As juniors in high school, all students have to make one of the most important decisions of their career: namely, what path they want to take after graduating. I plan on attending college and using my junior year to help prioritize the schools to which I would like to apply. While some students may wait until their junior year to seriously consider college, other students may have been thinking about this since they were old enough to wear an NC State football jersey. I didn’t have that type of parental pressure, because my father didn’t go to college and my mother went to Texas Woman’s University, which is nowhere on my college radar. Because of this, I have basically had free rein to tour colleges that interested me and were in places that I would enjoy living in.
When you tour a college campus with your parent(s), your experience may vary depending on the type of relationship you have with them. Most of the time, parents think about what type of surroundings they would like for their children to live in and what programs the school offers for them. Some parents like a strict schedule when touring and some are more relaxed and allow their children to decide if the college would be the perfect fit for what they want to do later in life. If you have a shy or introverted personality and will have difficulty talking to unfamiliar people about the university, touring with your parent(s) is a good idea. They can ask the questions that are important to both of you, such as, cost, campus safety, the percentage of college graduates who get a job out of school and transportation. It will also take some of the college planning stress off of you and assist you in making a decision.
I’ve actually been touring colleges informally for the past few years, so whenever my family would take a vacation we would stop by the local colleges that interested me. Ranging from the University of Texas at Austin to the Chicago Institute of Art, these schools have been narrowed down to the type of school I could see myself fitting into, not just because of the programs they offer, but because of the campus lifestyle as well. A university having a good sense of community is important to me, because finding your group of friends within 10,000 to 30,000 students can be difficult. It’s fun to make a trip out of college tour. Not only do you get to explore new places, but you also you get to see what the area around the college offers. If you enjoy going out on the weekends, a more urban campus might suit your interests better rather than a rural campus with just a college and a few restaurants.
Whichever way you decide to approach college visits, remember that college is meant to be a fun experience where you find yourself, meet different types of people and get out of your comfort zone. Stressing too much about the future will spoil the present.