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Advice for Families of Prospective Students

Let’s face it. The college search process is a long and difficult task. It takes time searching the internet, attending various college fairs, visiting schools and reading over countless brochures. Here is some quick advice, Parents and Families, to help you through this process.

1) Start Early!

It is hard to get your student to realize time flies their senior year. Waiting to the last minute to begin looking at colleges does nothing to help the student. Begin looking at colleges during the junior year or summer before your student begins his/her senior year (or even earlier). This allows you to help your student narrow down his/her choices to their top five.  This also makes you aware of any application or scholarship deadlines your student needs to know about.

2) Attend College Fairs!

Want help narrowing down your student’s list of college choices? Attend college fairs. They are free and are a way to allow your child to get quick questions answered about class size, major and cost (or whatever other “make or break” information you need to know).  This also allows students to get on mailing lists from schools.

Quick suggestion: Have your student create labels to paste on college information cards. It allows students to hit more tables in a short amount of time and allows colleges to be able to read the cards. Information you should include are: Name, address, phone, email (VERY IMPORTANT), intended major/areas of interest, GPA (weighted and unweighted) and SAT/ACT scores. 

3) Have your student acquire a Professional Email Address!

Make sure your student creates a professional email address just for the college search process and make sure (s)he checks it regularly. If your student has an email address like or, it might be a good idea to have her/him change it to  These email addresses do not always show your student in a positive light and, furthermore, the more unusual the email address, the more potential there is for misspellings when staff or your student are entering the email address.  It is also advised to not use a school email (often ending in .edu) as these emails often become deactivated.
Email is the primary form of communication to your student from her/his universities of interest.

4) Encourage your student to ASK QUESTIONS!

Soon, your student will be off to college. Begin preparing them now by encouraging them to make a list of questions to ask their prospective colleges. This can be simple things such as:

  • how much is your annual cost,
  • can I park on campus as a freshmen,
  • do I have to live on campus,
  • do you have my major, etc.

Helping your student come up with questions to ask at college fairs or visits to campus enables him/her to take the initiative and eventually become comfortable asking questions to people they do not know, and ensure you get your questions answered as well. You will not be there in college with your student when (s)he has a question. Help prepare them now by instructing them on how to ask the right questions.

5) Let your student fill out the application!

Admission Offices understand parents want to make sure their student fills out the application for admission correctly. This does not mean that the parent should complete the application for their student.  Please remember this is a formal document! It hinders the application process when parents mistakenly fill out their information instead of their child’s. Also, your student will be 18 or close to it. They are legally adults and need the experience of filling out these types of forms. Instead, help your child. Set aside time in the evenings to fill out college applications before submission to properly ensure all information is correct.  Apply Now

6) Visit! Visit! Visit!

Visiting colleges allow you and your student to get a feel for the college campus and if it will be the right “fit” for him/her. It also allows you and your student to ask specific questions to admission staff and see the buildings and residence halls first hand.

Open House events are great to attend because it allows students and families access to all types of information in one location. Also, students will be able to meet professors that might one day be teaching their classes.

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes while visiting colleges. You will be doing lots of walking. Bring an umbrella as well. You never know what the weather will be like when you get there.

Register online for campus events. Most colleges have specific tour times. Registering in advance allows colleges to be aware you are coming and help you make the most of your tour. If you have special needs or requests, please notify the admission office at least 24-48 hours in advance.

Check the college’s Academic Calendar. There might be a reason not many students are not out and about. It could be a holiday or break.

If you are going to be late or need to cancel, please call the Admission Office to let them know. We worry about our families that do not show!

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