If you have a college-bound teenager like we do, you might wonder if a college campus visit is really that important. Our family has been visiting several college campuses these past few months which has made a huge difference in helping our teen narrow down her choices.
Visiting a campus gives your student an idea of what college life is like. Your teen will have a chance to tour the campus, see what the dorms are like, sit in on a class, talk to other students, and so much more. As far as the parents, a college campus visit gives us the chance to ask questions and get answers. Here are 10 questions that parents should ask.
How will my child benefit?
At the root of any college visit is what a college or university has to offer your child. College campus visits usually include time spent with the dean of admissions or the department head for your child’s field of study. I always ask “What does your college offer that others can’t?”
Dorm rules and security
For students who will be living on campus, knowing if the dorms are safe and secure will help parents feel better about the safety of their child. I also ask about dorm rules are, how well they are enforced, and who exactly is the residence adviser.
Student to teacher ratio
Also important is knowing the student to teacher ratio. Kids who need help and ask lots of questions will not be happy in a school where the classes are super sized, taught by a TA, or only available online.
I never really thought about a retention rate before but knowing how many freshmen actually make it to graduation really does reflect the quality of the school. If a school has a low graduation rate, then chances are high that your child will drop out.
Some kids can manage fine their first year, others need help in basic life skills. I want to know what kind of freshman services are available and how easy they are to access.
A college campus visit is also the time to ask for additional financial aid beyond FAFSA. Thanks to campus visits, our teen learned where to apply for scholarships, if she was eligible for work study, and other ways to finance college.
Dining services takes up a huge chunk of college costs with many schools offering meal plans that cost a whopping $1600-2500 a semester. A college campus visit gives you to chance to check out the meal program and learn if there’s a cheaper way to manage meals.
Job and internship opportunities
When the point of sending our kids to college is to prepare them for careers, it’s nice to know what the school can offer in terms of internships, job training, and job placement.
Can they graduate in four years?
My two oldest sons took six years each to graduate from their schools because many of their classes had limited space or were only offered once every two years. This puts a huge strain on everyone’s finances which is why knowing what the average graduation time could be a determining factor between schools in terms of value. If your teen has taken AP or concurrent enrollment classes, remember to ask if these are accepted for credit since these too will speed up graduation.
Not all campuses offer on-site health care services which is why parents should ask what kind of medical care is available to the students. Other things to ask about include pharmacy services, student insurance plans and (for those who have private insurance) insurance waivers.
These are ten basic questions that I ask with each college campus visit we make with our teen. While it’s important to find a college that is a good fit with our children and will help them achieve their career goals, it’s equally important that the college is a good fit for us parents.
More by this contributor:
How does concurrent enrollment work?
What to budget for college application fees, testing and more?
How many AP classes should my teenager take?