I recently ran into a parent of a high school senior. Their student had an appointment with his guidance counselor to discuss his plans for college and what teachers he would ask for a letter of recommendation. His guidance counselor also asked him to prepare a resume to supplement his college applications. Both the parent and student expressed concern as to how to prepare a resume for a student who has limited or no work experience.
Congratulations Students! You have accepted your college admission offer and have confirmed your upcoming enrollment. Congratulations Parents! Your son or daughter is going to be a college student.
With your college selected, admissions offer accepted, and your confirmation of enrollment submitted you probably said to yourself, “Wow, that was easy!” However, you have only just begun the enrollment process. There are other processes that you should be undertaking while you are waiting for the Fall semester to begin.
Student Sign Onto Student Portal – Colleges typically provide accepted students with access to the campus student portal. Your student will now have access to his/her records. College students in the eyes of higher education, are responsible for their records and expected to carry out the tasks that lie ahead. They now have FERPA rights (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act). They no longer have to share their information with parents or anyone else if they wish not to.
The student portal helps to keep student information in the hands of the student. What is typically found on the portal? In addition to campus emails, the student will have access to detailed information such as; forms that need to be completed such as housing preferences, questionnaires, medical forms, notifications from offices, and grades.
Check Campus Emails Frequently – College correspondences will be emailed to your student’s college email account. Although your student is excited about starting college, they may not be that excited to sign onto the portal and check their emails.
I encourage parents to have a conversation with their student to consider allowing the parent access to their portal and email account.
Gather Immunization Records
NYS Public Health Law Section 2165 and NYCRR Title 10, Subpart 66-2 require students attending post-secondary institutions, who were born after January 1, 1957, and registered for 6 or more credit hours, to demonstrate proof of immunity against measles, mumps, and rubella. There are provisions for medical and religious exemptions under Public Health Law Section 2165.
NYS Public Health Law Section 2167 requires post-secondary institutions to distribute written information about meningococcal meningitis and meningococcal immunization to each student who is enrolled for at least 6 credit hours. This notification requires that each student must certify that they have already received their immunization, or that they have received and reviewed the information provided by the institution, understand the risks of meningococcal meningitis and the benefits of immunization, and have decided not to obtain the meningococcal vaccine.
Many campus request proof of meningococcal meningitis vaccination for their students and especially those who will be residing in campus housing. If your student will be attending college out of state be sure to check immunization requirements with the college.
Attend New Student Orientation
At orientation, you will be introduced to members of the campus community, as well as other students who just like you are excited about starting college in the Fall. There will be presentations, meetings with representatives from various campus offices, such as Financial Aid, Student Support Services, and Athletics. You may also find yourself setting up your first-semester schedule and registering for your courses.
Connecting with Campus Offices
The Financial Aid Office is probably the most popular office prior to the start of the semester. If you have not completed your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) you will want to get it done. Once you have filed your FAFSA application and because you have indicated your college on the form, the college will receive the information they need to assist them in the review and preparation of your financial aid package. If you are a New York State resident you should also plan to complete the TAP (NYS Tuition Assistance Program) application. This too is needed to assist with financial aid packaging. As with the FAFSA, your TAP information will be forwarded to the college. You may also want to apply for the NYS Excelsior Scholarship.
Not everyone who applies for federal and state aid is deemed eligible. Don’t make the decision that you will not be eligible for financial aid. Complete the required necessary financial aid forms and paperwork. It’s important to work with the Financial Aid Office to find out what financial aid you may or may not be eligible for. In cases which you are only eligible for loans, you will want to find out what loans to consider and what’s necessary to apply for them.
Student Support Services for Students with Learning Disabilities – Maybe your student has a documented learning disability, or had a 504 in high school and could possibly use the support and services of this office. This office works to assist students with receiving necessary and reasonable accommodations. Just like the process of applying for financial aid, there will be documentation to gather and information to provide. Connect with this office to find out what will be necessary for you to provide before the start of the school year. You may also want to introduce your student to members of this office so that they will know where to go and who they will speak to while attending college.
Housing – If your student plans to live on campus, you will surely be connecting with this office. There will be questionnaires for your student to complete, housing preferences, meal plan selections, as well as policies and procedures. Your student may also be itchy to start shopping for items to decorate his/her room. However, I recommend that you read the housing handbook to find out what is acceptable and what is not.
Campus Security/Safety -Depending on the school, the name of the office responsible for collecting the necessary documents and fees for a parking permit varies. If your college allows new students to have cars on campus and your student will be taking a car with them, you will want to find out the fee will be required and what documents will be needed in order for your student to get a parking permit.
Watch for deadlines and due dates. You don’t want your student to miss out on something because a deadline sneaked up on you. I encourage my clients to take care of what is needed to be done before a due date. There is nothing wrong with taking care of things in advance. By taking care of business in advance, should you find yourself experiencing frustration or difficulty in getting through a process, you now have some time to seek guidance in completing the task.
Take Time for Family
Before you know it, the end of summer will be here and your student will be heading off to school. Spend time with family and friends, create memories, and enjoy time together.
Best of Luck
Steps To College provides guidance and information to parents and students in navigating the college search process. The college search is not just about finding the right college for your student. It is also about the steps or processes that happen before and after you’ve made your decision on what college(s) you plan to apply to and which college you decide to enroll in.
As the school year comes to a close and summer recess approaches, many families start thinking about their summer plans. For families of high school juniors and seniors a visit to a college or and colleges may be included in summer vacation plans. A summer college visit enables students and their families opportunities to meet with campus representatives, learn about the college, and explore the town or city the college is located in. It allows for both the student and family to get a sense of the distance from home, transportation needs, campus size and layout. Whether visiting on your own or participating in a scheduled campus visit, here are some points to consider for your summer visitation.
Number of students on campus:
- Just as high schools break for summer recess, colleges do break after the spring semester has concluded in mid May. After final exams and graduation commencement ceremonies, college students pack up their belongings, move out of student housing and vacate the campus. Many colleges use this time to offer summer sessions to their own students and visiting students who are attending colleges elsewhere. Summer sessions is an option for students and course offerings are limited. The number of students enrolled during in this period are much smaller than what you would see during a Fall or Spring semester.
- Summer presents a perfect time for construction to take place on the college campus. It enables the college to build, renovate and clean without interfering on student learning and campus activities that take place during the Fall and Spring semesters. During your summer visit, there may be areas of the campus that will not be accessible to visitors. While you may have been unable to see everything due to construction, you now will have witnessed what upgrades, buildings, and upcoming projects that you can expect to see in the future. .
- During summer months you are sure to find many empty parking lots and parking spaces. Seeing vacant lot and spaces are especially exciting if you plan to bring a car to campus. Keep in mind that some colleges have policies for cars on campus and specified student parking. The empty parking spaces that you see in the summer will look very different come the Fall and Spring semesters. As you tour the campus, take note of the parking lots proximity to residential student housing. Chances are if you are able to bring a car, you will be required to park your vehicle in these lots.
Not all parts of campus may be accessible:
- For cost savings purposes, some buildings that are not being utilized may be locked. Just as your parents probably have said “Don’t waste electricity”, colleges also seek ways to lessen expenses and promote sustainability.
Campus offices and staffing:
- Staffing may be limited during the summer months. Just as you look forward to summer break, so do college administrators, faculty and staff.. Generally the Admissions, Financial Aid, Residential Services, Student Accounts, and Registrar’s offices remain open and available to speak with and answer questions from parents and students. While these offices may be open, staffing may be limited due to vacations and flexible scheduling. If your plans include speaking with a department representative be sure to contact the campus ahead of time to find out if the office will be opened and someone will be available to speak to. If you have a specific person that you are looking forward to meeting during your visit, try to schedule an appointment to meet with them.
Limited office hours and closures:
- Who wouldn’t agree that a quality of life is important and helps maintain wellness and productivity? It is absolutely important. So important that some colleges will enable office staff to use flex time and offices to extend business hours during the work week to allow for a three day weekend. Remember, just because a campus is open does not mean that offices are. Therefore, making sure both the college and it’s offices are open and accessible is especially important when making your college visitation plans. Once again, if your plans include visiting and speaking with an office representative, be sure to contact the office or department before you arrive on campus.
Open for business:
- There is a movie “Vacation” which is about the family who wants to visit a theme park called Wally World. They have their whole cross country trip all mapped out, pack up their car, and on the way run into some funny mishaps before they arrive at their destination. After days and hours of driving they finally arrive at Wally World only to find that it is closed. Don’t let the Wally World scenario happen to you and mess up your vacation plans. Make sure that you have taken all the necessary steps before you depart for your visit.
Plan on a return visit, if possible:
- A summer campus visitation provides you a chance to “fall in love” (as it is referred to in the field of Admissions) with the campus. If your visit has confirmed your intentions to add or keep the college on your list for consideration, submit your application or enroll, a return visit during the Fall or Spring semester is strongly encouraged.
The campus visit has a major impact on students’ college selection decisions. Gathering and having the right information is vital to the ultimate decision as to whether to apply or enroll in the college. Time is valuable and therefore it is imperative that students and families are able to maximize their time while visiting college campuses. As a former College Admissions Administrator, I also know how important this visit is to the college, and the best times to visit campuses to get the most out of the visit. My work with prospective students and families enables me to take a proactive approach to the college visit, addressing the individual needs of the student and presenting information that have a significant role in the college search and selection process.
As a champion for student success, I believe that college is not just about admissions criteria and academics, it’s also about being able to see oneself as a member of the campus community. It’s about knowing about and taking advantage of the college’s resources, services and activities for social or emotional well-being. For these reasons, Steps To College prepares students for upcoming campus tours or open house events, schedules and coordinates campus visitations that address the individual students academic, emotional and social needs.