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College Visits Pandemic-Style

Hello fellow parents, and welcome!

We’ve been chatting about the complexity of college visits this spring on our CPR Facebook Group, and it’s confusing. Some colleges are offering outdoor tours to admitted seniors trying to make their final decision. Some colleges don’t want any prospective students to come at all. Thankfully we have a friendly guide among our troops, Joy Denomme, Founder and Publisher of  CollegeTripsandTips.com, an online resource for everything you need to plan the perfect college visit from maps to college guides to the inside scoop on campus life from current college students.

For parents of juniors beginning your college tourism, virtual tours may need to suffice until colleges re-open for visitors. (Some families are thoroughly enjoying them, like a surprisingly good movie during a forced-family-fun night!) As for parents of seniors struggling with a decision, please remind your child to ask themselves what does success look like to me, not which college will make me look most successful to figure out which college is right for them.

I’m very grateful to Joy for joining us today, so I’ll turn the floor over her!

How Can High School Juniors and Seniors Explore Colleges This Spring? 
Here Are 3 Essential Tips!

While many campuses remain closed, you may be wondering how to visit your student’s prospective schools. Luckily, it’s now possible to get a feel for colleges even without a formal tour. 

For juniors, take a deep breath. There will be time in the months ahead, particularly at the end of summer before Labor Day, when most colleges and universities will be swirling with activity again. There will also be holidays and long weekends to visit campuses as your child finalizes their college list in the fall. However, if you’d like to get started now OR if your kid is a high school senior faced with a college decision and traveling is an option – here’s how to make the most of spring visits:

  1. Call ahead or check the college’s Admissions website for the most current information related to campus tours, info sessions and revisit days. While many campuses remain closed to the general public, some are hosting a limited number of socially-distanced tours and information sessions. Study up on your destination and create your own self-guided tour. It actually may be more productive than a typical tour organized by the admissions office.
  2. Even if campuses are closed to the public, visit the college town. There is no adequate substitute for visiting in person. Getting a feel for the city or town around a college campus is the next best thing to being on campus. After all, college kids don’t spend all their time in class or in their dorm – and exploring the area around campus may be even better than touring a classroom. Walk the perimeter of campus. Eat at an outdoor restaurant or grab a coffee where students frequent. Don your mask and walk down main street & shop or visit a nearby park or outdoor space and you’ll likely get a good feel for life in a college town. College Trips and Tips Guides will help you find the best spots to visit.
  3. Find current college students to talk to!  Chances are, someone from your hometown, your child’s high school, church/synagogue, a family friend’s son or daughter, attends the very colleges you are considering. These students will likely give you an unfiltered and objective view of college life. Your child can ask what the freshmen social scene is really like – the impact of Greek life – athletics – the workload – the food – how to get involved and find a community. If you and your student don’t know anyone, maybe friends can help through their own network. Once they have contact info it’ll be easier for your child to reach out – schedule a time to talk, text or FaceTime. Your child need not to be shy. These college students have been affected by the pandemic, too, and would probably love to help. They remember how difficult it was not to know anyone on the first day of orientation and the importance of finding the right place for the next four years. For more on the student perspective, check out our articles on campus & student life.

So parents of high school juniors, if you’re feeling anxious, remember your child still has plenty of time. For parents of seniors who have a college choice to make, congratulations to them! Visit the college for a true feel for the area around campus, enlist friends to help find a current student and reach out. Want another great tip? Encourage your child to reach out to two students at the colleges they are considering. They won’t regret it.

by Joy Denomme, Founder & Publisher CollegeTripsandTips.com

Thank you so much to Joy for these tips, and to you for being the fierce supporter your child deserves during these difficult times. Students are feeling more isolated now than ever before, and yours is lucky you have their back. My hope is that you always know our CPR tribe has yours. Don’t hesitate to contact me with suggestions for future newsletter guests, inquiries about summer essay coaching (I’m registering students now), or just to vent.

Warmly,

Jill

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