College? Are Ya Ready?

It’s March Madness and that means more than college basketball.

It’s spring break month around the country and if you’re like me, you’re ready for a break. It’s spring fever for high school seniors. And it’s time for juniors {and sophomores} to start visiting college campuses.

I’m interrupting my recent blog articles on fun tips to improve your photo-posing to get a tiny bit serious. But just a little. However, we can totally mix some fun pictures into our serious talk on college visits! If there ain’t no fun, I’m just done. That’s the extent of my poetry masterpieces, unless you count the quotes I randomly throw out from ‘The Princess Bride”.

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This week I’m dishing out college visit tips because that’s the next big chapter you’re going to write in your oh-so-amazing story!

How have I come to these 5 QUICK-TIPS to help with your college visits? RESEARCH + REAL LIFE! We started visiting colleges during my daughter’s sophomore year. True, a majority of the teens on our tours were juniors + seniors, but there were plenty of ‘us’ starting to look too, so no, it’s not too early to peek at a few campuses. My daughter didn’t know what direction she wanted to go, so while we were out in Washington a few summers back, we decided to tour colleges to give her ideas. Having a baseline or starting point can help to relieve a lot of anxiety when you get to CRUNCH TIME. Junior and senior year has a heck-of-a-lot going on, and if you can get a few key points narrowed down early, you’re going to enjoy the last year(s) of high school a lot more.

\TIP 1:: If you don’t have big plans for spring break, or got a few spare weeks this summer, go online and look up a few colleges near you, register for a guided tour and take a road trip to get a baseline for a campus favorite. Go on a large public campus + a small private campus tour. “I have no idea what I want to study in college.” Trust me, you’re not alone! It’s still a good idea to visit a few universities to see where you feel most comfortable.

\TIP 2:: Make a list + spend time on campus. Your college choice will be your NEW HOME for the next four to five years. Once the guided tour is over, walk around and feel the campus vibe {like totally}. Seriously, check out the activity on campus; grab a snack or lunch where the students hang out. If it’s a nice day, sit in the quad or campus center to student-watch. Chat with students and ask their major or favorite reason for going there {They won’t bite ya + you won’t turn to dust if they blow you off either}.

\TIP 3:: Walk around the neighborhood surrounding the campus. I’m a mom, so you had to know this tip was coming 😉 How safe is the campus + the neighborhood that surrounds it? Another good question to ask on your tour:: “How does the university keep their students safe?” {blue-light emergency system, valet-walkers you can call for late night classes…}

\TIP 4:: Grab the college newspaper. College students have their opinions, and many aren’t shy about sharing their views in the newspaper. Reading the articles gives you an idea of the college culture. Grabbing the local city paper is good too.

\TIP 5:: Ask yourself what’s on your top 5 list. For example, is distance from home a big deal? Does the climate matter? Is it a “suitcase college”? Do you want big or small? Dorm life vs Greek life?

Side note:: College is FUN, but also expensive, so be sure to look up all the areas of study that interest you. One campus we toured had a large performing arts building for play productions, which made it a good candidate college on my daughter’s list…but after asking questions on the tour, we found out the university didn’t offer a major OR minor in any type of performing arts. We could mark that college OFF THE LIST!

Spoiler alert:: She fell in love with the exact opposite campus I thought she would. Ya just never know until ya go…on the visit {two rhymes in one post – you’re welcome 😉 }

I made you a Quick College Comparison Chart to help with the preliminary searches. It can get overwhelming looking at colleges and then trying to remember which one had that semester exchange to France or the Chick-fil-A in the food court {can you tell I’m writing through lunch?}. If you have a lot of ‘maybe’ colleges on your list right now as a sophomore or junior, this checklist is an EASY + FAST way to narrow the playing court.

NEVER MISS an SMP tip, post, or sparkle… Get on the SMP Sparkle Note that’s sent out once-a-month to make your hectic schedule a little easier, little more entertaining, and possibly a tad bit cheesy!

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Cheers & Sparkle to you + your fav college in March Madness! #GoZags #UW

💖-Andrea

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