When do college visits begin?

Discussion in 'Community Board' started by ski_mom, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. Cannot_Wait_4Disney

    Cannot_Wait_4Disney Ok all you A cattle, get in ...

    Joined:
    May 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,727
    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.
     
  2. Avatar

    Google AdSense Guest Advertisement


    to hide this advert.
  3. WDWJDS

    WDWJDS Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2012
    Messages:
    224
    Good grief:crazy2: 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.
     
  4. scbelleatheart

    scbelleatheart DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2010
    Messages:
    998
    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.:thumbsup2
     
  5. LisaR

    LisaR <img src=http://www.wdwinfo.com/images/silver.jpg>

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2000
    Messages:
    8,919
    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.
     
  6. goofy4tink

    goofy4tink No tags...not needed! Transportation moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    May 2, 2002
    Messages:
    48,895
    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!!!
     
  7. ctinct

    ctinct DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    May 22, 2005
    Messages:
    1,039
    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.
     
  8. aprilgail2

    aprilgail2 Guest

    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.
     
  9. BuzznBelle'smom

    BuzznBelle'smom <font color=red>There are tomato-ey paw prints all

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2002
    Messages:
    3,870
    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.
     
  10. marcyinPA

    marcyinPA <font color=blue>I'll never forget the strong, pun

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2001
    Messages:
    7,729
    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 :)
     
  11. Tinijocaro

    Tinijocaro DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2005
    Messages:
    4,330
    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.
     
  12. Mickey'snewestfan

    Mickey'snewestfan DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2005
    Messages:
    4,667
    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.
     
  13. zoemurr

    zoemurr DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,594
    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.
     
  14. violetrose

    violetrose DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,191
    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.
     
  15. violetrose

    violetrose DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,191
    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.
     
  16. MrsPete

    MrsPete DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2002
    Messages:
    11,862
    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?
     
  17. LisaR

    LisaR <img src=http://www.wdwinfo.com/images/silver.jpg>

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2000
    Messages:
    8,919
    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.

     
  18. zoemurr

    zoemurr DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,594
    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.
     
  19. BuzznBelle'smom

    BuzznBelle'smom <font color=red>There are tomato-ey paw prints all

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2002
    Messages:
    3,870
    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.
     
  20. WDWJDS

    WDWJDS Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2012
    Messages:
    224
    :rotfl2: 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!:rotfl2:
     
  21. WDWJDS

    WDWJDS Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2012
    Messages:
    224
    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.
     

Share This Page