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college visit...is this important?

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when we take our son to a college for a visit...is it important for him to spend the night in a dorm and attend a class? or is it more important to spend the time meeting profs and department heads..as well as the admission people.

thanks.

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Important of not, my kids never spent the night in the dorm and never missed it.

I never felt attending class was that important - attended a couple, made no difference in decisions. I do think walking around and looking at some classrooms might be helpful. How big are the classes? Interest level of students? Modern or run-down? tables, chairs, auditorium seating?

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My son has done two overnight visits, and I think those are the only visits where he sat in on classes, too. I don't think they're essential, but my thinking is that if you're going to be there anyway, they might as well take advantage of as much as they can to get a feel for what a school is like. I think the overnight visits really helped make Going to College less of an abstract and more something he could see himself doing. The potential downside is that if they get a bad host/someone they just don't click with it can sour them on the school. But the same could be said for a bad tour guide or a lackluster information session, so I figure we might as well give the colleges as many chances to make a good impression as we can. ETA: it's also another way to demonstrate interest, which can be a big deal depending on the school.

Edited by kokotg
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I don't think an overnight is necessary. My DD did one and hated it. But she ended up attending that college.

Sitting in on classes is useless, too. Observing one professor in one class does not tell you anything about the college as a whole.

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3 hours ago, Julie of KY said:

I do think walking around and looking at some classrooms might be helpful. How big are the classes? Interest level of students? Modern or run-down? tables, chairs, auditorium seating?

I don't think that is particularly helpful either. A student walking through my building might see a 140-people auditorium packed with students who have to take a required intro class, or he may see the same auditorium full of students engaged in a fun elective. He will see small classrooms in which he could find recitations for required intro classes for non majors,  help sessions, intense upper level required courses for majors, or a graduate class with three students. I cannot imagine what conclusion the student could possibly draw from such a visit.

Whether the classrooms are rundown tells you absolutely nothing about the quality of the education, it only tells you how well funded the college is. Says the prof who teaches in a crummy building from the 60s.

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On attending classes, if your student is interested in participating in/majoring in fine arts, our daughter did find it helpful to attend choir class. She was already familiar with the professor/conductor, but attending the class was the highlight of her visit and confirmed her high regard for his leadership. (Our daughter is not a music major, but vocal music is a large part of her life, and she plans to be involved in several college choirs during her years there; she is a college freshman this year.)

I agree with others' comments about attending academic classes.

She did spend a night and did not have a very good experience. But, that experience helped her identify questions that she asked her admission rep and another student she knows who attends the college. Their answers helped her better assess the college before committing. (She is going to that college, and it's a great fit for her.)

 

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I don't personally think that overnights or attending classes are helpful, though if they are required parts of a scholarship weekend, I would not hesitate to have my student participate. The success of an overnight is so very dependent on the personality of the host and how it meshes with the prospective student. Meeting with profs and department heads, yes, very useful.

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We find attending classes very important. You would assume that a school would only open really good classes for prospective students; however, my dds have attended some filled with very unengaged students. When DD19 can home bubbling about a Calcus III class, I knew that she had found her school. To this day her favorite part about her school is the classes. 

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Neither of my kids did overnight visits.  One didn't even visit his college before going!  

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As part of my son’s scholarship he was required to host prospective students each year. It’s hit or miss, really. It’s often easier to just visit a class without an overnight. If the host is having a busy week and really needs to be studying they don’t have time to show the kid how great the school is, and the officials really want that prospective student to have the best impression. And then there’s the opposite, lol. DS had a couple kids ask to party, to find out where the good drugs were...so he passed him off to people down the hall, and both guys decided to attend the next year!

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I wonder if this is highly dependent on the school and on your kid. I think it is the whole visit package that matters - whatever that package is. So far, we have not been able to do overnights but we have done class sit ins, visits with faculty, but only one meeting with admissions (where we spent more time discussing good places to eat in the town than anything else).

(Grain of salt & all because my kid hasn't yet made a decision!)

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For a student who is wondering if they will feel comfortable on a college campus the overnight and class visits can be helpful.  It can help a student visualize themself at college.  It is such a small sample size experience, however--how was that particular roomate, that particular class on that particular day, etc. that can limit how useful it is in telling something about the college. 

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We did find it helpful to sit in on classes, but it was always more than one and we always aimed for specific classes - something in the major, something at a higher level, an honors-specific class, those are going to be more helpful than a gen ed requirement. Of course we met with profs and department heads as well. My kids didn't have any possible schools that we weren't able to visit more than once. My oldest wound up seven hours away, but she knew that campus backwards, forwards, and upside down before her first day, lol. 

Spending the night was less important but usually fun. 

 

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Spending the night and sitting in on classes was invaluable for my oldest. She went to a school that was #1 for her, and by the next morning, knew it was not. She characterized the orchestra as "junior high" with students with no respect for the conductor. She went to an evening seminar and found students who were not interested in learning from the speaker, but wanted to one-up him. Nope. Not for her. She called the next day, and said, "I found it!" about Hillsdale.

Next dd did summer seminars at USNA, USAFA, and USCGA. She found out that CGA was not for her, as ds when he did the same thing. Neither minded training, but they objected to meanness for the sake of power. When ds was told that he was picked out to be the "shitscr**n" to see if they could break him, they didn't. But it wasn't the right place for him.

Middle one found out at a summer camp that AFA was not for her. Youngest found at a week-long camp at Norwich that it WAS the place for her. 

We found overnights and week-long things to be invaluable. 

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