Huge numbers of students and families are visiting colleges this fall as the pressure to get into excellent colleges is extremely high.
Here are some of my recommendations as you begin your search for the right college.
How to know which colleges to visit?
In recent years, a record number of students have been applying to colleges across the country.
Added to continuously rising tuition, the competition for acceptance to choice colleges is fierce. It is more critical than ever for students to investigate the "right" colleges to find the ones that best suit their interests, abilities, and financial constraints. This is an important time of year for high school students to visit colleges with their families. They can examine first-hand if a particular college environment meets their criteria on academic, cultural, personal and social levels. **
When deciding which colleges to visit:
Examine yourself as a prospective college student there. What are your academic abilities and strengths? What is the colleges program like in your field of interest (i.e. journalism, humanities, engineering, business, nursing etc.)
Research college websites from which you can learn about curriculum, areas of specialty, activities and even arrange to attend upcoming events taking place at that school.
Consider the Campus setting/environment. Do you want a large or small campus? Rural or urban? Energetic or low key? Athletic? What are the criteria that really appeal to you? Make a list of priorities.
Consider Size of Student Body. Will a large student body challenge you to excel or will you thrive in a smaller, more intimate environment?
Financial Aid. An assortment of scholarship packages is offered by most colleges to many students who show the financial need.
When should a student start visiting colleges?
Starting the college visitation process as early as 10th grade is essential given the stakes and array of choices. Since admissions requirements and deadlines vary a great deal among colleges, getting an early start is a must. A student needs to see colleges and prepare early to increase their chances of being competitive at their colleges of choice.
What to do when you visit colleges:
Get an overall view of the college through a campus tour and information session.
Explore the college on your own for a better picture of what the college has to offer
Sit in on classes, particularly those in which you may want to major.
Schedule time to meet with professors (set up appointments ahead of time).
Talk to current students about the school and campus life. Ask the students if they would attend the same college again
Experience eating in the college dining hall.
Spend time in the student center or other high-traffic areas to help envision yourself as part of the community.
Take the time to visit key areas of personal interest such as arts programs, musical programs, sports activities, school newspapers, clubs, etc.
Can you envision yourself living on this campus? Are you comfortable with the "spirit? of the campus setting, its size and, its location. Does it feel like a good "fit"
Paying for college - how to make a great college "fit" as affordable as possible:
Applying for financial aid is a very important part of the process for many people. Also, colleges often have applications for merit scholarships. Close attention to deadlines is very important. It is important to be aware that there can be a huge tuition difference among colleges that are private, in state and out of state.
By keeping these points in mind and taking the time to research and prepare for college visits, students and their families will get a more comprehensive idea about the college and if it is a good "fit for the student.
In addition a student and family can better learn the steps needed to maximize admissions chances.
Start early. Start smart.
Eric Greenberg is the director and founder of the renowned Greenberg Educational Group, Inc., formed in 1991 in New York City. Greenberg and his skilled team have dedicated themselves to helping students of all ages achieve their academic goals. The company has developed a stellar reputation for providing high quality personalized one-on-one test preparation, school selection & application advising (high school, college and graduate school) and academic tutoring. After graduating from Fieldston High School (in Riverdale, New York), Greenberg attended the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics in 1988. He graduated Summa Cum Laude and was elected to Beta Gamma Sigma, a leading national business school honor society. Eric and the Greenberg Educational Group have been featured in U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, New York Nightly News with NBC4's Chuck Scarborough, ABC7-TV Eyewitness News, Fox 5's Good Day New York "The Money Authority," as well as The Manhattan Family Guide to Private Schools, Education Update, the New York Post, The Westside Spirit and Our Town.