NEWARK, Del.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--School is officially out and families are readying for summer vacations, but before hitting the beach or the national parks, there may be another stop worth adding to that vacation itinerary, especially for high school students: a visit to college campuses. Sallie Mae, the nation’s saving, planning, and paying for college company, spoke to recipients of the company’s Bridging the Dream Scholarship who’ve toured various campuses and a prominent college planning advisor for their best tips to help students make the most of college visits:
- Take notes and compare: “When visiting schools, the tour provides you with so much information it can be a bit overwhelming and hard to remember after you leave. Ask questions about what you want from a college, like specific extracurriculars and educational programs pertaining to your major. By asking the same questions of each school you visit, you can categorize responses and compare your options more easily.” - Bryana Blanco, 2016 Bridging the Dream Scholarship recipient, University of Central Florida, Class of 2020
- Crunch the numbers: “My college visit helped me decide which college to attend by giving me a good sense of the school’s environment and giving me a chance to learn more about my financial aid package. You can even look for fly-in programs that help pay for travel expenses associated with college visits.” - Peter Za, 2017 Bridging the Dream Scholarship recipient, Babson University, Class of 2022
- Expand your horizons: “While thinking about college, I was always under the impression a large university would be a good fit for me. Once I visited colleges, though, I came to realize that small or mid-sized campuses are a better fit for my personal goals and interests, as they complement my needs as a student and my day-to-day desires.” - Quinton Lopez, 2016 Bridging the Dream Scholarship recipient, California University, Northridge, Class of 2020
- Show off your resume: “Have multiple copies of your resume, high school transcript, and SAT/ACT score reports available to present to representatives should the opportunity present itself.” - Mychal Wynn, college planning advisor and founder of Foundation for Ensuring Access and Equity
- Tour from your home(town): “If you don’t have time to visit a campus, research and attend local college fairs or virtual tours to get more information about the programs colleges and universities offer.” – Mychal Wynn
In addition, Sallie Mae offers the following tips and free tools to help families plan for college and maximize their time during campus visits:
- Research costs ahead of time: Free planning tools, like Sallie Mae’s College Planning Calculator, can estimate the current and future expenses of any school. Plan to visit the financial aid office where you can get more detailed information on costs and available scholarships, grants, and aid.
- Reserve your spot: Call ahead or go to the school’s website to reserve your space on a tour and schedule time to speak with students and professors. The lighter summer course schedule may mean professors have more time for a one-on-one conversation about their departments and curricula.
- Remember the big picture: Whether you’re heading to the big city or to the countryside, visiting schools large or small, you’ll want to engage in campus life and get a feel for the school culture. Check out the library, the classroom, and the dorm, and research different clubs or on-campus job opportunities. Don’t forget to visit the cafeteria — you’ll meet people from all corners of campus and get an idea of what your meal plan will include.
“Taking time for college visits during the summer can give you a head start on determining which schools may be a good fit,” said Martha Holler, senior vice president, Sallie Mae. “Nothing replaces that in-person impression, and your experience on campus now will set your family up for success when it comes time to make that ultimate decision.”
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, free scholarship search tools, free 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.