Visiting colleges can be fun, and a little overwhelming. The first school typically makes a big impression, but if you have the opportunity to visit more than one, the following colleges can start to run together in your mind. Without a system for keeping track, you may have trouble remembering important details. To make the process smooth and efficient, follow these tips:
Schedule your visit in advance. Most colleges and universities allow you to schedule your visit online. Requesting a visit online ensures that the school will have a record of your visit (helpful at application time), eliminates the chance of your being blocked out of a tour, and helps you plan your time. A school’s “visit campus” page will also alert you to any days when the school is closed to visitors.
Have a College Visit Summary to use on your visit. Before you visit, fill in the top of the page. As soon as you finish your visit, take a minute to fill in the blanks. BE SPECIFIC when filling it out, noting anything you particularly like or dislike. Some questions to think about include:
1. Can I see myself at this school? Would I feel comfortable?
“Kids on this campus all seem dressed up”
2. Do I like the “social” scene (e.g. Greek life, popular activities)
“I like that there are 4 vocal groups I could try out for.”
“Seems like most kids rush… the Greek housing is awesome”
3. How good of a fit are the academic offerings with what I want to study?
“No undergraduate nursing at this school.”
“I like the unique XYZ major they offer here.”
4. Do they have good facilities for my area of interest? (e.g. labs, sports arenas)
“The gym is great and close to the dorms.”
“I’m not impressed with the labs… they seem kind of old.”
5. How is the dorm situation?
“The dorms are small and smell bad.”
“I like that freshman can room in suites.”
“They sometimes put 3 kids in a room made for 2”
Eat in the dining hall and record your impressions.
– “The food was really bad.”
– “I like that they have 4 dining halls spread around the campus.”
Wander on your own if you have time and chat with random students. Ask “What were you surprised by when you came here?”
Take a photo (of you on the campus to help you remember) and upload it to a folder labeled “College Photos” on your computer as soon as you get home. If you want, print it out and staple it to its corresponding college visit summary.
Give the school an overall grade on a scale of 1 to 5.
If possible, drive around the nearby area to get a feel for the “neighborhood.”
Write a thank you note to any tour guides, admissions professionals and professors you encountered. An email thank you will probably suffice these days, but be sure to send it promptly.
While visiting a college before applying is not necessary, it can be helpful. Whether you visit before applying or after, follow these simple steps to ensure that your visit helps ease your decision making.
What tips do you have for making the most out of your college visit?