?It’s Mid-March and that’s the time high school students and their parents are starting the difficult task of planning for college. Families across America are embarking on an annual rite of passage, the spring break trip to as many as college and universities they can visit in a short period of time. Parents always worry about finding the right fit for their kids. The nation’s leading expert on this college selection process is Virginia Commonwealth University Professor Steve Isaac, who also serves as an advisor to StudentProspector.com. Isaac has a series of unique tips that will help parents and help their high school students make solid choices about how to pick the right school. As a matter of fact Isaac says there are now ways to have the colleges pursue the students as well. Isaac will also has the results of a new survey of college eligible students that will reveal some eye-opening parental attitudes on the college search and visitation process. StudentProspector contacted college admissions officers from a range of colleges and universities located throughout the country to solicit their best advice for high school students and their parents planning a college visit and tour this spring. Here is their collective feedback: Tips from College Admissions Officers: o Limit your college visits to no more than two schools per day. And, if possible, visit only one school per day. If you pack any more into your road trip, you are likely to become overwhelmed. o Call ahead to make sure that your school will be in session during your visit. (Some colleges do not hold tours during their spring break.) If you visit a school when it isn’t in session, you won’t get a sense of the student body. o Visit the college’s Web site prior to your visit. David Reiman, with Yale University’s undergraduate admissions office, says that there’s a lot of info to learn on the Internet. For example, find out if you need to register in advance for a tour, which is required at some schools and not at others. Since parking can be a premium at some college campuses, learn which lots are appropriate for visitors and closest to the admission’s office so that you’re not hiking across campus before the official tour has even begun. o Avoid the biggest mistakes: Ask plenty of questions and take the formal tour. College admissions officers would like to see more families and especially students come prepared with questions about the school and campus life. (Some admissions advisors also recommend taking a few notes on each campus visit so that you have a frame of reference upon your return home.) o Speak to current students. College admissions officers overwhelming say this is the most important aspect of the college visit. o Go beyond the formal tour. While colleges hold the formal tour to disseminate information to students and parents, admissions officers agree that it’s up to prospective students and their parents to make the most of a college visit. To help get the flavor of a school, they suggest picking up a copy of the student newspaper, talking to students spontaneously around campus, eating lunch in the dining facilities and sitting in on a class. The full experience also should include exploring the city/town where a school is located. o Reduce traveling stress. For those families visiting a number of schools in several days, admissions officers suggest using MapQuest or a similar Internet mapping service to plan the best route. Joanne Jensen, with Virginia Commonwealth University’s undergraduate admissions department, says Wear comfortable shoes! Marlyn McGrath Lewis, with Harvard University’s undergraduate admissions office, notes that parents and teens should also remember to Enjoy each others company. More about Steve Isaac: Steven R. Isaac currently serves on the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business Executive MBA program. He is the managing director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Interactive Marketing Institute, its center for direct and interactive marketing. In the corporate realm, Isaac has served numerous executive-level roles at advertising and direct marketing agencies. These include: executive vice president, DIMAC Marketing Partners and chief executive officer of DMW Worldwide, DIMAC’s direct marketing agency; executive vice president of Cadmus Communications Corporation of Richmond, Va.,; and executive vice president/chief operating officer at Richmond, Va’s The Martin Agency while CEO of Martin Direct. Steve R. Isaac is an advisor to StudentProspector and CEO of Halyard Education Partners. StudentProspector ( http://www.studentprospector.com www.studentprospector.com ) is a leading Internet resource for higher education planning that matches prospective students with the right schools. Students interested in undergraduate, study abroad, continuing education or graduate programs indicate the type of program they’re interested in by using a simple profile. Administrators then use these profiles to find students who meet their specific criteria, forming a perfect marriage between student and school. StudentProspector, which has functioned as a recruiting database since fall 2001, is a service of Educational Directories Unlimited (EDU). Isaac became affiliated with StudentProspector in May 2006 when Halyard Education Partners acquired Educational Directories Unlimited, becoming the parent company to StudentProspector. Isaac provides StudentProspector with marketing counsel and perspective from the broader higher education community as a college faculty member. Isaac received his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Buffalo and received his master’s degree in communication/science from Syracuse University. As a parent, he has guided his two children in the college-search process and has personally toured 15 schools.
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