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Old 03-02-2013, 10:35 AM   #31
Mickey'snewestfan
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I'd start with visits to just get a sense of big/little, urban/rural etc . . .

I remember when I went college hunting with my mother the very first colleges we looked at were on a road trip to New England. We drove probably 5 hours, in a snowstorm to Williams College where I spent 10 minutes on the campus and told my mother that I couldn't imagine living in such a rural area. This was before internet, and so hard to adjust the trip on the fly, and we ended up going to probably 5 more rural schools, and at each one my gut told me the same things. That's a lot of time and money spent to figure that out. I ended up at a great school in a big city, did a whole lot of volunteering in urban education settings, and made that my career. I also spent a year studying abroad in a pretty rural setting, which confirmed my feeling that it wasn't for me. But as a girl who grew up in the city, I didn't have any thoughts on urban/rural until I was actually on the campus.

With my kid, I'll probably start in 9th or 10th grade and look at local schools to give him a sense of what he likes. I won't worry about finding schools that have his major or match his test scores, because a 15 year old doesn't know those things, just take him to some schools that are a short drive and have different settings, and sizes, and types of student body (e.g. an HBCU, and a school with a lot of diversity, and a school with a largely white student body) and see where he feels comfortable. Then when we think of going farther a field to look at school we'll know how to narrow our search.
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Old 03-02-2013, 11:55 AM   #32
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DD is in 9th

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Originally Posted by Tinijocaro View Post
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.
Very smart but often lacks some motivation. We told her we would visit any college she wanted within a 4hr radius during spring break. After a lot of research she picked a rather competitive one. We turned it into a mini vacation. We'll probably do it again in April.

Wow! We were totally amazed. First of all, the admissions director telling us things they looked for were very appreciated and glad we heard them now, rather than 2 years from now. She also explained that interest is often taken into consideration. So if your child visited early in their search, and kept in touch, it would be in their favor.

We loved everything about this school.. totally DD's "nerd" kind of people. Not sure if she'll go there or not (or if she can get in) but I really think it motivated her and gave her some new specific goals.

We did a one hour info session and a one hour tour. I don't regret it for a second. She was the only Freshman there but there were quite a few Sophmores. I had been told to avoid touring in Summer as you don't get as good a picture.

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Old 03-02-2013, 04:01 PM   #33
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Depends on the kid. My DD was in 4th grade when she decided she wanted to be an architect, and from then on she had one goal and one goal only. We started looking at colleges at her request in the summer leading up to her Junior year. We looked at 10 colleges from South Carolina to Massachusetts, she applied for 2 and got in to her top (and really only) choice. She graduates in May and will come home for grad school.

2nd child decided in his junior year that he wanted to be an auto mechanic like his Dad and on his own found the trade school he wanted to go to, which was 15 minutes from our house. He lived at home until he graduated, got an apprenticeship and got his own apartment. He was just engaged this past Valentine's Day and they will get married in March 2014.

We thought we were so lucky to raise such motivated kids. Then it came time for the 3rd child to start thinking about his future and he couldn't really commit to what he wanted to do. He didn't inherit the ability to work with his hands like his Dad and older brother, but wasn't focused on a career like his sister. I started nudging him midway through junior year and he still wasn't budging. Finally in the fall of senior year he decided he wanted to tour 3 colleges. The first one we visited was his first and only choice and he applied early action. He got accepted and leaves in August. He still is undecided about what he wants to do but feels at home at the college he chose and feels like he'll be able to figure it out there. Had I pushed him in sophmore or junior year it would have been for naught, since he really wasn't ready to decide.

I would let your child guide you, but I would also let her know you are willing to take her on visits when she is ready.
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Old 03-02-2013, 04:05 PM   #34
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I had been told to avoid touring in Summer as you don't get as good a picture.
So true! With my daughter we toured one school in the summer and the again in the fall and what a difference. It went from being not even a consideration to her second choice. You really don't get a true picture until you see the campus "alive" with students.

Most high schools allow excused time off for college visits as early as sophmore year. So if you can do it in the fall of junior year, or during a holiday weekend that a college would necessarily be off, that is the most ideal time to visit.
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:11 PM   #35
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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.
You think talking to your prospective college student about his or her preferences and expectations is a bad thing? You think your student won't learn and develop opinions and ideas through those discussions?
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:26 PM   #36
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You think talking to your prospective college student about his or her preferences and expectations is a bad thing? You think your student won't learn and develop opinions and ideas through those discussions?
I think there is a HUGE difference between talking about prospective colleges with your student and having strict guidelines for college visits that involve a FIRST, NEXT, and an ONLY THEN. Sometimes a drive-by or popping in for a quick visit and talking about it after the fact is perfectly acceptable especially when the student is only a freshman or sophomore.

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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.

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 03-02-2013, 09:01 PM   #37
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I agree

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Originally Posted by MrsPete View Post
You think talking to your prospective college student about his or her preferences and expectations is a bad thing? You think your student won't learn and develop opinions and ideas through those discussions?
How would they know if they wanted a big/little school, or urban/rural from looking on the internet?

Maybe they would hear about an amazing major from a tourguide that they hadn't thought of before?

DH and I both went to a very quiet, secluded rural school. DD asked to visit Carnegie Mellon. We were a bit put off that it is in the middle of such a big city. (You can't tell at all by the quaint pix they show on line.) We all absolutely loved it. After seeing and hearing about all of the advantages of being surrounded by so much, we totally changed our minds. We all agreed we saw it as more of a plus than a minus. We also liked the size of the school as it is all within an easy walking distance.

We will also take her to a very large school. You can't begin to imagine how large Cornell is by looking at the pictures. But by going there and having a tour you can get a great feel if that size of campus would be right for you.

My DD really has no idea what she wants in a school yet. So we will visit small/large, urban/rural, liberal arts/science, etc. and that should help her narrow it down.

I guess everyone is different.. but I think it's similar to house hunting. People often know "exactly" what they want, until they see something they didn't know existed. Our first house was not at all what we told the realtor we were looking for. But we went in and felt at home so we bought it.
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Old 03-03-2013, 06:12 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zoemurr View Post
How would they know if they wanted a big/little school, or urban/rural from looking on the internet?

Maybe they would hear about an amazing major from a tourguide that they hadn't thought of before?

DH and I both went to a very quiet, secluded rural school. DD asked to visit Carnegie Mellon. We were a bit put off that it is in the middle of such a big city. (You can't tell at all by the quaint pix they show on line.) We all absolutely loved it. After seeing and hearing about all of the advantages of being surrounded by so much, we totally changed our minds. We all agreed we saw it as more of a plus than a minus. We also liked the size of the school as it is all within an easy walking distance.

We will also take her to a very large school. You can't begin to imagine how large Cornell is by looking at the pictures. But by going there and having a tour you can get a great feel if that size of campus would be right for you.

My DD really has no idea what she wants in a school yet. So we will visit small/large, urban/rural, liberal arts/science, etc. and that should help her narrow it down.

I guess everyone is different.. but I think it's similar to house hunting. People often know "exactly" what they want, until they see something they didn't know existed. Our first house was not at all what we told the realtor we were looking for. But we went in and felt at home so we bought it.
I have to agree with this. DD and I visited UMASS-Amherst. It looks like a big, bustling campus, and it is--except, it's plopped in the middle of nowhere. Ditto for UCONN. Now, some people like that, others don't.

We have a decent college in town--my kids have dance recitals there, DD17 uses their library, and my DD9 plays in an orchestra there, so we're familiar with the campus. That will be my first stop with DS15 (I want to get his sister set first). I don't care if he has zero interst in their majors, it's a great place to start, to give him a feel for what college life will be like. we've already been talking to him about location, majors, etc., but I don't think he's made any decisions yet.
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Old 03-03-2013, 08:26 AM   #39
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You think talking to your prospective college student about his or her preferences and expectations is a bad thing? You think your student won't learn and develop opinions and ideas through those discussions?
Where the heck did you get that idea from? Never said it was bad, just that it isn't a prerequisite to stepping foot on a college's campus. But hey, if MrsPete's child has to complete the MrsPete's standardized testing before being allowed a peak at a campus, then have at it!
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Old 03-03-2013, 08:47 AM   #40
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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.
An adolescent may not be aware of any of these things yet, if they have never been exposed to them. My child may not know what a "big" school is (may think that big is Syracuse, until she steps foot on U of Alabama!). May not be remotely familiar with Greeks (but from touring a school, may see evidence of Greek Life on campus). May not have developed a passion for anything specific, so that internet search could yield hundreds of schools.

But by doing casual visits at various institutions, said student may begin to develop some preferences that could lead to answers to your questions, which would then narrow down the list (which would help with the internet search).

My own child started doing visits during 8th grade. I was in the process of studying to become a College and Career Counselor, so I was doing visits for my own studies and my child accompanied me sometimes. From those casual visits during open houses, my child developed some interests like wanting a small (as in less than 2000 students) campus and needing a great deal of diversity. As junior year comes to an end, the list narrows and things really start to finalize.

So that's what I was trying to say.
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Old 03-03-2013, 02:46 PM   #41
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I think there is a HUGE difference between talking about prospective colleges with your student and having strict guidelines for college visits that involve a FIRST, NEXT, and an ONLY THEN. Sometimes a drive-by or popping in for a quick visit and talking about it after the fact is perfectly acceptable especially when the student is only a freshman or sophomore.
Agreed. As far as narrowing it down to urban/rural, huge/medium/small, etc. my kids found the college visits very helpful in doing that.
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