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Old 02-28-2013, 07:58 PM   #1
ski_mom
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When do college visits begin?

My oldest DD is a sophomore this year and has no idea where she wants to go to school.

I was just wondering when students usually begin doing college visits? I didn't know if I should look into doing a couple this summer or if it's too early. If we did any this summer, it'd probably just be a couple that are pretty close to home so she could at least get the feel of a college campus.e

She also got a post card in the mail today about a college fair that is coming to our community college that says dozens of colleges will be represented. I think we are going to try to go to that too. I figured since it was addressed to her that her age group is encouraged to go.

Thanks for any advice / opinions!
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:06 PM   #2
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It's never to early to start getting the lay of the land if you happen to be near a school and stop in to see it. However, I think the best visits happen when school is in session. Junior year we took our sons to see some schools around the state on days when our schools were out for things like teacher work days - when the schools would still be in session. Spring Break sometimes works too, just check the school's website.

We took our kids to see a mixture of big, small, public, private. They had some schools they were interested in that were further away as well, but those we told them we'd take them to see Spring of senior year before they had to make decisions IF they were accepted. Our kids ended each ended up choosing from the schools we saw in state so we saved some traveling. (Well, technically our senior is still considering an out of state school, but if they don't make him an offer soon he'll drop it because he wants to make his decision!)
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:18 PM   #3
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DD is in her 1st year of college. She started visiting schools in her Jr year. Narrowed down the choices and started applying in Oct of the senior year.

I would suggest going to collegeboard.com and narrow down the schools that offer the major your child is interested in.
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:19 PM   #4
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We have a DD who is a freshman in college this year.

If we were doing the whole college thing all over again - we would have definitely started doing a little bit of college touring.

Our problem with trying to do this during the school year is our DD was too busy to do much college touring. Not to mention ACT's, a job, extra curricular activities and sports.

Ironically - DD is going to a smaller private school, that none of us had even heard of until the middle of the summer between her junior and senior year.
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:45 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by clh2 View Post
We have a DD who is a freshman in college this year.

If we were doing the whole college thing all over again - we would have definitely started doing a little bit of college touring.

Our problem with trying to do this during the school year is our DD was too busy to do much college touring. Not to mention ACT's, a job, extra curricular activities and sports.

Ironically - DD is going to a smaller private school, that none of us had even heard of until the middle of the summer between her junior and senior year.
Everyone has those things. We just did them on district days off. Many colleges don't take things like MLK day either so the campuses are still booming then. For the schools across the state we left after school on Thursday and drive, stay the night, tour in the morning, sometimes another school in the afternoon and then come home on Friday night. We live in a big state, so I think this is probably doable for everyone. Then for a one day trip we got up early, drove to the nearest city, toured one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and came home. We did this for both kids, one toured 4 schools, one 5 in two or 2 1/2 days total this way for minimal cost and time. That gave them a good baseline - then we offered tours again after they were accepted (especially if it was to a school further afield they hadn't seen yet) but so far neither of them has taken us up on it.
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:29 PM   #6
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Kids are very busy these days, but it can be done. We planned college tours (sometimes two in one day) around school, sports and work. We did some in the fall and some in the spring during my kids' junior years. We also found that the open houses at the colleges were good sources of information and made it work those weekends. The students get to meet professors, deans, students in the major fields and representatives from the clubs.

A good way to start planning is for your student to get brochures, DVDs, etc. from the college admissions offices and to attend the college rep visits at the high school to decide what colleges to visit. I know people who visited 20 or more schools, which I find a bit puzzling - does the student really not have any idea what schools appeal to him or her? That's a lot of time and expense that can be avoided by doing some research.
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:46 PM   #7
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DS is also a sophomore with NO idea where he wants to go. His soccer team is playing this weekend in a tournament in NYC, and he has about 7 hours between games on Saturday, and his team's game on Sunday is not until 3pm, so we have time then too. I think we are going to try to check out a couple of schools during one of those breaks, just to get him on a campus, to see what he thinks.
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:53 PM   #8
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I don't think there's a "too early" when it comes to college visits. I took DS20 to his first official college visit during spring break sophomore year. It helped him get some focus on what the college experience is like, and because it wasn't me talking, he started to understand what he needed to do to get into a good college (but keep in mind that not everything goes the way you initially plan -- DS has now done two fall semesters at two different colleges, and has been home not in college for a year). We went to two more the summer between soph and junior.

DS17 - took him on a college visit day this past summer, between soph and jr. He hadn't paid any attention when we took DS20 on visits, and had never visited his brother at college,so this was an eye opener for him. On college visits, they get a feel for big vs small, types of curriculum, outside activities available, etc, See a dorm room. Visit the food halls. Talk to students. It's not too soon! Even if they arent' schools you think your child WANTS to go to, they'll learn a lot to help them figure out where they do want to go.
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:19 PM   #9
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Great point. My daughter said that she learned a lot about what colleges were looking for when she went along with us on college visits and tours for my son. She was in 8th grade, and I didn't really think she was paying attention
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:23 PM   #10
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My dd is a senior right now and I wish we had started earlier. We had planned to go last spring but due to circumstances we weren't able to and now we are under the gun to get in a couple more before she makes her decision.
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Old 03-01-2013, 02:39 AM   #11
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My oldest DD is a sophmore, and we're already touring. Well, we WERE touring, she's found the place where she wants to be, because their music program is unbelievable. Small school, great reputation and close to home? Mama is relieved!
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Old 03-01-2013, 07:42 AM   #12
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There's nothing wrong with starting this summer. At this stage, I would focus more on general stuff, like the size/location/possible majors that might interest your child. Don't put any pressure on picking the exact one, just see what you think of, say, a state university versus a small private college, city living versus more isolated, that kind of stuff. I would also stay more local (day trips) at this point, unless your child is focused and has a good reason to visit a specific school or area--for example, if they're super into politics, a family vacation to check out colleges in the DC area would be time well spent.

We didn't start until last summer (right before DD17's senior year). I don't think it harmed her at all, BUT--she knew exactly what she was looking for in a college. Some kids don't. And of course, she wouldn't even tour any colleges in-state. Even though she was dead set on a certain type of school, I had her tour a state university (not ours), just so she could see what it was like.

Once I have DD17 set, I'll likely take DS(almost)16. He's much more likely to stay in-state, so at least it'll be a lot less travelling.
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Old 03-01-2013, 07:47 AM   #13
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The problem with touring colleges before a kid knows what they want to study is that they/you may spend time/money looking at schools that will have no relevance to the program of study the child decides on. So, unless you're sure that your child is going to just focus on LibArts, it may be better to wait until this time next year. Then, once she decides on a field that she wants to think about, she can then choose schools that have good programs in that field.
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Old 03-01-2013, 07:55 AM   #14
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My DD did went on many college visit with her school. Do other high schools do this, or is it different in small schools?

At her first HS which was a charter school there were optional field trip college visits starting in the 9th grade.
Between 10th and 11th grade we moved to a different state. She now attends the very small public high school. This school has had several college recruiters come to the school and has taken the kids to visit several colleges. There was even one state university about 4 hours away that several kids were interested in but no visit was planned. The kids got together and asked to go visit and the trip was approved.
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Old 03-01-2013, 07:56 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BuzznBelle'smom View Post
There's nothing wrong with starting this summer. At this stage, I would focus more on general stuff, like the size/location/possible majors that might interest your child. Don't put any pressure on picking the exact one, just see what you think of, say, a state university versus a small private college, city living versus more isolated, that kind of stuff. I would also stay more local (day trips) at this point, unless your child is focused and has a good reason to visit a specific school or area--for example, if they're super into politics, a family vacation to check out colleges in the DC area would be time well spent.


This. DS is a Junior and we just did our first visit last week. Cracked me up what worried him the most was the dining hall. (He was confused with the different plans- some allowed more money on their card for use in the student center food court vs meals in the dining hall. I assured him no matter what college he went to, if he was in the dorm- he would have his food provided.) He was also worried about the physical size of the campus. (Which was SMALL, but figure most of them are coming from one-building high schools, so anything bigger is huge. Not sure he understood he wasn't going to have to change classes in 5 minutes either. )

I'm not sure we needed to have started any earlier, but our next visits will be to some different size campuses locally. Don't even know that he'd want to go to them program-wise. But I want to get him used to the basic college stuff before we devote any time to longer distance trips. If he comes up with things he doesn't like- that will help narrow it down, too.
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