As spring approaches, you should definitely take the opportunity to visit colleges. Spring is a perfect time to explore college campuses. In most cases, colleges are in session during a high school student’s spring break. So, if you visit when you are off, you don’t have to take time away from school. In addition, you get to see an active campus with students engaged and participating in day-to-day activities taking place.
Visiting a college campus is one of the most exciting steps in choosing a college. If possible, it’s best to visit colleges before your applications are due. That way, you can be confident you'd be happy at any of the colleges you’re applying to.
How do you go about setting up a college visit? You want to make sure that you call the college or register online ahead of time to schedule an informational session and campus tour. Going to the campus on your own just to “look around” is ok, but to get the most out of a visit, you should set up a formal tour.
In most instances you can register for a tour and informational session directly on the college or university website. In the search feature of a college’s website, simply type in “campus visits” or “campus tours”. This will direct you to the place you need to be. You can always call the college’s admissions office to get this information as well.
Keep in mind that if you are trying to see more than one campus in a day, map it out and time the informational sessions and tours accordingly.
Once you get on a college campus, you want to make sure you are prepared to take notes on all of the important information that you cannot find in their promotional materials or on their website. Taking pictures is also a great way to remember what you liked and did not like about a college.
What to Investigate During a Formal Campus Visit?
· Surrounding area
· Students on campus
· Resident halls
· Dining halls
Everyone you meet is there to give you the school’s best face. It’s your job to read between the lines.
Here are some questions you may want to ask your tour guide or students you meet on campus:
· What are the best reasons to go to this college?
· What’s it like to go from high school to college?
· What do you do in your free time? On the weekends?
· What do you love about this college?
· What do you wish you could change about this college?
· Why did you choose this college?
· What is it like to live here?
Visiting the college your child is considering is imperative. This gives your student a first-hand look at colleges and universities. This is a perfect opportunity to learn what
the college has to offer. It will give you a chance to experience the culture, obtain meetings with admissions representatives, participate in student led tours, and get to see campus housing. This helps to give a realistic picture of a school outside of a brochure or pictures on the internet.
I’ve heard too many stories of students seeing the campus for the first time when they arrive as a new student and not being happy with their decision when they realize the school isn’t a good fit. By then it’s too late. Money has been paid and there’s no way to get it back. I wouldn’t recommend attending a school that you’ve never visited. So…plan your college visits, and enjoy the experience.