Time to get out there!

I grew up in upstate New York where it was common to see snow flurries in April, but I’ve lived in Raleigh long enough to know that a few inches can shut down the city. Yet it seems that I underestimated the power of the threat of snow this past week when I was in Alabama. The weather forecaster in Alabama predicted a light dusting for early Tuesday morning and as a result of those projections, the Governor of Alabama declared a state of emergency.  So while the rest of the country was suffering from the polar vortex, Alabamians were staying inside because of the fear of a few snowflakes. No offense to anyone living in Alabama. I’m afraid of snow, too, and I grew up with it.

Alabama is home to many awesome colleges, and of course, football, therefore I traveled to the state to visit Auburn University, the University of Alabama, Birmingham Southern University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Tuskegee University and Samford University. Touring colleges is one of my favorite parts of my job and this trip did not disappoint. The football stadium at Auburn was massive, the greek houses at Bama literally overwhelmed me, the quaint family feel at Birmingham Southern was just charming, the school pride at Tuskegee was evident everywhere on campus, the medical facilities at UAB are state of the art, and Samford is just downright friendly.

Browsing guide books and using online resource tools help kick start a college search, but no amount of research can take the place of actually stepping foot on a college campus.

Here are some tips to get you going

  • Keep it simple

  1. Visit schools that are easy for you to get to

    1. When traveling for vacation near a college walk or drive around campus, even if it isn’t an institution you would ever attend

    2. If there colleges in your backyard take an official tour on a teacher workday

  2. Try it, you might like it

    1. Leave your assumptions at home and visit the school with an open mind

  • When touring a college, see the parts of campus most important to you

  1. Don’t just take the standard tour; explore the parts of campus that are most important to you

    1. Like food? Eat in the cafeteria during your visit

    2. Work out everyday? Tour the rec center

    3. Play music? Wander into practice rooms and performance spaces

  • Observe

  1. Notice how students interact as they pass each other on the sidewalk

  2. What ads are featured on the bulletin boards - take pictures so you don’t forget

  3. Pick up a school newspaper and notice what’s highlighted

  • Reflect

  1. After you visit a college take some notes about what you liked and what you didn’t

    1. What did you tend to pay attention to

    2. Was there something that you noticed that really caught your eye

    3. Use your own words to describe the school

The threat of snow closed schools all across Alabama the day I toured several colleges, but in Tuscaloosa that afternoon, the sun shined brightly, the air temperature warmed to close to 40 degrees and I happily explored the University of Alabama’s campus.  Now it is your turn! Get out there and visit colleges!