An important step in deciding where to apply to college is the college visit. Seeing and being are the best ways to decide where you will be comfortable continuing your education and what is the best fit for your learning and living styles.
Here are some tips for making the college visit work for you.
When to visit:
The earlier the better, particularly if it is an unofficial visit when you just drive by and around the campus and perhaps talk casually with people you meet. Official visits can start the fall of your junior year in high school. It is always best to visit while the college is in session so you can visit classes and feel the energy of the student body. If you need to visit during school vacation, know that you will need to reserve a campus tour early as these are busy times for campus visits, and you should know that the tours will be crowded. During the summer, it may be easier to combine a college visit with a family vacation. The tours are less crowed, and coaches are more available for meetings.
How to prepare for your college visit:
First and foremost you want to study the college’s website. Make sure you know the basic details about the college you are visiting so you can ask the right questions and be aware of what you want to see. You should certainly sign up for a tour. Also make sure you make contact with admissions officers and with the financial aid officers. It is best to have appointments set up beforehand, and if you know what programs and courses you have an interest in, make an appointment with a professor in that program or teaching that course.
Other than that you should be sure to have questions written down. Here are some important questions to ask:
For students, ask if you can prepare for the application and what will help you transition to this college.
- Ask what headlines have appeared in the campus newspaper over the last year
Parents should ask what student services are available.
- Ask about finances and financial services
- Ask about support service for first-year students
What to Look for on your Visit:
- Notice campus size and the look of the campus
- Try to note if the student/faculty ratio is good
- Look at the kinds of involvement there are on campus
- Look at the living conditions
- Note how friendly people are
- Check off campus to see if there are eating places, shopping places, and easy transportation to the community
What mistakes to avoid:
- Do not visit the campus without touching base with admission. Touching base shows them that you are interested in the college and have made an effort to check it out.
- Do not ask questions that have been clearly answered in the website. They will know you are not prepared.
College visits can be costly, and they certainly take up time. The above tips can help you make the most of your time and money as well as gather the information you need to make an informed decision.