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Hi, thinking of heading down South for Spring Break to look at colleges with my son who is math/science oriented. Just trying to figure out the best way to go about this and how many schools we could realistically expect to visit in 3 or 4 days. is there a good central place to stay to be able to hit several such as UCLA, USC, Caltech, maybe UCSD? Are tours the way to go? Any and all input appreciated! Mom just getting started
Our daughter is a sophomore in high school, and beginning to think ahead to college. She's very interested in attending a small liberal arts college on the East Coast, but that is pretty abstract and not connected to any college in particular. I'd like to take her back East over spring break to begin the process of identifying which school(s) might be a good fit. I know that there is a current discussion here about organizing oneself for the college application process, but we have specific questions about college visits: how to sort out which of the many prospective colleges a student should actually visit, how to narrow down the field, how many visits to fit into a week's time on the East Coast, how to see the student body in action, and so forth. Anything else we should be thinking of? We are in the earliest stages of the process and want to make the best use of our time back East in the spring. Early planning stage
The problem with Spring break visits is that the colleges may also be on Spring break. It all depends. I don't know if there is an ideal time to visit. We visited in early June at the end of a High School year. Downside: classes were not in session at most schools; Upside: students were on campus getting reading for Summer Sessions and we were able to get a lot of inpromptu one on one tours, and get a real feel for the schools.
We overestimated how many schools we could see, and underestimated how much time it would take at each campus and to travel between schools in regions we did not know well. 2 schools per day really is max. In Boston I think we saw 4.
We also liked this website and bought some of the guides: http://collegeprowler.com/
My student was very interested in student quality of life, and looking for peers she with whom she felt connected.
Every campus tends to have a distinct style, especially since colleges often have a type of student they are looking for. You often see very diverse ethnic and racial student bodies, yet there is a definable narrow range of personality types to each school. Hard to see that on the standard scripted tours, but you get more of a feel by walking around, talking to students, or sending your student to spend an overnight visit. Hate to stereotype but small colleges are more like villages than cities IMHO. If you find a comfortable fit, it goes a long way.
Beware, you might want to attend college too
My son is junior in High school and I am sure this question must have come many times, what is the best time for High school student to visit colleges, should they visit college during junior year? My take is that they should visit after they have been accepted by few colleges then to make a decision between those colleges they should visit only those colleges. I want him to apply to all the good colleges based on college ranking. Please share your views and experience on this. N
My child found more info about the colleges he was intersted in on- line. (And not on the college's web site either, use the sites the studnets use.
Many colleges have class lectures on-line now which is a good way to get a feel for what classes are like. (My child actually took a full semester class from MIT while in High School to see what it was like.) He purchased the text on Amazon, took the exams, graded them himself and took the final all for a class that took place 2 years ago. (This was done all for fun, no credit was received.)
Once my child was accepted we did visit the school that was the first choice just to make sure he would like it and be happy there.
Use on-line resources. Look at instructors web site, studnet web sites/forums, and YouTube videos. ANON
We did alot of school visits over spring break junior year - the UC's and CSU's we went to were all in session and they all have great tours - you need to book far in advance for some schools and others you can just show up - check the web sites - they all have prospective student websites. We did a 6 day trip south and managed to see UCLA, San Diego State, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach. My daughter went on to Davis on a bus offered by Davis that took kids from the local high schools. She went with other families to see a few other schools and we also took some other kids with us. At many of the sites she knew some kids who were older and attending and we met up with them to see dorms and talk to them about their experiences. The kids also traveled on their own to a few schools where they had friends they could stay with and attended the tours and visited with friends and were able to stay in the dorms to also see more schools than I had time to take them to.
My daughter did apply to several private and out of state schools, where it would have been necessary to get some financial aid to attend. We decided to wait to see if she got in and if they offered aid and then we could schedule a trip to visit if it was a viable option. good luck
http://collegesearch.collegeboard.com/search/adv_typeofschool.jsp This is a free website with lots of info
Everything will cost time or time + money, so first thing set aside time every week, if your teen is not interested maybe cook a fav lunch or bake cookies, find something to engage her in the search since she is going to college.
You can visit local campuses after school, on a teacher's work day or on weekends. Even if she is not interested in that school, you can get a feel for other campuses, - an older campus vs a modern one, a commuter school vs one with dorms etc. Traveling to out of state campuses or out of town ones is very worthwhile but again will either entail a lot of driving or some cash or credit card miles to buy plane tickets. Most colleges will require appts and will have tours at specific times, and certain days.
Make an appt with her college counselor ASAP, even if they are busy - hopefully her school still has one. If not the public libraries probably have college catelogs, and the main books that list all the schools. Contact schools online - they all have websites, send for catalogs from only the most interesting ones - or you will have too much to look at.
Private colleges are incredibly expensive these days. Full scholarships are rare, though we are supposed to get better breaks from the Feds soon. You might look at state schools like University of Texas, or Canadian public colleges that have much lower tuitions.
She can also attend a Community College for two years and take the track that helps her transfer to a UC. CSU however has many campuses with great programs so I would not overlook, or underrate that option. Coming out of college without a backbreaking load of debt is an important consideration, very few professions help you pay off that debt quickly. been thru college apps, looking at grad school now
My daughter is a sophomore in high school and next year we will have to start deciding on colleges to which she will apply. Does anyone know of any college trips that are pre-arranged? When I was growing up, my parents paid for me to go on a trip that was organized and led by a woman who did this for her living. We visited most state and UC schools-stayed overnight for a few nights- it was quite fun and very helpful. I am a single mom with another teenager and cannot imagine planning a trip to various schools on my own-the logistics of when to visit-who to meet-campus tours-where to stay-all overwhelms me a bit. Any advice helps! thanks! anon
We're parents of a junior. During the Spring break and summer we'd like to tour some college and university campuses in Southern California and the Southwest or the Northwest? Any ideas of where to begin in terms of joining an organized tour anytime? Help! Cathleen
If you want to go as a family and to visit several different kinds of places, I suggest that you narrow your focus ahead of time. So where to begin your campus tour - at the bookstore! The problem with choosing a college is not that there are too few, but that there are too many. I'd suggest that before you go off to Southern California, the Southwest, or the Northwest with your High School junior, you pick up a copy of the latest annual 'Fiske Guide' to the most interesting colleges in the US. It will tell you a LOT - my daughter and I read it almost cover to cover. My son skipped over almost all of the liberal arts colleges and concentrated on technical/research institutions. Also pick up a copy of 'The College Admissions Mystique' by Bill Mayher. Talk as a family about what your own student is interested in. We made up matrixes with colleges down the side vs. desired qualities (according to your student) across the top. From 25 or 30 to start, we narrowed the list to 10 or 12. Even that was too many to visit for us, partly because they were really spread out across the country.
Before making travel reservations, find the web sites of the colleges you are most interested in. Take their virtual tours. They are fun and give you a beginning impression of the campus. Also check the college ratings online or in a magazine (Business Week?). Then make up your own itinerary of what you what to see. Call to get reservations at the individual campuses, and also for interviews on-site if they are available or necessary. Either through friends or by calling the Admissions Office, it can be arranged for your student to stay overnight at the dorm, to go on a tour, etc. If you are interested and get on the mailing list, the campus may send you flyers about open houses or special events for prospective students and their parents. You may want to be with your student part of the time and then to let them off on their own part of the time.
It is good to visit before applying if you can! After getting the acceptance letters, if you still haven't seen the colleges, you can visit then (April of Senior year). Nice to know your student is accepted, but then he or she is under pressure to decide pretty quickly. And the air-fare at short notice can be costly. My daughter turned in her response in person at the campus of her choice on the deadline day. Whew! (She's in grad school now.) Good luck and have fun!
My daughter is going to be visiting some colleges this fall. Her father or I plan to go with her, which annoys her greatly. She says that "No one's parents" accompany their kids on these visits. Since visiting the financial aid people is the main item on our parental agenda, something our daughter can't do effectively herself, we figure she will just have to get over it. However, I am wondering if parents do or do not generally go with their kids on these visits. Also, how is this handled when the college invites the child without mentioning the parent? Louise
There are some college counselors who offer rather high priced trips to New England to visit schools. In this case parents didn't go. Can't say I subscribe to this but it is an option.
Although the majority probably visit schools in spring of junior year or fall of senior year (we chose November so she could see what New England really looked like when all turned gray), there were several families I knew that went through the application process and when acceptances were received, visited the schools that were in the final decision process. This can sometimes be difficult to schedule in mid-April but for some people it worked well.
At the end of our daughter's senior year, when she was deciding between 2 schools, she flew to them on her own, took public transit, stayed in the dorm, and attended classes with older friends. She went to each school for 2 days. This was a key experience (and well worth the money) in helping her sort out the final two schools. But we would never have sent her on her own in the spring or fall to visit 6 locations in 5 days .
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