It’s summer time, and that means lots of free time for your student to work on choosing a college. Without the worries and deadlines of the school year, your son or daughter should be gathering information, preparing application material, and of course, making college visits!
I encourage parents of high school juniors and seniors to start making college visits with their students during the summer months. There is no better way for students to get a feel for a college campus than by experiencing it themselves. Don’t just drive through the campus! Walk the grounds, talk to students, take a tour, sit in on a class, and eat at the cafeteria-really get the full experience!
What if you can’t make it to one of your student’s top schools, because of travel costs or limited time?
Obviously, nothing will really replace a visit to a school’s campus, but I do have a couple of suggestions that might help you overcome that problem.
Visit a Similar, Local Campus
Check out a nearby campus that is similar to the one your son or daughter is interested in. Make sure to match the critical criteria: public/private, urban/suburban/rural environment, large/small campus.
Take a Virtual Campus Tour
Many colleges offer college-produced videos, maps, and photos that allow you to take a “virtual tour” of the campus. While it is no substitute for the real thing (and is probably slanted in favor of the college) it can at least help your student get a visual idea of what the campus is like.
Here are a couple of websites to get you started:
- http://www.CampusTours.com – A website with listings of a lot of larger colleges. Each college page includes basic statistics about the school, and links to photos, maps, and/or videos on the college’s website. The info here is probably a little biased because it all comes directly from the college.
- http://www.CollegiateChoice.com – This website offers a DVD collection of actual full-length college campus tours, including several colleges outside of the U.S. They are filmed by college advisors and run about $15 each (plus shipping/handling). Though the footage isn’t professional (think home-movie style) they do give a much more unbiased view of the college, and the advisors ask pertinent questions of the tour guides.
Remember, neither of these is a comparable substitute for an in-person visit, but these resources may help you and your student narrow down the options.
All the best,