Making the Most of Your College Visits

Students visit campuses to determine if there is a fit between themselves and the colleges they are considering. Plan to include your parents in this important phase of your search process. On campus you will see where you would live, study, sleep, eat, and socialize. Remember that if you live on a college campus, it is a 24-7 arrangement. The academic part may be a great fit, yet other aspects of living on campus may not be right for you. You are a whole person, so choosing the best match involves a broad range of considerations in addition to the academic program.

Many colleges are in session when high school students are on break. These days are perfect for visiting campuses. Plan to spend time during your junior and senior year making your visits. The summer break is also helpful for getting a basic feel for campuses. Keep in mind that summer on most campuses is not reflective of what campus life is like during the academic year.

A good college visit takes some preparation and planning. Consider the following guidelines:

  1. Phone or contact via the web the admission office to determine your visit options. Provide enough lead time to plan for individual interest meetings during your visit.
  2. If possible, the student visitor should inform the college of his/her special areas of interest when seeking an appointment, such as major, athletics, music, theatre, etc.
  3. Learn as much as possible about the college before the visit through guides, college literature, and the website.
  4. Bring a camera or video recorder to capture each campus and its facilities.
  5. Prepare a brief resume of information about yourself. Consider taking an unofficial transcript.
  6. If you plan to interview, find out if the campus interview is evaluative or purely informational before you visit. If the interview is evaluative, it will be used to some extent to inform the admission decision. The visit and interview determines the personal impression made on the admission officer and your potential match to the college or university. Either way, the visit is a two-way street. Be yourself.
  7. Try to sit in on a class, view lab facilities, talk with a variety of current students, see where first-year students live, and obtain information on
    internships/placement/advising for professional and graduate programs. Try to get a gain a strong sense of the campus atmosphere.
  8. Send email messages of appreciation to individuals who helped you during your visit.
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