The College Visit

By Lighthouse Counselor Sean J. Murphy

Every summer and spring thousands of soon to be seniors venture out with their families to begin touring colleges and universities across the country. These trips are meant to be fun and educational, yet at times can seem to bring out fear and anxiety in at least one of the participants on the trip. In order to reduce the stress, students and families should plan ahead so they can make the most out of their travels and eliminate undo stress and anxiety.
First and foremost, schedule a tour using the college’s website. In doing so you can be assured that you will be given a tour by an employee of the college or university who can answer many of the questions you will be seeking out on your visit. Be sure to schedule a meeting with an academic advisor as well; this is beneficial for both parents and students. Parents may have questions that differ from their students; these questions can be addressed by an academic advisor at the college or university. (Have a list of questions prepared prior to attending your visit.)
While on campus, find out what buildings freshman courses are held. Ask if there is a staged dorm room you can you can visit. It’s important for students to see the actual space they’ll be living in while they are away at school. Certain buildings on campuses are more important than others. Students should familiarize themselves with the student health services. You may need to depend on them if you become sick while you are away. The library is usually easy to find, but can you find the best place to study inside of it? Where will you go to work out when you need to burn off some steam, find out what the rec center has to offer its students. The financial aid office is also a very important place you will need to get to know, especially if you are going to be depending on financial aid or work study to provide financial help while you are attending school.
Get to know the town and surrounding area of the colleges that you are visiting. No matter if the college is in a small rural setting or in a large urban community you will want to find out where the closest stores, markets and malls are located. Transportation will be something else to consider. Is there an Amtrak stations or local airport that your child will be using to commute to and from college over breaks and holidays? If so, this is a good time for all to get familiar with these locations.
Being prepared is your best bet. Plan ahead, talk as a family and list any and all questions you want to have answered by the time you finish each visit. These are surefire tips that will make each visit enjoyable and hopefully reduce the anxiety one may experience in the process.
Safe travels!!!