We all know that one person who committed to a college and a major before the start of senior year of high school. However, for the larger percentage of high school students considering a college or a four-year university, visiting a college campus can be a crucial step in making a decision.
Typically, students who are interested in post-secondary institutions fall into four different categories. First, there are those who know what post-secondary institution they will attend, but are undecided on a major. Then, there are students who know what they want to study, but not at what institution. There are those students who do not know what or where they want to study. Finally, there is that small, lucky percentage of students who know what they want to study and where.
Going to a post-secondary school is a personal and family decision based on a few factors including, location, living options, programs of study, college culture, cost, etc. Combined, all of these factors could be overwhelming to any student and her parents. Here are a few helpful tips to consider before making a cross-country trip or committing to a miss-fit for the next four years.
Start with CIS
The Idaho Career Information System is a great tool for subscribers and guests to explore all U.S. colleges and universities, as well as technical and vocational programs. With CIS, users are able to access basic information about each institution including student body size, costs, admission rates, housing, programs of study, etc. CIS could help you narrow down your initial interests to a realistic and manageable number of options.
Arrange a visit
All post-secondary institutions have admissions offices that can help you plan your visit and schedule a tour. Visiting a college during the spring or fall allows you to get to know a school when there are more students on campus. However, summer tours are not uncommon. While on campus, consider talking to the students and finding out what the college culture is like at each school. Using this opportunity to talk about financial aid and housing could prove to be beneficial when making your final decision.
Plan post-secondary visits around family vacations
A common problem students and parents face during the college research process is navigating through the endless options. Trying to plan road trips to all of the post-secondary institutions on your list can be tedious. However, once you have finalized your summer vacation plans, see if there are any schools near by — or on the way — that your family can visit.
Consider virtual tours
A virtual tour is a great option when making trips across the country is not realistic. Post-secondary institutions create videos that provide sneak-peeks of what the campus looks like as well as provide a taste of the culture at that institution. Websites like CampusTours allow students take visual tours from one platform.
Remember, choosing a post-secondary to attend for two to four years is not only a student commitment, but one for the family as well. Throughout the process consider what culture and environment is best for you.
Safe travels and happy exploring!
– Inessa Palnikov, Inessa.Palnikov@labor.idaho.gov
User services coordinator, Idaho Career Information System