College Search & Visit

cyclone13

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Apr 7, 2009
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My son is a junior and we start looking at college options. He hasn't had a lot of exposure regarding college planning so far we've only looked at Wisconsin-Madison and of course, U of Minnesota Twin Cities. Plan to go to Iowa State during Spring Break and other schools next year. I think right now we only rely on the "gut feeling" - what feel right, what don't.

I'd love to hear experiences from fellow CF members who have been in this process before. Any input will always be appreciated.

Edit: he's thinking of medical school. Right now he has no preference regarding the distance from The Twin Cities area.
 
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cycloneML

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Mar 5, 2008
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When I grew up in WI, top 1/2 of WI high school students guaranteed admittance to UW. Now its a long shot.
 

BCClone

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North Iowa
1). Major. - is it a quality school for that

2).Size of campus — does a big or small school fit right.

3). Placement office — how do they help. Are internships something they strive to assist with.

4). Cost— is it affordable
 
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Nov 23, 2019
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We’re going through this right now for our first time. We’re using a service called College Inside Track that has been very helpful for our kid.

They (CIT) have helped her with ACT and SAT test prep, school research based on her wants and interests and any other questions she may have. It’s been very helpful for us as parents as well to learn about different ways to get financial aid and even how to get schools to essentially bid against each other to get your kid to go there.
 

Clark

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Altoona
How much debt are you willing to go into? What major are you thinking about? How far away from you would your son like to be?
 
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Gonzo

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Mar 10, 2009
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Behind you
My son is a junior and we start looking at college options. He hasn't had a lot of exposure regarding college planning so far we've only looked at Wisconsin-Madison and of course, U of Minnesota Twin Cities. Plan to go to Iowa State during Spring Break and other schools next year. I think right now we only rely on the "gut feeling" - what feel right, what don't.

I'd love to hear experiences from fellow CF members who have been in this process before. Any input will always be appreciated.

Putting a heightened emphasis on "gut feeling" is smart. That's a huge part of what it should come down to. If he knows what he's going to major in, look into getting him meetings with faculty or faculty advisors in that academic area/dept. When we visited ISU with our older daughter, they were fantastic about getting the students in with faculty and advisors in her area of study during her visit, and she loved the advisor she met with. When we visited Iowa, we weren't able to meet with anyone in her area of interest, that wasn't a good feeling. Also think about ease of getting around campus if he's not going to have a car. Our daughter didn't have a car in her first two years and we loved how self contained the ISU campus is and CyRide. She lived in MWL her first year and it made this dad feel good knowing there was a CyRide stop right outside her dorm. Just a few thoughts.
 

Pope

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Iowa State, along with most other major universities, has switched to a test optional admission policy, meaning your child can decide whether or not they wish to submit their ACT or SAT scores with their application.

If your child chooses to submit their test scores, they'll be automatically admitted if their Regent Admission Index (RAI) score is at least 245. The RAI = (GPA x 30) + (ACT x 3) + (number of years of high school core courses x 5).

If your child chooses not to submit ACT or SAT scores, then they'll be considered for admission on an individual basis with primary emphasis on GPA and core courses.
 
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cyclone13

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When I grew up in WI, top 1/2 of WI high school students guaranteed admittance to UW. Now its a long shot.
That's what I heard. I hear that this year they delay their decision to end of January due to number of applicants they receive this year
 

cyclone13

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Apr 7, 2009
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How much debt are you willing to go into? What major are you thinking about? How far away from you would your son like to be?
Good questions - ideally not much, unless he gets accepted into "top" schools. Then, it'll be a different discussion.
He's thinking of going to med school so Biology or Chemistry or something in those areas. No preference so far - if it's a good school, I don't mind him being far away (although I don't want him probably to go to California)
 

Entropy

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Oct 27, 2008
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Cedar Rapids, IA
I'll humbly offer up my undergrad institution, and it's fairly close to you: University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire.
Of the 10 people I graduated with in the Biochemistry/Molecular Biology major, 8 of us went on to Med School, Pharmacy, or Grad School. Has an excellent undergraduate research program. I published a paper there before I went to grad school.
It won't have the "Big School" undergrad experience, rather you'll get the professors who teach your lectures also teaching your labs. I think the highest enrolled course I took was around 150 (Organic Chem).
 

cyclone13

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Apr 7, 2009
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We’re going through this right now for our first time. We’re using a service called College Inside Track that has been very helpful for our kid.

They (CIT) have helped her with ACT and SAT test prep, school research based on her wants and interests and any other questions she may have. It’s been very helpful for us as parents as well to learn about different ways to get financial aid and even how to get schools to essentially bid against each other to get your kid to go there.

We actually thought about using similar service too and then talked to someone. They quoted almost 3k for interview, SAT and ACT guidance to come up with the list of schools at the end of junior year (5-12 schools that they think might be a good fit for him), so we decided to pass.

I've been trying to do my own research but I think nothing beats the feeling when you get there. I think campus visit, who conducts the campus visits makes so much difference. It's a lot of info and a lot of work (I recall one school mentioning that they don't usually give scholarships as they are located in Atlanta and believed that students will easily get internship there and thus, offset the cost of attendance)
 

WhoISthis

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Oct 6, 2010
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Thinking of going to Med School - so he is thinking of either Biology or Chemistry.
If he’s generally set on that, and you’re looking at similar types of schools in the same area (large Midwest state schools), it’s pretty much about gut feel on where he’ll fit and cost.

How well he does in undergrad is so much more important than any marginal difference in UW-Madison, Minnesota, or Iowa St. You’ve likely already looked into the university’s support in helping grads navigate the Med school process, but if not, as what percentage of the recent classes are matriculating within two years at med schools/average MCAT etc. Hopefully his intend major has strength in research topics he’s interested in, although all types of majors can find their way to med school.
 
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cyclone13

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One thing that always pops up my mind: a lot of people want to go to med school. In reality, only 44% are accepted nation-wide. So I always encourage him to have a plan B and not dead set on something (although some people say that might not be a good idea)

Thankfully, he's a good student (he's took his ACT in August), got good score, took his PSAT (again, good). But we also want something in case he changes his mind. Plus we want him to grow as a person to be more well-rounded person than he is right now. That's the intangibles that we're looking for and that's difficult to a 16-year old to reflect and see what certain schools can offer while the others don't.
 
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ISUAgronomist

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Nov 5, 2009
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Close Enough, IA
I'll humbly offer up my undergrad institution, and it's fairly close to you: University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire.
Of the 10 people I graduated with in the Biochemistry/Molecular Biology major, 8 of us went on to Med School, Pharmacy, or Grad School. Has an excellent undergraduate research program. I published a paper there before I went to grad school.
It won't have the "Big School" undergrad experience, rather you'll get the professors who teach your lectures also teaching your labs. I think the highest enrolled course I took was around 150 (Organic Chem).
I know someone that also went to UW - Eau Claire then on to UW for grad school. From the outside looking in, seemed like a good school that set students up for success.
 

psycln11

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Apr 20, 2006
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Ankeny
Daughter is a freshman in Biochemistry (Pre-med) at Iowa this year. Unfortunately, Covid it before we could take "official" visits other than one trip to Creighton.

Other schools we'd like to have visited were Vanderbilt, Washington Univ. (St. Louis), Univ. of Chicago, and Northwestern. We made unofficial trips to Grinnell and U of I.

For us money was a huge factor. Iowa gave her the best bang for her buck. Plus she has a few close friends there as well.

I have a junior that I cannot get motivated to go visit schools yet. He's not 100% sure what he wants to do (engineering, computers, med. school, etc) so i think he's just stalling.
 

carvers4math

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Mar 15, 2012
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Visited a lot of schools with the oldest, the other four went to Iowa State, although they also applied and were admitted to the school where I met my husband in grad school.

Oldest was a National Merit Scholar, so visited a lot of places that gave a good scholarship with that all over the country.

I suppose it was no coincidence that he liked schools we didn’t and vice versa.

I always liked wandering around on our own and kind of spying on the students. Do they seem happy and engaged in what they are doing? Are they in groups or just a lot of loners? Are there spirited conversations about anything or are they in a hangover coma every day?

Also was interested in surrounding neighborhood since he would not have a car. Took the subway when we visited schools in Boston to see how comfortable we would feel about that. Randomly asked people for directions just to get a sense of things.

Good luck on your search, it’s both terrifying and exciting.
 
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cyclone13

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Apr 7, 2009
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Daughter is a freshman in Biochemistry (Pre-med) at Iowa this year. Unfortunately, Covid it before we could take "official" visits other than one trip to Creighton.

Other schools we'd like to have visited were Vanderbilt, Washington Univ. (St. Louis), Univ. of Chicago, and Northwestern. We made unofficial trips to Grinnell and U of I.

For us money was a huge factor. Iowa gave her the best bang for her buck. Plus she has a few close friends there as well.

I have a junior that I cannot get motivated to go visit schools yet. He's not 100% sure what he wants to do (engineering, computers, med. school, etc) so i think he's just stalling.

What did you guys think about Vanderbilt, WUSL, Chicago and Northwestern?
I know I probably shouldn't do this - but I think we will also check EIU too (I always feel guilty entertaining that thought).....
 

psycln11

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Apr 20, 2006
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Ankeny
What did you guys think about Vanderbilt, WUSL, Chicago and Northwestern?
I know I probably shouldn't do this - but I think we will also check EIU too (I always feel guilty entertaining that thought).....

Unfortunately, we didn't get to visit those schools. They were just on her list of prestigious schools, relatively close to home. Earlier in the process her list was Harvard, Penn, John Hopkins, UC Berkley, and Stanford. I couldn't even afford to visit those schools, let alone send her there for 8+ years.

She was a National Merit Finalist so she received a few good scholarships to Iowa. And for some reason, she really enjoys Iowa City. I'm not a fan of the campus so I don't get it.
 

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