For the Parents (and Those Who Act as Parents)
Full disclosure, I am not a parent. So to help me with this blog, I went to an expert: my mom. When I asked her to run me through some of the things she was thinking about when she was looking at colleges, it went something like this:
“What are the campus safety stats, what do students need to bring, are there people from my area, what majors are on campus, what type of area is the campus in, how does transportation work, does she need a car, is it safe, is there student work available, what about tutoring, what types of student organizations are there, what is the climate like, safety, how is the food, can you pick housing …”
And it went on like this for a few minutes. To be honest, it was a little scary to think that all of these questions were still bouncing around in her head—we were looking at schools years ago! With this in mind, I want to try to help you with some tools you need to knock a few questions off your list.
Direct quote from mom: “Remember, this is the most precious thing we own, and we are expecting someone to take care of it.” While I am not sure how I feel about being owned, I do see what she is saying. This also explains why she mentioned campus safety in some way five times while we talked. Here at Illinois, we have a dedicated page on our Admissions website to give you information on campus safety.
In fact, almost every U.S. school you might be looking at will have campus safety information available to you, thanks to the Clery Act. This requires all schools that take part in federal financial aid programs to disclose campus safety information. Typically, if you search “School Name Clery Act,” this information will come up. You can do this for Illinois as well, or you can click on the Annual Security Report link at the bottom of the campus safety page or in this blog.
Another important thing mom talked about was the importance of visiting campus, because as she puts it, “You may say it takes 15 minutes to walk across campus, but I want to see how long it takes for me to walk across campus.” I have always maintained the best way to tell if a school is going to actually be a good fit is to visit it yourself. Perhaps I got that from my mom.
At Illinois, we have many types of campus visit programs. We do daily visit programs for prospective and admitted students year round Monday through Friday in the form of Summer Visits and Daily Visits. There are also large programs that take place for prospective students in the fall and spring (Orange & Blue Days) and admitted students in the spring (Admitted Student Days). For those who just can’t make it on a weekday, we also offer a limited number of Saturday Visits in the fall and spring. Keep in mind that these tend to fill quickly. Veronica’s blog gives more details about visiting campus.
All of these programs will include a presentation by a counselor and the opportunity to take a campus tour with a current student. More important, they give you the chance to explore campus on your own and see what life looks like for our students on a daily basis. You can sign up for all of these programs through your student’s myIllini account.
Can’t Visit Campus
I know you would all love to be able to visit campus, but the reality is not everyone will be able to. Never fear, we have some online tools for you to still get that campus feel without leaving your home.
In addition to our visit programs, we offer a photo tour of campus. We also have an Instagram account, where current students are posting pictures of their lives on campus. Honestly, I prefer this method because it really displays the personalities of some of our students while also showing what’s happening in daily life here. How else would I know that somewhere on campus a pink pony is helping students relieve stress?
Also, don’t forget about YouTube (if you can access it from where you are). A lot of students and others from the Champaign-Urbana community put up videos that will give you a good view of and feel for campus. There’s even one that shows you campus from a drone. Not the most practical view of campus, but it sure looks cool!
As mom says, “I know all the answers to my questions are online, but I have three kids, a job, baseball practice four nights a week, and dinner to make. I don’t have time to pick through your website.” Point taken. Below I’m going to list some of the popular areas for questions and links to websites where you can find answers.
Admitted Student Profile
Application Essay (that’s right, it’s out early)
Campus Stats (general campus-wide stats for your viewing pleasure)
Campus Transportation (Maggie covers it all!)
Cost (for specific family estimates, use the “Calculate Your Cost” link)
Majors (personal preference, sorted based on area of interest)
Student Organizations (hit “Get Involved” to go to the Student Organization Directory)
Contact (possibly the most important; if you ever have questions, just ask!)
Enjoy the Ride
I have covered a lot in this blog, but I wanted to take this time to cover one more important thing. The search for the perfect college or university can be stressful for you and your child, but don’t forget to take the time to slow down and enjoy this time. The road trips you take and the times you spend on these campuses are going to become important memories in the future. I still remember the trips I took with my mom when I was looking at schools—the music in the car, the pizza we ate in our hotel room, the days I got to go on visits without my siblings, just mom and I. Did I know I was making memories? No, but I’m glad my mom took the time to make them with me.
In closing, I want to wish you all the best in your search. Also, a big thanks to my mom for the help and for the memories!
My mom, sister and me at graduation. Thanks Mom!