What To Do If Your Dream School Campus Visit Disappoints You

Student disappointed with her campus visit

Flickr user COD Newsroom

When it comes time to visit your list of potential colleges, you’re probably looking forward to your dream school visit most of all. But what happens if you get there and it’s not everything you thought? It happens quite often. Students have an idea of what the college is like before the visit and it doesn’t quite meet expectations. It may be larger than you thought, less close knit, in too small of a town, or just not look as good as in the photos. What should you do if this is the case?

Consider Visiting Again at a Later Date

It’s entirely possible that your view of your dream school was skewed by your mood or someone you interacted with. Perhaps your tour guide rubbed you the wrong way. Or you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

If the college just didn’t quite meet your expectations but you still want it on your list of potentials, make sure you schedule another visit in the future. This could be during another open house or you could visit on your own time to take a look around by yourself.

Visit Other Schools On Your List

In the meantime, don’t ignore the other schools on your list of potentials. You may just find you have another dream school. You might also want to add a few other colleges to check out if you kept your list smaller because you were “positive” you were going after your dream school.

This is great time to compare the other colleges and universities to each other and to your former dream school. You can have a more accurate picture of what each school offers after your visit and easily list out the pros and cons when you’re done attending the open houses.

Don’t Force Yourself to Attend It

While you may have told family members or friends you have your heart set on your “dream school” before your visit, don’t force yourself to attend it if you discover its not for you after you see it in person. And don’t talk yourself into it either. Be realistic about how you felt during your visit and immediately after. You don’t want to sugar coat things and make excuses for the school in order to help it meet your prior expectations after it disappointed you.

College is an expensive decision and your final choice should be the one that fits you. While you can transfer out of a school if you’re truly unhappy after your freshman year, it is a process you’d be better off avoiding if possible. It’s important to be honest with yourself now to avoid trouble down the road.

It can be disappointing to discover that your dream school isn’t everything it was cracked up to be. Sometimes photos, stories, and opinions about a college can be misleading and put a picture in your mind that the school just can’t live up to. But now’s the time to reevaluate your options. Take a look at the other schools on your list and be honest about what you need out of a school before deciding where to apply (and later attend).

Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!

Hilary Cairns

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