Researching colleges is an important step in the college search process. After finding that a college is a good fit on paper, students should consider visiting the colleges they are considering to make sure the college feels like a good fit. College brochures and websites will make all colleges look great, but not all colleges will feel right for you. Below are 18 things you can do to make the most of your college visit.
1. Prepare before the visit
Know what is important to you and what you want to see and do while you are on campus. Everything will be so new to you and sometimes you can get distracted by all of the fun and excitement of the college tour. However, you might realize you missed something if you don’t prepare before the visit. Make a checklist of everything you need to do while you are on campus.
2. Know general information before visiting
College brochures and websites have a lot of information, such as class sizes and majors. Your time on campus will be limited and you don’t want to miss out on learning about the things you cannot find on the website.
3. Come in with an open mind
Treat every college the same when visiting. You may have a ranked list based on everything you know about the colleges, but your feeling may change after walking on campus and getting a real feel for the college.
4. Take the lead
You are the one who will be attending the college, so take the lead while visiting. Your parents will probably be with you during the visit, but make sure you do a lot of the talking. Don’t take the easy way out and let your parents do all of the work for you.
5. Take the official tour
The admissions office will offer an official information session and tour. The people who will lead the sessions and tours know a lot about the college and will be able to answer everything you may need to know about the college.
6. Take your own tour
Official college tours may be limited and they won’t be able to show you everything. After the official tour, get lost on campus and explore on your own.
7. Make sure to see the places that are important to you
If something was left off of the campus tour, or you were only able to see a location for a short time, go see it if it is important to you. This can include the library, fitness center, career center, or science labs. If it will be important to you, make sure you visit.
8. Spend the night on campus
Colleges can be different places at night. Spend the night on campus to really live the life as a student. Check with the admissions office to schedule an overnight visit. In addition to getting to know the residence halls, you’ll be able to participate in student activities that only happen at night.
9. Eat in the cafeteria
College food can be unpredictable. Some colleges have amazing food and other college food might not be as good. Make sure the college has options you need and that you will enjoy the food.
10. Explore the surrounding community
The college, campus, and campus community will be the most important aspects you will want to consider when visiting colleges. However, no matter how much you love the college, you will need to leave campus once in a while. Does the surrounding community have everything you need? Does the area seem safe?
11. Talk to current students
You will meet at least once current student while taking your campus tour. However, they are trained on how to answer many questions you may have. Branch out and talk to random students on campus. Current students will be very honest about their thoughts about the college.
12. Talk to professors
Professors will be the individuals who will be teaching the classes you take if you choose the college. They will also be able to answer specific questions about what makes the major unique at the college.
13. Get contact information
After leaving the college visit, you may remember something you wish you had asked. Get business cards of faculty and staff who you talked to so you can ask questions in the future. If you made a good connection with a student, exchange contact information or friend/follow each other on social media. You will have questions after you leave campus and you will already know someone on campus who can answer your question.
14. Sit in a class or two
If you know the major you are considering, sit in on a class because that will be a class you will probably be taking as a student. If you are not sure about your major, sit in on a general education class. Check with the admissions office to see if they can get permission for you to visit.
15. Read the student newspaper
Student publications can give you a good idea of what is important to the students on campus. Plus, you will probably learn about things that are not mentioned in the sales pitch that comes from the admissions office.
16. Check out the bulletin boards
Bulletin boards are a good indication of the types of activities happening on campus. Are there any activities on the board that seems interesting? Or, does everything seem a little boring?
17. Take notes
If you learn of something on the campus visit you might not have known, write it down. Keep notes that you can refer back to when you are making decisions as to what colleges to apply or the college you will choose to attend.
18. Take photos
Colleges will start to blend together after visiting a few. Take a few photos during your visit to refer back to when making future decisions about college.
The college visit is an important part of the college search process. You may only be able to visit the college once before making your final decision. Make sure you make the most of your time on campus so you will have all of the information you need to make the best decision for yourself down the road.
Want to stay in the loop? Follow my blog to be notified when new articles are published. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest for information on college admissions.
I’ve been looking into a few different colleges to start attending, and I really like your suggestion to sit in on a class that you would likely take. I’m going to have to give that a shot, because I know that I want to take a major that will help me in the medical field, but I haven’t picked a school yet. I’m going to have to look into sitting in for a few different college classes at different schools! Thanks for the idea!
Yes, sit in on classes if you are able to when visiting colleges. You’ll learn a lot by sitting in on a class – not just what the class is like, but you may also see what the personality of the student population is like. Good luck and have fun visiting colleges.