Author, educator and commentator, Jeffrey Selingo of The Washington Post does a great job of providing three tips for college students and their families in an article titled Finding a College to Love.
We have combined some of his article’s tips with those College Parents of America published more than a decade ago in a helpful publication we called Decision Time.
Selingo reminds us that “final admissions offers are beginning to roll in and students have until May 1, known informally as “Decision Day,” to make their choice and submit a deposit for a spot in the freshman class. About a quarter of campus visits by prospective students occur in April, according to an analysis by VisitDays, a company that helps colleges schedule student visits. Of those students who visit in April, about half are stepping foot on campus for the first time after submitting their application.”
College Parents of America suggests three important things for students and their parents to consider in the weeks ahead as they make their final choice.
- Don’t stress about the major! Selingo suggests, “that even if students are sure of their major, the school they choose should offer a balanced menu of academic programs. A little more than half of college freshman say there is “very little” to “no chance” that they will change their major, according to an annual nationwide survey of first-year students conducted by the University of California at Los Angeles. But among those students, 47% actually end up pursuing a different major by the end of their first year of college.”
- The Comfort Factor! We are not talking about fancy residence halls or recreation centers, instead, we suggest that prospective students should look for campuses where they are clearly student-centered. Selingo suggests finding campuses where you “can you find mentors and build networks to secure learning opportunities outside the classroom, such as internships. Numerous studies have found that success in college, and even afterward, is tied to student engagement with peers and faculty members. While visiting campuses this spring, be sure to ask how many first-year classes are taught by full-time professors. Inquire about how advising works, and whether a faculty member or a professional adviser will guide your choices of classes and majors.”
- See Yourself as a Student! Enter a classroom. Sit in a seat and walk the hallways of the freshmen dorms. Selingo suggests to “drop into a class or two, if you can. You can quickly form an impression if a faculty member is open to conversations with students by how they conduct their classes,” said Vincent Tinto, a professor emeritus at Syracuse University who has done extensive research on student success. “Faculty who come early to class or stay afterward to talk with students are seen as welcoming.”