Campus visits are one of the best ways to make a college decision. But how can homeschoolers get the best out of a college visit? As a homeschool senior, I’ve visited four colleges this year. Here are four tips I’ve learned about college visits!
College Visit Tip 1: Advocate for yourself!
As homeschoolers, we practice self-advocacy at several junctions, but especially during the college search.
During a college visit, don’t be afraid to ask pointed questions about homeschoolers:
- “Are there any extra application requirements for homeschoolers?”
- “How does the admissions office view homeschool applications vs. traditional student applicants?”
- “What experience do you have with homeschoolers? How large is the campus homeschool community?”
Ask these questions during admissions interviews (if applicable) or during promotional/informational seminars.
If you do have an interview during your visit, describe your homeschool experience. I’ve found that admissions counselors are very interested in learning more about this. Often they know more than you might think. But if they don’t, take the time to educate them. Let them know what you like about homeschooling and how it has positively impacted you. Giving insight to your unique education and showing your passion for it can set you apart from other prospective students.
College Visit Tip 2: Attend a pre-college program.
Day visits to college campuses can be helpful, but pre-college programs give you a better idea of how you’ll thrive at a school.
Pre-college programs offer high schoolers the chance to spend a week or more on a college campus, living in the dorms and taking classes. I participated in a pre-college program this past summer and reaped many benefits, such as:
- learning how to manage time with a college schedule
- practicing navigating a college campus (without a tour guide!)
- learning to live with a roommate
- learning to live in a dorm
You’ll also learn more about yourself:
- “do I want to live on a college campus or be at home a little longer?”
- “will I thrive on a large campus or small campus?”
- “do I prefer classes with lots of students or just a few?”
- “what types of friends will I make in college?
- “how will I get along with people of varying backgrounds and personalities?”
Not only was I able to answer all of these questions about myself after my pre-college program, but I fell even more in love with my desired major (Creative Writing!).
I highly recommend these programs to any high school student, but especially sophomores and juniors. Search the web for pre-college programs featuring your:
- desired major (if you know it)
- favorite subject
- academic strength
Try to attend more than one program, if possible. Although most pre-college programs cost money, many of them offer scholarships. I also wrote a post about fundraising for my pre-college program earlier this year!
College Visit Tip 3: Try an overnight visit.
If you can’t participate in a pre-college program, try an overnight college visit. These two-day campus visits usually pair you with a “host” (a current college student) and allow you to shadow them. You’ll:
- stay in your host’s dorm
- sit in on a class or two
- eat three meals in the dining hall
- maybe even attend a campus event!
I did two overnight visits this fall, and saw aspects of the schools that I might have missed during a regular tour or informational session. I highly recommend overnight visits for those wanting a more in-depth look at a specific school.
(Want to try an overnight visit but worried about travel expenses? Check out fly-in programs, where colleges cover the cost for you to travel to their school!)
College Visit Tip 4: Consider small, liberal arts colleges.
When planning your college visits, big state schools, prestigious private colleges, or large Christian universities may catch your eye. But don’t overlook small liberal arts colleges! These smaller schools are beneficial to homeschoolers in several ways:
- class sizes are similar to those at a co-op, with typically no more than 20-30 students
- fewer students mean it’s easier to form strong friendships
- professors are accessible and try to get to know students
- small campuses means it’s not hard to learn your way around
Also, many of these schools allow for an “open curriculum”, giving you the freedom to study several different subjects at once–much like many of us homeschoolers do already!
If you’re comfortable with the homeschool learning environment and aren’t eager to abandon it for a large, “just a number” school, consider liberal arts colleges. Some Christ-centered liberal arts schools in Kansas and Missouri include:
- College of the Ozarks (MO)
- William Jewell College (MO)
- Benedictine College (KS)
- McPherson College (KS)
So those are four great tips for an effective college visit! Have you visited any colleges recently? What did you learn? Let us know in the comments!