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Monday, August 19, 2013
How to Really Get to Know a College Campus
This week HuffPost offered a tip-list for students planning to tour college campuses in preparation for application season.
I liked it, but couldn't help wanting to add a few thoughts of my own.
When I was in college, my school offered something called a Little Siblings Weekend. The name is pretty self-explanatory. Students living in the on-campus dorms could invited their younger siblings to stay with them for a weekend in order to get a flavor of college life. My brother, who is 9 years younger than me, took advantage of the occasion, and loved every minute of it.
When you're 11 years old (and perhaps older), the joy of the dorms is pretty simple. Stay up late. Play video games. Get fruit loops and hot chocolate down in the cafeteria. But truly, there's more. I took my brother with me to my classes. He did get a window into dorm life and life with actual college students. I took him to the sporting venues, the coffee shops, the massive library, the local college village.
Incidentally, he ultimately graduated from the same school as me. I don't attribute this to my skills as a tour guide. I do think that this early visit demystified the experience for him in a very palpable way.
HuffPost offers all the sage advice. Take the campus tour. Take notes. Pay attention to financial aid packages. The thing is, when I was 18, this stuff mattered less to me than the "feel" of a place. Research is important, for sure. But once you've narrowed down your choices using external metrics such as academics/affordability, you should really test-drive it.
Understand that a campus tour may not be enough to help you make that decision. You may not have a sibling to shack up with for the weekend, but get creative. See whether or not you'll be happy spending four years there.
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