Ensure you get the most out of your upcoming college visits with these tips!
A proper college visit takes some advance planning. You don’t want to visit the school during a break because you won’t get a true sense for what campus life is like. You also should take time to clarify what’s important to you and what questions and doubts you have. Sit down and make a list of elements you’d like in your dream college, questions you have, and dealbreakers. Do some research on the college – you may read about a feature that you’d like to verify in person. Planning early allows you to schedule time to check out things that matter to you, as well as schedule a tour and leave time for you to speak with some of the students. You may even be able to arrange sitting in on a class or two!
Here’s a worksheet to help you get started: College Visit Worksheet
Take a tour
A tour is a great way to get an overall impression of the campus. You’ll likely see the library, at least one dorm room, a classroom, and other important campus locales. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask the tour guide questions about the school.
Ditch the tour
However, while the tour is a great tool, don’t rely on it exclusively. Tours are great for an overall view, but since the college is trying to attract students, tours can also sugarcoat the realities of life at the university. After the tour, visit some of the other buildings, including the one where classes in your major take place as that will be a place where you spend a lot of time.
When you get hungry, you could run into town for dinner, but instead, planning on dining in the campus cafeteria. As a student, most of your meals will take place there, out of convenience or a desire to save money, and you’ll want to know that you can eat comfortably. Do they accomodate dietary restrictions? Is the food identifiable? Is the cafeteria loud, messy, and crowded, or is it calm enough that you could knock out some studying while you have a sandwich? The cafeteria is also a great place to pick up on campus vibes. You can see students interacting with each other, and you can take the opportunity to talk with them yourself.
A number of campuses offer the opportunity for you to stay in the dorms with current students during your college visit – if this is an option at the college you’re visiting, take it! There’s no better way to understand campus life than living on campus, even if it’s only for a night.
Visit Financial Aid
College visits are a great time to stop into the Financial Aid office and ask any questions you may have about paying for college. If you’re wondering how scholarships are dispersed, the availability of work-study programs, or how to get a loan, get answers from the people who deal with these issues every day.
If you’re visiting multiple colleges, it’s easy to mix up details from one school to another. You can check off features on the list you made before going, but you should also keep journal entries on your visits so that you can refer back to these notes when it comes time to make a decision.