For those at the start of the college-search process, there is no need to spend thousands of dollars and multiple weekends searching for the perfect school. Rather, students and their families should pinpoint and tour around five colleges or universities that have desirable traits.
The most important thing a student can do for themselves before visiting is to create a list of at least ten attributes they desire in a school, whether that be for educational or extracurricular purposes. From there, it becomes much easier to narrow down the types of schools a student should explore. Some of the most crucial characteristics a student should consider include the size of the school, whether they specialize in one’s prospective major, if they provide financial aid, and where they are located–and yes, weather can play a big factor in one’s decision.
Once a student narrows down their choices, they should try to geographically spread out where they visit. This can provide them with an overall idea of different regions of the country, including the climate, attractions, etc. The timing of the visit is crucial. The Midwest might seem nice in the summer, but most kids from the South have never experienced a real winter before, and probably won’t unless they visit in the coldest months. Similarly, it is much easier to get a feel for a school if students are around, as opposed to on summer vacation.
Ultimately, it is up to each student as to whether or not they feel comfortable applying to a school they have never visited. One way to combat this fear is to visit a few schools which are vastly different from each other. Exploring schools of various sizes, locations, climates, and specialties can help students figure out what they want in the next stage of their life. Most importantly, it can help them realize what they don’t want–an important realization which saves time, money, and energy, in addition to helping narrow down the right choice for each individual.