College is an exciting part of life. There are many good colleges (two year, four year, and technical) spread across the country. When searching for a college to attend, it is important that you find ones that are right for you. We all know the “big names” in the college/university world, but as renowned as those colleges are, they might not be right for you. Don’t worry where your friends are going, or where you think you “should” be going to school. Selecting a college that is a good fit for you will ultimately contribute to your school success.
What to Look for When Visiting Colleges
Visiting college campuses is an exciting time in a student’s academic career. The trill of independence, picking classes that are interesting and meaningful, and meeting and making new friends makes the prospect of college both exciting and nerve wracking. It is important to do some up-front work before embarking on college visits. Asking yourself some important questions can help you determine whether a college will be a good fit for you. You might also want to set up an appointment with the Office of Disabilities/Student Support Services or Learning Resource Center to learn about the resources the college offers.
What should you think about when looking at two year, four year or technical colleges?
First, you need to decide where you would thrive the best? Is it in a two year, four year, or technical college? This is something that would be helpful to talk over with your parents and teachers or guidance counselor if you are not sure.
Second, identify what size school you will do best in? It might be helpful to visit a few colleges of different sizes to get an idea of the size that feels best to you. Do you need a college where the largest lecture is 50 students, or will you learn successfully in a lecture of 300 students?
Third, do you know what you would like to study? What classes have you done well in? These can be good clues as to the types of classes that you might do well in once you are in college. Caution, do not limit yourself to only classes you have done well in up to this point. Many colleges offer courses that you have never experienced, so give them a try. You never know, you might like it!
Fourth, what will you need once you are on campus to support your academic success? Things to consider:
Does the college have an active Student Support Services/Office of Disability/Learning Support Center? Learn about the resources provided by Student Support Services/Office of Disability.
How many students who utilize the Support Services office have ADHD?
What type of accommodations do they grant?
What type of documentation do they require to qualify for services and accommodations?
Do they offer study skills classes and other classes that will help a student navigate the college experience?
Do they offer ADHD coaching?
Tutors – are there tutors available on campus to help with all classes? How much do they cost? Are they available to everyone?
What forms of assisted technology are available?
Does the office have the ability to convert paper texts books into auditory books?
Does the office have auditory text books or a means by which to access them?
Do they offer peer mentors to help with the transition freshman year and beyond.
Is there an ADHD support group on campus?
How frequently can a student meet with the staff or can they drop in for quick counseling?
Can the staff help a student identify professors that are knowledgeable about teaching students with ADHD?
Do they offer any fun activities and get-togethers?
What other resources does the college offer to support academic success?
Is there a writing center? What are the hours of operation and how does it work?
Does the college educate their professors about ADHD and other learning disabilities?
Are there academic advisors that are familiar with and understanding of ADHD?
Are there counseling services available on campus?
Are there study groups available on campus?
Fifth, what extracurricular activities does the college offer? Think sports, clubs, exercise classes, and other popular hangouts. Some colleges have their own movie theater and bowling alley. It is important that you have outlets other than just studying.
While you are visiting a college campus, or right after, write down what you learned about the school. Also write down your impressions and comfort level while walking around the campus. Can you picture yourself living and going to school here?
It is important to capture this information because after a couple of campus visits, it will be hard to remember the specifics of each campus.
Remember, it is important to find the college that is RIGHT for you. Picking a college because you think you “should” go to that school, or because you feel it will make other people happy and proud, is not in your best interest. The school you pick needs to work for YOU.
Kristine Shiverick, M.Ed., ACG, CACP is a professionally trained ADHD and Executive Function Coach. Kristine received her B.A. in Severe Special Needs Education and her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education. She received her basic, advanced, and family ADHD coach training through the ADD Coach Academy. Kristine provides coaching to help students, adults and families impacted by ADHD learn about the unique wiring of the ADHD brain, discover effective strategies, minimize the challenges of ADHD, and live the life they want to live. Kristine believes in taking a strength-based approach to help her clients grow in all areas of their lives. Kristine runs an ADHD parent support group in her local community, and co-facilitated a virtual college support group for ADDA. Kristine is a member of ADDA, ACO, CHADD, and PACC.