8 Great Reasons for a College Road Trip
At the beginning of a college road trip, you and your child will be excited, nervous, and intrigued. By the time the road trip comes to a close, you and your child will be … excited, nervous, and intrigued.
The only difference will be that those latter feelings will be more focused, determined, and confident. Why? Because you will both have a much better view of the future!
To find out how to get this “better view,” read this list of eight great reasons to take each other on an epic college road trip.
1—Check the School Against Your List of Priorities
Your student will have the highest chance of success if he or she attends a school that meets each of the following criteria:
- It offers a strong program within your student’s area of interest.
- It provides a style of instruction that works well for your student.
- It offers a level of academic rigor that matches your student’s aptitude and preparation.
- It is within a community that feels comfortable to your student.
- It values students for their strengths and contributions.
2—Ensure That Freshman Housing Suits Your Student’s Lifestyle
Although freshman information packets will include housing information and questionnaires, your student won’t get a real feel for life in a college dorm unless he or she makes an in-person visit.
Perhaps the most sensitive issues to consider are lifestyle based. Will your child feel comfortable in a coed dorm? Do you prefer to have him or her housed in a “substance-free” building? Are gender-neutral restrooms important to your student? Are there any accessibility matters to consider?
3—Feel Out the Wellness Factor
Gaining the “freshman 15” may be one thing, but living unhealthily throughout all the college years is another. While on campus, try to determine what programs and services are in place for keeping students healthy and happy, both physically and mentally.
Being a full-time student is very stressful, and having easy access to nutritious food, exercise opportunities, and mental health check-ins goes a long way toward being a thriving young adult.
4—Gauge the Social Scene
Social butterflies tend to need a busy student scene that offers fraternities and sororities, athletic clubs, gathering spaces, and robust study groups. Quieter individuals prefer the solitude of a library, intimate spaces, and optional low-key events.
On larger campuses, there are more opportunities for either making many friends or only seeing strangers (depending on one’s attitude). Smaller campuses either offer the pleasant opportunity to get to know everyone or else may feel stifling.
Try to get a feel for if your son’s or daughter’s social preferences will be met or if he or she will feel out of place among the student body.
5—Gauge the Spiritual Scene
Is the college campus accepting and considerate of your religious beliefs (or lack of belief)?
If living a religious life while away at school is important to your family, does the college accommodate your practices? For example, are there prayer spaces, kosher meals, a nearby chapel, and on-campus religious holiday celebrations?
If you are nonreligious, is faith forced or are the codes of conduct too restrictive and strict?
6—See if You Love the Location
Whether it’s 100 miles from home or 1,000, the location of your child’s school is an important consideration. What might sound fun in the short term may prove to be more difficult than expected over the course of four or more years.
For example, is your child okay with only coming home once or twice a year, or would he or she rather visit once a month? Is enduring long, harsh winter months worth it? Does it matter if the school is located in a big city, or is a more suburban area preferred? These questions are most easily answered when the opportunity is taken to travel to the schools you’re considering.
7—Help You See the Bigger Picture
A college brochure or web page doesn’t go very far in helping you get an honest, unedited view of a school. Gaining access to a broader overall picture of a place is best done in person.
By walking, talking, and observing, you will gain a better understanding of the culture of the campus, the diversity of the population, the professionalism of the professors, and the school’s role in the surrounding community.
Time is almost up and a road trip is a fantastic way to spend quality time and have fun with your son or daughter. Explore off the beaten track, eat unusual food, and talk honestly about your past and future.
Nothing can slow down the process of growing up, but having a vacation together will help you strengthen family bonds and prepare for the future. So instead of making the trip all about stressful situations and hard choices, have some fun!