Visiting colleges is a very important part of the college search process. Walking on a college campus can help you get a better feeling for the college campus, community, and personality. Sometimes visits can help you confirm your feelings about a college, while other times it can open your eyes to things you did not know before the visit. Visiting after receiving your acceptance letter may be a little different than a previous visit, but definitely worth the visit if you can make it to campus.
When you were a prospective student visiting multiple campuses, you may have stood in the background. Admission professionals and campus tours guides gave you all of the general information about the college. Each of the college tours started blending together because many of the colleges share the same type of information with prospective students. You might have asked a question or two during your visits, but did you find out everything you needed to know during that visit? Did you ask the deep questions that will really help you make your final decision?
As you are making your final decisions about a college, a visit to the college can help you narrow it down to your final choice. However, make sure this visit answers all of the questions you have about the college. It could be the place you spend the next four years of your life!
Visit your campus locations
There will be some places you will spend a lot of time during your time as a student. Visit the buildings where the classrooms for your major classes are held. Look in the classrooms your future professors will be teaching. Check out the library and the other possible locations you will study for your tests. Visit the residence halls that freshmen are likely to be placed. Eat in the dining hall to learn about all of the dining options you will have while you’re a student. Pay attention to how you felt while visiting these locations. Did you feel comfortable? Or, did something seem a little off?
When visiting as a prospective student, there is a lot of hypothetical information shared with you. However, the college now has all of your information readily available and can give you specific answers to your question.
- Admissions or Registrar. If you took AP tests or college courses, the college should be able to tell you how the credits will transfer into the college. Some colleges will accept most, if not all, of your credits, while others are not as generous. Find out now what credits the college will give you so you will have a better idea how long it should take you to graduate.
- Financial Aid. When you were a prospective student, the college shared general information about scholarships. They might have shared impressive figures about the amount of financial aid they award to students each year. However, all of the information was general. Stop in the financial aid office to talk over your financial aid. Did you receive the merit scholarship you were expecting? If not, ask why. Is there a large gap between your EFC and the amount of financial aid you were offered? Ask why. Many times financial aid figures are correct, but sometimes they make mistakes. It doesn’t hurt to ask questions about your financial aid. If everything is correct and you still were not offered enough financial aid, ask about your options and the process for appealing your aid.
- Academics. Check in with your academic program to learn about the requirements to graduate. Is there a requirement you were not expecting, such as a study abroad experience? Meet with a professor to learn about research and/or internship opportunities. Learn about why the major is so great at the institution. You will be spending a lot of time with the professors and staff of your major. Were they helpful and personable? Do you feel like you’ll get the support you will need once you are a student at the college?
How did the visit feel?
Sometimes you just have a gut feeling about something. If something just doesn’t feel right about the college after doing a more in depth visit, follow that feeling. A college might look wonderful on paper, but if it just doesn’t feel right, it may not be the place for you. Don’t force it! Look at your other options and see if they feel better.
Visiting a college as an admitted student will be a little different compared to visiting as a prospective student. Many colleges offer special programs for admitted students to get an in depth look at the college. However, if you can’t make their specific visit day, don’t worry. Contact the admission office and let them know you are interested in visiting as an admitted student. Most of the colleges will skip the general prospective student information and will help you to get all of the information you need as an admitted student.