When asked what advice he would give to prospective college students, Ian Mortimer, Director of Admissions at Champlain College, stated that "the stakes have never been higher for making a wrong decision, not only because every dollar counts in this economy, but also because there are emotional costs and opportunity costs of having to re-evaluate colleges. The outcome of the college selection process needs to be viewed as a life-long partnership." He noted that families should realize they are in the driver’s seat during the college search, and he offered the following tips to parents and students:
- Narrow the choices by finding schools that offer not only the major you want, but also campuses that have the culture and personality fit that feels right to you. If you haven't decided on a major yet, ask what the 'undeclared' student experience is like.
- Find that fit by exploring multiple channels, including social network sites where you can find the good, bad and ugly. This will help you assess the messages colleges deliver through a different lens. It’s here that you can learn why a certain institution might meet your needs or fall short in meeting your expectations.
- Aggressively manage college visits by asking to meet with faculty and students. Take control of all interactions. In the end, marketing has to be backed up by an engaged faculty and staff, and face-to-face conversations will help you verify claims being made by the institution about the product.
- Develop a partnership with the college in which you learn what the institution offers, and the institution discovers what you want and need. Having candid conversations with members of the community should increase transparency and ensure that you and the institution can mutually benefit from the decision.