Summer can be a great time to visit prospective colleges and be a pleasant detour on a long summer vacation. For most families, this is the one time the entire family can make the trip, and everyone can get a feel for colleges of interest.
In the United States, 33% of students transfer colleges (or change majors), and one of the primary reasons is a poor college visit. Another reason is college visitation fatigue from seeing too many schools, at the wrong time and spending too much money on that process and not visiting your top three choices when it is most important – at the end of the process.
By following five of our best college visitation tips, you can eliminate visitation fatigue, save time, save money and get the most from each visit.
Tip 1: Do Proper Pre-Visit Research
Don’t be one of the families who show up for a college tour knowing absolutely nothing about the school. You would be surprised, but a good percent of the families around you on the next visit are unprepared.
College guides, brochures, and university websites are quickly losing their favor with prospective students and are being replaced by more interactive platforms. Since students are engrossed in social media, this is usually the most natural pre-visit research starting point. A recent survey of 7,000 students reported 68% using social media during their college search process.
Visiting a school’s Facebook page was by far the most popular pre-research tool and is probably a great starting point for your student.
Tip 2: Know Before You Go
For nearly a decade, this has been our battle cry. Since many schools are well above $70,000 a year, you cannot be like many families who go into the process blindly.
By knowing what a school will cost you or at least getting a range before you visit, a family can set a realistic expectation with their child and build the best financially fitting college list.
If you don’t do this, you may very well put your retirement in jeopardy because it is hard to say “no” to your child at this critical juncture of their life. We know you say “not me,” but emotions can get the best of us.
By visiting schools within your budget, you will eliminate your student creating unrealistic expectations for their college choices, and you will lessen your emotional stress on acceptance day.
One big note, do not rule out schools because of their sticker price since most people never pay the listed price. You have to know your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) before you can identify a schools affordability for your family. You can find out more about EFC in our How Much Does College Cost blog article.
Part of the Knowing Before You Go process is calculating your EFC since it is the starting point for understanding your college affordability. Knowing if you can lower your EFC is another crucial point in this process.
Tip 3: Visit Three to Four Schools In-state First
Save the money and stay local for your first college visits making sure you hit the three main campus types, get in a good sampling of the different school types and most importantly investigate schools of varying size.
Being in Georgia provides such an opportunity to get an accurate sampling of all the college types in the United States. By visiting 3 to 4 of these universities, you can narrow down the right fitting college for the student.
As an example, visiting UGA, Georgia State, Berry College and Emory all in the same week will allow your student the opportunity to get a feel for the main campus types – college town, elite private in a city, an urban campus, a small private college in the middle of nowhere.
Tip 4: Have a Process to Evaluate Each School
Being able to compare one school to the other without a system is pretty useless. By the third visit, you will not remember which dorm room was which or who had the sushi in the cafeteria.
All successful outcomes require a system and being a first timer with no process is a recipe for disaster. Instead of outlining the key things to do, we wanted to provide you with our visitation guide free of charge. Just download the perfect college visit checklist here.
Tip 5: Display Interest
Since more than 30% of all students apply to seven or more universities, colleges are finding it harder and harder to know who will fill their seats. Admission officers love to know if a student is interested, and sometimes if you are a fit for the school, a proper display of interest can put you in a position to get some free money. Additionally, if you follow the right process, you can put yourself in place to get schools to compete for your student by providing more free money for college.
A few tips to display interest are: signing up for the guided college tour, contacting someone in financial aid office, requesting to sit in on a class and requesting a call with someone at the department level in your student’s interested field of study.
Summertime visits can be some of the best times with your children before they go to college. Do it right, and so you can enjoy this one step in your student’s college planning journey and save money.
If you have any questions, please feel free to schedule a 30 minute no obligation strategy call with us.