This is part four of our 4-Part College Match series with Sage Oak School Counselor, Coral Prendergast. Throughout these episodes, Coral shares informative and tactical resources for navigating the process of finding the right college for your student. Part 4 focuses on touring and visiting college campuses
SLIDESHOW: “Visiting College Campuses”
Topic 1: Why You Should Visit College Campuses
Topic 2: When You Should Visit College Campuses
Topic 3: Things to Consider Before Your Visit
Topic 4: Questions to Ask During Your College Visit
Thank you for listening to the Sage Studio podcast presented by Sage Oak Charter Schools and hosted by Tiffiny Webster, M.A.Ed. We invite you to follow the show and leave your review below. Sage Oak Charter Schools is an independent study nonclassroom based TK-12 personalized learning public charter school serving students in Southern California. Visit sageoak.education for more information.
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Welcome to another episode of the Sage Studio. I'm Tiffiny Webster and I'm joined with Coral Prendergast. She's our school counselor here at Sage Oak. And I hope you have been following along on this series. This is all about finding the right college match for you and this has been a really great series on figuring out what our students are interested in, what types of colleges are a great match for them, how to find those like 20 schools in the sea of options that are out there. So Coral has been walking us through all of the different processes up until this point. If you've not watched those other episodes, there are part one. There's part two, there's part three, and today we are working on part four. Part four. It's all about visiting the schools. Now that we know the ones that we're interested in, it's time to go take a look at these schools. So Coral, I'm so glad to have you back for another episode. Tell us everything that we need to know about visiting schools. Thanks. Thanks so much for having me. Okay. So today we're going to talk about what does a college visit look like and what should it look like when where all those kinds of things. So when we're thinking about college visits it's really important that you step foot on a college campus before you commit to go there, wherever that is. I've had a lot of students in the past that have committed, it's halfway across the country. They have no idea what the weather looks like, which the food looks like, which we've talked about. And then they get there and realize there's not a lot of people that, you know, have the same interests as them or things like that. And so it's super important to spend some time on a campus and really explore, Hey, what does the area look like? You know, is this a place where people ride their bikes everywhere or do they drive cars? Is it public transportation? Depending on where you're at, all of these things play a huge role in what your life is going to look like. And so it's important that you experience that before you commit to go somewhere. So I would say that the most important time is that you want to be going like junior year, spring of your junior year, even fall of your senior year is important. But one big mistake a lot of people make is that they want to go over the summer, right? Because that's when we have a time off. All of us are off, and so they're thinking, I'm going to go take my trip and do all these college visits, which it's great to see geographically where things are located and all of that. But as far as seeing what the campus is you want to be there when students are there, right? Oh, that's such a good point. Yeah. In the spring, it's not going to feel the same as it will in the fall. Right. So you definitely want to see hey, what does it look like when kids are on campus, when they're moving around? What does the common area look like? Let's taste that cafeteria food, . Let's see what's going on. You know, what's the scene around the campus, the town? Tiffiny, like you had talked about, is it a college town? You know, is it somewhere I can walk all over the place? You definitely want to experience all of those different things. And so I would say you know, spring of your junior year, even different times in your sophomore year is important. To be going like, just plan this into some of your spring break trips or because people have spring breaks at different times. We're here at Sage Oak we have this flexible schedule, which is amazing. You can pick up and go and still do your classes. So be checking college campus out throughout the year. Different seasons, right, with different weather and things like that. I love that advice and I do think it is important to not just go and check out the campus, but like you said, what does the life look like in the community around the campus, right? There's some places where the whole town is all about the school, and if that's what you're looking for, then that's what you know, will experience and you'll love that. Other times, you know, the campus is just part of a really busy city or town, right? And so you don't get that same feeling, you know, that you do in Phoenix. You know, Phoenix feels a little bit different than if you go to Tucson. When you go to Tucson. Everybody's all about the college town. But when you're in Phoenix, you know, it's a big metropolitan city that the campus is only a part of what's going on. I heard some good advice about go and see the places that you would go to around the campus. Like what is the grocery store you would shop at? What is the gas stations like, where, what's their Target? I don't know, like you kind of just want to get a sense for what does it feel like when you're off campus as well as on campus. So, for sure other things to consider.. Okay, so before you plan your visit, things you need to consider is make an appointment. There are colleges that actually look to see how serious you are. So when you're applying and things like that, they have a database. And if you've made an appointment for a college tour or met with admissions or called, they keep track of that. And some schools that is considered oh, they are serious. They can see especially on the common app in a lot of out-of-state schools., if you have applied to 50 different schools, they can see that and then they can see if you've actually taken the time to come and tour their campus and you're serious about it. So for some schools, that's a big deal that you actually make the tour and that you make an appointment to talk to an admissions counselor while you're there. And like I had mentioned before, the admissions counselors are going to be your best friends. Those are like your concierge at the hotel. That know everything and are going to tell you the ins and the outs. They can answer any of your questions about the university, about the surrounding area. Can you bring a car as a freshman? Do you have to live on campus as a freshman? All of those are things to really consider that they can help you with, but you really want to make sure you make that appointment with the admissions counselor and for a tour when you. I love that. And also, do you find that a tour is something that you have to reserve also, just because they may not have them available all the time. Right. Is that another point too? You want to make sure that they, you can't just show up and be like, Hey, can I get a tour? Are they usually pretty scheduled. Like we only do a tour on Tuesdays at 11, something like that. Yeah. So they'll have students who are giving the tours most of the time, but they'll have a window that they do it. You know, like we offer tours at 11 or one or four, that kind of thing. And so you definitely want to make sure you go on online ahead of time. Most campuses have an outreach department that you would just contact and you can find it on their website, and you just sign up for a tour that way with your. And so Okay to go with your mom and dad, like mom and dads go on the tours too. It's like a family affair. Everybody goes and everybody's parents are there, so don't worry about it. Yeah, definitely. I love that you, yeah, that's good. That's important for them to know. That is a real thing.. Yeah. Don't just make your parents drop you off. You want them there too. Cause they're probably going to ask questions that you don't think to ask.. And then the second thing is you want to make sure that you spend at least half a day on that campus. Don't just roll in for 45 minutes or an hour and get out. Like you're really thinking of moving to this place or investing a lot of money in this place. You want to make sure that you spend a healthy amount of time really looking around and talking to people and doing your research when you're there. And I would say, you know, some people will say, oh, I can't afford to go see a college tour. This is what I would say, if you're looking at out-of-state or any private schools, I would say call their admissions counselor, tell them that you cannot afford to come for a visit, but that it's in your top three and you're really deciding if you want to go there. Some of them will fly you out for a tour and you think about it. I mean, this is something people just don't think to ask for, but it is done all the time. And if you think about for them to invest maybe $500, $600 on a flight and a hotel for you to come visit or whatever it is, and you or you say, Hey, if you can get me the flight there, then I can come up with a place to stay or somebody for them to invest that much money for how much money they're going to get for tuition and room and board for you for the next four years, I'd make that investment. Right. So that's a great tip. You could definitely just call. It's worth asking. What are they going to say? The worst they're going to say is No, yes, but you've got a shot that a lot of private and some out-of-state, they will say, okay, we'll fly you here for a tour. So, that's a great thing. Just make sure you're spending about at least a half a day at each campus and then be prepared. Do your research online. You, by this point, you're building your list so you know all the things that are important, if they have your major, how much it costs. You've done all of that kind of research, which is really important. And then the next part would be what questions do you ask when you're there? Right? So what I've done here is I've linked out different questions to ask the students on campus. You're going to run into a ton of students on campus. Stop some of them and ask them. People are more than happy if they're prideful about their school to tell you that. And if there are issues with the problems with the school, they're going to be more than happy to tell you about that too. Right? That's true. In the day, they're not getting a financial backing from this. Here are questions that you can ask the students. You know, how easy is it to get classes? Do, were you able to get all of your classes? What does registration look like? You know, what does a typical, how much time does a typical student spend on their homework? What's your balance between academics and personal time? Tell me about the campus life. You know, what kind of things are happening? Is there a fraternity, sorority? Like all those kinds of things you can ask the students. That's a great list. Yeah. And. here are things to ask the admissions counselors or the professors, okay? So this is a different ballgame. This is different things that you want to ask them., you know, about what, how many exams or papers, you know, do you have to write? Do you have to buy your own little, remember those test things? Blue books, all those, yeah. Blue Books or Scantrons or any of that stuff that you have to bring with you. Yeah. Yes, you're right. What's a typical freshman schedule look like? Do I get to pick my classes or they all picked for me my freshman year? You know, things like that. If I'm unsure about my major, what do you recommend? You know, there's all different things that you should be asking them.. And so these questions are geared towards them. And then this is kind of fun. This is what questions to ask anybody on campus. So I just had a friend who went to take her son for a college visit, and I had given 'em all these questions and the dad was so funny, like, we were at a restaurant and I just started asking the waitress all these questions, but it's a college town and so they could tell me and you could feel, there you go, that everybody genuinely loved being there. You know what I mean. And so what are the traditions on campus? You know, what's the most popular thing to do? Or just fun things. You obviously don't need to bust out the list and ask every single question, but if you review this list ahead of time, you have ideas in your head and you know which ones of these are important to you, or maybe things you hadn't thought about that now you're like, oh man, I should ask that because that would definitely play into my decision if I knew for sure. And you know what, I'm going to give parents like a little tip here, which is that some of these things are questions that you know, that your students should be asking, right? Or that you might be asking your student to consider. But if it's coming from you, they may not do it. However, if someone else on the campus talks to them about some of these things that they should be considering, that may draw connection, right? Where they're like, oh, absolutely. I should be thinking about that, right? So sometimes you can preview these questions that Coral has armed you with, you know, set up and then, let the waitress explain to you why, your, why your son or daughter should really like the campus and sometimes coming from somebody else other than you can be, very influential. So, Yeah. And I think, you know, a lot of kids when they get on a campus, they have a feeling like you just know I could see myself here, or you get there and you think, this is not the right place for me. And so it's really a confirmation for you to know I've done all this work ahead of time to figure out what my interests are, where I should be. But when you walk on that campus, you're going to know , this isn't the right place for me. Or I could absolutely do this. You know? So how much should they pay attention to that gut feeling? Because you're right, we get to places and we do have that gut feeling of, yes, this is the right place for me or no, this is like way overwhelming or underwhelming. This is not what I expected at all. How important is that gut feeling?. I think the gut feeling's Always listen to your gut feeling in life. But I think too, considering it as one of the factors, . Cause I think you've looked at all these different things and then by that point you've narrowed down your list. Every school you should be visiting has your major. Every school that you should be visiting is within your reach or, you know, it's a dream school and that's out there, but like it's realistic for you to get admitted there and things like that.. So you're not going on a whim to these schools. Right. We're talking about visits, we're talking about you've narrowed your list down and these are like, Maybe six campuses that you're really, you're going to apply to. But now we want to make sure that we like being there, I got it. So, yeah. So we already have a lot of the strategy, a lot of the intention behind the schools that we are now planning visits to. So that's why this is a good place for that gut to come in to just kind of be like, okay, puts it over the top. This is, this feels right. Love it. Absolutely. And then you have three different options here. So you have a Google form if you're the type of person that's going to prompt you to make a copy. Right. And if you're the type of person that on your phone, you just want to enter it in, I've made it so that you can You can then send yourself the link if you know how to do that. Once you make a copy, you're going to click up here on the link and just send yourself this url, keep it on your phone, okay? Okay. And when you're on the campus, you can quickly click on that. You fill out this survey like you know how to fill out a Google survey, and then you are going to be the owner of all the responses and all of your responses will be on a nice little spreadsheet for you in. Oh, I love that. So you're giving yourself like a little form to fill out as you're going through so that you don't forget to address some of these points. Oh, so smart. Love this form. Now if you want the Google form. Ok. If you want a fillable pdf, here's one that I found from a book that's awesome. So you can just download this if you're on your computer and do it. And then also there's a Google Doc, if you just want to be able to file and make a copy and have this type, whatever's going to work for you. Everybody has different systems, but I just wanted you to have some different options to ask yourself, what was the student life like? What were their residential halls? Were their dorms nasty? I can't live there. There's like nastiness in the bathroom. You know, you have to really think of these things when you're looking at these campuses and what was your overall impression, how would you rate it and things like, You know what else I think is important too is scale. Especially coming from an independent study environment to an in-person campus scale is one of those things that it's hard to get relevance to just online, but when you are actually there, and like you were talking about, like how far is it from your dorm to the library? Or if you are in this dorm and you're taking physics classes, where is that building located and how close or how far is that? What do you know, and for some students, they're going to really want a smaller campus so they can navigate really easily where others might want. So, you know, that's larger. But then now you have to think about, okay, are you going to bring a bike to school? Are you going to bring a scooter to school? Or Yeah. Do they allow cars, do they not? Like how do all those things play into it? So that scale is really important too. Absolutely. So those are the things that I would recommend when you plan your visits that you, you think about and that you actually go do. And then hopefully by that point you've got down, okay, this is where I'm applying, and then we'll tackle that in another. Okay. Love it. So good. Okay. I'm going to have you stop sharing your screen again. Come back to me. Coral, that was so helpful, so insightful. I love that we learned that even going on a visit has some strategy involved to it. You want to be doing your diligence, you want to be doing your research so that you can, again, plug those factors in to your matrix and figure out where is the best place for you to go ultimately once you've gone through this whole process. So thank you so much for breaking that down for us and making it just so easy to walk through all those different steps, taking the overwhelm out of it, giving us all of the tools and the resources that we need to organize our thoughts and put it all together. All of these workshops have been super helpful, so thank you so much. Thank you. I just really wanted to provide a resources for parents. You know, I know that this process can be kind of overwhelming sometimes, especially if you've never done it before. And I just want you to know there's help. I'm here to support you. I'm the high school counselor, so just reach out to me, shoot me an email. We can jump in a Zoom, I can show you, I can navigate with you. Hopefully you're going to use some of these templates and just really know that I'm a resource here, I can lead you through the process as well. And I want to go on that journey with you guys. So, make sure to utilize all this resource help. I love that. And speaking of, I'm going to leave us with a quick tour of our website because I want parents to know where they can find this information. So if you go to sageoak.education, and then we go to resources. and then under resources, I'm going to go to Counseling Corner, and then when I click on Counseling Corner, do I hit right on college and career Coral? Is that where I should go? I would go to counseling and mental health up top. Yeah. Okay. That's going to take you to, and then you'll just enter our classroom right there. Okay. Perfect., that's Miss Ally and I love it. And I click here to enter into the classroom. Click there. And then this is going to be like Grand Central Station right here. All the parent workshops that we do are right here. There is college information there and career pathways and different things like that. So the parent workshops that I'm doing will be listed here, but then there is a whole college. You can get to the college information from there as. Okay, so once this is all put together and you've done the workshop for everyone, it'll be added to this board. So they can always go back here if they want to find those college workshops that you just did. We'll make sure that they're added here. But in the meantime, if they go back to, I think it's this one right here, they can click on college information. Okay. Clicking on the college information and then overwhelming at first, I'm going to work on. I love it. You guys are in your Bitmoji dorm room. It's so great. Yes. Okay. What are we looking at here? I did link out, I believe, the UC presentation that I've done. So if you're looking at ucs and you click on that UC board, it's going to take you to step by step all the information you need to know about UCs and how to apply. Same thing with Cal States and then the common app and things like that financial aid. There's a presentation I did up there, but so. by next year, I'm going to kind of tone this down a little bit. Lot of stuff on here, but I love it a lot. It's great. It's great. It really does. I think this helps parents get excited and yes, there's a lot to it, but it's a lot of fun too, and it's a really great journey to filter through all of these different things and see where your student ends up. It's really exciting to see that. I love celebrating with students at the end of this journey when they finally narrow it down, like where they're going to school and then graduation day, and they're just so excited about it. They feel so accomplished. It's so much fun. So I would say, you know, buckle up. It's a process, but don't wait till the end. Like quarrel is starting to work with students in ninth grade, right? They in their ninth grade. College exploration class, they are starting to talk about these things and prepare for these college application process. Yeah, I would definitely say put your kids in the college and career foundations class or seminar class, junior seminar and senior seminar because I'm in there. I co-teach those classes and every week this is what we're doing. So it's really important that if you want 'em to have the step by step with me in there, enroll 'em in those. Love it. So good. You've given us so much information, Coral, thank you so much. This series is awesome and as Coral continues to host these great workshops, you know I will invite her back to the Sage Studio. We will do more podcasts, we will do more episodes. We will bring you this information to help you navigate this process. Thanks Coral, appreciate it. Thanks.