Where will your child spend the next four years (or more) after high school? This significant decision is made over time. A necessary part of the research process is touring colleges between the junior and senior years of high school. Your goal is to find the right fit.
The process can be overwhelming, so help your child stay positive. First, have your child make a list of schools of interest. The tips below will help your child narrow the top choices to visit, and provide the most useful experience during each college tour.
The goal is for your child to to get a feel for the campus, see the other students, and determine whether they can imagine themselves in the environment. The final decision on which college to attend will be based on a variety of factors.
Before the Tours
- Go to each university’s website for information related to the major(s) of interest, and look at future career opportunities.
- Research each school’s student life, clubs and organizations, athletics, and other areas of interest.
- Assess each school’s surrounding city and local entertainment choices.
- Do a self-guided virtual tour of each campus to narrow the field.
- Reach out to each school’s admissions counselor to answer any questions and to explain the admissions process and timing.
- Set a tour budget for schools that are far from home. Plan a road trip for those nearby or within North Carolina.
- Research other school campuses near the target campus. Taking this step will create points of comparison, and the results might surprise you.
During the Tours
Expect an introduction with admissions, a campus tour, and an overview of resident life at each college.
- Document Your Visit
This is the most important tip. Take photos and notes on your mobile phone for later comparison. You will be ingesting so much information at each visit that it will all blur together afterward.
- Ask Questions
Prepare questions in advance, and don’t be afraid to break them out during your tour. Here are a few common topics:
What is the faculty-student ratio and typical classroom size? Are there real-world project opportunities? What type of instructors are teaching the classes?
What is the process for applying for scholarships and their availability?
- Student Life
What is the process for joining Greek organizations? How popular are your clubs? What types of extracurricular activities are available? Talk to current students during your visit.
- Residence Life
What are the dorms, dining hall and student union like? Try to visit during busy hours, like peak lunchtime in the dining room.
- Student Safety
What are your campus safety policies and prevention measures?
- Internship Opportunities
Who are your strong company partners? Get examples of alumni successes.
After the Tours
- Recap at Home
Soon after your visit, have your child share their experience and key takeaways with someone else, like a sibling or other family member. Retelling the experience after each visit, including high (and low) points, will help prioritize each school as you continue the process and move toward a decision.