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COLLEGE CONNECTION: College visits give teens something to dream of

By Susan Alaimo
For many families, summer is the most convenient season for visiting colleges. It may not be the ideal time for high school students to visualize themselves actually attending a particular college since it is missing the key ingredient — thousands of students taking classes and creating a bustling atmosphere. However, a summer visit can still provide valuable insight into any particular school. Parents and students should be sure to sign up for a campus tour in order to see all that a college has to offer.
The starting point for most college visits is the Campus Student Union (also known as the Campus Center) which houses a wide array of facilities that host activities and provide services that are often on par with those found at a resort. These may include: cinemas, bowling alleys, billiard, ping-pong and air hockey tables, climbing walls, scores of high definition televisions, coffee bars, ethnic restaurants, food courts, convenience stores, bookstores, banks, beauty salons, meeting rooms and study lounges.
Continuing on to the athletic facilities, most college tours will highlight their stadiums and gymnasiums, but some offer so much more. Top athletic colleges today often feature such amenities as: underground practice fields, ice hockey and skating arenas, hydrotherapy pools, saunas, barber shops, rehabilitation facilities with physicians and orthopedic surgeons on hand, and theaters for press conferences. Some even boast a golf course or ski slope. For student athletes, such luxuries can serve as a big draw.
Moving on to the more academic-oriented facilities, many colleges feature impressive museums in the fields of art, natural history, anthropology and natural science. Other colleges host state-of- the-art engineering laboratories in areas such as: biomedical engineering, digital signal processing, and robotics and intelligent systems. There are also colleges that are medically oriented with simulation laboratories that give students hands-on clinical experience. These labs feature rooms occupied by high-tech mannequins that simulate symptoms, diseases and conditions that future doctors and nurses are likely to face in hospitals. The “maternity room” at Penn State University even features a mannequin that gives birth to a baby (mannequin).
Summer campus visits can be an eye-opening experience for parents and students alike.
They can certainly get students excited for the college days that lie ahead, and help parents understand why the price tag for tuition may mirror their mortgage.
Susan Alaimo is the founder and director of SAT Smart in Hillsborough that has been offering PSAT, SAT, and ACT preparation courses, as well as private tutoring by IVY-League educated instructors, for more than 20 years. Visit www.SATsmart.com.

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