It was simple really. I wanted to get a sense of what my college-bound teen thought about a particular college before we went on the campus visit. So, I came up with a simple question to get him to rank a college before the campus visit.
On a scale of 1 – 10, where does this college rank on your list of colleges you might apply to?
When his interest in looking at colleges was still in the early stages — a few internet searches, a few requests for information, but not really a lot of enthusiasm about finding the best college fit, we agreed to visit some colleges near us.
When you live within an hour’s drive of six or more colleges, it’s easy to work in some low-pressure campus visits.
Ultimately, we visited seven colleges at least once, and some of them more than once before he accepted an offer at the college that had become his top choice.
But looking back, it was interesting to see how a school could be ranked a 6 or 7 in his mind before the visit, then move up to an 8 or 9 after the visit. Schools can suffer from preconceived ideas, planted by friends or social media. Priorities change as a student moves through this process and how he or she will rank a college definitely changes after a visit to campus and, then again, after there are visits and colleges to compare.
Rankings shifted throughout the process but I think it was helpful for him to process and evaluate each college visit this way. I certainly enjoyed hearing his perspective on each college; it made for good conversation on the ride back home.
To read more about our journey and college visits, see the series: College Visits With My Son.