The All Important College Visit – What to Look For?
What to Ask About?
“Early in the morning; it’s the dawn of a new day; New Hopes, New Dreams, New Ways”~ India Arie
Last month, I toured 14 colleges in eight days, all schools part of the Florida Sunshine Consortium. I learned a lot, met a lot of wonderful counselors from around the world, and returned home filled with hope for our future.
In my practice, I often attend tours such as this. There are more than 4,000 colleges in this country, and I’m the first to admit that I haven’t been on every campus.
It’s important to me as I guide students that I speak with first-hand knowledge about many of the schools I recommend on a ‘best-fit’ list. I have visited most schools in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, West Virginia and Washington DC. Now I can add the state of Florida to that list. At the end of this article, I will share highlights from a few of the schools that impressed me on this tour, along with photos.
Touring a college campus is an important step in the entire admissions’ process. In my mind, selecting a college is as important as purchasing a new home. You wouldn’t buy a home without thoroughly examining it and determining that it’s just the right fit for you. It’s the same with choosing a college. Nothing can replace an in-person visit to the college(s) you are considering. You may have researched the school thoroughly, but a visit allows you to get the ‘feel’ of the institution in a way that books, websites, your friend’s thoughts, and videos cannot.
What to do on a College Visit
While you are on campus, in addition to a student-led tour, there are several other things you can do to help decide if this school is right for you, including:
- Ask for an interview with an admissions’ counselor. Impress upon this person who you are and why you would be a good addition to the student body for the following year. Make you give your name to the admissions’ office so they have a record of your campus visit.
- Talk to students other than your tour guide; ask them what they like about the school and what changes they would make, if possible.
- Pick up a college newspaper to get an idea of what events are happening on campus.
- If time allows, attend a class and/or meet with a coach in a sport you want to play.
- Sample the food offerings on campus by eating at least one meal there.
For parents, it is also important to have a few questions ready for members of the school community. After all, your child will be spending four years of his or her life on this campus, and you will be spending thousands of your hard-earned dollars supporting him.
You want to get the best possible return on your investment. Because I am vigilant about reducing student debt and increasing career prospects after college, I always ask questions pertaining to internship opportunities and the availability of scholarships. Some other issues that might concern you are:
• Campus security
• Special academic programs offered
• Class size
• Teacher accessibility to students
• Professors versus teaching assistants
• Additional services offered at no extra cost, i.e tutoring, counseling, health
• Dorm life
• Percentage of financial need that college usually meets
• Career placement
When I was on the Florida tour, I asked questions about many of these topics and, I can share with 100 percent certainty that there are some high quality, academically-rich colleges in the Sunshine State. The schools that I visited are: Florida Southern, Southeastern, Barry, Lynn, Keiser, Eckard, University of Tampa, St. Leo, Rollins, Florida Technology, Stetson, Embry-Riddle, University of Jacksonville, and Flagler. I would recommend any of these schools. In the interest of brevity, a couple of the schools that stood out to me are:
Florida Southern University:
• 98% of graduates participate in internships, practicum, field work, research
• 13:1 student to teacher ratio
• The campus houses the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture
• Learning Disabled program includes at least four hours of one on one tutoring
• 90% of students receive merit aid (not loans)
• Very diverse student body
Embry Riddle University:
• Global Cybersecurity Program
• The #1 Aerospace Program in the US
• 14:1 student to teacher ratio
• Ranked in the top 5% of universities in the South according to US News and World Report
• 13:1 student to teacher ratio
• 91% of graduates are either employed or in graduate school one year after graduation
In June, I will be traveling to North Carolina to visit colleges and universities. Check out my July blog post for information on those schools.
Feeling overwhelmed with the college process and need help? Contact me at 240-285-1920 or firstname.lastname@example.org.