It is very recommended that students and their parents visit some schools early in the college selection process, this is to determine whether the school is suitable or not. Here are some criteria that you might want to consider when applying to college or university:
Average GPA, SAT I, class rank for acceptance
The school should offer enough choices in the event the student changes their major
Size, location, Greeks, religious affiliation
Percentage of freshmen that return for year two
Percentage of freshmen that graduate in four years
Percentage of financial need met
Percentage of gift aid/self-help awarded
On or off campus job opportunities
Average class size, semester or trimester
Percentage of professors who teach and percentage of teaching assistants
2 or 4-year college or university
Freshman cars permitted
Cost of the sheepskin
It is also recommended that you determine if the school uses a need-blind or need-sensitive admissions policy. Need-blind is a practice where the student is evaluated without any regard to family income or assets. Need-sensitive is a shameful policy that usually used by a host of elite schools. These schools will admit a less than qualified rich kid in anticipation of a large contribution to their own endowment funds. In essence, the wealthy family has bought an admission ticket to a school where their student might never have otherwise been accepted!
Parents and students should make the official unofficial visit to potential schools no later than the 10th grade. Colleges are always impressed when a 9th or 10th grader pays a visit. By keeping in touch with officials you’ve met, in essence, you will have added points to both your GPA and SAT I scores by establishing a rapport. When the time comes, administrators will be able to associate a face with your application. This helps a merely qualified student become a far more acceptable one.
However, before visiting the college, make a checklist that includes the following:
Confirm that everything you plan to visit will be open and, ideally, that school is in session. Ask plenty of questions and be an attentive listener. Consider bringing a video camera or tape recorder for your notes no matter how good your memory is. Find out who reads applications from your area and, if possible, try to meet with a reader and be sure to keep in touch with them.
Student athletes should meet with a coach or two. Listen to the school radio station and get a copy of the campus newspaper. If the student has Greek intentions, visit some frat or sorority houses. Students should check out the dorm unannounced, introduce themselves to attending students and pick their brains.
Have a snack in the cafeteria. After all, their food is what the student will be eating for the next four years! Students who have decided upon their course of study should make every effort to arrange a meeting with the head of that particular department and audit a class or two. This may require an overnight, giving the student a greater opportunity to check out the dorm.