College decision month: time to revisit campuses

April 2012

April 2012; calendar by Mod Squad Julie.

I paid close attention to college news last year at this time, thinking about April of Mod Squad Pete’s senior year.

After months of working on applications, and weeks-to-months of waiting to hear, April 1 typically launches the very short season for making the college decision. Which college to choose? How to make that decision? Once again, Pete’s deadline looms:  Decisions and housing deposits are due May 1st.

I inserted “typically” above for these exceptions:

  • Early Decision applicants agreed long ago to attend if accepted.
  • Some Early Action applications may have accepted college offers already.
  • A few decisions, such as the final one Pete awaits, may not have been sent.

Pete’s final decision involves hearing back from an audition, which I wrote about here. He was told he’d hear early April, so let’s see, that should be any day now, right?

In the meantime, the four colleges that have offered admittance to Pete have invited him to come take another look. He revisited one campus in March, including participating in an interview for a scholarship.

He will connect with the other three colleges in the next eight days, including two Admitted-Student campus events and one Admitted-Student off-campus event (for students at a distance from the campus).

Making the decision to attend these was not a given. Pete’s interested, to be sure, yet he’s also busy with track practices and meets, a part-time job, a heavy academic load, and — have I mentioned this before? — countless hours perfecting dub-step mixes, skateboard tricks, and piano improv bits.

We’ve encouraged him to visit, ask questions, and listen to their pitches. Meanwhile, with help from these writers, I’m trying to compile our list of questions:

1.  Z. Kelly Queijo’s Smart College Visit website offers travel widgets and campus guides that many parents and students will find useful. Recently, Kelly wrote “Questions to ask on the Admitted Student Capmus Visit.” [Kelly also asked me to contribute a question or two.] Here are a few of the questions to ask the college; Kelly also includes questions for the student to ask him/herself:

Academics (will it work for me?)

  1. What happens if I change my major?
  2. How will I obtain credit for AP, IB and/or college level courses completed?
  3. What leadership opportunities does the honors program offer?
  4. Are there internship or study abroad opportunities for my major?
  5. Here is what I’m interested in studying… Can I put together this sort of interdisciplinary program here?

2.  On EdWeek’s College Bound blog, Caralee Adams writes “What to Look for When Revisiting a College Campus This Month.” She provides excellent advice; I’d recommend reading the entire post. Here are a couple of clips:

“…This time, figure out if you can actually fit in there,” she says.

Eat in the cafeteria. Find out how often you would meet with your adviser. Look into whether you would get home on breaks by car, bus, or train. Pay attention to the housing options and consider if you will be comfortable in a room for four. “These kids are used to having their own rooms, cars, and bathroom. The conveniences of home are very different,” says Poznanski.

On the transition from supplicant to recruit:

Sarah McGinty, an independent educational consultant in Boston and author of “The College Application Essay” published by the College Board, says on a second visit, the student has moved from the supplicant role to someone with up to $200,000 to spend. And it’s time to ask seriously: Is this where I want to spend my money?

All schools have libraries, student centers, and study-abroad programs, but it often comes down to a feeling of whether the campus is somewhere the students can make friends. “It translates into something quite unquantifiable,” she says. “In the end, it’s an emotional decision, not a logical one.”

3.  US News & World Report‘s Education blog periodically offers posts from the mother-daughter team of Julie and Lindsey Mayfield via Twice the College Advice. Their “Ask 4 Questions About College Resources” includes these:

  1. How will you help my child adjust to college?
  2. What specifically does your career center to do help students find jobs?
  3. What sets your college apart from others like it?
  4. What are some of the resources this university offers to freshmen?

4.  Also from US News & World Report‘s Education blog, Katy Hopkins writes, 10 Steps to Picking the Right School, including:

3.  Go back to school. While you should have gotten a feel for college life during an initial campus visit, take another trip to schools and bring 10 to 15 detailed questions, says Bob Roth, author of College Success: Advice for Parents of High School Students. Don’t leave with any questions unanswered.

There’s our mission, Pete:  No questions unanswered. No stone unturned. [And, please, no dub-step for the road-trips!]

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Filed under Campus Visits, Getting In

3 responses to “College decision month: time to revisit campuses

  1. Pingback: College decision month: Virtual visits? | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

  2. Pingback: College decision month: 13 things we learned at an admitted-student event. | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

  3. Pingback: College decision month: Who should attend an Admitted Student event? | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

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