COLLEGE - FINDING THE RIGHT FIT
By Micah Mills '16 | Vol. 2 Issue 1
What are you looking for in your ultimate college experience: academics, Greek Life, the name on the degree? You have to spend four years at a school, and it is going to be a big part of your life. It is important to use the resources available to find your perfect fit. One of the best resources is visiting the colleges you are interested in.
“Before visiting any campus, the first thing all prospective students should do is research,” said Meredith Ramirez ’02, assistant director in the Office of Admissions at Texas A&M.
This can include visiting college/university websites, reading online community message boards and even taking to Twitter. Keep in mind three of the most important aspects of college as you search: academics, residence life/housing and the community atmosphere.
At Texas A&M, there are many resources to dig into before you arrive on campus for a tour. If you have a specific career field you are interested in, visit admissions.tamu.edu/majors and see the list of majors that Texas A&M offers. Then, you can navigate over to your college/department-of-interest’s website to get more specifics. You can see what a typical semester schedule looks like and start to paint a picture of what your time at Texas A&M will be like.
Check out reslife.tamu.edu to get information about the different types of residence halls you can live in, and remember to consider cost, hall type, etc. Texas A&M does not require students to live on campus their freshman year, so doing some research on off-campus housing options is also valuable, and will give you a good idea of what the surrounding community atmosphere is like.
Ramirez advises that prospective students invest a good amount of time researching the surrounding community. This could include everything from shopping and restaurants to weekend activities to extracurricular community involvement.
“Students forget to ask about those things,” Ramirez said. “They are so focused on academics and financial aid that they forget to actually explore the community itself, on and off campus.”
Texas A&M offers tours through the Appelt Aggieland Visitor Center year round. Campus visits can range from a quick hour walking tour to a more personalized tour which may include attending a Prospective Student Session with the Office of Admissions and meeting faculty/staff from your college of interest. To schedule a campus tour, visit campustours.tamu.edu. From here you can plan your visit, explore the Bryan/College Station community and start to find out for yourself if Texas A&M is the right fit.
Kati Clark, Texas A&M senior admissions counseling advisor, advises high school students to start visiting campuses as early as their sophomore year, but no later than their junior year to get a feel for the campus before applying.
“Once you step foot on campus you get a good feel if it is the right fit for you, because every campus is different,” Clark said. “Tour campus while classes are in session to see what a student’s day-to-day life is like.”
In addition to timing your campus tour appropriately, it is equally important to ask questions. Parents often ask a majority of the questions during the visit, Clark said, but it is important for the students to be actively involved, too.
“It is the student’s ultimate decision where they are going, and they need to be happy with their choice,” Clark said. “They need to be the ones asking the questions like, ‘What is campus life like and what kind of research opportunities are available?’.”
Touring can help you identify what you want out of college, whether it is the name on the degree, strong academic program or social aspects of the school.
After you leave campus, you may have post-tour questions that pop up. Remember to collect names and email addresses of those people you meet who may be a valuable resource down the road.
“While on campus, you definitely need to make those connections with professors and students, so once you leave you can remain in contact,” Ramirez said.
Researching, touring and following up can be a lengthy process, but it is the best way to be sure you choose the right college/university for you.
“It is that gut feeling and you really only get that by stepping foot on a campus, meeting the people and feeling the vibe,” Ramirez said. “It is very important that you connect with campus and the people there.”