Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Making the Most of a College Fair

The journey has officially begun.  Last night we went to our first college fair.  Representatives from each college were ready to engage in dialogue about their institution and inform you of your options.  There are some really exciting schools out there...but which one do you choose?

I did a bit a research before we went so we could be a little prepared.  These are a compilation of the thoughts and questions we discussed:

Come prepared with questions!
How many students take that major?
What kind of research faculty members are involved in and are there any opportunities for undergraduates to participate in them?
What courses you would take your first year in a particular major.
What does the college look for in transcripts vs. SAT scores?
Do we need to audition or have a portfolio?
Are there extracurricular activities in my interests?
What do the graduates go on to do after graduation?
What percentage of students receive financial aid
Other concerns unique to your interests and situation...

Mapping out a strategy!
Before you leave for the fair, make sure you have the following supplies: a small notebook with your list of colleges and questions you want to ask; a pen or pencil; and a backpack to hold all the college pamphlets you'll be collecting.
Students with access to computers may wish to print up a few sheets of self-stick address labels.  Include your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, high school, year of graduation,  intended major, and any extracurricular activities you're interested in.  At the fair, slap the address labels on the college info cards to save time and energy.

A director of admissions at a California College advice was first for the student to take a self-inventory and make a list of all the things they know about themselves.  Start with the obvious:  What do you like to do?  What do you hate to do?  What subjects (academic or not) make you sit up and take notice?  What totally bores you?  What are you good (or not-so-good) at?  How do you learn best-by listening, discussing, reading, doing?  Do you enjoy being part of a large group, or do smaller groups suit you better?  Do you seek out diversity among your friends, or would you rather hang out with people that are very similar to you?  Are you more comfortable in the city or in a rural or suburban environment?  Do you want to stick close to home or move far away?  Is there a particular geographical area you're most interested in?
Search for colleges that have the characteristics that line up with your inventory list.  Visit internet college sites and talk with the guidance counselor.  The goal at this point is to put together a list of 15 to 20 colleges that look promising.  They should be colleges where you realistically have a shot at getting accepted.

The process is overwhelming.   After speaking to many college reps, there were some offering full scholarships and ALL of them stressed beginning your senior year with a firm choice because that's when there is the most money for scholarships.  Doug was invited to come tour the campuses which is a great idea because there is an ideal shaped up in your mind and actually seeing the campus can obviously tip the scales. When we were chatting beforehand I asked Doug what he envisioned a college campus to look like.  He described it as somewhat small, old historic buildings in a quiet setting.  So that is a good barometer for where his comfort level is.  Manhattan is probably not the place for him!  Funny that one of the places, Eastern University, had a huge display picture of their campus.  It was like someone took a snapshot of our discussion. 
The gal shared with us that in the basement of this old building they found manuscripts from Beethoven and Mozart.

There are webinars that will walk you through questions we have as parents; financial aid, choosing the right college, choosing a major and so and so.  Talking with other parents with children in college is a great way to learn as well.  Basically, you have to jump in and get your feet wet to start learning the lay of the land.  It's a big world out there!

Coram Deo,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

how can this be....wasn't it just last year that he started school?

His Grammy