I’m often asked – is it best to visit colleges before the application process or once the student gets accepted to college. And, as a college coach, my answer, is almost always going to be for any aspect of college planning: whatever works best for that specific student and outcome they want to create.
My role, as a coach when I work closely with my clients, is to inspire them, and also alleviate any overwhelm, stress, fear and confusion associated with the process. I want to make it exciting and even fun!
There are a lot of moving parts in the college preparation process, and it can be difficult to know where to begin. If you haven’t already downloaded my resource guide with the 10 Essential Websites to Begin Planning for College, you can grab your free copy by clicking here.
In my experience in working with clients, here are the top 3 reasons I believe it’s important to visit colleges prior to the application process:
1. It Provides Motivation AND Inspiration. Someone once told me that the difference between motivation and inspiration is that inspiration is something that you feel on the inside, while motivation is something from the outside that compels you to take action.
Visiting colleges can be the spark that connects the dots from what choices they make in high school and most important WHY they are making them.
I’ll never forget my first time on a college campus – seeing all the activity, the beautiful, historic buildings, the student store – that became my inspiration AND my motivation throughout high school to study one hour longer or take a class that was a bit more challenging.
2. It Helps Define your Criteria. The internet is a great resource for taking virtual tours of college campuses but there’s nothing like actually walking around the campus to help further solidify the list of criteria that your child wants in a college and the type of environment that they will thrive in.
Even if the initial list of choices that your child has is out of state, you can visit local area campuses to help further define the criteria like size of campus, how easy it is to get around, type of buildings (older, more historic or newer and high tech), diversity of the population, proximity to a city and even type of food choices available.
3. It Creates a “Real Life” Picture. For any big decision in life, there can be both excitement and fear and fear is mostly created by what is unknown.
The more that your child can replace the unknowns about college with their own "known" experience, the more excited they will be about executing their plan, completing their applications and creating their future.
Visiting a college and meeting with a college counselor or even a department head is a great opportunity for your child to ask the questions about what is most important to them and get information that will help them feel much more excited about college and more confident about their opportunity to create a fulfilling experience.
These 3 reasons to visit colleges can ALSO be applied as the reasons to do so even AFTER your child is accepted and is choosing which school to actually attend.
Visiting a college after acceptance still provides motivation AND inspiration, but is also sets your child up for success to go into college excited and passionate about their choice. This ensures that they are more likely to take action and stay committed to the choice they’ve made.
Another great reason to visit colleges is to rule out any regret or FOMO (fear of missing out) of choosing one college over another.
This reminds me of one of my favorite stories about the brilliance of one of my clients.
Her son was thrilled that he got accepted to Loyola Marymount University and 100% certain he was going there – that was until he got accepted to NYU.
Then, all of a sudden, NYU became THE school of choice and this sun and surf kind of guy was convinced that the New York City campus of NYU was the best place to be over the rolling hills and ocean view of Loyola Marymount – even though he had never been to New York.
This was a perfect example of how visiting NYU was the perfect way to illustrate the difference between the imagined version of college life at NYU vs the real version of a day in the life of an NYU student and life in New York City.
You might be asking “why spend all of that money for a trip to New York” but when this smart parent weighed the cost of a weekend in New York ($2,000) versus a year’s tuition at NYU ($66,000), the choice was easy.
Her son was able to look at all of the options and weigh all of the information and choose the school that was the best fit for him – without looking back – with no regrets.
He ended up choosing Loyola Marymount, for half the cost, and is a happy junior there on full scholarship!
It was a joy to see my client make the right decision for them, and it is so rewarding for me to have helped them navigate this process and to see her son succeed.
If you found this post and example helpful and you’d like to chat with me about the best next moves you can make for your college preparation process, I invite you to apply for one of my complimentary discovery sessions by CLICKING HERE.
During that session, we will focus on YOU and identify the most important priorities you should be focused on at your stage of the college preparation process.
Thanks for reading!