Thoughts on Visiting Colleges

Attention Moms, Dads, and high school juniors. Have you thought about visiting colleges yet? Depending on which section of the United States you're in, college visits may be the last thing on your mind right now (late February). In your neighborhood this morning, it may be eight degrees, as it is in mine. The snow may be piled up to (or above) your mailbox. These relentless winter days have forced me to modify my oft-repeated admonition about visiting colleges — “You've got to trod the sod!" — into “Watch out you don't slip and fall on the ice!"

Well, as I've mentioned before, those of us in the grips of Old Man Winter (is that sexist?), or for the sake of gender obfuscation, or in the grips of Old Person Winter, may not be thinking about walking across lush, green campuses right now, but the importance of such a task is ongoing. So, I thought I would share some thoughts with those of you who need to be planning your college visits.

When is the best time to visit colleges? That's an easy one to answer: When the students are there! There's nothing like getting the big picture of what a certain college's student body looks like. Just standing on the “quad" and watching the students pass by on their way to class, toss a football or kick a soccer ball around, or just recline under a well-pruned tree can tell you a lot about the “vibe" of a school. A friend of mine just returned from taking her son on a tour of several southern colleges (where there was no snow and ice) and she reported some of the differences between the way students looked at two of the colleges on her son's list. At one, everyone seemed to be wearing shorts and flip-flops … in early February, no less!

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