#4 Getting the Scoop on College Visits Transcript



What I think is really important is social media. You have a tremendous amount of current students that are going on YouTube, forming their own channels. I love social media for the schools, not only the official sites, but also the student clubs and organizations. I think that you can find a tremendous amount of information.


If you’re an acapella person, the acapella group, engage with them, send them the. You’ll learn a lot about how the community treats each other and guests, by the way, they interact on social media. And I think that’s really important, especially in today’s environment, you may learn things that you don’t like, which is really, as we said, needs to be addressed and things that you like


as your family tackles college campus visits, both in-person and virtually you already know you are looking for academic and financial fits. What is social fit? Why Roma, Kala of college scoops joins me to explain what social fit is in how to assess it. So your team can ultimately decide for themselves.


If they found that campus, they can competently call home. Her expertise comes from her own experiences as a parent of three college students, as well as the. Of her numerous student interns attending a wide array of campuses. We’re provides fantastic tips on what both you and your team can do to prepare for visits as well as what to do on campus and in the surrounding community per explanation may just have you also redefining financial fit.


I’m Lisa marker Robbins, and I want to welcome you to college and career. A flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right in to a great conversation.


Welcome to the college and career clarity podcast. This episode, I am thrilled to welcome Moira McCullough of college scoops Maura. Welcome. Thank you, Lisa so much for having me today. I’m thrilled. Oh, I am so excited about our conversation because actually quite a while ago, college scoops caught my attention long before I ever met you liked you knew you, what you’re doing with college school.


So resonates with me from the standpoint of, you know, I have my launch career clarity course where we go through really walking students through knowing themselves, knowing careers so that they can make informed decisions to know their path. And so part of that, knowing the path is how am I going to get to that career?


Which for the large majority of my clients is going to include college. And when I’m talking about. I am certainly looking at it from this idea of the college major fit. Does that school have the major that I’m going to need to get me to that future career? What does that look like? What should I study?


Where should I apply? Making that college list is far more complicated than that. You know, when I think about it, I’m interested in what you think about this. Like in my brain, I’m always like, well, there’s academic fit. Can I get in financial fit? Can our family afford it? There’s the college major fit, then there’s the campus fit, which, oh, my word, you’re such an expert at this.


Do you add anything to that list besides campus fit academic college, major finance. No, it’s that social fit that really, I think, was the one aspect of the college search process that I found your mom. I’m a mom, three kids in college, one just graduated. And I think that was the pain point. That frustration that I saw in my son, when we went out on the first college visit, he had that academic Wist and he had that financial fit after discussions with us, but it was a social fit, all these questions in his head that students have.


We as parents educational consultants, college consultants may forget about in the sense that they’re 17, they’re worried about, is this a place that I can call home? Will I make friends? What do they do on a Friday night? And in our heads, we’re like, is there an academic fit? Can I afford this? So it’s not to say that we’re not thinking about the same things, but when it comes down to it, the students at the end of the day are worried about.


Is this a place I can go home or I will thrive not only in the classroom, but outside of the classroom. And it’s a hard part to figure out. I mean, there’s no facts or figures. There’s no book. That’s going to say Lisa, this is the perfect school. You need to find that through a journey. And that’s kind of why college scoops can.


Yeah, and that’s so true. It’s like, there’s so many data points and information you can collect on those other pieces that are quite frankly, a lot of them, very easy to find, you know, where you have alignment, but that what you call the social fit. I call it almost like the campus fit interchangeable.


College scoops, tell our listeners in a nutshell what college scopes is. And then I know you’ve got lots of advice you’re going to give us today. So it came out of you being a mom with kids that were concerned about that social fit. And so what did you do with that? So I came back frustrated and disappointed in myself that I failed my son on the first college visit.


And I thought game on, how can I help? Reduce the fear and anxiety and help him in this journey to find a place where he will thrive. And I decided to reach out to all these college students reach out and ask, what do they wish they knew at freshman orientation? If they had to do it all over again, what would they do?


Ask them? What do you do on a Friday night? If I’m not Greek life, am I going to have a social life? Where do you study? Where’s the favorite place to work out? So I reached out to all these current college students who are. Incredibly generous with their time and energy and said, oh my gosh, I would love to share why our school rocks.


I mean, it was easy. Why does their school Brock? Here’s why. And as we gathered all this great information and these stories that students had, we approached the next college visit with what I say is the upperclassmen’s guide to campus. So it was like a game changer. All of a sudden I saw my son had the confidence to go up and as a tour guide, What’s your favorite barbecue place.


If your best friend arrived on campus, where would you take them? I mean, think about it. At least it’s the one aspect of the college journey that you have control over. If you can afford to visit, we’re all blessed to be able to, if you can, but if not, what can you do to learn more about that student? The college and the I’m all about the surrounding community, because you’re going to spend a lot of time outside of the classroom in the surrounding community.


So is that a place that you’re going to thrive and you will enjoy being at you’re going to live, learn and grow with these people. So make sure that the environment that you’re in, isn’t a support, your aspirations and goals for what that college experience. I love that you say is like an expanded area, right?


It’s not just cause I keep saying campus fit and I think I’m going to change my language when I say that, because I’m actually starting a college list building challenge a week from now at the time that we’re recording this mid January and I always say campus fit, but. I love hearing you say like, no, it includes the surrounding community.


It includes that town, that city, because life is not just all on campus. So, uh, thank you, helping me reframe that. I need that you gave some great ideas there. As far as, um, the types of questions your son was in. It sounds like empowered to start asking because he’s. Became informed. So he was better equipped.


What would you say is like the checklist, if you were going through of what would be like, okay, we have to assess, you know, where would you take your friends if they came to visit you? What’s kind of that checklist of what you would advise families to be sure that they’re learning about not only on the campus, but that greater community.


You need to look at the campus, you know, Geography size location, residential experience. I mean, what do kids do? Do they leave on the weekends? I mean, that’s, that’s a big question. Um, affordability I’d like to throw in there and not just about being able to afford the tuition and, and attending, but once you’re there, what do students do?


And that’s a big factor. I think asking students, what did they do on their time off? Where do they go? I mean, if, if the gym isn’t great and everyone’s going to soul cycle and spending $25 a lesson, is that something that you can afford? Is that something that will increase stress or financial considerations?


So it’s not just about being able to afford that campus, the tuition, but everything that goes on outside of the classroom. So those are some things that I think are really. I also say in terms of alumni organizations like questions to ask how supportive and involved are your alumni, all these little factors, what you would want to know as a freshman, as you progress to senior year, how is that community?


Both the college community and the surrounding community in terms of internships, research opportunities, going to help you achieve your goals and aspirations as a student. So. Look at the basics as to the college fit. And then I always say, as I mentioned, do something that’s not college related. Like when I have gone to visit our student, you know, my kids, they want to get off of campus, like so excited.


Get in a car. Apple picking. I mean, I took out, you know, six girls, we went apple picking I’m going on a bike ride going for a hike. That’s an hour and a half, two hours away. If your student doesn’t have a car, like these are all things in terms of exploring the surrounding community that I think is really important to consider as a student and as a parent, as you’re going through that.


The college scoops platform and all of the great things that you guys offer. I’m like, there’s so many uses for it. And I, I think that one use for what you offer that fits into. Puzzle of many pieces is what should families do before they go to campus? So, you know, you mentioned, and I’m well aware in my work over the last, you know, 23 years as an independent educational consultant that it’s expensive, you know, to go do these trips time and money.


Like sometimes you might have the money to do it, but you don’t have the time. Right. But for the families that are in a position to visit a campus in person, If COVID, doesn’t stop that and they’ve got the time and the money to do so. How would you advise them on how to prepare? Because it’s like, I don’t want to go on vacation.


I’m prepared. I want to know, like, if we’re going to rent bikes, I’m going to rent them ahead of time. And where would I do that? So what would you advise a family that’s planning, an in-person visit to do, to prepare, to make the, so that they make the most of their time while on. So I’m going to student preparation and parent preparation.


Ah, I love it. Right. Just because in some of these are really basic and again, I’m a mom, three kids, they rolled their eyes when I first said it, but by the end of the journey and the college visits, it really helped them. And me as the parent supporting them, I like to say as a parent, I was the copilot.


All right. And I think that’s the first thing that. Had the conversation with each of my kids to say, how can I help you in this journey? And let’s set some ground rules. Like we don’t want to be talking about this 24 7. Um, and it’s a marathon, not a sprint. So how can we get some tools and resources in place to make it as impactful as we can?


Because as you said, parents are taking time. Money to go on these visits. So journal students get a journal. It’s going to help you. Digital physical. I’m a physical, I have still read hard cover books. Okay. But you have a journal because you will want to capture some of your immediate thoughts and my.


Request of my son and daughters was to say, um, top three things that you felt right after, before we got in the car, write down just top three thoughts that you had after the tour and information session. And. Yeah. You know, it was funny as you say, the journaling, I pushed journaling hard inside our launch career clarity course, but for the kids who are resistant for writing, one of the suggestions I make is there are apps like.


And there’s another one called rev, like Otter, literally like the animal and rev rev. And they’re free apps that you can just talk into. And then it creates a transcript that you can go back and read or listen to. And for the kids who, you know, I, I know there’s lots of teenagers out there that are roll their eyes.


Like I am not going to journal, but they might talk into an app. Right. Excellent advice. And I would say when you get. State what you don’t like as well, because that is something that is actually sometimes more valuable than what you like. Absolutely. So write audio, whatever it is. I would also say spreadsheet is essential.


I know it sounds crazy, but totally agree for parents and students to be on the same. That’s not something that maybe kids that’s their strong point. So give that to your parent. They’ll be happy to take on a role of identifying that. When we first went, I asked my, my son, sons and daughters, where do you want.


North south west east, you pick the, the geography. And I would always say on that college list, go to a college that’s on the list because you never know what you’ll find, what you will learn from that big advice, which I know you experienced. Book them early. I never know that, that, oh, I want to go to this.


It’s easy. We have our plan. There were many times that we had identified we’re going to go south. And because of college tours and information sessions being closed out, we had to quickly regroup and say, that’s not possible right now because for the money we want to be able to be, go on a tour and information session.


And you know, you and I were doing this pre COVID with kids right now. They really they’ve pulled the max number of attendees down on those. So I felt like pre COVID doing this with my children and walking my clients through it. I always just like, plan ahead. Plan ahead. Plan ahead. Now they’ll take fewer students.


So that’s even more important than I COVID post pandemic world for sure. And I would say probably two of the things, you know, take the time to write down the questions. I mean, I did say to our we’re spending time and money doing this, so you have to get engaged. What part of this trip do you want to have?


Are you going to lead? And I love that because I said, if you want me to plan the hotels, the road trip, I will do that, but you’re going to pick the lunch spot. So here’s. You can go through our guy and pick whatever your stomach is feeling right now. So I think that’s important that they take ownership of some aspect of it, because it should be fun.


It is pretty, it’s a thrill. It’s a huge opportunity that our students have to pursue college. So I think once they’re engaged, it makes it fun. And as a parent, I would always say, and I did this as a surprise for my kids. I picked one non-college related activity. So my youngest I’ll give you a great example, went south.


And after the college tour and information session, which I think is essential, right. I blocked off time though, before and after to help a self-guided. Experience. So don’t rush, um, have a self-guided and then afterwards I took my son to a race car museum, small little place, and his eyes lit up and he thought, I didn’t know, this was part of a college visit.


And I thought, but it’s five minutes from campus and I knew he loved cars and this is the community you’re going to be in. What do you think? And for that happening. He led me around and explained what each race car was all about. Um, his, his opportunity to like, de-stress probably one of the most memorable times of our college visits.


And actually that was probably the only time because he was a class of 20, 21. So truly we experienced no, that was the only college visit before life shut down. So I would just say that those memories you’ll learn a lot about your student and that student will learn a lot about them. And be able to self-reflect on, I really liked that experience, that road trip, that college because of XYZ.


So it kind of takes the pressure. Well, when you know yourself, it’s easier to, and, and, and I know you’re assessing the social fit of a campus, but when I’m guiding students through being equipped to select a college major, that leads to the future career, everything started. No myself, well, no myself deeply.


And they might think they do, but it sounds like, you know, the things that you’re suggesting, the work that we do inside the course, it’s all about, like, there are surprises and nuggets and light bulbs that go off. And when they do hits, it’s actually great for parents and the. Right. You get to know your kids at a deeper level.


You mentioned on, uh, you know, letting your kid pick a restaurant to eat at. So one of the features inside college scopes is you give input on the restaurants in the area, too, right? Well, those are all. Yes. And it’s. It’s all fed from current students. So all these students, we ask them, you know, where do you go for breakfast?


What’s the place in between classes. Where’s the best coffee place. And I’ll give it a perfect example of how this was used. I mentioned the first college visit with my oldest was a disaster. The second one, we went with kind of the college skips mentality, and we had a whole host of student generated content for that particular school.


So we ended up going to. This farm, where a lot of the students loved to go for lunch. Sure enough. We walk in there, the soccer team, men’s soccer team walked in and we see them from afar. The next thing is, you know, they know they could tell any visitor with their parents head down, rolling the eyes, but somehow they started talking.


The next thing is mark was invited to come back and check out one of their dorms. Then it was like, well, we have practice. Do you want to come back and like check out our practice? So we were going to leave right after that tour and information session in that lunch, all of a sudden after that, it was like, Hey, can I go back and check out the dorms with this group?


Now I sat in the car. I said, sure, because many parents I know me would have wanted to go in and I thought, no, this is the unscripted as. We see the Broadway play colleges, our business, they do a great job marketing, but I want the unscripted. I want the dress rehearsal. So my son got to experience walking through campus with a bunch of students going.


We stopped at the practice soccer practice. Afterwards that school went from being barely on the list to one of the top. Amazing experience amazing. Well, and of course, they’re always going to show you on the guided campus tour that you go to the best dorm and then the staged dorm room. I mean, we’ve all seen that, but to go into the dorm, that wasn’t necessarily the one on the campus tour that real kids are living in real time.


Amazing connection. Wow. It was just one of those where it made it real for him. Because as we said, the tourist information sessions, the student tour guides, you know, they do a great job and that’s their job they’re paid to do it. It’s it’s. But again, you’re investing a lot of time and energy and students have worked so hard to get to this point.


Why don’t you. Get in the driver’s seat and make sure that that school is right for you. Not whether they’ll accept you, but you can have a lot of choices at the end of the day when they are job. So put the pressure and get in the driver’s seat and make sure that that college is responding to you. And you’re asking the questions that you need answered to make sure that that’s the right choice.


Now we we’ve been talking about like those when you have the opportunity to get on campus. So it’s easier when it’s closer, it might depend on your family budget, whether that’s even doable. I know for my oldest, who’s almost 24 now, hard to believe when we were doing college visits. The campus actually that ended up attending.


We did not visit until January of his senior year because it was eight hours away. And he had a lot of local options that are options that were closer as well. And I said, well, let’s just see, you know, what the aid packages did you get in. And, and so we do that later. So initially before he applied, we did everything virtually and now.


COVID sometimes dictates that families have to do virtual, but there’s a whole host of reasons why they might not do physical visits. What advice do you have to our listeners who they’re going to have to do the virtual side of visits instead of being on campus and how might college scoop? So how you guys approach it kind of fill a gap for them.


My and my second had the normal college search process. My youngest class of 2021 did not. And the reason why I also formed college scoops was we didn’t have the ability to visit every college. So when my oldest wanted to go across country and visit a college, I asked him, tell me why you can not articulate clearly, or there was a right fit for that school.


So I said, well, why don’t you apply with your own money? And then if you get. We’ll have a discussion and we might be able to visit now. Every parent must be laughing. There’s no way that students in a pace, 60 to $80 for the application. So that went out the window, but reality check, reality check, but colleges have done a great job.


They’ve. Ramped up their virtual visits, their tours on online. They have webinars, they have program specific panels, student led panels, all of which we say is do it. It’s essential to go and experience those as well. But I will say they start to blur together just like the in-person tours and information sessions.


I mean, if you have the opportunity to go on eight or 10, you’re kind of like glossed over. You’re not paying attention in those. They all sound the same. So what I think is really important is social media. You have a tremendous amount of current students that are going on YouTube, forming their own channels.


I love social media for the schools, not only the official. Sites, but also the student clubs and organizations. I think that you can find a tremendous amount of information. If you’re an acapella person, the acapella group engage with them, send them a DM. You’ll learn a lot about how the community treats each other and guests, by the way they interact on social media.


And I think that’s really important, especially in today’s environment, you may learn things that you don’t know. Which is really, as we said, needs to be addressed and things that you like. So I think social media is big, obviously going onto the website, experts like yourself, you’re having webinars, you’re inviting different guests on.


So check out those resources and those podcasts and webinars as helpful tips, college scoops put together student Q and a videos. We reached out to our ambassadors and said, can you help? Share your expertise. So they shared student QA videos, which are really helpful. They’re not paid there. This is because they want to help prospective students.


And I would say, lastly, it’s the current student. If you have the opportunity as your professors, your teachers, your coaches, your, your, your religious, if you go to church, if you are on a extracurricular, if you’re volunteered as your network, do you know anyone at this? People want to help. They’ll put you in touch with somebody who may be able to reach out to a current student.


So I think there’s a whole host of information out there, but you, and I know we’re research people, you can get bogged down. And I think, you know, trying to connect with the current student community and alumni group is important and there’s ways to do it in a way that is not as intimidating to. Yeah. I encourage students to do informational interviews with people that are working in the jobs that they’re considering, and we give them a framework for conducting those interviews.


And what I found, which is what you found at college scoops is people who love their job or love their campus, or are passionate about it. They’re more than happy to connect, provide information and help. And. I want our listeners. I want teenagers to know that because it can feel scary when they first start connecting and asking, but there’s a generosity out there of people that they want to connect.


Absolutely. But I would also say you’re going to meet some people that are not that nice or not that well, what advice do you have for them? I think that’s a mental note, like put that down. I mean, if you’ve reached out to alumni or to current students who are not going to give you a couple of minutes, five minute chat are not responsive in their emails or text or DMS take note of that because that’s something that you have to think about if you’re trying to get information because you want to go there and they’re not willing to open up and share, imagine.


You’re there attending anyone to get a job as you help them with reaching out to that alumni, that professor, if they weren’t trying to get you to come to the school, imagine when you’re there and you want to get a job. I don’t know. Is that a community that you want to be a part of and engage in and give back?


Great advice. So if you’re consistent, I mean, there’s always the one-offs, but if you’re consistently seeing a lack of desire on their side to engage, then take note and get that in that journal. Whether it’s the honor app, the rev app, a physical journal. Take note and help that inform the direction. Well, I know college scoops provides through the student lens of the kids who are there now, a very different view of campuses.


Then they’re going to get on the polished college tours that the college presents because they are a business as you pointed out. And we should never forget that. So. Fantastic resource. We’re going to put in our show notes, how families can find you. And so just hop over there. You’ll be able to connect with Maura and college scoops.


And thank you so much for taking time today. Thank you. It’s a pleasure being here and, and you know what we love what we do. It’s the fun part of the college journey. I think it’s fun because there’s so many people out there that want. And we’ve created a platform that students love looking through their lens.


Parents love looking through their lens and it helps educational consultants and coaches like yourself and working with students. So thank you for the opportunity. Well, we’re glad to have you as a resource. Thanks Mara.


Wow. I wish I’d had had a resource as great as caliph scoops when I was a team and when my own kids were doing. I know it would have changed how we did visits and what we did. I am thankful, however, and my listeners and our launch community can benefit from Moira’s insights. No matter what stage of college visits you are in preparing to start in the middle or a final round before deciding where your student will enroll and call home.


I suggest you take action by the end of this very well. The follow-through and Moira’s tips that spreadsheet she recommended to attract visits can easily be done in Google sheets as a collaborative document that you and your student can use together. At the same time. Along with Moira, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to journal immediately after every visit, before the thoughts, feelings, and experiences fade, when you hit the next.


Inside my lodge career clarity course, I teach several methods for journaling that really work for a wide variety of students. Consider grabbing a physical journal, creating a Google doc, or if your student would rather talk like me, get either the Otter or rev apps, which all linked to in the show notes, those do a recording and then provide a transcript of it.


You’ll also find other resources mentioned here, including the college scoops website. If today’s episode was helpful to you, please share with a friend who needs us to Sherrie following the podcast rating and reviewing helps us resource more students to want into a successful future. Thank you for listening to the college and career clarity podcast, where I help your family move from overwhelmed.


To motivated, clear and competent about your teens future .