Finding the Right Fit for Your Future Freshman
Deciding where you’re going to live for the next four years isn’t an easy decision for anyone, especially a high schooler. From the temptation to choose the same school as their bestie to wanting to live in their favorite big city, the pressure is real.
When decision overload hits, a college visit can be hugely helpful for finding the right fit for your soon-to-be freshman. Here are our favorite strategies for making the most of your campus visits.
Narrow down choices
The first step to planning a successful college visit is knowing which schools to visit.
Talk to your future collegian about their must-haves and how they see themselves living for the next four years.
Of course, making sure potential colleges offer the right major is a big first step, but keep in mind that students often change majors.
Other things to talk about, besides their major, include the location: do they want to be near a big city? Are they looking for someplace warm? And what about amenities: are they looking for a school with plenty of sports and school spirit? Or a smaller, private school?
Establish a budget
Even after narrowing down choices, your high schooler might have a loooong list of colleges they love. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can afford to visit every single one of them, especially if they’re spread out all around the country.
Once you’ve decided on how much you can spend, let them help you decide how to spend it. Would they rather blow the majority of their budget on visiting their dream school? Or do they want to visit two or three of their “maybe” colleges?
Group nearby options
Now, we’re not saying you guys have to visit all the schools in the area. But you’ll definitely get more bang for your buck if you visit multiple colleges on each trip.
Once you and your high schooler have decided which colleges to visit, check to see if there are other schools in the area worth visiting.
For example, if you’re visiting the University of Central Florida, you’re less than an hour from Stetson University, Rollins College, and Full Sail University, plus a short drive from FSU, UF, USF, and countless others. Not bad options for your future Floridian!
Make the most of your time on campus
Sure, you could simply fly into town and drive over to your kid’s dream school to check it out. But that’s not going to give you the best use of your time—or your money.
Once you’ve decided which schools to visit, call the Admissions office to set up whatever you can: guided tours, admissions interviews, a sleepover in the dorms, and anything else they may offer.
Let your student take the lead
Even if you’re not ready to admit it, your high schooler is going to be off on their own soon. Think of every college visit as a mini-lesson in letting go; give them space to do their own thing.
Talk to them beforehand about questions they might have during the tour, but let them do the asking. See if they can sit in on a class in their desired major, or interact with students in their future field. Let them wander around on their own.
Explore more than just the campus
Your kid is going to spend just as much time off campus as they are on campus. So spend some time exploring the area and letting your kid get a feel for the overall ambience.
Check out some of the popular off-campus sites: cafes, bookshops, restaurants… If there’s a cool city nearby, hang out downtown.
Which school had that great gym? And which one had that great library? Was it the one that holds classes outdoors in the spring? Gah.
If you make enough college visits, chances are that they’re all going to run together. Take plenty of pictures to refresh your memory when decision-making time rolls around.
Planning campus visits with your high schooler can be stressful, with so many details and emotions involved. Just take a deep breath, follow our tips, and remember: you’ve got this, and your kid’s got this.
You can also make your visit less stressful by shipping your stuff to your hotel or Airbnb. No lugging bags through the airport, no worries at baggage claim. Just head off to campus and let your kid enjoy a preview of college life!