College bound students sometimes skip visiting colleges as they are researching their post high school plans. Instead, they choose to review the materials sent by the colleges, scour the institution websites, and read reviews from other students. While some of the information out there is good, much information can be biased. In addition, the written word, beautiful pictures, and the thoughts of others cannot determine how you will feel as a student at the college. Therefore, it is important to not skip the college visit because it is the best way to see the college from your own perspective.
Sometimes students say, “I can learn everything I need to know by reviewing the website.” While it is true students can find information on majors, student activities, and housing options, college materials and websites are marketing and advertising. A big point to all of it is to sell prospective students on the institution, and of course, everything will look amazing. Think about it like this: have you ever purchased something because the commercial on television made it look amazing and then you were disappointed when you got it home? Children do it all the time. They see the latest and greatest toys advertised during their favorite shows and they have to have the toy, but are sometimes disappointed by the product. Advertising is meant to sell consumers on a product, and college materials and websites are no different in this way.
Other students rely on the reviews they get from their friends or strangers online. Their friends or family might say the institution is amazing or horrible. A stranger could say it is the worst school ever. However, these reviews are perceptions and sometimes we have different perceptions on things. For example, think about a restaurant you love. Are there people out there that think it’s overrated, or even bad? Probably. Isn’t it good that you did not meet those people and hear their thoughts on the restaurant before you tried it for yourself? The same can go for college reviews from others. What is important or great about a college for you can be completely different for someone else.
College marketing materials and reviews from others can definitely give a lot of good information about a college. However, they are only a few pieces to the puzzle of figuring out the best fit for the student. Marketing materials can educate students on the offering of the college. Reviews can give prospective students an idea about the campus. However, the college visit can confirm the information you have already learned. Plus, it allows students to live the life of a student while they visit campus.
All colleges offer campus tours, and many will allow students to cater their visit to exactly what they need. If the student is planning on majoring in Psychology, they may be able to sit in on a Psychology class and speak to a Psychology professor. If the student is planning on living on campus, they can visit the residence hall and possibly spend the night. If the student plans to play on the tennis team, they can meet with the coach, see the facilities, and maybe even participate in a practice. While the marketing materials can tell students everything the college offers, the campus visit is the only way to get a feel for the campus, meet the people, and experience life as a student.
Kids can get over making a poor toy decision, but college is a must bigger expense, both in money and time. Therefore, students should not just rely on the advertising and reviews of others. Instead, students should do their own research and visit the campus to ensure it is a place they can learn, live, and enjoy during their four years of college.
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