[M]any high school seniors are making their final trips to the colleges that have accepted them, as the decision deadline approaches in early May. At the same time, some juniors are using spring break to start their searches.
These prospective college students are among more than 16 million students who will be enrolled in American colleges and universities this fall, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With the price of tuition, room and board having doubled since 1990, the pressure to pick the right school is greater than ever.
This is good.
By the time my senior year started, I think I'd only ever set foot on one college campus--CSU Sacramento--and that was just to see a play in 9th grade. My family had always assumed that I'd go to college but no one knew how to make that happen and there certainly were no financial plans made. I'm too embarrassed to admit the extent of my ignorance about colleges and universities, even about their freakin' locations. I'm too embarrassed to talk about which schools I applied to, and why I chose the two civilian schools I did. The counseling that students receive at the school at which I teach towers over anything we received at my old high school--and I still stay in touch with my counselor and value the impact he had on my life.
The best way to really get the feel of a college campus may be to shut off the computer and go see it.
"I tell kids, 'If you attend a college you've never visited, it's like marrying someone you've never met,' " says Pat Stokes, a guidance counselor at C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento. "I feel very scared when a kid's going to college and they've never seen it."
I had only the vaguest idea of what West Point was like. Then again, that's probably a good thing!
Keep the weather in mind during your visit - could a California kid really handle a school located in a snowy or cold environment?It was quite a change for me, that's for sure.
I consider myself fortunate. I came tenuously close to not going to college at all. I'm glad so many students today are getting a much better start than I did.