Visiting colleges can be an overwhelming endeavor. You, the homeschooled student, are probably looking forward to finding what will be your “home away from home” for the next four years, but you are beginning to realize what a huge task you’re up against. Hopefully, this article will help out with making the process easier.
First off, have a focus going into it.
I recognize that many high school students don’t know for sure what they want to do when they get into college, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Having at least some idea of what you want to do in life, what you want to study, and what your study preferences are will drastically help in choosing the right college. Here are some aspects that you may want to define or at least narrow down before visiting the colleges:
-What kind of job you want to have eventually.
-What steps you need to take in order to get there.
-Which college major will put you on the right path for accomplishing those steps to reach your dream job.
-Whether you have the determination/perseverance to follow through with everything required for that major.
As disheartening as that last point may seem, it truly is important. If you can’t complete everything the major requires, how will you make it on the career field of your choice? In a nutshell, be prepared, and have a relatively good idea of the work that is ahead of you.
That’s where visiting the college comes in – find out everything you can concerning your desired major and all the courses/electives/activities that go along with it.
If sports/fitness is your priority, make sure to take into consideration their programs/facilities.
Honestly, a great academic school with a poor athletic history probably won’t get you into the NFL. So, if your concentration is in sports or athletics, be sure to ask about what programs are available, how freshmen can get into those programs, what kind of scholarships are available, what training facilities they offer, etc. If you are serious about your sports and schoolwork, you might want to check out how homeschoolers and the NCAA work together.
Figure out where you’d be living, and what kind of dorms the colleges offer.
While the vast majority of students prefer to live on-campus, some prefer to rent an apartment or condo off-campus. Take into consideration what kinds of dorms the freshmen live in, and whether the buildings or just the floors are separated by gender. Perhaps gender doesn’t even come into play – maybe the buildings/floors are just separated by years/grades. Finding out this information is very important to the soon-to-be college student. Be sure to note whether the dorms have private bathrooms, and if this is of any importance to you. Look into what meals the cafeteria offers, how often, how it tastes, how much it costs, etc.
Consider the grocery stores, Wal-Marts, departments stores, churches, restaurants, and fast-food joints near the campus. Figure out how what you’d use for transportation – whether walking, bike riding, driving, or catching the bus. Finally, take into consideration all the necessary stores/shops/food joints in relation to where you will be staying. It may not seem very important at first, but it all comes into play, and may empty your wallet a little faster than your student earnings allow.
What is the atmosphere of the town/city like? Of the college?
Often, students can tell if a college town is for them just by the atmosphere. Of course, this depends entirely upon your interests and personality. If you are a book/literature lover, you may prefer a smaller town with lots of used bookstores, coffee shops, cafés, and an all-around hippie-ish feel. If you love to be in the middle of things/in the know, a big city with booming businesses and communities may be what’s right for you. After all, you’re not going to spend all your time studying. And when you’re not studying, you want to be in a town/city that feels like home.
The same thing goes for the college itself. You may walk on the campus and within an hour already of a list of five red flags. They may even be simple things like:
-Nobody in the office is willing to take you on a tour.
-Everyone seems rushed and preoccupied with their work.
-They mention that tons of things are FREE – which they’re not: all of those FREE things are a main reason as to why your tuition is so expensive. You’re paying for all those freebies – the tour guides just word it a little differently so it sounds better.
The list could go on and on. Though those things may seem small and insignificant, they really aren’t. That cold, rushed, office staff could be the staff you’re going to have to work with for the next four years. They could mess up your credits/scholarships in their hurry to get things done – not to mention have limited patience when it comes to fixing those mistakes. These are just things to be aware of, and take note of. When you find a college that suits you academically, athletically, atmospherically, monetarily, food-wise, and living-wise, then you have found the right college.
Of course, pay special attention to the teaching and study helps available.
You’re going to college to learn, right? Well, it’d probably be a good idea to take note of their style of teaching, what is expected of the students, available electives, libraries, computer labs, on-campus bookstores, theaters, etc. Basically, concerning everything that is important to you, take the following into consideration:
I hope this helps prepare you for visiting colleges! It’s an important decision in life. For some extra tips, we have more articles about preparing for college (here, here, and here). I’ll leave you with a few more questions you might want to ask on your college tours.
I wish you all the best in your endeavors!