Our last school visit on the eleven day college tour was at the College of Charleston and after having spent a nice weekend in the city we were primed to love it and love it we did. It’s honestly the best of both worlds, a 10,000 undergrad university smack in the middle of an amazingly historical city, one hour by plane from new york and it’s warm! The campus is beautiful and one of the oldest in the nation.
The fine arts building is gorgeous, centrally located (we found that most of the schools we visited stuck their fine arts building at the edge of campus) and the student art work was very impressive. So after a very long trip, covering 5 states and 7 different colleges I can honestly say it was a successful trip. Sophie liked all seven schools – all for different reasons and she will apply to all of them. I asked her to put the schools in order from most desired to least and she did but she said not to hold her to it as the order is subject to change. Good for her. I think there is a lot to marinate on after a long trip and to really think about everything each school has to offer. We collected tons of materials and they are in our large accordian folder for reference…
Here are a few things we learned about making a college trip successful:
1. When making your college list (for visiting) take a lot of time beforehand deciding whether or not this is a school you would seriously be interested in attending. The last thing you want to do, is drive or fly long distances, arrive and take one look around and say “no way”. The best way to do this is to ask friends who’ve visited, read up on all their stats and spend time on their website. Even then it’s not always going to work out but at least you’ll feel like you tried your best for a good fit.
2. Do research the night before attending the info session and tour to come up with some good questions to ask – not to impress anyone, but to really find out what you need to know. Most of our questions had to do with art portfolios and the gen ed requirements for an art degree. Each school was different.
3. Food is important. One of the ways we got to know the city or town that the school was in was through it’s restaurants. My daughter would not be happy going to college in a place where she could only eat fast food or cafeteria food. If you have a child like that, you might want to consider where the school is located. I have a friend who recently toured a great school that they were really impressed with but the fact that it was “in the middle of nowhere” and they had to stop at subway for lunch was a deal breaker.
4. After the info session and tour, go back to the Admissions office and ask for the business card of your area admissions rep. This is a great way to reach out directly to the person who will be reading your child’s application and the perfect person to contact with additional questions you may have.
5. Take notes. As mentioned in another posting, most schools want the student to write a “why this school” essay. It’s so much easier to write the essay if you’ve taken notes during your tour about why you really liked it. You will most likely forget the small details months later when it comes time to write it.
6. Bring bandaids. Walking for 1.5 hours every day takes a toll.
And here are some things I learned about myself on this trip (with the help of my daughter)…
I’m terrible at taking pictures, I don’t know how to put makeup on properly, I can’t multi-task, I’m terrible at zooming in, I don’t know how to drive, I have zero sense of direction, i’m too loud in restaurants, I nag way too much about doing homework, I need better strapless bras, and I don’t walk fast enough.
Here’s a photo I took on the last day of Sophie walking way ahead of me (not because we were fighting, she just doesn’t have patience for the pace at which I walk).
Thanks for reading along, it’s been quite the trip. Best of luck to all those parents out there who will embark on college tours soon! It actually was a really great opportunity to spend one on one time with my daughter, the last time we spent this much alone time was the week she was born. The fact that this time next year she will be getting ready to move on is so bittersweet. I’m sure this trip will get even better with age.