August is a great time for family two or four-year college visits

Joe Nathan
Contributing Writer

Here’s a free, fun, family “back to school” August activity: Visit one or more two or four year colleges or universities. Officials representing colleges and universities made it clear last week that they welcome such visits. You and your youngsters can learn a lot. Visiting a campus also can help motivate youngsters for the coming school year.

Here’s a website with great questions to ask, and things to look for: www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-college-solution/2010/10/19/36-questions-to-ask-on-a-college-visit

Melinda Voss, Public Relations Director, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system did “an informal survey of our colleges and universities and all of them are eager to have prospective students visit their campuses during August. Many have regular tours that are offered at least weekly or more frequently. Prospective students and/or their parents or mentors should contact the college or university they are interested in and set up any appointment.”

Resources include www.mnscu.edu to find the college or university of interest…and “Is college right for me? http://www.mnscu.edu/collegeforme/index.html

Carl Stange, Director of Admissions, Winona State University agreed, “August is an excellent time of year for prospective students and their families to explore college options and experience the energy and excitement of a campus gearing up for the fall semester. … The only day we do not host students is Aug. 16 “New Student Move-In Day!”

John Manning, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Minnesota Private College Council, responded, “The simple answer is that high school students and families are very welcome to visit — and those can happen during the summer or the school year. There are events and open houses at all the colleges students and families can also call and arrange their own visits. Students in middle school and their parents are not typical participants in these kinds of events, so if there’s interest in visiting a campus with younger students, the advice would be to contact an admission office and something can likely be arranged.”

On line resources include profiles of Minnesota’s 17 private college members, along with everyone’s admission office contact information for scheduling visits….The college finder has information about academic programs with arts offerings and sports activities.

• http://www.mnprivatecolleges.org/our-colleges

• http://www.mnprivatecolleges.org/college-finder

Rachelle Hernandez, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions, University of Minnesota Twin Cities explained,  “The undergraduate admissions office works with high school sophomores – seniors for campus visits, We welcome visitors at any time of the year, including August. To schedule a visit please see http://admissions.tc.umn.eduFinally,

Nora Main, Assistant Director of Admissions at Macalester (where I work) wrote, “We welcome anyone to visit and tour our campus. Our tours in August are at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.….We strongly encourage our individual potential visitors to call our office in advance to schedule. (800.231.7974) Parents of junior high students, should contact Opportunities Abound at Macalester…. Junior high students and their families could sit in on an information session but we definitely gear our info sessions to juniors and seniors of traditional high school age who are actively looking at colleges and so most of the information may not yet be relevant to younger students.” www.macalester.edu.

August could be a good time not only to find new clothes, but also to explore which two or four year colleges could be a fine fit for your youngsters.

Joe Nathan, a former public school teacher and administrator, directs the Center for School Change at Macalester. He welcomes comments, jnathan@macalester.edu

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