With all of the details readily available online, is it really worth taking the time and trouble to visit colleges in person?
No matter how much information a college may offer through their website, there is a lot that remains unsaid. Besides, all that information has been compiled by a staff member and what you read is just their version of things. The only way you can get the real picture is by visiting the college yourself.
Here are some of the reasons why it is so important to visit a college before you apply.
No Two Colleges are the Same
If you’ve seen one campus, you’ve ONLY seen that one. Every college has something different to offer, which is unique from all other colleges. Even if two colleges offer the same choice of majors, there will still be differences in the classroom sizes, teaching styles, and campus layout. Visiting the college gives you a firsthand view of the campus, the facilities, and other little nuances that will help you determine if that college is a good fit for you.
Get the Truth Behind the Hype
There’s no better way to get a behind-the-scenes peek at a college than by speaking to the students. The faculty may paint a pretty picture of the school, but the students have no vested interest in embellishing the truth. They will tell it to you like it is.
Want to know more about the professors or the dorm scene? Ask the students. Talk to as many students as you can to get a good idea of what to expect when you get there.
Peek Into Classrooms Or Even Attend a Class In Session
Most of your time in college is going to be spent attending lectures. Wouldn’t it be nice to see what the classrooms actually look like? The images you see on the website show the classrooms in the best light possible but you’d be surprised at how different they can be in reality. Are the classrooms large and impersonal or are they small and lively?
To get a real feel of what it will be like, attend a class. Observe the interaction between the lecturers and the students. Is the lecturer connecting with the students? Are the students engaged and interested in the lecture? How do you see yourself fitting into that classroom?
Get Introduced to Your Professors
You may have to make an appointment beforehand but it is well worth it. Try and speak to a professor who will be teaching the major you are interested in. A short chat with a professor or two can give you a good idea of whether or not you are going to be challenged to do your best or just get by.
Get a Taste of Dorm Life and Food
Visiting a college is much more than just taking a tour. Getting a taste of dorm life and the cafeteria fare is especially important if you are staying on campus. Get permission to spend a night at the dorm so you can get a preview of what your next few years are going to be like.
How about the food? Some campuses have a stellar cafeteria, while others may have less-than-tasty offerings. When it comes to food, don’t just take somebody else’s word for it. Everybody has their own unique food preferences so have a meal at the cafeteria and find out for yourself.
Find Out More About the Non-Academic Facilities
College is about so much more than just academics. A campus visit is a perfect time to find out about the non-academic facilities and resources. Check out the gym and recreation facilities. Ask about student security. These are little things that all add up to a great, so-so, or dismal college experience and the only way to find out is by visiting the campus in person.
Get a Feel of Campus Layout and Community Activities
It’s a good idea to get a feel for the campus, including how it is laid out and what kinds of community activities the college or university sponsors or takes part in. College experiences should not be limited to academics and athletics. Being a part of a community and contributing to it offers students a more wholesome experience.
The community surrounding a small rural college will be markedly different from the community you’d find around a campus that located in the heart of a city. When you visit a college you are keen on attending, you can spend some time exploring the community surrounding the campus and see how you fit into it.
Why It’s Important to Visit Colleges
Visiting a college in person allows you to form your own impressions rather than relying on what somebody else has to say about the campus. It allows you to feel the vibe of the campus, which is so important. Speaking to students and professors, exploring the facilities within and outside the campus, getting a taste of the dorm life and food – all of these experiences will help you make an informed decision of whether or not that college is a good fit for you.
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