Happy New Year 2019!
What, what?! 2019?
It may seem like 2018 just started a few days ago, but here at Nomad we’re already looking forward to the 2019 admissions cycle. If you’re graduating in 2019, now’s the time to start your college admissions plan.
You’re probably already thinking about your summer college tour plans. I advise students based in the USA to take two rounds of tours. In the first round, you should visit schools geographically close to you. In this tour, you’re not looking at schools you might want to attend, you’re looking at the different types of schools that are out there. You could go one afternoon after class, or on a school holiday. You should visit:
1. A small liberal arts college (a great list of “Colleges that Change Lives” is at https://ctcl.org/category/college-profiles/ )
2. A large state school (the flagship preferably)
3. And, something that isn’t either, possibly a school with a vocational specialty (like art or engineering) or a school with a strong religious or cultural affiliation.
Your goal in this first tour would be to get a feel for where to focus your search for the schools that will fit you the best.
Your second set of tours would be to those schools you’ve identified as places you might want to actually attend. For most students, this tour takes place in the Spring or Summer of their Junior year, depending on their school schedules.
If you’re abroad, however, you’ll probably go only on the targetted tour. So, how do you know what type of school is the one you should be focusing on? That’s where an Independent Consultant or college planning guide can help you out. Take some surveys about your academic and social strengths and preferences, talk about what you like and don’t like about the schools you’ve attended before, and talk to people who are already at some different types of schools.
1. How big are your introductory-level classes? Who teaches them?
If you’re a student who likes a lot of interaction with their instructor, you might prefer a school with smaller intro classes or strong TA-led discussion sections. If you learn without needing a lot of Q&A, large lectures might work well for you. Some state schools teach these intro classes entirely online these days, do you think that will work for you?
2. What’s life like in your Residence Hall?
Do they feel like they made friends and found a place for themselves easily? Did they struggle to fit in or meet people? What do they think their school offered that helped with that? Some large schools offer specialised residences for people interested in certain hobbies, majors, lifestyles. Some smaller schools have tiny residences with only 60+ students so you really know everyone in the building.
3. Do you think the school you are attending is the school you thought it was when you toured it? What did you miss the first time?
This question might help them and you understand what you might want to look for when you actually make it to an on-campus tour. Most tours focus on the glamour, amenities and architecture, but those aren’t as important to understanding the differences between universities and colleges as some other factors. What really mattered to this student?
Once you have a good idea of the major differences between the types of schools, you’ll want to work on narrowing down to the other factors that are important to you.
We’ll talk more in a later post about some of those factors, and choosing which schools you should visit in person.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for some students who might be able to help you answer these and other questions you have about college life, check out the Facebook Group “Foreign Service Youth – College Bound“ sponsored by the Foreign Service Youth Foundation.