Checking out college web sites, visiting a college (any college) or attending a college fair – these are all great ways to start the planning process and get acquainted with what college is all about.
College web sites are easy to find on the Internet. College Matchmaker, a search tool offered by the College Board is an excellent place to get started.
While you are on a college web site (e.g. University of Michigan, Stanford, LSU, NYU ) check out the campus and admissions information. Then explore other areas of interest to you such as: student newspaper, clubs & activities, academic offerings, housing, food options, social life, fraternities & sororities, sports & fitness, special programs, application for admission. Try to imagine life on campus.
Getting acquainted with college, any college, by visiting campus is another great way to get started. Unlike most high schools, colleges are generally open and you can freely roam the campus. When you take a tour, you’ll typically see some classrooms, a library, a dorm room, cafeteria, the student center and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and meet students.
College Fairs, typically free and open to the public, provide students with the opportunity to meet admission representatives from a wide range of colleges and universities and to discuss course offerings, admission and financial aid requirements, college life, etc. The National College Fairs (NCF) program, part of The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) sponsors many college fairs.
The goal is to become comfortable exploring colleges. If you have the opportunity to visit several colleges you’ll see that residential colleges have a different look and feel than community colleges. You’ll also begin developing preferences regarding college size and setting. You may prefer a large urban university to a small rural college. This will help you decide what types of schools are a good fit for you.
Lynn Radlauer Lubell, Publisher of InLikeMe.com and Founder of Admission By Design, an Educational Consultancy based in Boca Raton, Florida.