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Old 03-01-2013, 07:10 AM   #16
StephMK
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Originally Posted by clm10308 View Post
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.
Our school does this too. THey have a day in the fall when jr/sr kids can either go on college visits or take a bus to visit the local college. We had to sign a form telling the school where we were going so kids weren't able to just take the day off.

OP, at this point, I'd take her to some places close by if possible to get a sense of size, atmosphere, etc. Start researching online to see where she might be interested.

We took DD to a tiny liberal arts school, larger private, couple large public, and a few others. Her choices were limited by her major choice (which she promptly changed 1/2 through 1st semester). However, she LOVES her school even though it was originally her last choice. It wasn't until her 2nd visit that she really thought she could see herself there. It was also close to home so a win for all of us.

Good luck & keep an open mind about schools. Visits really make all the difference!
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Old 03-01-2013, 07:46 AM   #17
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Couple things we've found with our senior -

*Formal campus tours are very helpful, much more so than simply walking around on your own. The interaction with the student guide is invaluable, and gives high school kids much more to think about. Maybe it was simply a coincidence but we liked the schools with the smallest tour groups the best.... seemed to get the best information about not only the school itself but what it's like going to college, and they were able to personalize it to the students in the group.

*You can typically sign up for tours on line, and during the times when high schools are out of session (teacher work days, etc.) those tours fill up early so plan ahead.

*Most schools do information sessions and tours, and you can typically sign up for them separately i.e. you can do one without doing the other. If this is your first kid going to college, I would recommend doing an info session right off the bat to get a feel for the type of info they present.

*Spring break junior year is an especially busy time for kids to "make the rounds" and again they fill up early. Last year in a visit to UVA the admissions officer asked for a raise of hands if this was the 4th or 5th school you'd visited that week and there were a LOT of hands in the air!

*You get a much different feel from schools when they're in session vs. during the summer , no surprise. So we made sure we saw any school that he was serious about in both situations and that was a big help. We did find that summer tours typically went into actual dorms (that weren't occupied with summer students), while during the school year security prevented going into the dorms. YMMV though

*In the spring, schools have several dates for accepted students campus visits/programs. We've also been to a couple accepted student events that were done just for those students accepted in early decision, before the general acceptances come out. These events have been really well done as early accepts are typically the best students and the ones they really would like to get commitments from early.

*If/When your student has a feel for the major they're interested in, do a tour of that particular department. Most schools have regularly scheduled tours of their business school, engineering school etc. and you can work that in with a general campus tour. In some ways these tours are the most helpful, they are typically student led and you can get a great feel for what the program is like. I remember being so happy on an engr tour when the student tour guide spent time talking about all the tutoring opportunities available and how useful they were, even for great students who had never needed a tutor before in their lives. Made much more of an impression on my son than my telling him the same thing, kwim?

HTH - good luck! It's an exciting time for sure!
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Old 03-01-2013, 08:57 AM   #18
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I have a college freshman (loving it) and a now high school sophomore.

We started late I think for my oldest. So this time we are going to start looking this summer- Really big picture stuff- big school vs. small State vs. Private- city or country

My oldest was very driven with his major. So his school choice was simple. My daughter is more of a liberal arts kind of student. She loves languages and is fluent in Spanish and French. She is trying to decide if she wants to do something with that- or be a Psychologist. Clearly liberal arts is the way for her- she will probably change majors too. Our search for her will be more involved than it was for my son. He had 4 schools he was interested in. We went to look at 2 of them and one for me. He ended up picking one that we didn't visit until he got accepted in- we then went to check it out before we sent in the $$$.

So no I don't think it's too early to start.
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Old 03-01-2013, 09:29 AM   #19
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FIRST you need to talk about what kind of college your daughter might want to attend:

- Does she see herself at a big school or a small school?
- A rural school, or a school in the heart of a big city?
- How far from home would be ideal?
- Does she want to attend a school where football is big? or Greek life? or where she can ski?
- How much can you realistically afford?
- What does she want to study? High school students usually do not understand that every college doesn't offer every major. Also, younger high school students usually don't understand that all college degrees aren't equal (Associates vs. Bachelors vs. Graduate degrees vs. Doctorates). IF she's very uncertain, I'd steer her towards a larger school; this would allow her to change majors without changing schools, a huge benefit.

When you're talking about these things, do not discuss specific schools (for example, if she currently has a college-crush on a certain school, don't let her tailor all her answers to that school). Instead, get a general picture of just what kind of school she'd see for herself.

NEXT do an internet search (which gives you everything a college fair can give you, but you can wear your pajamas) and see what schools fit into her criteria AND offer the things she wants to study. Create a list of possible schools.

ONLY THEN are you ready to start visiting schools. Search to see if the schools you've identified as good possibilities have Open Houses coming up any time soon. Open Houses are perfect first-contacts with the school.

Don't be surprised by what you find at Open Houses. When my oldest started searching for colleges, I was pretty sure she'd go to one of two schools. One of those schools -- the one I expected to be her #1 choice -- dropped her major, so we didn't even visit. And neither of us liked the second school; it did not live up to its reputation, but we wouldn't have known that without a visit. However, she FELL IN LOVE with the school she now attends before we'd even parked the car. Neither of us really knew much about it before we visited, but from that first moment it was "right". She's 3/4 of the way through her freshman year now, and both she and I are thrilled with her choice.
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Old 03-01-2013, 10:57 AM   #20
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MrsPete, I agree with most of what you said, except I don't think it hurts to visit a campus--any campus--to get the feel of college life generally. Investing half a day to visit a local school, even one that doesn't offer your major, will give your child a general "feel" for dorm living, class size, that sort of thing.

Of course, it's easy for me to say, we have several colleges that fit this description. DD17 wouldn't visit one of them, much less apply, even though she wants to be a teacher and we have a good teaching school right here in town. I wouldn't recommend investing in lots of time and effort before the child has given some thought to field of study, though, and you're certainly right about tons of information on the internet.

Also, it definitely helps if you can visit the college/department of interest. My DD's #1 pick is a school she visited during an Open House for education majors--she really felt like she'd "found her people".
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Old 03-01-2013, 11:05 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by ski_mom View Post
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!
There is nothing wrong with starting right now. Don't fly clear across the country just to look at a school or anything. But say if you have a vacation planned and there is a school nearby, take a little time and take a look. You're not out much money in that case. You were already going anyway. The school fairs are hit and miss around here. Sometimes we get a lot of colleges from all over the region. Other times it ends up being Devry, Phoenix, Kaplan, the truck driving or mechanics school and a few local colleges. If you have local schools, go take a look.
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Old 03-01-2013, 04:04 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by MrsPete View Post
FIRST you need to talk about what kind of college your daughter might want to attend:

- Does she see herself at a big school or a small school?
- A rural school, or a school in the heart of a big city?
- How far from home would be ideal?
- Does she want to attend a school where football is big? or Greek life? or where she can ski?
- How much can you realistically afford?
- What does she want to study? High school students usually do not understand that every college doesn't offer every major. Also, younger high school students usually don't understand that all college degrees aren't equal (Associates vs. Bachelors vs. Graduate degrees vs. Doctorates). IF she's very uncertain, I'd steer her towards a larger school; this would allow her to change majors without changing schools, a huge benefit.

When you're talking about these things, do not discuss specific schools (for example, if she currently has a college-crush on a certain school, don't let her tailor all her answers to that school). Instead, get a general picture of just what kind of school she'd see for herself.

NEXT do an internet search (which gives you everything a college fair can give you, but you can wear your pajamas) and see what schools fit into her criteria AND offer the things she wants to study. Create a list of possible schools.

ONLY THEN are you ready to start visiting schools. Search to see if the schools you've identified as good possibilities have Open Houses coming up any time soon. Open Houses are perfect first-contacts with the school.
Good grief All of that just to step foot on a campus for the first time? I don't think so.

Things can start casually with just a drive-by followed by a self-tour, and on from there. A 14 or 15 year old may not have answers to any of those questions yet, but may discover some answers while touring the campuses.
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Old 03-01-2013, 06:15 PM   #23
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For our boys, we waited until junior year to see what sports programs were interested in them and met with the coaches. Our DD started visiting sophmore year at age 14 because auditions were required.
If I had it to do all over again, I would do the same. It was a rat race doing it all though. 4 kids in college and HS at the same time at different schools is trying, to say the least. Thankfully, they all graduated from college and then some.
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Old 03-01-2013, 07:38 PM   #24
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Personally, my DD liked doing the tour of the college first and if it was a school she was still interested in after the tour, we did the open house next. My DD also contacted three of the schools she was interested in and arranged to sit in on a class in her major.

When we started this endeavor in her junior year, she wanted a big school, very close to home (but still live in the dorm), football was mandatory, didn't care about Greek life in the slightest. We toured the schools that met that criteria. She didn't like any of them!

She will start this fall at a mid-sized school, four hours from home, no football, and plans on joining a sorority!

It turns out she didn't really know what she wanted until she actually toured each school and got a feel for the campus.
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:37 AM   #25
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We know lots of people that included college visits in their vacations!! If their child had any interest at all in checking out a school close to where they were vacationing, then they took the time to visit.
Also...don't immediately rule out a school that your child says they have never heard of. My dd is now loving her life in a school that we 'forced' her to visit!! We did visit a lot of schools that were different from each other. Some large, some small...some that had her intended major, some that only has a 'program' that included her interests, but no major, or even minor.
Keep an open mind. Don't narrow things down too much when your child is a sophomore. Their interests could very well change in a year. So, visit lots of different places.
We actually visited some schools after they had closed for the year...late spring. Then, if we thought dd might want to go there, we returned when school was in session in the fall. Only two schools warranted return visits though!!! And the one she's at now?? She visited it for an open house, then went back again for a more intensive visit. She applied, got accepted, and went to accepted students day...the only one she went to!!! That's when she completely made up her mind. I think it was only the frosting on the cake since she didn't want to go to any other accepted students days at the other schools she was accepted at.
Good luck....while this can be a very nerve wracking time, it is also so incredibly exciting!! When your child finally makes that perfect choice, you will be so happy. It's an incredible thing to see your child so happy at a college!!!
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:01 AM   #26
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We know lots of people that included college visits in their vacations!! If their child had any interest at all in checking out a school close to where they were vacationing, then they took the time to visit.
Also...don't immediately rule out a school that your child says they have never heard of. My dd is now loving her life in a school that we 'forced' her to visit!! We did visit a lot of schools that were different from each other. Some large, some small...some that had her intended major, some that only has a 'program' that included her interests, but no major, or even minor.
Keep an open mind. Don't narrow things down too much when your child is a sophomore. Their interests could very well change in a year. So, visit lots of different places.
We actually visited some schools after they had closed for the year...late spring. Then, if we thought dd might want to go there, we returned when school was in session in the fall. Only two schools warranted return visits though!!! And the one she's at now?? She visited it for an open house, then went back again for a more intensive visit. She applied, got accepted, and went to accepted students day...the only one she went to!!! That's when she completely made up her mind. I think it was only the frosting on the cake since she didn't want to go to any other accepted students days at the other schools she was accepted at.
Good luck....while this can be a very nerve wracking time, it is also so incredibly exciting!! When your child finally makes that perfect choice, you will be so happy. It's an incredible thing to see your child so happy at a college!!!
My dd's story almost exactly. She is a tour guide at her school now and delights in telling the story about how she had to be dragged to the one school she literally fell head over heels in love with. You just never know, which is why it's such a wise idea to cast a wide net, particularly if finances are a concern. We found that the aid packages varied from place to place by about $20,000 in some cases.

I'd say it's never too early to start visiting, but take notes and maybe even pictures, because after a while, some features will all blend together. And be aware that some things outside your control can color a visit, such as a crappy tour guide or poor weather. My daughter visited William and Mary and hated it. She didn't want to go to a smaller, older school in a tourist town. It was rainy, dreary, and dark that day. Ha! The school she attends now is an older, smaller school in a tourist town.
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:45 AM   #27
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Good grief All of that just to step foot on a campus for the first time? I don't think so.

Things can start casually with just a drive-by followed by a self-tour, and on from there. A 14 or 15 year old may not have answers to any of those questions yet, but may discover some answers while touring the campuses.
I agree- my daughter is in 8th grade so its off to high school in Sept- she has already been researching financial aid packages and different schools. I know some of her classmates are looking at colleges on vacations this summer! My daughter has narrowed her choices down to 3 and by 10th grade we will see where she is at and if she still has those in mind and then start visiting- her goals have not changed in the past 8 years and she is still taking classes on the outside in that interest so we shall see what the next 3-4 years brings. Wherever she goes it will involve an audition so just because she likes that college and had the grades to go there they may not like her LOL. Before any of that happens we still have to deal with the school system she is in because she wants to split the day between 2 high schools starting in 10th grade so that takes some pressure on the schools to allow that but eventually they will have to.
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:50 AM   #28
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Yeah, the tours can really give lots of good information. Even getting a colleges stats and looking at pictures on the internet aren't a great substitute. A good example, using schools my DD visited (and has been accepted to): Loyola in Baltimore, and La Salle in Philadelphia. Both are similar in size, both are religious. But, the campuses and "feel" are very different. Although Loyola is in Baltimore, the campus has a more suburban feel. It's fairly self-contained. I wouldn't call it isolated, really, but you'd need to take the shuttle to go to Target or a mall. Meanwhile, La Salle had much more of a city feel--Target is an easy walk, it's in a working-class neighborhood, a few blocks from the bus terminal. It felt safe enough, but felt a little grittier, for lack of a better term.
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Old 03-02-2013, 09:17 AM   #29
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My DS is a senior. We started looking at colleges between his sophomore and junior year. We ramped it up between junior and senior year. He narrowed things down in September/ early October, and applied to three by the end of October. He was accepted at all three, and we are currently in limbo, waiting on financial aid packages to come through, so we can make a decision.

I always tell friends with younger kids to start looking early. Senior year sneaks up on you, and kids tend to be busier (homework, jobs, activities, GIRLFRIENDS ) and it can be hard to schedule visits. The more time you have to spread it out, the better.

ETA: my DS's choices were all within 2 hours of home, so an easy 1/2 day or day trip for us. He had expressed some interest in looking at a small Christian school in Boston, and we had a very good heart-to-heart on that one, because I didn't want to spend the money on visiting it if he wasn't REALLY willing to be that far from home. He listed the pros and cons, and ended up skipping it. He is a homebody- and although I knew that he would not like being that far, he really needed to think it out for himself. He would miss out on a lot of things that he likes to do here at home (like the HS rival football game, seeing his brother perform in the HS fall play, etc.) and he just was not willing to go that far from home. It's OK- he will still be far enough to be on his own
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Old 03-02-2013, 09:51 AM   #30
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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
Same thing for us. DD was an entering freshman when we took ds for his visits. She was soooo inspired and said she wanted to skip high school so she could get to college. She heard all the requirements and things that colleges look for. Better hearing it from the college than from us.
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