Part 4: College Visits with My Son
Here at Smart College Visit, we frequently write about the importance of college visits. We say things like “Visiting campus is the best way to find the right college fit” and, when we ask college students about why they chose their college, more often than not, they’ll say “I knew this college was right the moment I first set foot on campus.” (Corny, I know, but if you don’t think it’s true, then ask students this question when you are on their college campuses.)
After five college visits, I asked my son if he had experienced that euphoric moment of knowing he had found the “right” college. His answer was “No.” I wondered why not? He’s applied to several of these colleges and has been offered admission to each one; surely he knew that one of these was right for him? Not necessarily or, more importantly, “not yet.”
Typically, campus visits fall into two categories:
- the college-search/just shopping/pre-application campus visit
- the admitted student visit
I am a firm believer that even if your student does not know if he or she wants to go to college, they should still visit a few colleges to get a sense of what college life is like. It may be that college immediately after high school is not an option; maybe the timing isn’t right; maybe cost is an issue; or maybe more college prep work is required. Still go. Even just being on a college campus can open your student’s mind to imagining the next chapter in his or her life.
That’s what’s been happening with my son. He was not one of those kids who has known exactly what he wanted to do with his life. He’s been a “take-things-in-stride” kind of kid with a lot of interests, living in the moment — but since we started visiting colleges he’s begun to see himself not as a high school student, but as a future college student with an adult life and a career ahead of him.
In the spring, he’ll attend campus visit programs for admitted students at the colleges where he’s been offered admission. He’ll know more about what he wants and be better informed about potential career paths and maybe it’ll be that second time he sets foot on campus, that he’ll know which one is right for him.
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