Basketball, a great social scene and strong programs – IU Bloomington has it all

If you are not intimidated by large crowds (32,000 undergraduates, say what?), have a passion for basketball, and are looking for strong programs as well as a great social scene, then Indiana University at Bloomington may be the college for you. IU is situated on a 1,936-acre campus in southern Indiana, which features a variety of architectural styles, including a few fountains and gargoyles, a large arboretum and some impressive new and recently renovated buildings. 

Here are a few quick facts about IU Bloomington:

4-year Graduation rate: 64%, 6-year: 78%

Acceptance: 77%

Freshman retention: 91%

Freshmen out of state: 38% 

Most popular majors: finance, informatics, marketing

Student Community Diversity: 4% Black, 6% Latino, 9% International

Housing: Freshman can rest assured that they will have a place in one of the many dorms, which range in style from Gothic quads to 13-floor high rises. All dorms have laundry facilities, computer clusters, cafeterias and undergraduate advisors. Some dorms even have language-speaking or academic floors. Students will find a variety of dining options laid out in both buffet style and food courts with offerings of international and healthful menus amongst the usual fast food options. Alcohol is prohibited in the dorms. 64% of all undergraduates live on campus. 

Academics: Indiana University prides itself on its liberal arts education. Freshmen are not admitted to pre-professional schools, but to the “University Division,” and majors are declared after one or two years. General education coursework consists of courses in math, science, social and historical studies, arts and humanities, English composition, world language and cultures, as well as additional requirements that vary by school. IU has many acclaimed schools, including the Kelley School of Business, School of Education and the Jacobs School of Music, as well as the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, which is a top choice for those with an interest in environmental policy. 

The undergraduate who would like to study abroad will find 380 programs in 52 countries and 17 languages in nearly every field of study. Almost a quarter of students participate in these opportunities. 

“Rigorous, but not cutthroat” is the best way to describe the academic climate at IU. Competitive overachievers and laid-back carefree individuals will all find room here as they take several of the 4,000 courses offered each semester. Undergraduates are an important part of the educational process – many faculty members take their research results straight to the students, and professors in math and science are known for bringing undergrads into the labs to assist with ongoing projects.

Similar colleges to consider: Purdue, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin – Madison, The Ohio State University

Social: The most active social scene on campus is that of the Greeks, which attracts 24% of men and 21% of women. A range of extracurricular organizations, concerts, ballets, recitals and festivals on campus keep students busy, and the IU student union is one of the largest in the country. For those who like to get out a bit more, Bloomington is a great college town with plenty of restaurants, shops and bars. In the local area, the nature lovers will be pleased to find some impressive rock quarries and forests for hiking and there are nearby caves for the enthusiastic spelunker. 

Division I varsity athletics overshadow the numerous intramural and club sports, and basketball is pretty much an established religion in Indiana. Purdue is IU’s athletic rival with both teams playing for the Old Oaken bucket, which was found on a farm in southern Indiana in 1925 and rumored to have been used during the Civil War. 

Financial: Indiana University, which admits students on a need-blind basis, offers both need- and non-need based aid, as well as athletic scholarships. An average of 71% of need is met, with 31% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees for in-state and out-of-state are $25,000 and $53,000,  respectively, the average financial aid package is $12,000. 71% of students receive scholarships.

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What Loyola Marymount University has to offer for college-bound

Ideal weather year round and solid programs in film and television, liberal arts and sciences, and business – this is what you will find at Loyola Marymount University. Established in 1911, LMU is situated on a 142-acre bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Marina del Rey and is the only Roman Catholic University in Los Angeles. 

Here are a few quick facts about LMU:

4-year Graduation rate: 76%, 6-year: 84%

Acceptance: 47%

Freshman retention: 90%

Freshmen out of state: 40% 

Most popular majors: Management, Marketing, Communication Studies, Film and Television Production

Student Community Diversity: 7% Black, 22% Latino, 10% International

Housing: Fifty-three percent of students live in on-campus housing, which is described as “pretty nice.” Many first-year students opt to participate in themed living/learning communities, for example, some are dedicated to specific academic disciplines. LMU students will find a variety of meal plan options and all types of food available. Students report that campus security is good and that they feel safe on campus.

Academics: Loyola Marymount’s general education requirements (the Core Curriculum) is designed to encourage “intellectual breadth.” Themes include faith and reason; virtue and justice; culture, art and society; and science, nature and society. The main tenant of this curricular requirement is that it encourages students to be open to various studies. Freshmen will find lots of support through programs such as the honors program and first-year seminar. 

While Loyola Marymount is known for the majors mentioned previously, it also has solid programs in engineering, theatre arts, political science, English, and economics. Students in the School of Film and Television have access to a student-run production office, a television stage and a film soundstage with a professional quality green screen. Students are encouraged to produce their own documentaries that are exhibited at film festivals in both Germany and the United States. 

The College of Science and Engineering takes part in national competitions to design steel bridges and race eco-friendly cars. Need another reason to choose LMU? There are lots of internship opportunities (Disney, MTV and Warner Brothers are on the list of participating companies) and study abroad options are offered on six continents. Nearly a third, 29%, of students participate in one of these experiences during their time at LMU. 

Similar colleges to consider: University of Southern California, UCLA, Santa Clara, Chapman

Social: Loyola Marymount students can expect to have an active social life both on and off campus, with student organizations and clubs frequently hosting events and activities, and beautiful surroundings for those who like to get outdoors. Marina del Rey and Santa Monica are a short car or bus ride away, and those who have a case of wanderlust may find themselves on a road trip to San Diego, Santa Barbara, Las Vegas or Mexico, some of the most popular destinations for LMU undergrads. 

Greek life attracts 17% of men and 29% of women, but students say there is little pressure to drink. The university’s Jesuit heritage has led to a social atmosphere that motivates students to improve themselves through a dedication to helping others, evidenced by the 200,000 hours of volunteer service students put in every year. 

LMU’s varsity teams compete in the Division I West Coast Conference with women’s water polo being a recent champ. Men’s and women’s soccer teams and the women’s volleyball team are also pretty competitive. The LMU Lions’ rivalry with Pepperdine draws a large crowd and the basketball team’s annual pep rally, referred to as “LMU Madness” is another big event. Not to be overlooked is the debate team, which has placed first in more than 250 national and international tournaments over the past 40 years. 

Financial:  Loyola Marymount offers both need-based and non-need based merit aid and scholarships. The average percentage of student need met is 68%, with 23% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees are roughly $73,000 (tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state students), the average financial aid package is $29,012. 90% of students receive financial assistance in the form of scholarships and grants.

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College of the Week: University of Michigan

University of Michigan, one of the nation’s elite public universities, strives to offer its students a balance of academics, athletics, and social activities. On its 3200+ acres on the main campus (be prepared to use your GPS to get around!), you will find a world-class university with outstanding faculty and top-rated programs designed to make its graduates ready to compete in the 21st century job market. 

Here are a few quick facts about University of Michigan:

4-year Graduation rate: 79%, 6-year: 92%

Acceptance: 23%

Freshman retention: 97%

Freshmen out of state: 45%

Most popular majors: computer science, business administration, psychology, and economics

Student Community Diversity: 4.5% Black, 6.6% Latino, 7.3% International

Housing: The dorms at University of Michigan are described as “mostly comfortable and well-maintained.” Despite being a large campus, only 32% of students reside there. Freshmen are guaranteed housing, but not all sophomores will get a spot, and almost no juniors or seniors live on campus. So where does everyone else live? Many who have pledged live in one of the  fraternity or sorority houses. There are also a large number of college-owned and private co-ops and plenty of off-campus rentals. 

Academics: UM boasts 600 degree programs, which includes 250 undergrad majors as well as individualized concentrations. There are no courses that are required of all freshmen, but all students must complete coursework in English (including composition), foreign language (UM offers over 40, including several that can’t be found at many other institutions), natural science, social sciences and humanities. Students describe courses as being challenging, but not cutthroat. The engineering and business programs are well-respected across the country, and programs in health-related fields are also top-notch. There is excellent academic and career advising for those who seek it, and the Campus Career Center works with 950 companies in their recruiting efforts.

Similar colleges to consider: UC Berkeley, University of Indiana at Urbana-Champaign, Stanford, Cornell

Social: While Detroit is less than an hour away, many UM students flock to nearby Ann Arbor, which has more of a “college town feel.” The Huron River, as well as many lakes and swimming holes are a short drive away for those who like to get outdoors. You will find a large Greek party scene although only about 17% of men and 25% of women “go Greek.” 

In the fall, you can expect Division I football to overshadow nearly everything else. Attending games and cheering, “Go Blue” is a pretty integral part of the University of Michigan experience, with the Little Brown Jug football competition with Minnesota and games against Ohio State being the most popular. Several teams have brought home Big Ten championships in the past year, among them men’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, as well as women’s field hockey and gymnastics. For those looking for a more casual form of athletics, there are plenty of intramural sports, which were invented at University of Michigan. 

Financial: University of Michigan offers hundreds of merit scholarships, averaging $5,600 as well as 711 athletic scholarships in 27 sports. Average percent of need met is 91%, with 71% being fully met. UM is the only public university in the state that meets the full demonstrated need of in-state students, and Michigan residents whose families make $65,000 or less qualify for free tuition. Although the tuition and fees are $31,000 for in-state and $68,000 for out-of-state students, the average financial aid package is $27,000. Out-of-state admits with a family income of $90,000 or less can expect to have the full demonstrated need met. 52% of students receive scholarships, averaging almost $18,000 per student. 

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Lehigh has science, technology, and business in a vibrant social culture

lehigh stem business majors

Interested in pursuing a field in science and technology? Then Lehigh University is well worth considering. Lehigh has invested millions to enhance programs in nanotechnology, biotechnology, biosciene and optoelectronics. In addition to being a leader in technology, the atmosphere is very collegial – students push each other to do their best and their career services office actively brings in multiple employers at a time to help students network before they graduate.  If you’re wondering what type of student will excel at a college like Lehigh, one senior describes it by saying, “The type of student who will do best at Lehigh is the one who prefers to be too involved rather than sit back and observe.”

Here are a few quick facts about Lehigh:

Acceptance: 22%

Freshman retention: 94%

Freshmen from out of state: 75%

Most popular majors: finance, mechanical engineering, accounting

4-year Graduation rate: 72%

Student Community Diversity: 4% Black, 10% Latino, 9% International



Probably the most restrictive requirement for Lehigh is that students must complete courses in four domains: mathematical sciences, natural sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities, in addition to enrolling in an Evolution Seminar their first year which focuses on transition to college. Some degrees also require a mandatory internship or capstone project. 

Aside from that, Lehigh undergraduates are free to study across disciplines. In fact, Lehigh is known for connecting traditionally separate disciplines, such as arts and engineering, computer science and business, and environmental engineering with minors in engineering leadership and sustainable development. Lehigh also boasts many dual-degree options and innovative special programs such as Technical Entrepreneurship Capstone, which teams up engineering, business, and arts students to design and make products for sponsoring companies. Students can also enroll in more than 250 study abroad options in 60 countries or a faculty-led program during winter or summer breaks in over a dozen countries. Those students who are looking to gain field experience can participate in a co-op – and get paid to do it. 



On-campus housing is home to all first- and second-year students and 65% of students overall. Accommodations for underclassmen are described as “decent.” Upperclassmen have several housing options: apartment-style dorms, Greek houses, off-campus apartments, or an apartment in Farrington Square – a residential and commercial on-campus complex that houses about 250 upperclassmen. So if having a bookstore, farmer’s market, a coffee shop, restaurants, and sometimes live music right outside your door are your scene, you’ll want to apply to live here your last couple of years. 

Similar colleges to consider:
Boston College, University of Southern California, Wake Forest, William and Mary


With such strong academic programs, you might expect the social life at Lehigh to be lacking, but that’s not the case. There’s a robust Greek life at Lehigh which attracts 38% of males to fraternities and 45% of females to sororities.

Lehigh After Dark hosts a variety of events, including a midnight breakfast bar, a carnival, and bingo night. Other traditions include the Founders Day celebration, Turkey Trot, and spirit week activities leading up to the big Lehigh vs. Lafayette football game. This game is such a big deal – and understandably so as it is the longest standing rivalry in college football (you hear that, Ohio State and Michigan fans? :-)) – that students put more emphasis on beating Lafayette than winning the whole Patriot League championship. The Division I Lehigh Mountain Hawks also boast a number of competitive teams besides football; their wrestling team is described as a “powerhouse” with numerous EIWA championships.

While Lehigh is located in an up and coming small town, undergrads have plenty of big city options with Philadelphia being 50 miles to the south and New York City about 75 miles to the east.  The Poconos and Jersey Shore are also a short drive away.  


Lehigh offers both need-based and merit-based aid, as well as 200 athletic scholarships. The average percentage of need met is 97%, with 75% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees are $72,000, the average financial aid package is $61,000. Where there is a demonstrated need, Lehigh has capped loans at $5,000 per year, and for families who make less than $75,000, loans have been completely removed from the financial aid package. More than 50% of students receive some type of financial aid.

What do you think about this college? What else would you like to learn about it? Please post your comments below.

Santa Clara in Silicon Valley Emphasizes Ethics and Social Justice

Santa Clara emphasizes a commitment to academics and community and is distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities. This comprehensive, faith-based, Division 1 university offers small classes taught by full professors and incorporates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice to educate students and citizens prepared to contribute to a more just, humane, and sustainable world. The beautiful 106-acre campus in Santa Clara, California, littered with palm trees and luscious rose bushes, is steeped in history and tradition.

This selective mid-sized California university has a heritage of traditional Jesuit ideals of “infusing morality and ethics into strong and coherent academics.” Founded by the Jesuits and with a large undergraduate population (almost half) of Roman Catholics, religion has a non-intrusive impact on campus life. Santa Clara students will find many opportunities for spiritual development and to get involved with local volunteer organizations. Students will also have access to job-recruitment and internships afforded to a university located in Silicon Valley, with other 70% participation.

Here are a few quick facts about Santa Clara:

Acceptance: 50%

4-year Graduation rate: 84%

Freshman retention: 94%

Freshmen from out of state: 41%

Most popular majors: finance, economics, communication

Housing: Guaranteed housing all four years, but juniors and seniors often utilize the option to live off-campus. While nearly all freshmen and sophomores live on campus, the dorms only house about 56% of the overall student population. Plans are currently in the works to build more university housing to help battle the rising cost of off-campus housing. Students have remarked that the campus always feels safe.


Santa Clara University

Academics: Santa Clara offers a rigorous undergraduate curriculum as well as robust masters program, law degrees, and engineering doctorate programs. While offering 8 different engineering programs that comprise 15% of the student population, Political Science, Communication, and Psychology are still the most popular classes among students.

SC boasts its 3-2 engineering program in which a student can attain bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years. The college has also recently added minors in professional writing and real estate. 

Santa Clara’s Core Curriculum prescribes courses in three broad categories: Knowledge, Habits of Mind and Heart (skills), and Engagement with the World. Core Pathways supplement majors and the Core Curriculum by offering 24 sets of courses with interdisciplinary themes (justice and the arts, and values in science and technology, are two such examples). Students choose one Pathway and complete 3-4 courses. A student’s chosen Pathway culminates with an Integrative Reflection Essay and required community service and oftentimes requires completion of a capstone project. 


Similar colleges to consider:
Cal Poly–San Luis Obispo, Loyola Marymount, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, University of Southern California


Social:  “There’s a great social life both on and off-campus and over a hundred clubs and programs to get involved in,” says one student. Social life is active as 150 student organizations offer a myriad of on and off-campus activities. The Activity Programming Board coordinates a number of popular events such as concerts, movie nights, Midnight Breakfast, to name a few. Although Santa Clara no longer supports fraternities and sororities, Greek organizations and the off-campus party scene still thrive on their own.

Santa Clara’s campus features only one central dining hall where food is prepared by the same company that caters to Apple and Google events. Anyone with a food allergy can take comfort in the fact that they will have a plethora of food options that are organic, farm to table, as well as gluten- and allergen-free.

Financial: Santa Clara offers both university grants and need-based financial aid, with two-thirds of students receiving support. The average percent of need met is 79%. Although the tuition and fees run about $73,000, the average financial aid package is $54,000: $38,000 coming from need-based financial aid, and another $16,000 from merit aid. About 73% of students receive financial aid.

What do you think about this college? What else would you like to learn about it? Please post your comments below.

7 College Essentials Worth Investing In For Your Freshman Year

7 College Essentials Worth Investing In For Your Freshman Year

Your post-secondary experience can come with a lot of expenses, but what are the college essentials really worth investing in? 

We’re going to cover seven of these worthy essentials to invest in for your freshman year in college in today’s post to help make sure you’re spending your money wisely.  

7 college essentials worth investing in:

  • Your laptop
  • Your mattress/bedding
  • A reusable water bottle
  • Good walking shoes
  • An outfit for interviews, meetings, etc. 
  • A sturdy, comfortable backpack
  • Some comfort items

Invest in a good-quality laptop.

There’s no question that a laptop is on the list of college essentials! While the initial investment you spend on a good quality laptop might seem steep, keep in mind just how much you’ll be utilizing this tool. For many students, it will be several hours a day. If you have a reliable, fast laptop, you’ll be more productive and efficient, ultimately making this one of the most worthy investments for your college experience. 


Whether you’re living in a dorm or off-campus, good-quality bedding is a smart investment.

Sleep is a valuable resource for college students—one that’s often not prioritized as much as it should be! In fact, all kinds of studies point to college students not getting nearly enough sleep. 

There are bound to be some nights you don’t get quite as much sleep as you’d like. So it’s critical to maximize the quality of sleep you DO get. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows to ensure each night of sleep is as good as it can be. 

A reusable water bottle.

You won’t always have time to run to the cafeteria to grab a bottle of water. When you purchase a durable reusable water bottle, you’ll find it comes in handy more than you ever imagined! 

Not only is a reusable water bottle an environmentally friendly option, but it can also save you money over the years! A high-quality water bottle that keeps your liquids cold all day could run you about $40. But if you’re spending $3 a day on a water bottle, you’ll see a reusable water bottle is a much wiser investment!

Walking shoes.

Investing in a good-quality pair of shoes will pay off every single day you wear them. As a college student, you’ll cover a lot of ground in a day walking from class to class. When you can make these trips in supportive, comfortable shoes, you’ll be a much happier camper! If you’re not focused on your sore feet, you’ll have a lot more time and attention to give your studies and other important matters. 

A business casual outfit.

College students will find a business casual outfit comes in handy a lot more than they initially expect. From dinners to interviews, meetings, and more, showing up in a clean, somewhat professional outfit for these occasions sends a message that you’re put together, responsible, and serious about the opportunities you’re presented with. 

Your backpack.

A backpack is one of these college essentials that shouldn’t be overlooked. 

College textbooks are notoriously heavy, and you’ll often have to carry several of them at a time. Look for a backpack that can comfortably carry several pounds, while still keeping your shoulders and back protected from the load. 

Another consideration for your college backpack is finding one with a dedicated laptop compartment with padding. If your backpack gets dropped or thrown, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing your laptop is well protected! 

Comfort items. 

Are you attending post-secondary away from home? Having some things on hand to keep you comfortable or remind you of home is something worth investing in—to an extent. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy the exact same couch you have at home or the same painting on the wall. 

But if there are little things—like the same laundry detergent your mom uses or a candle that reminds you of home—spending a bit of money on these things can be a reasonable investment. 

As a good rule of thumb, anything you want to last all four years of college (or more) tend to be worth a higher price tag than something you won’t get as much use out of. Something all seven of these college essentials have in common is that they can be used year after year! 

What are some of the college essentials you brought with you for your freshman year? 

If you’re looking for one-on-one guidance to help you get into (or pay for) college, click here to learn more. 

Want to see more posts like this? Don’t miss these: 

What to expect at freshman orientation

Top 10 must-dos for college-bounds juniors

7 ways to support your child during the college application process

Living Off Campus: Pros and Cons

Student living off campus walking to classes

The idea of going off to college might seem scary enough. But the thought of living off campus?

Even worse!

The truth is, there are plenty of advantages to living off campus and it could be a great option. But understandably, it isn’t always the right choice.

Many students choose to start their college experience living on campus in university residences. This can help them get the “full college experience.” Also, not having to worry about transportation to and from campus can be a great advantage.

Some parents appreciate the comfort of knowing their child is surrounded by other people and resources. Moving from home to their own place and starting university all at once might seem like too big a step.

While there are definite advantages to living on campus, let’s go over the pros and cons of off-campus housing. With these in mind, you can make an informed decision for which option might be right for you.

Advantages to living off-campus

1. You can stay all year

Some colleges close their on-campus residences during holidays and summers. That means anyone who lives there needs to clear out.

If you live off-campus, there’s no need to leave during breaks and holidays. On the other hand, if you’re required to sign a year-long lease for off-campus housing, you may have to sublet your place during the summer if you go home.

For students who live far away and can’t make it back home regularly for visits, the ability to stay in their off-campus residence can be very useful.

2. More space and privacy

You might luck out with a college that has spacious student residences, but quarters tend to be tight. When you live off-campus, chances are you’ll have more space than you would if you live on campus.

With that added space comes more privacy, freedom, and independence.

On that note, this added freedom and independence while living off-campus might be what scares some students or their parents.

For some students, those close quarters and lack of privacy are just what they’re looking for because they want the complete picture of college life.

But sleeping just a few feet from another person (often a total stranger at first) every night and sharing facilities with hundreds of other students isn’t for everyone.

For students who value peace and quiet (especially when it comes to getting their studying and homework done), an off-campus home might be the better choice.

3. Establishing independence

When a student rents a place off-campus rather than living in a dorm, they’re giving themselves the opportunity to experience many of the responsibilities that come with adulthood.

These include:

  1. Setting up utilities
  2. Managing a small household
  3. Paying bills
  4. Buying groceries and other household products
  5. Establishing and building credit

For students who are comfortable getting an added dose of real-world experience, the off-campus living could work well for them.

Maybe college is still a few years off for your child but you’re doing your research ahead of time. In the meantime, there are things you can do to help prepare younger children for college. In this post, I’ve outlined important ways high school freshmen can start preparing for college. 

Of course, we need to cover the cons to living off-campus, too.

Drawbacks to living off-campus

1. Distance

There are usually off-campus housing options available very close to college campuses.

But often, students will need to take public transportation or drive to school from their off-campus home.

This can equal an added cost for gas, transit passes, and other transportation costs.

2. Some students feel isolated

Living on campus in residence means you’re in the midst of campus life and the activities, events, and other factors that come hand in hand with it. Off-campus housing could leave some students feeling isolated and as though they’re missing out on campus life.

Off-campus housing could still mean living with other students, so you won’t miss out on all interactions with your schoolmates.

For some students, these interactions are enough.

Students who live off-campus can make an extra effort to attend school events and meet other students to minimize any isolation they might feel.

3. More responsibility

Going to university might be a big enough change and added responsibility for some students—the extra work of running and maintaining a household could be too much.

Off-campus housing comes with more responsibility, and these responsibilities could prove overwhelming for some students. On that same note, it might also take up too much valuable time that should otherwise be spent on school work.

Do you find yourself reading these and thinking, “that’s not a con?” That could be a telltale sign that off-campus living would be a good option for you.

What about the cost of living off-campus vs on campus?

You may have noticed the cost of living off-campus wasn’t included as either a pro or a con.

That’s because the cost of living on campus versus off-campus varies so much between schools, students, budgets, and other factors.

If you’re sharing off-campus housing with several roommates, it could turn out to cost less than living in a dorm. But in other cases, living in a dorm will end up costing less.

To help you determine what it might cost to live off-campus of your college, do your research into real estate in the area, spend time talking to other students, and be sure to calculate the added cost of things like utilities, transportation, and groceries.

If you’d like to learn more about securing funds for your child to go to college, be sure to have a look at the “Get In and Get Money” workshop. 

As you’ve probably noticed, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to off-campus housing or living on campus.

The answer will depend on things like a student’s personality, how much responsibility they’re ready for, and what kind of college experience they’re hoping to get.

Planning college campus visits are an incredibly important part of making this decision, too. Here’s how to make your visit to a college campus as stress-free as possible. 

You might consider living on campus for your first year to help give yourself a softer landing. After that, you could choose to live off-campus for the rest of your university experience. For many students, this proves to be the best of both worlds.

If you’re interested in one-on-one support and other resources to help you or your child get into (or pay) for college, click here.

If you enjoyed this article and you’d like to learn more about preparing for college, don’t miss these posts:

Get in and Get Money: 5 Tips for College-Bound Juniors
College Essay How-to: Who is someone you admire?
The 5 Key Things Students Should Do the Summer Before Senior Year

What to Expect at Freshman Orientation

College Bound? Here’s What To Expect at Freshman Orientation

You’ve finally done it. You’ve graduated high school and you’ve been accepted to a college where you’ll begin the rest of your life. But before that big leap, there’s another step you must take first: freshman orientation.

Freshman orientation was designed to give new college students the information about their new school they need to get started on the right foot. In some cases, orientation takes place in just a day, while other schools operate it over a weekend.

No matter how long your freshman orientation is, they tend to cover many of the same things: from campus tours, meeting lots of new people (including roommates), presentations, and the delivery of a whole lot of information meant to help you on your new journey.

What can you expect during freshman orientation?

While each school has a slightly different way of doing their freshman orientation, here are some things you can expect at yours:

  1. You’ll be nervous and overwhelmed.
  2. It will be a long day (or days).
  3. You’ll meet A LOT of new people (advisors, roommates, classmates, etc.).
  4. It will be an information overload.
  5. You’ll become more comfortable in your new surroundings.

The emotion and excitement of freshman orientation.

Most students experience a variety of emotions at freshman orientation (and so do their parents!). Most describe it as a mix of feeling nervous, overwhelmed, and excited. I doubt it will surprise you to hear these are all normal feelings. 

You’re embarking on a life-changing new journey. It’s no wonder it comes with big emotions. Try to keep in mind that all the other freshmen you’re meeting likely feel exactly how you’re feeling—even if they look calm, cool, and collected on the surface. 

All the new faces.

At freshman orientation, it’s not uncommon to meet hundreds of new people in the span of a few days. Some of the people you’ll meet include classmates and other freshmen, your academic advisors, your roommates, and their families, and more. 

When you’re meeting your advisors, professors, or other professionals around campus, do your best to remember their names right away and get to know them a bit, if time allows. This can often help you down the road.

When it comes to meeting other students, it’s important to learn their names, too. But chances are, you’ll run into these people a lot and have more chances to get to know them. 

Presentations and more presentations.

Most freshman orientations involve a variety of presentations set up around campus. Some of these are more fun than others and some stick to the basics in giving you the information you need as concisely as possible. 

Presentations can cover topics like Greek life, housing, financial aid, and much more. Be sure to have a pen and paper on hand to take notes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when the floor is opened up, either! 

Getting to know your new home.

Whether or not you’re living on campus or off, you’re bound to spend a lot of your time at college over the coming years. 

By the way, here are some of the pros and cons of living off-campus.

Think of freshman orientation like getting a tour of your new house: you’re going to be shown how to get from one room to the next, as well as how to make the most of your new surroundings. 

But instead of learning how to use the dishwasher, you’ll learn things like how to do laundry on campus, how to join clubs and sports, an academic breakdown, how to apply for financial aid, and a lot more. 

If you’re not at the freshman orientation stage yet but you’d like to get to know a college you might want to attend, campus visits are important. If you’re a parent, you might be struggling to motivate your child to make campus visits. Or perhaps you’re dreading them yourself. Here’s how to motivate your child to take this important step.

If you’ve already done a campus tour, you might be somewhat oriented with your new campus. But freshman orientation is a great time to get ever more comfortable with your new surroundings, to help you make the most of your college experience. 

If you’re looking for one-on-one guidance to help you get into (or pay for) college, click here for help. 

Want to see more posts like this? Don’t miss these: 

Rolling admissions: benefits and drawbacks 

Top 10 must-dos for college-bounds juniors

7 ways to support your child during the college application process

How To Motivate Your Teen To Visit Colleges…and Survive Visits As a Parent

What’s the best way to learn if a college is going to be great fit for your teen?

How can you help your teen choose a college that personally inspires and excites them–rather than choosing a college because that’s where his or her friends are going?

How can you get a good idea if a college will be a springboard for your aspiring young adult so you can feel more confident in the investment?

…By making college campus visits!

Campus visits can answer these questions quickly and clearly for both you and your teen. Your teen can get a true “feel” for what it would be like to stay in the dorm, to use the labs, library, gym and other facilities, to feel at home given the size of the student body, to hang out on campus and around town. Rather than imagining college based on media hype or his or her friends’ opinion, your teen can see for him/herself.

Plus, as a parent, you can help your teen compare and contrast college options since you know your teen’s preferences and tendencies so well. Walking on a campus, touring with a student guide and speaking with faculty can offer assurance in ways a brochure or website never can.

How do we decide which schools to visit if my teen has a list of 10 or more?

If time and travel allow, start with 3 colleges that provide a broad overview of the types of schools available–a small, private college, a mid-size private or public university, a big public university. These will give your teen a good overview of the wide range of options they have for schools. Once they decide (after visiting!) whether they prefer small, medium or a large student body, your teen  can start to narrow their search and spend the majority of time looking at colleges in that size range.

Should we make a campus visit during spring or summer break?

Many families plan college tours during spring or summer break since it’s the most convenient time with school calendars. Certainly, a visit to the campus during a break is better than no visit at all.

Summer campus visits can be most important for high school juniors/rising seniors. As juniors are finalizing their college list, a summer campus visit can be considerably helpful for writing applications in the fall. Likewise, given how busy the fall of senior year will be, it’s usually not enough time to go on a campus visit, especially if a teen plays a sport or participates in clubs like marching band or Model UN.

However, it’s ideal to plan a visit when school is in session. Being able to see college students “in their natural habitat” will give your high schooler an even greater understanding of what their future could be like at that college. With students and faculty on campus, your teen can even sit in on a class lecture, see a sporting event or marching band practices, check out the library in use, schedule a meeting with a coach or professor, etc.

A fun activity for you and your teen to do would be to plan to eat in the dining hall. You may not have the time to go out and find a restaurant during the day of the tour, so the dining hall would be a great way to find out what the food is like on campus. Check for cleanliness, the variety of quality foods, and accessibility. (If the campus is big, there may be multiple dining halls to consider.)

Encourage your teen to talk with students while visiting the campus (not only the student guide). It can be inspiring and helpful for your teen to hear what college is like directly from a student! This may be the most important part of your campus visits and an opportunity that too many college-bound students do not take advantage of. Teens can ask them any questions they have or about their general experience at the school. (Your teen may get more nuanced answers than from tour guides, which can help broaden their perspective on the student community at any given campus.)

Perks of planning ahead

Another benefit to arranging a college visit while school is in session is that you can call ahead and schedule a tour led by a current student. I recommend reserving your college tours at least 30 days in advance so that tours are not booked by the time you arrive.

Not only is it helpful to have a guide to lead you and answer your teen’s questions, but this “demonstrates interest”. By demonstrating interest in a school by making an effort to visit, scheduling a tour, asking questions and following up with a thank you note, your teen can signal their interest to admissions. This can help when it comes to reviewing your teen’s college application if an admissions officer is making a final decision between an applicant who has shown interest in attending versus one who has not.

In addition to the admissions office tour, you might also want to book an appointment with the financial aid office. Learning what options are available to your family could make a huge difference when the time comes to choose a college.

Get my free guide

Throughout the year, I visit dozens of college campuses and learn something new every time. With each visit, it’s important for me to write notes so that I keep track of all that I learned. Please download our Campus Visit Checklist so that your teen remembers what they learned and keep track of how each college would be a fit for their goals, interests and needs.


3 Tips for Dealing with College Application Rejection

Rejection hurts.

Let’s face it, any kind of rejection can be difficult to navigate. It can be especially painful when your application to a college you had high hopes of attending is rejected.

Here’s the good news…

As much as it might feel like your rejection letter is the end of the world – it most certainly isn’t! You’ve still got plenty of options for forging a path forward that will lead you to a successful and exciting college experience.

This article will help you to navigate the muddy waters of rejection and move into a more positive and productive mindset.

Here are three tips for dealing with rejection from a college and creating a path for moving forward.

1. Allow Yourself to Feel the Loss

Pretending it didn’t happen won’t help. You’ve just experienced one of life’s setbacks – that’s the reality. And that’s all it is.

Allow yourself time to process and even grieve the loss of what you had hoped for.

Grieving a loss is natural—it’s also an important part of moving forward. And after a period of grieving, it’s time to move on.

Quick Tip: To help make the experience of being rejected from a college a little bit easier on you, remember to manage your expectations BEFORE you hear back. Remind yourself the college application process is incredibly competitive. If you don’t get in, it isn’t because you’re a failure, in other words . . . . It’s NOT about YOU!

2. Don’t Miss Out on Other Great Schools

Just because your top college choice might not be in the cards, doesn’t mean there aren’t other incredible colleges out there that you could attend!

Consider the things that made you the most excited about your top choice school and look for other schools with those same qualities that could still be a great fit for you. Don’t allow the disappointment of not getting into your top choice to overshadow the potential of other colleges being an excellent choice for you.

Likewise, you can check out the list of colleges that still have openings at the National Association of College Admission Counseling. Should you decide to any of these colleges, please also do everything you can to make your essay and application stand out so you’ll know you’ve done whatever you could to get accepted

3. Consider Your Options

When your application is rejected from a college, you’ve got a few options when it comes to moving forward.

But you know what isn’t an option?

Giving up!

Here are some of the things you can do instead:

  1. Consider taking a gap year to improve your application and try again next year.
  2. Remember there is the possibility of transferring down the road. You could attend another great school in the meantime and get some credits there. Eventually, you could transfer to your top-choice (of course this isn’t guaranteed).
  3. Channel your disappointment into motivation and excitement about another great school. Getting a new, stronger focus is going to be key to your success moving forward.

They say when a door closes a window opens. When it comes to your college experience, a window may be opening that leads to the best experience of your life!

Looking for one-on-one support and other resources to help you or your child get into (or pay) for college? Click here!