A parent of a client recently shared with me that she worried that the environment and educational experience at certain colleges might be not in line with her family values.
My role as a college advisor is not always about supporting and guiding the student but also about helping the parent to better understand the benefits of going to college, one of which is being able to listen to and learn from others’ perspectives, particularly those whose experiences and viewpoints are different from your own.
Read this impactful article "These Professors Help Students See Why Others Think Differently," featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education to learn more about the role of college in broadening and deepening your student's experiences and perspectives.
I was involved with a USC admissions visit at a local Los Angeles high school, and the representative asked the junior and senior students how many had ever visited the campus. Surprisingly, only 20% had actually been to the campus, and these were students who had self-identified as being interested in applying to USC!
Parents, take your students and younger children to college campuses and events, not because you're doing "official college visits" or planning for college, but because knowledge and perspective are gained from being on a college campus, observing what students do, what fun activities are offered, what a campus looks and feels like, and envisioning your future self as a college student, all the elements that help a student to understand what college is all about ~ besides academics and getting a degree.
Do you know that most colleges and universities have a significant commitment to community engagement and offer a huge number of interesting and diverse experiences for children and families, many of which are absolutely free? These include: sporting events, performing arts, visual arts, notable speakers, book fairs, health fairs, food and restaurant nights, children's theater and concerts, planetariums, community gardens, and much, much more.
What do students REALLY want to know? ….As students are doing campus tours, attending college fairs and engaging with college representatives at their high schools, I thought I’d share a few of the questions I’ve heard from students recently, most of which are not included in this great article, "50 Questions to Ask When You're on a College Visit". Notice how most of the students’ actual questions are not related to academics or formal education but to social aspects and daily living.
* What kind of food do you have or how many places can you get something to eat on campus? Does the little robot deliver to dorm rooms?
* Is there Greek life?
* What are the dorms like? How many people are in a room?
* How do I get a roommate?
* How far is it to a beach?
* Do you consider your college and students to be more liberal or conservative?
* What is there to do in your college town?
* What activities are there for freshman to help them meet people?
* How do students get around campus or to places in the city?
* Can I double, triple major? Can I have 2 minors?
* Can I change majors?
* Does it rain/snow a lot?
* How do I get involved in clubs or campus activities?
Getting a college education isn't just about what courses you take, where you go, or even your instructors, it's as much about the social connections you make with your peers. Students who were surveyed about their attendance and engagement in coursework reported that they were more likely to attend when they had opportunities to interact with their classmates. They also viewed going to class as an opportunity to make friends. As highlighted in this article, these findings have implications for rethinking how colleges and faculty structure classes and opportunities for student engagement.
Check out this interesting read, "Why Students Are Skipping Class, and How to Bring Them Back," to learn more about what today's college students value.