Texas Living

A Parent’s Guide to College Visits (and 10 Questions You Should Ask)

By Jackie Veling 3.5.18

For most rising high school seniors, picking the right university is the most important decision they’ve had to face yet. And with so many possibilities, it can be overwhelming — especially in a big state like Texas, but college visits are the best way to determine which school is the right fit.

Touring the dormitories and observing a typical class give students firsthand insight into life on campus. It’s also a good chance for parents, who have been through it all before, to ask the questions your kids may not know to ask. Before your kid starts donning school colors and practicing fight songs, find out the answers to these 10 questions.

What percentage of students lives on campus? 

Ask whether freshmen are required to live in university housing. This will give you a sense of campus culture and also help you prepare financially, especially if you will need renters insurance to cover your student’s belongings.

What is the average class size?

Class sizes can majorly impact a student’s GPA. If your child learns best in small groups, find out how many freshmen prerequisites are conducted in large lecture halls. Sometimes, big-name schools can mean big classes and not a lot of facetime with professors; but it may also mean greater access to resources. These are all factors to weigh up.

What are the meal plan options?

Does your child have dietary restrictions? Check to see if vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free options are readily available on campus. It’s a good idea to look into the pricing as well, so you can either plan for that or help your child budget for meals if you don’t opt into the program.

What financial aid is available?

College is a serious financial investment. How many scholarships does the university offer to incoming freshmen? How many are need-based versus merit-based? Knowing what resources are available will help you plan ahead, budget, and talk through your child’s options realistically.

Which campus hotspots are most popular?

Is Greek life big? Does the campus live and breathe college sports or do art museums and coffee shops see the most traffic? Feeling at home will be important for your new college student’s happiness and ability to thrive. Especially since everything will be unfamiliar, it’s great to know where they can find fellow classmates and what clubs and teams they can join right off the bat.

What type of academic support is available for students?

The first semester can be a difficult one. Is academic support available on campus? How many professors hold office hours? Knowing that your student will have a support system when you’re not there will give you peace of mind — especially if they’re going far away.

How do students receive access to medical care?

Before an ill-timed winter flu strikes, find out what services the health center offers and what insurance it takes.

Are there study-abroad programs?

Does your child have the travel bug? College can be a great time for students to venture outside the U.S. and expand their horizons.

Is a work-study program an option for all students?

If your child plans on earning a little extra money during the school year, find out what on-campus employment opportunities are available to freshmen. This will also help you and your student budget for the coming years.

Is there a career-counseling center?

Four years might seem long to a high school senior, but it goes by fast. Does the university provide resources for career counseling and placement? What about internships and graduate school? These are important for getting your child through their next transition when college days are over.

Surviving college visits is just the first step. Texas Farm Bureau Insurance can help you set your student up for success. Talk to your Agent today about your family’s life stages to make sure your child’s needs are fully covered.

Coverage and discounts are subject to policy terms and qualifications and may vary by situation. © 2018 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance