Parents It’s Time To Start The Exit Plan- Next Stop-College!

I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by. We hear it over and over again. Enjoy them while they are young because it goes fast. Yes, we know it is true but so hard for us to embrace our children’s journey to the next phase of life. The key to helping your child make the transition should start way before 11th grade, but if you are just getting started or have been preparing for the last few years, allow me to share some helpful tips for those college road trips this summer.

Spring Break and summer of junior year is when most parents hit the road to start making those final selections for the perfect college or university. The goal is to get a feel for the school beyond all those brochures that have been arriving daily in the mail for the past year. Your child will need to make in-person visits to get a true feel for the campus atmosphere. They should talk with current students, professors, coaches, admissions officers, etc. As a parent, you should also accompany your child on these visits so you can get a feel for the campus as well. After all, you want your child and, of course, you to feel safe.

College Questions you need to ponder?
1. Will the school of choice be commuter or residential?
2. What is too close and what is too far from home?
3. What is the real financial contribution from family, and what is the expectation from the student? (Having a real conversation is important or there will be trouble when the acceptance letters arrives)

Get the Facts
Find out the admission requirements for the school such as GPA, SAT & ACT Scores. Review the scholarship offerings, and know the costs associated with attending. Attend college fairs and financial aid events.

Choose the Dates Wisely
The ideal times to visit colleges are the spring of your child’s junior year and/or the fall of senior year. Go ahead and have your child complete a college visit day request so that any absences from school will not count against them. If you are planning your visits in the summer, think about incorporating college visits during a family vacation. The best days to visit are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

Map it out
It makes sense to map your route, minimizing the travel time in between each school. Pick an area or region with several schools you’re interested in so you can visit multiple colleges over the length of your trip. Plan your route ahead of time, so you’ll know each location you’d like to visit and the travel times in between.

Setup Appointments/Interviews
Be sure to call ahead and check on tour times, dates offices are closed, and visit/interview policies. Have your child to schedule the visits. If your child wants to participate in an official campus tour, interview with the admissions office, coaches, professors, etc., or stay overnight in a dorm room, he/she will need to make appointments in advance; don’t chance a walk-in appointment.

Take notes
If you’re visiting multiple colleges one after another, it may become hard to keep straight what you’ve learned about each school, so taking notes on how you felt while being at each school is important. Take lots of notes, and then review them all to assist with your final decision.

Until Next Time, Be Sincere, Kind and Intentional
By: Jackie Warner, Community Outreach Specialist
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