your college visit, don’t forget to ask the admission office, tour guide and department heads specific questions about their campus. If you have a special area of interest, find out if you can sit in on a class in that area. Now is the time for exploration! No questions should be left unanswered!
Enjoy your college visits with your family! Pre-planning your visit, with places to see and questions to ask will help your college bound child better remember the details of the college. We hope the checklist helps families narrow the college list and make a better decision. Please click here to get a PDF copy of the below college checklist to bring on your college visits.