NEWARK, Del.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--For high school students, especially rising juniors and seniors, the summer months aren’t just for vacations and seasonal jobs, they’re also an ideal time to begin exploring potential colleges through visits and tours. Sallie Mae, the nation’s saving, planning, and paying for college company, encourages families to consider every aspect from campus culture to costs, and offers these four essential tips to a successful college visit:
Outline a plan of action.
A little planning can go a long way. Prioritize your search and rank the schools you plan to visit on an itinerary beforehand. Register for upcoming tours and information sessions on the school’s website, and if you’re unable to get a firsthand look at the campus in person, check to see if the school offers a virtual tour. You can also use Sallie Mae’s College Planning Calculator to research expenses in advance and to estimate the current and future cost of any school.
Study the key points.
Remember that when it comes to paying for college, tuition will be a major expense, but it won’t be the only one. Additional fees may include housing, meal plans, transportation expenses, and course supplies. Stop by the campus bookstore and, after you’ve chosen your favorite school T-shirt, ask about the average costs for books each semester. Don’t forget to check out off-campus bookstores to inquire about pre-owned books and materials.
Don’t skip class!
Check the academic calendar to see when classes will be in session, and ask the admissions staff if you can attend as a guest. Believe it or not, some classes are ongoing in the summer. While you’re there, make an effort to talk to professors and current students, in addition to your tour guide, to learn more about the academics and culture on campus. Visit the student center, dorms, and dining halls, as well as surrounding off-campus areas to see if it feels like somewhere you can see yourself spending the next several years.
Review your notes before selecting the final answer.
To help jog your memory once you get back home, take notes and photos while touring each campus, and be sure to keep track of likes and dislikes. Sallie Mae’s College Ahead App features a College Scorecard that allows you to effectively compare and rank the colleges you visit, and features a calendar to help track important milestones and application deadlines.
“Visiting colleges in the summer can be a more personalized experience for prospective students, and you can typically get extra one-on-one time with university staff to answer your questions,” said Martha Holler, senior vice president, Sallie Mae. “As a mom of a college-bound freshman, I know that visiting colleges is both exciting and emotional for high school students and their families. Doing a little advance work before you go can help you get the most out of your visit.”
Sallie Mae recommends students and families follow its 1-2-3 approach to paying for college: first, maximize money that does not need to be repaid, such as scholarships and grants; second, explore federal student loans; and, third, consider a responsible private student loan.
For free planning-for-college resources, visit SallieMae.com.
Sallie Mae (Nasdaq: SLM) is the nation’s saving, planning, and paying for college company. Whether college is a long way off or just around the corner, Sallie Mae offers products that promote responsible personal finance, including private education loans, Upromise rewards, scholarship search, college financial planning tools, and online retail banking. Learn more at SallieMae.com. Commonly known as Sallie Mae, SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.