I received a call in early May from a parent of a rising senior. They wanted to visit colleges but they did not know where to go or how to begin. They felt they needed to see schools all over the East Coast but they did not have a sense of which colleges should be on their list. This made me think of a conversation that I had with a friend over the winter. This family was planning to visit relatives in New Hampshire and they had me take a look at the list of the schools they were going to see while they were traveling. And this list was perfect! They came up with it on their own but it is exactly what I would have given them. If you are beginning the college search and do not know where to start, you can take a page from their book.
When a family is just starting out, I suggest that they go see a cluster of schools that will allow their student to explore different types of campuses. Teenagers don’t always know what they want but they are quick to identify what they dislike. Most students can tell right away if they like a small campus, an urban school or a large state flagship. If you visit schools that are small, medium, large, rural, suburban and urban, I bet your teenager will be able to narrow the focus. And once their focus has narrowed, you can explore other schools that meet your child’s criteria. I will show you the list of the family I mentioned above and why this list works.
Dartmouth College-Dartmouth is a highly selective medium-sized school in a rural setting.
The University of New Hampshire-UNH is a large state flagship in a suburban setting.
Colby Sawyer College-This is a small, liberal arts college in a rural setting.
Plymouth State University-This is a medium-sized public school in a suburban setting.
This student will see a great range of schools with varying degrees of selectivity. The only thing that this group of schools does not include is an urban school. If you want help coming up with a cluster of schools that you could go see in a day or two, please reach out. I would be happy to help!