Solutions for a Trying Time

resources for learning about colleges

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” wrote Thomas Payne in December of 1776, and how apt these words are today. 

Of course, it’s especially tough if you are a junior who wants to visit colleges or a senior who is yet undecided about his or her decision and also wants to visit. But as I told my students the other day, that’s how the world once was. When I was applying to college, no one gave college visits a second thought – and somehow I and a host of others all made the right decisions without visiting. And to make things worse, I contracted bronchitis and then pneumonia and missed freshman orientation. Fortunately for me, I had a friend on campus who was a sophomore, and he introduced me to what I needed to know when I arrived in time for the beginning of classes.

By the way, I was able to do some college visits of my own before everything shut down, so I will be reporting about my On the Road experiences in future blogs.

Yes, your decision-making can be difficult, and even more so now, but there certainly is more than one school where you will have a happy college experience. In the meantime, as I emailed my students, here are some things you can do to learn more about colleges and universities (so for some of you, this list may be repetitive). 

Also, check with the schools to which you have been accepted. Some colleges have extended the May 1 deadline. 

I do caution you that as much as you may want to see your friends, it’s best not to gather in groups and better to do your socializing online. I know it’s difficult, but that’s the way to keep you and your family and friends safe.

So here are my suggestions:

* Review college websites closely, looking especially at general education requirements, admissions data, classes within your desired major if you have one, research opportunities, internships, and extracurricular activities.

* Get input from students as to academics and above all, campus culture. 

         – College Niche is a good resource, as is Unigo.

         – Talk to recent graduates or friends who are current college students. If you don’t know anyone, reach out online to the officers of campus clubs and organizations. Odds are they can put you in touch with other students.

         – Check out Facebook and Instagram to connect with students at the colleges you are considering. 

         – Check as to whether the colleges will be scheduling online chats or other online  programs to accommodate students and families. 

* Take a virtual tour of campuses. Many schools feature their own virtual experiences, while websites such as YouVisit feature online college tours. 

* Reach out to admissions staff, faculty, coaches and any other administrators to answer your questions.

Then, based on everything you have learned:

* Think about your most important criteria for choosing a college.

Now, think about it. What’s the best fit for you?