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Especially for Sophomores & Juniors (College Visits)

Whether attending a sporting event or passing through campus while on a family vacation, this is the time you may be casually checking out some colleges. Then before you know it, you’ll be doing official tours and considering where you might apply.

The day you visit a campus, you think you’re going to remember every detail for the rest of your life. But a few college tours later, the details will start to run together and you’ll forget which school has the free ice cream bar and where students have to pay to go to the football games.

So, it’s helpful to have a system in place for your visits.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Be Strategic about Timing. If possible, consider which order you might want to visit schools. Ask yourself if there are good reasons to visit your “safety schools” or your “reach schools” first. If you’re feeling especially nervous about your initial college tour, that might determine the order for you. Or if you have a tendency to settle without considering all options, that might lead to a different order for you. The key with strategic order is knowing your unique tendencies when it comes to decision-making. And if you’re not sure, ask your parents to plot the order of which schools to visit based on how well they know you.

Go Deeper than the Tour Guide. Remember that school ambassadors are sales persons. They’re supposed to make the school seem like heaven on earth. Of course, in some cases, you might get a tour guide who turns you off. Either way, it’s best to put the tour experience aside and simply imagine yourself there. Think of your interests and where you might get involved, and then try to talk to people in those circles to help you know if it could be a right fit for you.

Use a Checklist. Check out the College Visit Review document that can be found on my new and updated website under Resources. This resource can be printed out and used for each visit. You can even put multiple copies in a fun binder dedicated to college visits. Or, at the very least, use this worksheet to help you plan your visit and make notes on your phone.

Take Notes Immediately after Every Visit. Even take notes on the schools you don’t like. Knowing what you don’t want in a college can be just as helpful as what you do want.

Have a Meaningful Discussion. After each visit, consider devising a tradition to go somewhere on or near campus to contemplate what you just experienced and to take notes or fill out your College Visit Review document. This can be a special time for making memories with your family during this season of college visits.

Resist being Overwhelmed. You’re probably not going to feel ready for college when you start your tour process. That’s ok. You’re not the same person today you were two years ago, and two years from now you won’t be the same person you are now. When the Lord opens doors for your future college, you’ll also be ready for that school at that time (Acts 17:26). In the meantime, just have fun with the journey, take your time increasing the intensity from casual visits to formal tours, and place your faith in God for your college choice.

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up…You comprehend my path…You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me…I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…in Your book my days all were written, fashioned for me…” (Ps. 139:1, 2, 3, 5, 14,16)

College Exploration: UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA

In Atlanta, it’s been the overlooked school. But now that more and more students are looking outside the state for college, many are discovering the university that others have missed. As fans would tell you, the real USC is in Columbia, South Carolina.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Let these particulars help you decide if you’d like to add South Carolina to your list of college choices:

  • It’s located in a Capital city that provides plenty to do, but with far less traffic congestion than Atlanta. It’s set on a quintessential southern college campus complete with beautiful trees, traditional and new classroom buildings, and a picturesque Greek-life neighborhood.
  • USC is a large SEC school with exciting school spirit and 25,000+ undergraduate students, with Georgia ranking 5th for most out-of-state students. Though a large school, people on campus are equally as helpful and friendly as the website is easy to navigate.
  • The Honors College is ranked #1 for Public Honors Colleges in the country. It boasts of offering students the environment of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large public university. And the Capstone Scholar Program may be suitable for those students who really want to focus on leadership during their time on campus.
  • Two distinctive degree options are the very active and well-known International Business program, and the College of Hospitality, Retail, and Sport Management – unique for its strong business foundation. Students are also flocking to the College of Arts and Sciences, Darla Moore School of Business, College of Education, and the Nursing school. Probe the website for your area of interest to see how the University of South Carolina competes with other schools you are considering.
  • The required Carolina Core courses can give time to those with undeclared majors to find the field of study that is best for them.
  • Very affordable, South Carolina is known for giving abundant financial aid and discounts, including opportunities for a wide range of out-of-state students to receive in-state tuition. South Carolina uses the Coalition application and half of the freshman class typically receives a merit scholarship! Actually, 88% of USC students receive some sort of financial help. The key is to apply early to get the most financial support.

You don’t have to wait another moment to take two important steps:

Click here to go on a Virtual Tour of the school…It’s very popular with candidates…

The Application for Fall 2018 is already open, so you can click here to get started…

As you begin to prepare for the transition to college, you may want to pray:

  • Psalm 71:5-6
  • Jeremiah 29:11-13
  • Daniel 1:8
  • Matthew 4:19
  • Mark 4:20
  • 1 Corinthians 1:7
  • Galatians 5:25
  • Philippians 4:19
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:24
  • 2 Timothy 2:1
  • 2 Timothy 2:21
  • 2 Timothy 3:14-15
  • James 4:10

A Tale of Two Colleges

Many people in the state of Georgia think Berry College is a Christian school. But the school will tell you – it is not.

Many people in Georgia have never even heard of Covenant College. But the school will tell you – it is most definitely Christ-centered.

Though they differ in mission, both Berry and Covenant are traditional liberal arts schools specializing in broad education and professor-student relationships. Yet, each possesses very unique qualities, such as:

Berry

  • There are only 2,100 students, but the school has the world’s largest campus, with 26,000 acres of beauty outside of the town of Rome, Georgia.
  • All students are guaranteed a job every semester.
  • Everyone receives some sort of scholarship based on merit, leadership, service, etc.

Covenant

  • The 1000 students are bonded by their breathtaking views atop Lookout Mountain, along with their mission to explore and express the preeminence of Jesus in all things.
  • Each senior completes a bachelor’s thesis, and is given his/her own desk in the library on which to work and leave their materials all year long.
  • Professors, none of whom have tenure, design the layouts of all buildings in order to maximize their approachability for students and optimize their learning.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Colleges and universities with past Christian heritage (Berry), and schools with explicitly Christian purposes (Covenant) are radically different from one another, especially with regards to culture and purpose. So, it’s important to know the reasons you are looking at both kinds of schools, and make sure your expectations are fair.

If you decide an explicitly Christian school is not for you, there is still plenty of opportunity for spiritual growth during this stage of life. Campus ministries and discipleship opportunities abound in non-Christian colleges as well as in Christian heritage colleges.

Understand that if you select a Christian college (heritage or explicit), these schools can vary as to how much emphasis they put on faith, and how much they concentrate on academics. Make comparisons as you do your research so that you really understand what you’d be getting in each area.

Visit a number of schools and make note of which ones could be a right fit for you spiritually and academically. This is a highly personal choice. God is never limited to where He can take an individual to achieve great heights with Him.

If you’re considering a liberal arts education, the sticker price for such schools can be high. You might consider comparing the course offerings at liberal arts schools to public universities, along with career options for both, to make sure the differences justify the cost. Likewise, you will want to examine the reasons to pay the price for Christian secondary education as well. Each student’s individual needs and calling can help determine this.

Pray for wisdom. “God understands the way to it, and He knows the place.” (Job 28:23)

College Exploration: AUBURN UNIVERSITY

This is Auburn. It has around 22,000 undergrad students compacted on an attractive, walkable campus. Opportunities are plentiful as there are over 140 majors, which are housed in 13 colleges and schools. Yet, the Tigers boast of small classroom sizes and the close War Eagle bond that extends to alumni worldwide.

Auburn wellness kitchen

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Let these particulars help you decide if you’d like to visit:

  • The I-85 route provides an easy driving experience for Atlanta metro students who may be visiting home regularly.
  • There are no community bathrooms in any of the dorms, and freshman are not required to live on campus. In fact, only 20% of students do. However, many apartments are conveniently nearby.
  • Sororities don’t have houses; the girls live and meet together in dorms.
  • There is no super-scoring of the ACT/SAT, which can make it harder for out-of-state students to get scholarships.
  • The Tigers play football in one of the largest college football stadiums in existence, with a new Jumbotron screen only second in size to that of the Dallas Cowboys.
  • A significant portion of the school’s visitor tour includes a unique view of the campus from the rooftop of the tallest building in Lee county.
  • The 3-year old fitness center includes the longest indoor track in the States and a rock climbing wall at the deep end of the outdoor leisure pool.
  • The surrounding area offers all that is needed without the hassles of a major city.

Georgia students interested in sizable, out-of-state universities might consider visiting and applying to this comparable trio:

Auburn, University of Alabama, and University of South Carolina.

As you begin to prepare for the transition to college, you may want to pray:

  • Psalm 71:5-6
  • Jeremiah 29:11-13
  • Daniel 1:8
  • Matthew 4:19
  • Mark 4:20
  • 1 Corinthians 1:7
  • Galatians 5:25
  • Philippians 4:19
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:24
  • 2 Timothy 2:1
  • 2 Timothy 2:21
  • 2 Timothy 3:14-15
  • James 4:10

College Exploration: UNITED STATES MILITARY SERVICE ACADEMIES

The big three – Air Force Academy in Colorado, West Point in New York, and Naval Academy in Annapolis – provide a college experience that isn’t really a college experience. Yes, the post-secondary education is superb, but the military lifestyle establishes these schools as a separate category from other American universities.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

You may want to tour one of these service academies if…

  • You are drawn to the idea of graduating from college as an officer in the Air Force, Army, or Navy. (ROTC at other colleges will give you the same accomplishment).
  • You are willing to serve your country for 5 more years after you graduate. (The same is true with ROTC).
  • You are prepared to pass on the “typical” college experience. (College ROTC programs permit you to be involved with the military and have a normal college way of life. The service academies do not).
  • You accept that no other schools will require you to go six weeks of the summer before freshman year with virtually no contact with anyone from home. And you won’t be dorm room shopping or keeping up with social media then either.
  • You are okay with being essentially owned by the military for the next 9 years of your life.
  • You are eager to push your body physically in unprecedented ways – even if you are already an athlete. (Training is more stringent at the service academies than in ROTC because of more hours devoted to military training).
  • You have time to go through a longer and more complex application process. (It includes a Congressional nomination procedure with additional forms, interviews, medical exam, physical testing, etc.).
  • You want the honorable accomplishment of serving your country or launching your future career as a service academy graduate.
  • You are ready to have all the responsibilities of being a grown-up. Now.
  • You believe God has specifically called you to this journey, and you are ready to “share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 2:3)

College Exploration: SAMFORD UNIVERSITY

Not all Christian colleges are created equal (read here for more). So, when it comes to Christianity, Samford likes to describe itself as right in the middle: between a Bible college on one end of the spectrum, and a school whose Christianity is in heritage-only on the other end of the scale. And when it comes to academics, this well-established school in Birmingham, Alabama competes with other schools of similar size and scholastic reputation.

Front-Gates

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

You may want to visit Samford University if…     

  • There’s an interest in a beautiful, prospering, non-intimidating campus with attention to detail and modern updates.
  • The idea of a small, personal education taught by Christian professors is attractive. (The school will even preview your application essay before you apply.)
  • It would be awesome to attend college events on a completely dry campus.
  • Class size matters and having professors who know you is important.
  • A great nursing or business school is of interest.
  • There is consideration of one of the 8 Pre-professional programs including “Fast Track” that enables you to pursue law, pharmacy, physical therapy, or social work at a quicker pace.
  • You’re content (or maybe even overjoyed) with the idea of attending college with a heavily female population.
  • There is a willingness and means to enjoy the city in order to make the experience larger, if needed.
  • You appreciate the opportunities to participate in activities that might be too competitive at a larger school. (For example, most theater auditions are open for non-drama majors.)

If you’re interested in Samford, you may also want to visit…

  • Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia
  • Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois
  • Elon University in Elon, North Carolina
  • Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina

As you begin to prepare for the transition to college, you may want to pray…

  • Psalm 71:5-6
  • Jeremiah 29:11-13
  • Daniel 1:8
  • Matthew 4:19
  • Mark 4:20
  • 1 Corinthians 1:7
  • Galatians 5:25
  • Philippians 4:19
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:24
  • 2 Timothy 2:1
  • 2 Timothy 2:21
  • 2 Timothy 3:14-15
  • James 4:10