Question: My daughter will be going to college next fall, so we’re visiting schools this summer. What questions should we be asking during these college visits so that she makes the right choice?
Answer: First, your daughter should make a list of schools she would like to attend and discuss these choices with her guidance counselor. The counselor may help her narrow down her choices based on which schools offer strong programs relevant to her intended career choice, offer potential scholarships for her academic and/or extracurricular strengths, etc.
As you research the schools, including asking questions during a visit, find out the average class size for incoming undergraduates. Think about your daughter’s learning style and evaluate whether she will succeed in that size of a class. For example, if she needs extra attention from the teacher, a large school with classes of 300 students might not be the best fit for her.
If you are concerned about financing college, meet with a financial aid counselor during your visit. Discuss work-study programs, potential scholarships, and funding options for your family.
Ask about typical living arrangements for an incoming freshman, including meal packages. Do freshman usually live in residence halls? Does the school have requirements for students to live on campus? If so, for how many years?
Visit some of the dormitories so that your daughter can see what her living situation will be like. Is it clean? Is it safe and well lit at night?
Ask about the safety measures the campus takes to protect students both during class times and after class. Your daughter needs to be safe walking to and from class and on nights and weekends when living in the dorms.
Create an agenda for your visits with a list of questions you need answered, people with whom you’d like to meet (schedule those appointments in advance), and places on and off campus you would like to see. With that agenda, you can ensure you hit all the important points while still having time for fun together as a family.