Why visiting colleges pays off in the end

With the ever-rising cost of higher education, visiting colleges that interest you grows more and more important.

"College is one of the biggest expenditures a family will make," says Zola Dincin Schneider. "It's right up there after buying a home."

Dincin Schneider is the author of Campus Visits & College Interviews: A Complete Guide for College-Bound Students and Their Families. She has put all her two decades' worth of experience into this completely up-to-date volume.

Dincin Schneider reminds students and their families that colleges spend a lot of time and energy finding out all they can about students. So, she advises, it is wise for a youngster to learn all he or she can about a college.

"You can find basic information about a college on the Internet," advises Dincin Schneider. "But you won't learn anything about the vitality of campus life, how the faculty and students interact, or how you'll fit in without paying a visit to the campus."

Spring is a good time for juniors to visit along with their parents, she says.

"But fall, between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, is the best time for seniors to take a tour," Dincin Schneider says.

"Go alone," she adds, "and make sure to spend a night. Many college admissions offices can arrange accommodations for you and set up a guided tour."

For more advice from Zola Dincin Schneider, pick up a copy of Campus Visits & College Interviews: A Complete Guide for College-Bound Students and Their Families ($12.95, from the College Board) at a local bookstore.

For thousands of facts about colleges and universities nationwide, get a copy of the College Board's 2003 College Handbook ($26.95). The College Handbook is a valuable all-in-one resource, filled with hundreds of up-to-date facts about 3,600 two- and four-year colleges and universities from coast to coast. What's more, the College Handbook spells out how students and their families can best approach the college- choice process.

Both Campus Visits & College Interviews and the 2003 College Handbook are available at bookstores everywhere or online at www.collegeboard.com

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