Tips for Researching Colleges Whether Virtual or In Person

With self-reflection in conjunction with thorough research of each college, families can conscientiously select a campus where a student is most likely to discover even more about their aptitude as well as fits the budget of the family, reducing the risk of malinvestment

First, students should reflect on their ideal college experience, both socially and academically, considering the following questions: 

  • Why do you want to attend college? 
  • What extracurricular activities, like clubs or internships, do you want to join? Why? 
  • What are your academic interests? (Or if you’re unsure, what hypothesis do you have about your interests?)
  • Who is an ideal teacher? 

Then, using their reflections as a guide, during a virtual tour or in person visit, students can ask questions like: 

  • What is the weekend culture? Do students tend to go home for the weekend
  • What other campuses did the tour guide consider and why did they choose the current college?
  • What is the most frequent complaint about life at the university
  • Is there difficulty registering for classes?

And, if on campus:

  • Eat in the cafeteria. Sit with current students and ask them about their experiences at the college.
  • Attend a college event, like a play or sports game
  • Tour the residence halls: ask if theme halls exist, where students can live with others interested in a similar topic

To continue investigating colleges, students can use a variety of online sources

Social Media 

  • Join Instagram livestreaming student-led tours, where visitors can interact with student guides, or information sessions with admissions officers
  • Click on a university admissions Instagram “Following”, for up-to-date information on student groups and other university affiliated programs
  • Submit questions on TikTok for which admissions officers’ respond
  • Search “A Day in the Life….” videos inserting the name of a college to view various student’s experiences of life on campus

On University Websites: 

  • Research event calendars advertising guest speakers, concerts, outdoor adventures
  • Review study abroad options
  • Search for research institutes and other academic units related to a student’s intellectual interests

Annually, every April, the month when students must make a final choice, college admissions officers organize a series of Open Houses, and other special activities, some virtual, to recruit the incoming class of students. Thus, even if unable to travel, underclassmen can sample colleges in their local region or join plentiful online programming for the newly admitted class. 

For over twenty years, Creative Marbles experts have moderated family conversations regarding complex educational decisions, lending our expertise to reduce the risk of malinvestment. For more information, contact us.

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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