A college visit is an essential part of the college search process. They help you get a closer look at the colleges on your shortlist and get a feel of the place. This makes it easier for you to solidify your choice of institution before committing the next four years of your life and thousands of dollars as tuition fees. So what are some things you can do to have a successful college visit?
Do Your Prep Work Before The Visit to Have a Successful College Visit
Visiting a college without doing any prep work is a one of a few mistakes that many students make. You may have checked out all of the facilities and features of the institution as part of your college search but that would have been a few months ago. Besides you would have also searched a dozen or more colleges at that time. By now it is likely to be one big blur. Do you remember which college had that state-of-the-art laboratory, which one had more impressive gym facilities and which offered a double major in your two most favorite subjects?
Scheduling a visit without doing your homework can put you at a huge disadvantage. For one thing, you won’t know what to look for when you get there. Should you be checking out the laboratory of the gym in that particular school? Also, you won’t be in a position to ask those crucial questions that can help you make a final decision.
As part of your prep work before a college visit, you must spend enough time to go through their website thoroughly. Go through all of the details mentioned regarding the curriculum, academic and non-academic facilities, faculty and students. Make notes of why you shortlisted that particular college as well as notes about things you want to know about that are not mentioned on the website.
After you’re done checking out the website, take a look at the college’s social media sites. This will give you a better sense of the social fabric of the college and the interaction between faculty and students.
During The Visit Take Lots Of Notes And Pictures
Taking lots of notes and pictures is extremely important, whether you have one college or several colleges on your visit list. During the visit, the details may seem so distinctive you are unlikely to forget them, but without notes and pictures there is a high chance you some important detail may slip through the cracks in your memory. This is even more important if you have scheduled multiple college visits. By the third or fourth visit, it will be impossible to remember all the details.
So what are the things you need to record during your visit? Take plenty of pictures of all the facilities in every college so it is easy to compare when you get back home. Make notes of all your observations—how you feel during the visit, do the students look happy, what impressed you most, what was the biggest disappointment for you… looking through your notes later will help you remember everything more clearly so you can make a better decision.
Most importantly, make notes during information sessions and write down the name of the speaker. This can come in really useful when addressing the must-ask question of why you chose that particular college. You can explain how something the speaker said convinced you that that college was the right one for you.
Pay Close Attention To The Details On Campus
During a campus tour, it is easy to get distracted by everything that’s going on around you. It’s equally easy to be so impressed by what the college representative is saying that you are blinded to the faults that exist. College reps only highlight all the fabulous features and facilities of the institution while ignoring the downsides. However, that is only part of what makes up a school. Every school has its share of downsides and you must remain alert and objective enough to identify these so you are not disappointed should you choose to enroll in that school.
Attend A Class In Your Major
Many colleges allow you to sit in on a class but they may require you to schedule it in advance. This is well worth it and you must take advantage of it and schedule in a classroom visit. Observing a professor delivering a lecture is quite different from speaking to a professor privately. Not only will you get a sense of what to expect in the classroom but you will get a firsthand look at the interaction between the professor and students, which is so important. If possible, chat with the students after class to get their feedback of the major and the lecturers.
Talk To Students On Campus
There’s no better way to get the behind-the-scenes look at any college than by speaking to students of the college. Students will hold nothing back when answering your questions. They will give you a no holds barred version of the college professors, classrooms, dorms and other facilities. One of the reasons why expert suggest scheduling a college visit while classes are in session is so you can observe students on campus and also get valuable feedback from them. If you schedule a visit during the summer, all you will get to see is an empty campus.
Eat in the Dining Hall
Eating in a dining hall is a big part of college life. This is one place where students from different streams get to meet up, socialize and connect with each other. When you eat in the dining hall, not only will you get a chance to judge the food but it is a great way to observe students at close quarters. Do the students look happy and carefree or do they look anxious and stressed? Is the food delicious and appealing? Are they adequate healthy meal options or is preference given to taste over health? Knowing this is important as it allows you to decide in advance whether you should opt for cafeteria food or make different meal arrangements.
Sleep Over If You Can
If it fits within your schedule and if the school allows it, don’t pass up on the chance to stay overnight at the college. Nothing will give you a better sense of student life. Most students in the dorm will be more than happy to chat with you and fill you in with all of the details.
A successful college visit will help you find out if a college is right for you before you enroll rather than after the first semester when you’ve already paid the tuition fees.
Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!