Disney World and the Caribbean are Out; College Search Begins with Campus Visits During Spring Break

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Recognizing that the college visit is one of the most critical aspects of the college admissions process and the need for students and parents to make the most of a brief period, WiseChoice, the comprehensive, online college guidance solution, today released its latest in a series of Top Ten Lists: “The WiseChoice Guide to Successful Campus Visits.

For many high school juniors and their parents, this year’s Spring Break will not include a Disney World adventure or basking in the Caribbean, but rather a road trip to various college campuses. Recognizing that the college visit is one of the most critical aspects of the college admissions process and the need for students and parents to make the most of a brief period, WiseChoice (http://www.WiseChoice.com), the comprehensive, online college guidance solution, today released its latest in a series of Top Ten Lists: “The WiseChoice Guide to Successful Campus Visits.”    

“For many high school juniors, these college visits are the first time they will be on a college campus and it triggers the realization that attending college is happening sooner than they thought,” said WiseChoice president Richard Taylor. “As a parent who recently went through this process, I know how stressful these visits can be for both the student and the parent but, on the flip side, they can be fun and exciting, as well as offer a great learning experience and a time to bond.”

“The WiseChoice Guide to Successful Campus Visits”

Don’t Let a Lack of Funds Impede Your Search

  •     For students who live far from schools they are interested in, but who may not have the funds for personal visits, start by visiting colleges in your area that are similar to your schools of choice; for example, see firsthand how a large, public campus differs from a small private school.

Try to Visit Every School You’re Considering Before Applying

  •     Too often students will choose a college based on word of mouth or one that looks great on paper, but once they arrive, immediately knows it’s a mistake (or the right one!). There are many aspects of campus life that you can’t understand until you actually set foot on campus – such as the surrounding areas, the energy of the students, and the quality of the facilities. By visiting beforehand, you’ll only apply to colleges where you’d actually want to spend four years.

If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Boston

  •     Don’t fall into the trap of cramming too many college visits into a short period; the results are a far less productive trip and frazzled nerves. In the long run, a few well-designed visits are much more productive and provide both students and parents with a better sense of the school.

Plan Ahead: Don’t Just Show Up

  •     Before you pack your suitcase, call the school to find out when information sessions and tours are being offered. Once you arrive for your visit, register at the admissions office and make a note of who you met. If you do decide to apply, your visit will demonstrate your interest in the school to the office of admissions.

See the Campus When It’s Alive with Activity – Warts and All

  •     To get a true feel for a campus, you should try to experience it on a typical day – when classes are in session and the campus is abuzz with activity. Try not to visit on a weekend or during the school’s Spring Break, if possible.

Sit Down and Stay Awhile

  •     Most colleges offer student-led tours, but there is only so much you can learn in an hour. Leave yourself enough time to check out what’s not included on the tour - eat in the dining hall, visit the bookstore, check out the freshman dorms, and sit in on a class. Give yourself as much time as possible just to hang out, soak up the atmosphere and talk with current students, particularly freshmen. If your schedule allows, arrange an overnight stay in a dorm with the help of the admissions office.

Be Proactive

  •     Ask the student tour guide (and other students) why they chose the school, what they like best about it, and what they would change. No question is too mundane – ask about the weather, find out about all the dorms and buildings, not just the brand-new facilities showcased on the tour. Ask to see or hear about things that are important to you, be it the recreational facilities, football stadium, labs, library, or support services.

Off-Campus Life

  •     Since much of the college experience exists outside classroom walls, students should take note of the school’s immediate neighborhood and of the available amenities in close proximity to the campus – affordable restaurants, museums, movie theatres, concert halls, and shopping areas.

Listen to Your Teachers - Take Copious Notes!

  •     Since you will be visiting several different colleges during your road trip, be sure to take detailed notes and take photos. Make sure to spend some time on individual college websites before your visits – they provide a wealth of information and may prompt questions you can ask during your visit.

Do Your Downtime Homework

  •     Since you’ll be in a confined environment with your parent(s) for a period of time (and they with you), research great local restaurants and tourist attractions in the area, prior to your departure.

In addition to helpful tips regarding campus visits, WiseChoice features a College Visit Planner (http://www.wisechoice.com/sitemap/college_visit_planner) that:

  •     Helps students plan and keep track of college visits
  •     Maps out tasks to consider before, during and after each visit
  •     Keeps track of details with reminders and simple checklists
  •     Automatically resets the student’s calendar, task lists and reminders if the date of a visit changes
  •     Allows students to enter photos and helpful notes (“great cafeteria food,” “beautiful campus,” etc.) following each visit, to serve as reminders and for comparison of schools.

About WiseChoice

Launched in October, 2009, WiseChoice (http://www.WiseChoice.com) is the most comprehensive online college guidance solution currently available and features expert advice, scholarship information, personalized financial aid scenarios, school statistics, academic outlook and reviews by more than 100,000 surveyed college students. By matching students with the “best-fit” college options across all facets, WiseChoice aims to help students have a successful college experience both in and out of the classroom.

Unlike other college search and selection sites that offer limited resources, WiseChoice helps parents and students figure out how to pay for college, identify scholarships and financial aid, and develop a payment plan. WiseChoice can even calculate the true overall cost of college – including tuition, room and board, fees, travel, personal expenses, books, etc. – before students even apply to schools to ensure that students and their families incur as little debt as possible at college graduation.

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Lydia Voles

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