Friday, March 8, 2024

College Visits and Campus Tours

Thank you Bright Horizons College Coach for sponsoring this blog post. All thoughts, ideas and experiences are my own!  

We are getting back into the swing of things after being on Winter Break a few weeks ago and then being out of town for a cheer competition last weekend! During Winter Break Handley, my oldest, had practice during the week and since I knew we wouldn't be going on vacation anywhere, I decided to schedule a few college visits with her. We'd been to a few schools for college cheer clinics over the past year, but I had several friends with older kids tell me that they highly recommend doing campus tours early and taking advantage of school breaks during your student's junior year. It was great advice because while it would be nice to go during the summer, we've realized that you really get a better feel for the school if you go visit when the colleges are having classes. You can see the type of students that are walking around campus, get a feel for what life is like there on a typical day, and fully understand the culture of each campus. Plus, I'm learning that she will start applying early in her senior year, so having the majority of visits completed really helps with deciding where she will apply! 

While each of our tours have been a little different, they are generally the same at each school we went to.  You start by making a campus tour reservation on the school's website. They do fill up quickly, so I definitely recommend booking them as far in advance as possible.  Each school let us indicate how many guests would be attending (in addition to the student) and while we saw several families with siblings and both parents, most prospective students had one parent with them.  

For each college visit we've been on we like to start with a drive around campus and the town to get acquainted with our surroundings. Next we try to have lunch at a fun local spot and do some shopping. This has always provided us with great opportunities to chat with some current students who are generally working at the local shops and restaurants. We love to check out the book store for some gear and of course then take the official campus tour.  Each visit we have done has begun with an information session about the admissions process and an overview of the University before splitting into smaller groups for the tour.  Some schools have been walking tours around campus and others have been on a bus or shuttle with stops to see some of the highlights. We learned SO much on our tours because they are all given by current students and it is nice to hear their thoughts and be able to ask questions of someone who is currently enrolled.

It's been really exciting to learn about a lot of different schools and what makes each of them unique!  I've enjoyed trying to imagine my daughter on each campus and to hear her take on each one that we've visited so far. I feel like there are things about all of them that she has liked and hope when it comes time to make her final decisions that all of these visits will prove valuable. Thankfully, her college counselor from Bright Horizons College Coach has been incredibly helpful during this process.  Not only has she given guidance on what to take note of during each college visit, but she also helped put together a customized college list based on Handley's interests, her transcript, and an in-depth survey she took. It was nice because the schools were broken into probably, possible, and reach categories. That list helped us think about a few more schools that weren't on our initial radar that we might want to check out. This process has been fun so far and it is so hard for me to believe that this time next year we'll likely be planning dorm room decor! 

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