Many students and their parents save college tours until the student’s junior or senior year right before or even during the college application season.
Not only is waiting until the last minute to schedule a tour stressful, it puts you way behind when it comes to admissions.
College admissions officers who review student applications know that the average student is applying to 8-10 colleges or even more! That means every senior they interact with on campus or whose application they review has only a 1 in 10 chance of actually accepting an offer of admission.
From the admissions officer’s perspective, investing too much time in these students is pointless. They put together an intriguing campus tour with a bright and cheerful tour guide to do the best they can to lure in students, but they can’t invest the time to interact with every student themselves.
But that doesn’t mean admissions officers don’t want to connect.
Like anyone else, admissions officers have to invest their time well. A senior who only has a 1 in 10 chance of attending is not a good use of their time. But a high school freshman who has already expressed interest in the school is much more worthy of their time.
This presents a huge opportunity for parents who understand the implications.
By beginning to visit colleges early, your student is going on record as having expressed serious interest in the school. Students who express serious interest are more likely to get accepted, and often receive better financial aid packages. Admissions officers are able to invest time in your student early and get a good feel for whether or not this student is a good fit.
Colleges want to hear from you.
The University of Arizona offers tours for students as young as Kindergarten!
Not only is touring a school at a young age of huge educational benefit to a child, it helps the school get to know the student early on. Both the student and the school get a head-start on determining if this is a good fit.
College tours are not only important, they are critical. More critical than you think.
Planning Your College Tour
Start by asking yourself what your son or daughter is planning to study at this institution and making a point to understand who will be the key professors most likely to be teaching your son or daughter in their first year of college.
Advise the admissions department you would like to attend a class being taught by those professors and obtain a schedule. Planning your tour around this “class schedule” may make this a little more complicated and inconvenient. However, it is well worth the extra time if it means face-to-face time with the actual professors your students will be learning from.
The admissions department will assist you in arranging this tour as well as supplementing your visit with the “general admission” tour so you still learn about the entire college experience at a specific college.
When you step on that college campus, the setting is beautiful, the students all seem very nice, and the admissions department people are extremely friendly.
However, no one is pointing out to you that if you decide to attend, the student debt you incur cannot be extinguished in a personal bankruptcy filing. The tour guide will tell you about student life on campus, but he won’t tell you that if you that the average student takes more than four years to graduate. Campus housing will be a big subject of conversation, but no one will be telling you how many students who graduate from this school move back in with their parents because they can’t afford rent.
Focus on the Product
There is no question college is an entire experience and passage in life. However, the core purpose, and the driving reason to attend a college or university, is learning.
Students learn, first and foremost, from professors. Professors spend their lives teaching students as well as preparing to teach students. Professors deliver the “product.” Your son or daughter’s ability to learn what is being taught by the professor is impacted first and foremost by the professor’s ability to engage the student to want to learn, coupled with your son or daughter’s commitment to absorbing and learning what the professor is teaching.
Remember, this is the primary reason you are committing to a $200,000 investment.
With so much at stake, it is critical when planning a college tour, to remember why you are going, and what you want to accomplish when you are there.
What If Your Student Doesn’t Know What to Study?
Contrary to popular belief, it is usually better for students to have a good idea of what they want to study before they set foot on campus. Yes, they may still change their mind, but having some sort of a direction will help them focus their efforts in a useful way. They will also learn much more about themselves in the process.
An easy place to start is by having your student take Majors Matcher.
This tool will help your student identify their natural strengths and interests and how those translate into college majors and potential careers.
If your student can’t make up their mind about which major they like best they can choose several and have a good idea of what areas to focus on when they begin college to find out which major they enjoy studying the best.
Put this information into action.
Summer can be an excellent time of year to begin this adventure with your child. Make it your goal to visit three colleges this summer with your young son or daughter.
You will be pleasantly surprised with how much attention you will receive and how quickly your questions can get answered.
Use College Factual Match to begin making a list of schools to explore and do some research ahead of time. Learn about graduation rates, sports teams, and admissions standards.
While you’re on your tour, ask about job placements, student research opportunities, and accessibility to internships.