When choosing a college, "test-drive" it
Special to The Seattle Times
By the time 16-year-old Brad Estrom had finished his second college tour, he knew that life on a small campus would suit him best.
Estrom, a junior from Fort Worth, Texas, along with mom Cathy, first toured the University of Washington, then Seattle University, when they happened to be in Seattle this summer.
On the UW tour Estrom felt intimidated by the school's size. So he was receptive when tour guide Josh Horton pitched the private Jesuit school's more intimate atmosphere — along with perks ranging from "amazing faculty" to free Mexican food on Cinco de Mayo.
"I'm from a little town in Montana," Horton, a junior psychology major, told Estrom, "and I wanted to go to something bigger than home, but not so big. You get to know people in your class really well."
By the end of the hour-long tour of everything from dorm rooms to biology labs, Estrom concluded: "This campus seems to be very one-on-one with students. ... I felt like the guide told me way more than I even thought I could learn on a tour."
Choosing a college without visiting the campus has been likened to buying a car without test-driving it. A limited budget may make it difficult to visit many schools (though careful planning can help cut costs; see sidebar). But the effort may save you money in the long run.
As Doug Scrima, The Evergreen State College's director of admissions, says, especially in the case of going to school out of state, "I can't say enough how much they should visit because if they go and don't like it, then it is going to be a far more expensive investment."
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company