Don't concern yourself with cost because it's the people and the school that make it all worth it. Money is not something that you should let dictate your life and experiences.
Be open and ask every single question possible, and don't let your kid treat college as a suit case campus. Let them grow up and kids, don't be stupid and try to get the "college" experience. let it happen and be smart about it. Your actions do have consequences and your reputation can change at one frat party or with one campus security "bust". Be smart.
Visit the places more than once and make sure you get different tour guides.
If you are unsure about what you want to do in the future, choose a school that has a lot of options (different majors and minors). Visit various schools, and then revisit the ones that you are most interested in; talk to different professors within the school and set in on a class. While visiting potential schools, talk to the students that you see on campus (not the guides) and they will give you a better description of the school and professors. Think about what is important to you, whether it be sports, family, social experiences, do you want to go somewhere that is culturally diverse or has options to study abroad? Choose schools that match your personal values and needs. If you are from a small town, I wouldn't recommend going to a college that is far away, many students think they want to do nothing more than leave home, but find out that it is hard to be so far away and then don't end up staying at a school that is farther away. While in college, get involved in a few organizations, but choose ones that you really enjoy and feel passionate about.
Make sure you look at the school and meet with the professors! DO NOT judge a school by the "Sticker Price!" There are many scholarships available and if you love the school it is worth the price!
I think visiting the college is extremely important. Take as much time there as you can. Meet with professors in your field and get a sense of potential advisors. Meet with faculty related to extracurricular activities you may be interested in. Eat meals in the campus places you'd be eating meals as a student. Make sure you see what the school is like at night and on weekends.
I prefer th4e smaller school because it is easier to learn and interact. I am not into too many clubs, but there will always be one that suits your student and I recomend joining, it gives a sence of worth on campus, because strictly school and working (which i did full time) can be draining!
Choose a school that is in your budget. Be wise about taking out loans. Pick a career that you can see yourself retiring from and that has plenty jobs available to you. Choose a school that not only offers classes that you want to be in but also social activities that you enjoy. Going to school and working towards a degree is hardwork, you need to have positive outlets. At some point while you are in school interning for a company in your related field is very helpful. Talk and become friends with other students within in the major. Seek help if you ever feel like you are not understanding a subject. Go to summer school (it helps you graduate faster) !!! Never settle or feel like you have to accept things that you are not comfortable with. Take your education in your own hands to become successful and achieve your goals.
My advice is definately to look and see what is out there before you make a choice in which school to go to. Visit as many campuses as you can before you make a selection. You will know almost as soon as you step in your car to leave the school if it is right for you. If you struggle from their make a pro and con list and the decision will become more obvious. Once your school selection has been made I suggest that you make sure to go to all of the freshman orientation, because that is where you will meet a lot of new friends, and if you are involved or interested in anything attempt to partake in that activity in college, even if it is just an intermural sport. Don't spread yourself too thin with activities either though, because you will miss out on a lot of good times, in which people make their life long memories, and your grades will suffer, which is also something major. Make sure to take the time to study and do well.
As far as finding the right college, I know that Thiel felt like family. While visiting the campus it seemed like a home away from home. I genuinely felt that the students, faculty and staff cared about my being a part of their community. They made it a special point to know who I am and what I'm about. Also, when I made a second visit, I was remembered by the majority of the staff so I really felt like I was a student before I was a student.
In regards to the second part of the question of making the most of the experience, I would have to say get involved. Make sure that your spreading your time with things that stimulate both your mind as well as your creativity. Surround yourself with people that agree with you and also ones that are not afraid to challenge your view and give you reason to reflect on your positions. However, above all, make sure that you never forget where you came from and who you are. You will meet many different people and can become conflicted to doing things that you would not do otherwise.
When taking a tour, see what the students there are like, don't always rely on the tour guides!
Talk to current or past students of the prospective school(s), so that you can get a more accurate feel for the school. Don't just go by the letters in the mail or the school's website.
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