by Michelle Brooks| Staff writer
Soon, seniors and juniors will need to go visit their college to see if it’s the college for them. They don’t need to worry about attendance though because the school excuses them.
“Students get two days in their junior year and two days in their senior year that they can use for college visitation. They’re totally excused and they do not count towards their absences for final exemptions; for exempting final exams. So, it really doesn’t hurt a student to take a college visitation,” lead counselor Courtney Tarbox said. “It’s really important for them to be sure they have the proper documentation. So they need to print and have with them the college visitation form, which you can get at the attendance office. Because there will be information that they need to have the college sign to show proof that they have gone to visit that school.”
The school cuts off the college visitation days at two, therefore,after those two days, under no circumstances, will a student be excused for missing school.
“Well, two of their days will be counted for college visitation. So if they missed anything beyond the two days, then yes, it would be an absence that could count against their attendance and count against for their final exams,” Tarbox said.
Some students who want to visit colleges outside of Texas may use their two college days on Friday and then the Monday so they have the whole weekend to be back in school.
“What we see a lot of students do if they’re looking at visiting out of state schools, they may take a Thursday and Friday off and that’s cuz they are going to go over the weekend. Or they may take a Friday and Monday. Or they just take one day, have the weekend, and be back in time, you know, be back Sunday so they can start back at school on Monday,” Tarbox said.
Especially since you have a limited time, counselors help you prepare you for the college visit by talking to the student individually before the visit.
“We do have students that will come and talk with their counselor and maybe ask about what they should do on their college visit, or what questions should they ask. But, we don’t usually get to go with them,” Tarbox said.
Before you go visit the college, it is encouraged that you research the school to make sure they fit your specific needs.
“So we encourage them to research colleges, and we meet with juniors and seniors. We go over the factors they should think about. They should think about what type of town they want to be in: do they want to be in a large city or a small community? And do they want to be one of 600 students or one of 60,000 students? So we talk them through the different factors to think about, you know. Are they wanting to take classes where there is a very small professor to student ratio? Like they’re in a one to 30 situation or they are in more of these huge lecture halls,” Tarbox said.
The college depends on the type of person the student is. Different kinds of people decide to go to different types of colleges.
“And so it really depends on what the student’s looking for. We also encourage them to do their research to be sure that the school and the college provides the program they want to study. So if they know what they want to major in and what type of degree they want to get, they need to ensure the college they’re interested in offers that program,” Tarbox said.
Students also like to check out their area of interest, or major, when they get on campus.
“There’s a tour that we do. So I’m going into music education, so I did the general tour, and then I did the music tour with the specific music stuff,” senior Anne Archer said.
The counselors offer students all the resources that are available to Johnson to help them research colleges.
“We do pull students in the fall to do junior guidance sessions. So we give them a lot of information, a big overview, so I would say the majority of their college research is really done on their own or they come individually to come see their assigned counselor. So I do have students come and ask me about colleges and often times we will look at the computer together and we’ll research or we’ll also have our college and career center, where any information that colleges send to us, we keep in our files here in the college and career center. We also have computers available to students if they want to research colleges as well,” Tarbox said.
Overall, Tarbox feels that the college visit can affect the student’s decision to go to that college.
“I think students start by doing a lot of research online or reading through different books and things to see what kind of colleges they are really interested in but it’s not really until you visit that school, until you really get to know what it feels like to be on that campus. You get to know kind of like what the climate and the dynamics are like,” Tarbox said. “ I’ve also had students tell me stories about how they were kinda thinking about this school but when they took a tour and actually met students, that they fell in love with the school because of the student’s experiences that they had talked to. So it could make a big difference.”