You’ve completed Step 1 and your son/daughter have decided that college is on their radar. Where do you go from there?
If your son/daughter has taken the PSAT/SAT/ACT then you have probably already started getting emails and stuff in the mail. It can be really overwhelming when it starts flooding in. If they haven’t taken these tests yet, I highly recommend you set up email account specifically for your child where you also have access. The shear volume of emails amazed us, so if they have an email already, consider one just for this process and use it when registering for these tests.
Watch for college fairs in your area and if you are able to attend, I highly recommend you do it. If they have you register, definitely do that. Often fairs have a printed bar code that you receive after registering. This bar code allows your son/daughter to scan their information at a perspective colleges booth, eliminating having to write the information down each time and have the potential human error in reading it. We also did business cards for our sons to use. Vista Prints prints you 250 for $10. It’s inexpensive and easy to do and they can use then through the whole college process.
College fairs are a great way to meet admissions representatives and learn information quickly. You will be able to ask questions, especially if you already know Some of the schools. We prepared question cards with the top 5-10 things our sons wanted to find out. Some times the questions got answered while waiting in line, but then they could ask any that weren’t.
The size of the fair didn’t really matter to us, it was great exposure for our sons on what was out there!
http://www.nacacfairs.org is a great place to start.
College Information Sessions
Several of the larger colleges have local Information Sessions. It may be one college or several. We attended three events, each had at least one college that was on our list. Each college had a booth outside of the conference rooms for one-on-one interaction. When multiple colleges were at an event, each one opened with a short “this is who we are and why your child should attend our school” then proceeded to present one area of the process.
What did we learn at these information sessions?
- How to Apply and to watch deadlines for each college is different
- Early Application, Early Decision, Regular Application
- What many colleges are looking for in an essay.
- Different types of financial aid and scholarships.
- The difference between a rigid curriculum vs. a diverse curriculum.
- That each college processes financial aid differently, including those coveted outside scholarships.
- To look for acceptance rates in our child’s area of study.
- In-state, out-of-state and foreign student ratios.
By listening to the presentations, your child will start to get a feel for what type of college may be the right or wrong fit for them personally. This is really important. You don’t want to waste time and resources on colleges that won’t be what your son/daughter needs to be able to grow. Start keeping track of those they liked and those they didn’t. You may notice a pattern and this will help you in the next step… Narrowing the field.
Darmouth College, Northwester University, Priceton University, UC Berkeley and Vanderbilt University: www.coasttocoasttour.org
Brown University, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, and Rice University: www.exploringeducationalexcellence.org
Duke University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University: www.exploringcollegeoptions.org
Individual universities will also list in the information on their emails and information packets when or on their website under Admissions Events listed by state. Sign up early as events can fill quickly.
College Campus Visits
Visit. Visit. Visit.
If you are lucky enough to live close to a variety of colleges indifferent shapes and sizes, try to visit one small, one medium and one large sized college. Visit during the summer when they have Specific to rising sophomores and juniors. They will get a presentation, a tour of the college and in some cases an overnight. They can ask current students what they think. They can get a feel for the atmosphere at the school. They may find they like small colleges, some like medium and some like them all.
Helpful suggestion. Review all emails and packets your son/daughter receives, many colleges will fly your child to visit. If you can’t afford to pay for a visit, check with the recruiter and see if the college has travel vouchers. A few pay outright, some require an essay or other work to narrow to students that are indeed viable, while others may pay half. Many colleges don’t offer this, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
We live in Washington State just Borth of Seattle. We took our sons to WWU, UW and the University of Portland. We also took them to visit Everett a Community College. We road tripped in the summer before their junior year to visit Stanford. In the Fall, they individually visited four out of state universities. A few of these visited were to smaller liberal arts or engineering specific schools.
By the time the visits were done, they really had a great idea on the size and type of college they wanted to apply to. That was our goal.
Here is a general list of questions for you to go through with your son/daughter. We made one specific to each of our sons. Questions to Ask During a College Visit
Now they were ready for Step 3….Narrowing the Field.