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Financial Education

College Planning

Picking a College

A campus visit can help you choose wisely

Why an in-person visit helps

On a campus visit, your student can:

  • Talk to students and ask why they chose the school and what they like and dislike about it.
  • Sit in on a class that interests them (if you visit while school is in session) and talk to professors. Find out about class sizes and whether professors or teaching assistants teach most classes. Learn how much time students spend doing homework.
  • Listen to the campus radio station, read the campus newspaper and check bulletin boards for information about current events, issues and opportunities to socialize.
  • Visit the student center and dining hall. Both are great places for casual conversations with current students, and will allow your child to see how students interact. They can also get a feel for the energy on campus.
  • Visit the dorms. With a little advance planning, your student may even be able to stay overnight for a real experience of dorm life.
  • Meet with a financial aid counselor. Find out about grants, scholarships, work-study programs and more. Try to learn not just the published price to attend the school, but also the net price that students and their families typically pay after financial aid awards.

3 tips for planning campus visits

1. Do research ahead of time. Look at a campus map — usually available online — and pinpoint areas to visit. Compile a list of questions you want answered, including questions about academics (e.g., How often do students make class presentations? How many students work on research with faculty?) and campus life (e.g., What do students do in their free time?).

2. Be sure your student is prepared to take notes (maybe photos, too) to review later. This can help keep the details of each school from getting jumbled with the others in their mind.

3. Try to fit campus visits into planned vacations. Taking a detour for a day or two to visit a campus while on a trip you were planning anyway can help keep costs down. So can planning visits in geographic clusters. If you want to visit two or three campuses in the same region, plan one extended trip to see them all rather than making separate trips.

A well-planned visit to a college campus can go a long way toward making a tough decision a bit easier. And a visit to a Rockland Trust Investment Management Group financial planner can help make paying for college fit into your budget more readily.

College Planning