Took My Teen To First College Visit & I Recommend Doing This!

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Manic:  The fact that our first born will turn 18 on his next birthday and that his very last year of high school starts in early August.  Is it really already time for him to apply to college?!  Where do we start?  It all feels overwhelming for sure!

Managed:  Took a deep breath and asked my son to schedule that very first college campus tour.  He went online and he did just that.  Five days later we took our first tour and we loved it, more than we thought that we would…and that was true for both myself and for my son.  Our first stop was TCU in Fort Worth, Texas. Read on to see why I highly recommend scheduling and taking a tour of a potential college choice and what our visit was like.  Pretty cool actually!

TCU Visit with Jack

Our very first college tour….wonderful and I wonder how did this get here so fast?!

Before we took the tour, I asked our son to go online to TCU and to formally schedule our visit.  He needs to be ready to do things for himself and on his own when he leaves us next year (that sounds so strange to write…when he leaves us….it got here fast).  So fortunately for me, he readily agreed and I didn’t have to ask twice.

Since he had scheduled the tour, we were warmly welcomed in the admissions office with a visual video hello that made us smile and feel right at home.  tcu welcomeAfter admiring that and grabbing some yummy coffee from the admissions lobby, we took our places inside a briefing room to hear all about Texas Christian University.  The gentleman that spoke to us had graduated from TCU four years earlier and now happily works with the administration welcoming and recruiting potential students with his interesting and energizing talk.  He shared photos of famous TCU almuni around the world sporting their Horned Frog fingers on professional football end zones, on the American Idol stage, in London and more.  He told us about his own roommates who left the campus after graduating to go on to medical school, law school, teach and to other successful next chapters.

The Horned Frogs’ traditions sure sounded fun like a private semester kick off concert for the students that have included pretty big acts in the past such as Lady Antebellum and many others.  Or the annual pancake dinner with students dancing and laughing.

The pictures of the dorms looked nicer than I had expected and the Business and Journalism schools both impressed us with the many programs that are offered inside each of the state of the art facilities.  I wanted to sign up and go back to college for a brief moment as I sat there taking it all in with my son. And the campus is really pretty. pretty TCUI was reminded that our young man has a great adventure waiting just around the corner for him.  His life will soon change, as will ours, as we will have one less teenager in our busy home.

As I sat there and thought about all of this and the uncertainties that come with such a big life change, I knew right then that one thing was for certain…and that was that this college tour experience was definitely a good idea to make happen.

It is a big decision to consider different colleges.  Jack will need to spend a lot of time applying to both the different universities and for the scholarships that he has worked very hard to hopefully obtain.  So visiting our son’s potential choices is a worthy use of our time for sure.  Ok enough of my Mom thoughts, now back to the tour!

Next we took the walking tour and our guide was from Scottsdale, which is pretty cool!  She is also a Journalism major (my degree is in Journalism and my son plans to study that as well) so that was also fun for us.  Her name is Abbie and her enthusiasm for TCU was genuine and contagious for sure.  AbbieShe knew her stuff and conducted the entire campus tour walking backwards, which impressed our group.  TCU tour walkShe also met with a smaller group of us (with the kids who plan to study Journalism) after the official tour to discuss the Journalism program at TCU.  She told us all about the Bob Schieffer College of Communication.  You probably know that Mr. Schieffer just retired from being the longtime moderator of the CBS Sunday morning show, Face the Nation.  She elaborated on how Mr. Schieffer whole heartily supports the school with personal visits, guest lectures given by prominent journalists including Mr. Schieffer and more.  Prior to this, we had no idea that this particular Journalism school is such a good one. This was definitely good to know and Abbie, who is now a TCU senior, has taken full advantage of the college’s Journalism offerings as an anchor herself on the school’s news show.  Go Abbie! IMG_3440And to learn so much about my son’s school of interest was quite the bonus!

As we toured the beautiful TCU grounds, we learned about the fun Horned Frogs culture, how to properly display the Horned Frogs symbol and toured some of the schools.  TCU groundsThe TCU Neely School of Business was very impressive, both the school’s rankings and the building itself, which looks more like a downtown office complex than a school.  We noticed the stock exchange ticker running along the walls and since the majority of the prospective students told Abbie early on that they planned to be business majors, the stop was a good one for sure.

I was especially impressed with the John V. Roach Honors College at TCU because they offer a very unique class that makes a difference as well.  The class is called the Nature of Giving and at the beginning of the semester the students are given a set amount of money to work together to decide which charities will be awarded the money at the end of the semester.  Students learn about researching the different charitable groups, working together to decide which groups will receive the funds and they give presentations to each other to present their case about which groups would best benefit from the donation.  The 2012 Spring class was given $100,000 to work with!  How cool is that?

So there was a lot we loved about TCU and we really didn’t expect to leave that impressed!  My husband and I are Texas Longhorns alumni so we naturally assumed that our boy would see orange!  And our boy took the tour more for us than for himself since we were already to be in Fort Worth and had been encouraging him to try a college tour.  This just proves how important it is to take the tours!

Time will tell what he decides to do, but he has definitely decided to apply to TCU, among other colleges. You can bet that we are taking him to the tours that the other universities offer that he is considering.  He did very well on both the ACT and the SAT and he finished up his junior year with a 3.9 GPA in honors classes, so we think he will be considered at the colleges he applies to, which is another reason to take the trips to the different campus locations to get a feel of how it feels to him.

TCU also offers a fun full day visit called Monday at TCU which includes a campus tour, residence hall tour, breakfast and lunch on the campus, special interest sessions and meetings with faculty and financial aid representatives.  If we would have known about that, we would have signed up for a Monday.  So be sure to go to a college website to check out their tour information.

We were also told about tuition (not cheap…about $50,000 a year) and very importantly, how to apply for scholarships.  We also discovered that the numerous college dual enrollment classes that our son took in high school (and that we paid for) will be considered as transfer courses, case by case.  I had assumed that they may not transfer at all since we are out of state from TCU.  Good to know for sure.

Moreover, we made friends on the tour and if their students attend TCU, it turns out that our son will already know someone studying the same disclipine that he wants to learn, which is Sports Journalism.  I truly can’t stress enough just how valuable taking a college campus tour is for both you and your student.

And my favorite part was that this is now a cherished memory in my heart since this was our very first college tour.  towerIt was such fun and it made me feel so excited for our son about his future.  I’m not gonna lie…I wanted to go back to college for a moment or two during the tour, especially after Abbie sent me this super fun picture of her with her friends at a TCU football game.  Abbie with friends at TCU game
So make a smart memory with your kid and schedule college tours.  This was another one of those big milestones that happen in the teen years.  There are many milestones between 13 and 20 and I think that is one reason why their teen years just speed on by, truly!  I had been told by friends that the high school years go the fastest and I’m here to tell you that it is so true.  This memory is locked inside my heart and I am guessing that someday when my son takes his own child to see that first prospective college tour, he just might think back to his day with his old Mama, and smile.