Although many schools have postponed their enrollment deadlines, some are sticking to May 1 which is right around the corner. You may still be weighing your enrollment options. With college visits off the table, the choice may seem more difficult than ever. How do you make a final decision without making a visit?
What’s in a visit
College visits let you “see yourself on the campus.” But what does this mean? Usually this is code for “how do you feel about the school?” or “what does your gut tell you?”. Walking around campus on a sunny day elicits a feeling. But feelings are more often about people rather than places. That’s why counselors tell you not to visit on a holiday or a Sunday when there are often less people around. The campus doesn’t “feel” right without people.
So – can you still evoke that same feeling without walking around? Absolutely! The campus may be closed but you can still connect with the same people. Contact the admissions office to ask about your options – ask if you can talk with a student ambassador. If possible, also talk with an advisor or professor in the academic area that interests you. Check with your college counselor to find out if they know current students or alums from your high school or local community. Talking with people – hearing their enthusiasm for the campus (or lack of) – will develop your intuition about a school.
Other things to consider
Going to college is a family affair. Involve your parents and take their opinions to heart. Together as a family, think back to what was most important when making your original list of colleges (things like – academics, location, size, activities).
Four aspects of “best fit”
- Academic: Does the college offer your major or field of study? Are there a variety of options if you are undecided? What will your class sizes be? What academic support systems are in place if you need help?
- Financial: Is it affordable, both for you and your family? Have you been offered scholarships or grants, or will you need loans to cover the cost? Do a cost comparison to see which colleges offer you the best financial aid.
- Social: Harlan Cohen, author of “The Naked Roommate” talks about the importance of identifying PEOPLE and PLACES you will feel comfortable with on campus (see Harlan’s webinar, 7 Big Mistakes HS Seniors Make When Picking a College). Who will your people and places be?
- Physical: Take an online tour. Review the campus website for other virtual options – 3D or VR experiences can give you a great perspective of the physical campus. And don’t forget to ask about the weather and the surrounding area.
Review your pro and con lists but give credence to your gut feeling as well. As with any big choice, it should be made with your brain and your heart. And once you make your enrollment decision, look forward with enthusiasm – don’t second guess yourself. The college experience is what you make it. Your attitude and ambition will determine your success as much as the college you select.